Thursday, March 22, 2007

Manga Review: The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 1 & 2 by Eiji Ohtsuka and Housui Yamazaki

I heard great reviews about the series on the Internet so I gave it a try. Perhaps the most notable aspect about the manga is the book design and packaging which Dark Horse thankfully retained. Another thing that surprised me was that Carl Gustav Horn was involved with the translations as he's usually affiliated with Viz rather than Dark Horse. There's even a detailed explanation of Japanese sound effects and language at the end. Suffice to say, this title easily has one of the best production values of any English-translated manga.

The title is labeled as horror although it reads more like an adventure for me. The premise is simple yet original: a group is paid for fulfilling the last wishes of corpses, typically burying them in a designated area. What's going for the book is its interesting team dynamic: each member has a unique ability that is vital to the team which reminds of Tantei Gakuen Q. No one is dead weight, each person fulfilling a special role (although of course not everyone gets the spotlight all the time).

Volume 1 introduces us to the premise and the characters. If I were to be honest, it was a mediocre read. Mildly interesting but nothing that kept me hooked. It's just a bunch of self-contained stories that introduces us to the characters and the group. I'm glad I picked up volume 2 however because this is where the story picks up. We have one story arc which pushes the concept of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service and it all gets resolved in one volume!

The art is okay, nothing to rave about yet nothing to complain either. Nothing off the top, nothing too goofy, yet serious and detailed when it needs to be. Because of the nature of the series, it's not for the squeamish, although I've probably seen more disgusting stuff from titles like Blade of the Immortal.

I'm honestly eager for the next volume (which should technically be out this week) and the manga is somewhere in between pop titles like Naruto and Viz's Signature titles like Monster. It has its light moments yet is able to delve into serious moments, but there's similarly nothing screaming out "you must read this" either unless the concept or the characters attract you. Still, it's relatively easy to get into and so far hasn't been drowned in webs of story arcs that never end.

Rating: 4/5.

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