Manga Review: The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 14 story by Eiji Ohtsuka, art by Housui Yamazaki
It’s finally out! To recap for newer readers, the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is five students at a Buddhist college that each have skills or talents related to the dead. They form a small firm that fulfills the last requests of corpses, resulting in creepy yet funny stories often focused around odd bits of Japanese culture.
This volume has three stories; the first has our heroes going up against a fake Kurosagi team of corpse disposal workers who are actually making a profit. It unfolds into a conspiracy involving a completely unnecessary dam project that has been claiming lives for three generations. The story also introduces a mysterious man named Nishi who manipulates social media and may communicate with the dead via smartphone app.
The second story is a one-shot breather about an Americanized cartoon version of the series, where the boys are all pizza delivery workers (with special talents) who wind up employed by the FBI’s Black Heron division identifying corpses that died in bizarre circumstances. There are interesting touches, like making one of the delivery guys a former rescue worker who discovered his powers on 9/11, and the diminutive embalmer an actual child prodigy. But it would never fly as an actual American cartoon due to the morbid bits. (At the end we learn it’s a bootleg DVD Numata picked up…along with a leather jacket with a really cool design…which turns out to be made by the bad guys in the cartoon!)
And the volume wraps up with another political story, as a museum of execution devices is abruptly closed by the government agency that controls it just before an investigation into its funding is about to take place. It seems that more than one person is losing their head over bureaucracy. The villain uses a gender-based slur.
As usual, the art and writing are excellent, with the “cartoon” section allowing the artist (and assistants) to show off some range. There’s an extensive endnotes section with all the cultural references and in-jokes, which Kurosagi is rich with. It’s been about two years since the last volume due to undeservedly poor sales; the problem is that this series, while of superior quality, is very niche in its appeal. Dark Horse will be releasing the early volumes in “omnibus” editions, so I urge readers to purchase those to increase the chances we’ll see volume 15 this decade.
This particular volume doesn’t have any appreciable nudity, but there is some nasty violence and dismembered corpses, so the mature readers warning still applies.