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Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Servive. Volume 1. Eiji Otsuka (Writer), Housui Yamazaki (Art). Dark Horse Manga (2006)

A collection of superb and gruesome ghost stories. Five students from a Buddhist university in Japan who are facing unemployment combine to provide a service to corpses that they locate whose spirits have unfinished business tying them to their bodies. Their skills include dowsing for corpses, embalming, channeling an alien intelligence via a glove puppet, advanced Internet skills and speaking with the dead. Speaking rather than reanimating the dead, the book is not a zombie story, the intent is to establish what the trapped spirit requires. The cast are engaging and individual, the stories are sharply, blackly humorous, suitably gruesome and the art is a delight.
The stories are excellent, compact, contemporary ghost stories with a effective gruesome aspect. Lurking beneath the surface of these stories is a sly commentary about Japan, it is not an awkward addition to the entertainment, it flows naturally from the context of the stories. The stories are concerned with the abandoned dead and how they arrived in that state. This context for the stories naturally follows some of the less obvious nooks and crannies of Japanese society and casting a light cannot avoid raising a question.
The wonderful line art captures both aspects of the stories, the mundane and the supernatural, and merges them seamlessly. The supernatural is placed so neatly in the settings that it does not atrach undue attention nor overbalance the art. The cast are very individual, the body language is clear and action fluid and strong. Excellent comics

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