Friday, March 27, 2009


Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service

I have a problem with manga: I can never remember the character's names. Sure I know who they are, I know how they act, what they want, why they do what they do, I just have no idea what to call them other than "that guy with the weird hair" (isn't that everyone in manga?).

I mean, I've read twenty something volumes of Eyshield 21*, and I doubt I could name even half the cast.

The same problem presents itself to me with Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, which is probably my favourite manga coming out right now. And yet, what are the characters names? I just finished reading volume seven an hour ago and...I don't know. I can just identify them by the way they're described on the cover (psychic, dowsing, hacking, embalming, channeling, puppet).

Is it just because they have Japanese names, which I find to be just random jumbles of sounds when I'm reading them? I'm bad with names in real life too, so maybe I just sufer from this in general (who were those people I met at that party last night?). Yet I seem to be able to remember superhero codenames (and their backstories!) with ease.

But all this is beside's the point: Kurosagi is one of the best comics out there right now hands down. Despite this, when volume seven opened I was a little disapointed. Why? Because the incredible cliffhanger from volume six (which, apart from the Jack the Ripper side story, was one of the best comics I read last year) was completely ignored. The notes at the annotations at the back say that it's supposed to be picked up at some point in the future, but blah.

Still, that feeling didn't last long, as this was yet another volume of gripping, corpse delivery**. Okay, so this volume dosesn't really have any corpse delivery, and instead the Buddhist university graduates (finally! A degree less useful than mine) are doing various jobs to pay the rent. Moving gravestones to a new cemetary, moving box after box of manga for an artist, moving stuff on a movie set (hey! it's just like all those university graduates I know working in construction), and oh, one of them gets to do some makeup at the movie too. But still, "I talk to/find dead people" isn't the best skill to have in the job market.

The first story in this volume has probably the most insane concept that we've seen so far. I don't really want to give away much, though the cover sort of does that anyway, but I will say it involves a robot.

One of the other joys found in this manga are the copius editor's notes found in the back, and written by Carl Gustav Horn, who's pretty awesome. The notes aren't just by him of course, some are from the translator, some are from the letterer, some of them are just random anecdotes that are vaguely related to what's actually happening in the comic. But in between those, there're also incredibly informative notes. Sure, some of them are just explaining in-jokes, but others actually help you understand the story by explaining cultural references that might go over the heads of people that aren't Japanese (or extreme fans). How he figured out that each book's chapter titles are songs from old Japanese singers is completely beyond me. If only every manga had notes like this.

To be honest, based on the other works by the creators involved in this series I'm surprised I enjoy it as much as I do. Mail didn't do much for me (though I only read volume one), and I didn't even notice the character from that the first time I read the story where he gueststarred in Kurosagi. While MPD Psycho just left me confused, what is going on there? Despite that, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery service is well worth checking out. Black Jack's in volume 6! (I think.)

*Which is incredibly good by the way, you should defnitely read it, even if you have absolutely no interest in football. How are they going to win the Christmas Bowl?! How many more volumes can the series go on for?

**Which, based upon Smuggler, the other manga I bought at the same time as Kurosagi volume one, is an actual subgenre.

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