Looking for Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service in Japan, and more to come! (also v5, 6, 8)

It’s almost the end of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service week, and I’ve only been through two thirds of the series. ^^” But I must say, I remember most of the stories like it was yesterday. Reading it again has been like visiting an old friend. Thank you to Eeeper’s Choice for hosting this MMF. :)

It is my sincerest hope that Dark Horse Comics, which has done a good job so far, will manage to continue translating and releasing this manga in English. At the start of this year, I never expected to see another volume again; it had been more than a year since volume eleven had been released (Sept 2010), and I’d presumed that it was yet another beloved series that had been dropped. (I’m still really sore about Inubaka and Apothecarius Argentum. :P Not Dark Horse, but incomplete series.)

I’d first preordered volume twelve in March 2010, and it was cancelled October 2011. (Amusingly-enough, I found a plaintive tweet from Bookdep to Dark Horse in Mar 2011 about this. XD Okay, maybe it just sounded plaintive to me. I was a SAD FAN. ) Undeterred, I noticed the next time I placed a Bookdep order (also in March) that it was back. (And even cheaper than last time. ^^” Gotta love Bookdep.) I thought it was a cruel joke, really. But I placed an order anyway.

When it arrived, it didn’t matter that the cover was no longer the trademark wonderful textured cardboard of the previous eleven volumes — the editor’s notes stated Kurosagi wasn’t selling too well, and the cover was a bit too expensive to start with anyway — I finally had another volume to read! \o/ Overjoyed.

Being nosy, I asked @DarkHorseComics on Twitter,

@DarkHorseComics Pleasantly surprised to have Kurosagi Corpse Delivery 12 in my hands, given the 1.5-year gap. Any plans for more vols?”

and got the sad reply,

@bythebooks Still in discussions. The better it does the better there’s a chance of new volumes.”

But then! I’m placing a Bookdep order (again) and noticed there’s a date announced for volume 13. \o/ And it’s the end of this year!

So, please, if you think this is something you might enjoy, do give it a whirl. I love the art. The stories are interesting. The characters are amusing. Yes, it can be dark, and there’s some gore, but this is the series that converted me from UGH GORE YUCK GROSS to hey, this isn’t too bad after all.

All of the volumes can be purchased via Book Depository, which offers free shipping to many places in the world. They range from $9 to $12ish on that site per volume. Except five. That one’s gone. Oh, careful you don’t buy the Spanish ones, unless you know the language, in which case they are cheaper. :D (Not Dark Horse, though..they probably don’t have Carl Gustav Horn either. XD)

If you’re the new-fangled type (hello!) AND in US, AS, CA, GU, MP, PR, or VI, Dark Horse has also kindly offered digital versions of the volumes for purchase, at $5.99 per volume. Instant gratification, no need to wait for the postman, half the rrp. :)

And I guess that’s it. I’ll end with the story of how I found a spin-off volume, Kunio Matsuoka Apparition Extermination in a Book-Off in Japan. Some of those branches are HUGE. Shelves upon shelves upon rows of manga, and on weekends especially, there are so many people browsing and reading. Being unprepared (“Hey! A Book-Off! Let’s go in this one!”), I had a few series I was looking for but had mentally blanked on what Kurosagi’s full name in Japanese was. When I asked a helpful salesperson who obviously spoke no English, he thought I was talking about Natsuhara Takeshi’s Kurosagi. 20 volumes and a prequel? Pffft. Our Kurosagi has 16 volumes too! XD I almost resorted to using a translator on my phone that refused to work right, and he had to ask fellow staff members, none of whom knew what I was talking about. We gave up after a lot of effusive mutual bowing and apologising, but Niisama later ended up finding this volume for me, which details more Sherlock Holmes-style old-school mysteries, aided by Yaichi and fluffy thingsies. Maybe one day, this, too, will get translated and released in English. We can but hope. :)

And I was going to prepare actual posts for 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, and 12 (the volumes I have on hand; not sure where 7 and 10 went, I’m not the most organised of people. XD), but as you can see, it didn’t work out. So have some summaries/blog drafts (5, 6, 8), instead?!

5
One-line chapter summaries
1: Slaughter of an entire village.
2: Fake mummy trade.
3: Capitalising on a niche market, and a little of Karatsu’s backstory?
4: A cryogenic scheme.

MVP: The sobbing woman who appeared in story 3. Not only does she seem to have the ability to make others cry when she does, she may have been involved in Karatsu’s birth…hrm.

It might have been because it was 3am at this time, but I don’t really have much to say about this volume. ^^” There was the parallel of the baby in chapter one versus the baby in chapter three — Karatsu and the ghost/man behind him?

6
One-line chapter summaries
1: The postal service near Aokigahara is competiting with the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service..:O
2: Corpse in a hidden attic.
3: Psych therapy for a corpse.
4: Karatsu gets attacked by someone with a grudge against Yaichi.
5: A mystery from Yaichi’s time. (with some very familiar characters)

I can’t find volume seven…or ten, either, for that matter. XD

8
One-line chapter summaries
1: Would-be schoolmate commits suicide, regrets it.
2: Curse of the…
3: afterlife marriage drawing. (ema)
4: Sasaki is in danger of being married to her dead stalker, but Yaichi saves the day.
5: Mystery of the dead babies…
6: in a coin locker…
7: murdered by a midwife.

A nurse who can hear the final oft-cryptic words of the dead is introduced in chapter five. She forms a bond with Karatsu, though it doesn’t go beyond blushing. (Awww.) The same chapter also refers to ko sodate yurei again. (Last mentioned in volume four.) Except this time, instead of a ghost raising the child, it’s about unwanted children who are killed.. (infanticide)

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Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Volume Four: Aliens and Parasites

One-line chapter summaries
1: An alien client.
2: Unwilling humans preserved in plastic.
3: Coin locker baby.
4: When parasites infect humans.

From this cover on, they start to feature members of the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service aside from Karatsu as something interesting. Their feet, for volume four.

Our team gets to travel a bit in this volume, first out to the boonies to make crop circles and help an alien client, then to China to chase down some human experimenters. (Mad researchers?) The theme of this volume seems to be urban legends, though bits are certainly true. I never knew about Unit 731, the Japanese equivalent of Auschwitz (i.e. illegal and unethical human medical experimentation). Ko Sodate Yurei (child-raising ghost) is an actual Japanese folk tale about a woman who dies just before giving birth wanting to look after her newborn. Horn, the editor, mentions that it was invoked in Fatal Frame II. Hmm, should check that out.

A few temporary side characters in this story: an exorcist who does his job with a gun, Akiba Reiji, and Reina Gorn, a student from Ohio studying forensic etymology.

MVP: I gotta say, Reina was enjoyable to read. Then again, I did like Vector Case File: Inaho no Konchuuki. (Sadly, not licensed in English.)

The fourth story was pretty chilling because aside from the human vector part, it is true.. Leucochloridium paradoxum infects snails and grows in their eyestalks, causing said eyestalks to enlarge, sometimes change to bright colours, and pulse. If that’s not enough, the parasite also messes with the snail’s light-sensing, so it’ll venture out into the sun and be spotted by birds that nom it, thinking it’s a yummy worm, but actually ingesting the parasite and allowing it to continue reproducing. (It leaves the bird via droppings which snails then ingest, closing the cycle.) The sad thing is that the snail sometimes survives the eyestalk-pecking, but when it regenerates eyestalks, the same thing happens again..

It’s one of those ‘Damn Nature, you scary’ parasites. Other nice examples: The jewel wasp (also mentioned in this volume) disables cockroaches’ fear response and lays eggs on/in them, leaving it to be fed on by the young. Spinochordodes tellinii grows in grasshoppers or crickets, influencing them to jump into water and drown themselves (since the parasites reproduces in water). Toxoplasmosis gondii changes the behaviour of rats and mice, making them drawn to instead of scared of cats, which host the next phase of the parasite’s development (this one can also infect humans, actually) — and CORDYCEPS!

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Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Volume Three: That Yakuza Baldy

One-line chapter summaries
1: Harvested kidney wants to go home.
2: Bringing the parts home.
3: Suicide Battle Royale
4: Suicide song
“To lure meaningless life to meaningless death.”

MVP: Kereellis for warning Yata. And well, Yata for being (forced into the role of) bait. Though a killer with braces and a blunt instrument isn’t really the most fearsome of creatures, I wouldn’t want to be in a situation like that. Numata said a bunch of (more-amusing-than-usual) things in this volume, though.

Tidbit: Suicide battle royale was pretty interesting. A bit grim, and dark in the way Kurosagi usually is, but a nice twist on the usual battle royale. Suicide itself was a dominant theme in this manga, being featured in two of the three stories. The idea of a suicide song or a death song has been around as an urban legend for a while now. It may or may not be related to binaural beats, but I won’t discount the possibility that music may have/already has subliminal effects we aren’t quite privy to..

Sasayama is also introduced in this volume as the bald ‘yakuza-like’ (according to Karatsu) social worker who gives the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service jobs they usually end up performing for free. He’s an amusing one who probably closes one eye at the dubious way our motley crew sometimes handles things, and we’ll be seeing more of him. (He’s like a quest NPC..)

People who are familiar with (train) jumpers will find chapter four hits a little close to home. I never knew there was so much damage. :/ Sasayama’s complaints about the costs and inconvenience of train jumpers is really familiar, though. i.e. Every time there’s a suicide delay on Cityrail. It’s true it’s an inconvenience, but a life was still lost — easy for me to say, though, I don’t use the train that often. :P

In one of the scenes, I was reminded of Hikaru no Go. Long-haired possible-ghost dressed in period clothing behind young boy? :P Karatsu is nowhere near as tennen as Hikaru, though. XD And Sai is certainly better-looking!

One last thing. In the notes, it was mentioned that

Hiroyuki Yamaga, co-producer of Evangelion, said he never met a cop who wasn’t an otaku.

I wonder whether this is still true…

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Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Volume Two: Best Served Cold

One-line chapter summaries

1: Parcel wrongly picked up turns out to be client.
2: Girl raises killer cat. (Also Ao’s sad backstory..)
3: Revenge on the dead.
Embalmer International Magazine ranked them “Hottest Interfaith Funeral Home!”
4: More behind Ao’s family’s murder than it seems. AKA brainwashed sister.
5: The plot thickens.
6: Everything is moving towards the confrontation/fugutaiten.
7: Resolution

Well. I felt a little silly typing that out, but this entire volume was pretty much one arc. There were a lot of heavy concepts introduced in this volume, which revolves around Ao’s backstory.

When she was eight years old, Ao witnessed the aftermath of the brutal murder of three of five members of her family. Many years on, the convicted murderer is sentenced to death. Around the same time, word of a ‘revenge ceremony’ comes around, and she is approached by her sister to participate in the one involving the murderer of her parents and little sister.

MVP: Ao. Even in the face of what is probably one of her deepest traumas, and also what might have led her to develop a penchant for looking at pictures of bodies, she remained calm. I thought the killer was a little too quick to confess, though. (“What are you trying to say…? // That I killed your mother and sister? That I cut your father open? Well, I did.”) ^^” I guess they’d decided the arc/volume had gone on long enough!

Tidbit: The death penalty is mentioned right at the start of the volume with little fanfare. Coming from Singapore, I have to admit that I pretty much had a somewhat-blasé reaction. The death penalty is legal there, and also carried out by hanging. In other parts of the world (including the part I currently reside in), though, capital punishment is a hot topic, and there are many people for and against it. To be honest, it’s not really something I want to go into.

Far more dubious is the idea of this particular fugutaiten (不倶戴天) ceremony – Raising a murderer just to kill them again as a form of revenge or closure to the victims. From the translator’s/editor’s notes,

Fugutaiten means having to take revenge against another even if it means one’s own death. The kanji literally mean that one person cannot live under the same heavens if the other is to stay alive.

Is it right? Is that a good way of dealing with grief? The writer leaves this open-ended, with the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (i.e. Sasaki Ao) declining a merger with Nire, which will (it is presumed) continue on its business. Condemned or approved, it is certaining a chilling ceremony to consider.

As an aside, Yata raises in this volume the fact that everyone thinks he’s a ventriloquist. While I do believe he’s channeling an alien, it’s true that his general depiction is very similar to that of what few ventriloquist acts I’ve seen. (Humble, quiet, likable ventriloquist and rude, brash, noisy puppet.) After having recently watched Her Master’s Voice, I have a newfound respect for the art of ventriloquism. With the amount of swearing Kereellis does, though, I sometimes wonder how it sounds in Japanese..^^”

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Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service <3 and Volume One, a few stories

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is a fantastic series. I’ve always loved paranormal stories with quirky characters, and Kurosagi dishes that out in spades.

(Yes, yes, I know there’s that other famous manga called Kurosagi. But the one by Otsuka Eiji/Yamazaki Housui has the limelight this time, alright?)

So when Eeeper’s Choice announced a MMF (Manga Movable Feast) for Kurosagi, I had to join in. Despite not having an active blog. Hey, as good a time as any to start writing again. :) (I’d also wanted to join one of those things for the longest time, but mainly been too lazy/shy…)

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (or Kurosagi Shitai Takuhaibin) is an ongoing series. Fourteen volumes have been published in Japan, and only twelve have been translated into English, by Dark Horse Comics. I wish I could give a solid date on when 13 will be coming out, but more on that in the last blog post of this series.

It tends to be episodic in style, guiding the characters through cases where our characters get to fulfill the wishes of the dead — in exchange for recompense, of course. The level of gore and the episodic execution reminds me of Pet Shop of Horrors, but Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service delivers a deeper, less fantastical story, often asking some interesting questions while maintaining levity.

Before we begin, I should probably note that this manga has a fair bit of blood and oft-gory bits, right from the first chapter. It’s still all in black and white, yes, but can be shocking to the uninitiated. I think there’s some nudity in the images I’ll be posting. I can’t say I like gore, but I really like Yamazaki-sensei’s art style. I find it pleasing to the eye, and the detail is great. (There’s a nice shot of intricately-decorated china in volume two that didn’t make it to the cut. “Black (tea)…like your company.”)

One-line chapter summaries
1: Creepy dad gets what’s coming to him.
2: Dignity to the dead in a traditional story.
3: An embalmer dabbles in, uh, body art.
“I knew you wouldn’t understand…does a priest give last rites to kill someone? No, he does it in faith.// This knife is just my rosary. // I move it in my hand and I prepare them for eternity.”
4: An actuary is super-effective.

MVP: Karatsu. He’s the main character, after all, and his corpse-animating ability courtesy his/his guardian’s powers are pretty useful for vengeance.

Tidbit/Random Thoughts: Aokigahara Forest will become a recurring location in the series, and is an actual place infamous for suicides. The translator, Toshifumi Yoshida, directs the reader in the notes to this Japanese reporters’ account of strange occurrences in the forest.

“We’ve got everything here that points to us being a death spot. Perhaps we should just promote ourselves as ‘Suicide City’ and encourage people to come here,” says the mayor of Aokigahara, exasperated by the high number of suicides registered in the area.

-Oddity Central

It’s also listed in the Cracked list of six creepiest places on Earth. Which I found an interesting read. Ah, Cracked. XD

A few excerpts from volume one: :)

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Random musings

I was starting to feel a little blog-itchy again, so here we are!

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