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!