Sunday, August 16, 2009
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, vol. 2
The story: While Makoto and Karatsu suffer from a serious lack of work following graduation, Yata decides to find a paying line of work at Nire Ceremony, a popular, interfaith funeral home. But, there's something "off" about Nire Ceremony, especially after Yata sees the owner's adopted daughter bring a dead cat back to life. Meanwhile, someone's been asking a lot of questions about Kurosagi Delivery Service on campus, putting Ao on alert. But, Ao seems to be dealing with some issues of her own. What is Ao's recent obsession with the past and what is her connection to Nire Ceremony?
Reaction: I'll admit, I was a little creeped out by the zombie plotline in this volume, but it was intriguing in its own way, too. Learning about Ao's past was interesting and surprising considering her role on the team. It made me wonder how her past influenced her career interests and her creation of Kurosagi. There was some exploration of the other characters, especially Yata and his feelings of inadequacy in relation to the rest of the team. All in all, this volume revealed the depth of the characters that Eiji Otsuka has created.
Deep thoughts: If there's one prevailing theme in this second volume, it's of revenge. The revenge that the living want from those who have killed their loved ones, the revenge that the dead want against those who have wrongfully killed them and the revenge that hides in the hearts of those left standing on the sidelines. Revenge is so often seen as a defect of sorts, a dark black void in our hearts. But, it's much more than that. It can also inspire us, stengthen us and give some a reason to keep living, much as it does for both Ao and Mutsumi, the adopted daughter of Nire Ceremony's owner. While some would say revenge is unnecessary, I would say that it has its place, but can easily overwhelm those with weak spirits and hearts.
Artwork: Maybe its because of the intimacy of this story and Ao's backstory, but Housui Yamazaki's artwork seems to have a more personal feel to it. From small details like a birthmark on a fingernail to the floral pattern on the tea set at Nire Ceremony, Yamazaki seems to have taken extra care in this set of chapters. There's also some great character design here, too. Lastly, it's funny that I thought of it as such a "treat" when Yata's eyes were momentarily revealed during his heroic act in the last chapter. Since his eyes are almost always covered by his bangs, it was a nice surprise. But, I do have a couple of complaints, namely Ao's seemingly constant lack of clothing and that Hayashi doesn't look as old as one would expect, considering he's about 15 to 20 years older than the rest of the cast.
The verdict: Highly recommended. It would be so easy to simply say that Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is just a good manga, but, it's so much more than that. It explores deep questions about the meaning of life and death, and combines it with mystery, violence, interesting characters and a dash of good humor. I've found myself empathizing with these two-dimensional characters, wondering what their motivations are and noticing what a wonderful balance they have as a group. And there aren't too many books, let alone manga, that drive me to that type of curiosity. Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is available in the U.S. from Dark Horse.