Friday, August 28, 2009

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, vol. 5

The story: The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service seems to be diversifying its business with this volume. This time around they discover a dead body while volunteering at an old folks' home, then try to return the man to his village, which seems to have been wiped off the map. Later, they encounter a fake mummy and try to figure out who's behind the mystery with the help from their old "friends" at Nire Ceremony funeral home, who are diversifying their own business by providing ancient Egyptian-like burials reminiscent of the pharaohs. In another chapter, the group becomes professional mourners for hire and yet another layer of intrigue is laid regarding Karatsu's guardian spirit. Lastly, the gang encounters a cryogenic facility and its ever-youthful proprietor.

Reaction: I was so interested in the professional crying woman. Everyone simply called her "grandma," but she seems to know more about Karatsu than she's letting on. There were also some creepier little mysteries, like the mummy-like embalmer working for Nire Ceremony. There was also a laughably whimsical ending to the cryogenic story. While I don't want to give anything away, it seems that the fraudulent owner finally got his and in an entertaining way!

Deep thoughts: I thought it was interesting that there are actually professional mourners. While I've attended several funerals over the years, I never thought that there would be a need for professional mourners. The way Yata talks about it, it seems that professional mourners were popular in ancient Egypt and Rome, and, up until a few decades ago, were still popular in India, China, Korea and Japan. Surprisingly, professional mourners are still employed in the Middle East and in Africa. There's even an award-winning Filipino comedy, Crying Ladies, that revolves around the lives of three women employed in Manila's Chinatown.

Artwork: There are some jarring close-ups in this volume, from a mummified corpse come back to life to the sobbing face of an old woman to the gold-toothed grin of a severed head. The instantaneously recognizable expressions distill the mood in each scene and provide a shorthand of sorts for what other characters are feeling. I also appreciated all of the Egyptian details in the second story; there was an obvious deal of research done both for the content and the art, lending it a believable amount of credibility.

The verdict: Highly recommended. While there's not an obvious line of continuity here, I feel like we're getting closer to the reveal of the meaning of the spirit that follows Karatsu. She's become a silent seventh member of the group and I'm wondering what her larger purpose is in the story. Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is available in the U.S. from Dark Horse.

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