Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, vol. 6

The story: We're getting closer to the mystery behind Karatsu's guardian spirit. This volume is split into two main stories—the first deals with the death of an older woman and the daughter she kept hidden in her attic. The person connected to the older woman's murder is a man with a scarred face—much like that of Karatsu's spirit, but also someone familiar to Mr. Sasayama. While the reason for the daughter living a hidden life is never revealed, Karatsu seems intent on finding out the truth. At the end of that chapter, all we hear is a dead spirit shouting "Yaichi, Yaichi!" In the second story, titled "Kunio Matsuoka Demon Hunting Side Story," we travel back in time to the Meiji era. Here a monk with the same name and appearance as Sasayama is escorting a young boy named Yaichi from Kurosagi village to help investigate the gruesome murders of women in Matsuoka's city.

Reaction: While much of this volume focuses on the growing competition Kurosagi is facing, towards the end of this volume, there's a sense of urgency to figure out what's going on, especially since Karatsu is left in a cliffhanger ending. The side story added another layer of mystery with its character and content connections to the modern-day storyline. I found myself hoping I'd learn something that would help the puzzle pieces fall into place, to no avail. I'm hungry to know the meaning of those scarred faces and what connection Sasayama has to everything that's been going on. Of course, the side story could simply serve as a diversion from the main plotline and have no meaning at all.

Deep thoughts: Again, the Japanese language never ceases to amaze me with a specificity not seen in English. For example, in the first story, we learn about the term netsuki miko, or a rooted priestess. While, on the surface, she seems to have the same powers as Karatsu, she actually only has the ability to speak to "particular spirits of the land." Within two words, we find out what would be an entire phrase in English. It's amazing and shows the inherent difficulty in translating Japanese to English.

Artwork: I'll admit, the scarred doctor that Sasayama knew way back when reminded me of another, more popular scarred doctor—Black Jack. While I wouldn't call the resemblance uncanny because of the rather different art style employed by Housui Yamazaki, I will say that the similarities can't be ignored: black hair with a white patch above his right eye, a patchwork of scars covering his face and a great deal of skill in wielding a scalpel. I also enjoyed the historical setting of the side story; it was interesting to see the Western influence on Japan during the Meiji era. There's a balance of Victorian-era England with classic Japanese details and costumes.

The verdict: Highly recommended. I can't wait to read the next volume, especially after being fed small scraps of story regarding Karatsu's spirit. Besides that, there's all the other companies infringing on Kurosagi's business—will Kurosagi survive or will they be beat by the competition? Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is available in the U.S. from Dark Horse.

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