The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Volume 14
I’m so glad to get another volume of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service! (The previous book, volume 13, last appeared at the end of 2012.) Although it’s horror, it’s one of my favorite manga series, with each volume featuring creative deaths and victim quests that say something about the modern human condition. And The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Volume 14 was well worth the wait, with two unique takes on the corpse-assisting team.
The first story incorporates a hypocritical, corrupt politician, a conspiracy website that’s begun writing about the Corpse Delivery Service, a smartphone app that reveals the thoughts of the dead, and a group pretending to be the team we know. Amusingly, the imposter group, which charges to make body problems go away, are better at making money than the real thing. It’s a suspenseful story, with the reader following along with the team as they try to figure out who’s impersonating them and why. The final showdown, with a zombie uprising, is amazing.
(Frequent readers of this site may be wondering why I like this series so much if it involves walking corpses and other horror elements, since I don’t care for the genre in general. It’s because the concepts are so interesting, and the theme of wanting justice is universal, both expressed with a black humor. Plus, the characters — made outcasts by their abilities to find or communicate with the dead or their knowledge that there’s more in the world than most people know — are sympathetic in their desire to find their place and way to contribute to making things right.)
There’s an interesting undercurrent, mentioned in passing, of the surveillance state, with everyone assumed to be on camera whenever they’re in public. Sasaki, their hacker, finds this convenient for her work, of course, but it’s something the others are surprised to have brought to their attention.
My favorite story in this volume is the one that inspired the cartoony headshots on the cover. Someone has made a Hollywood-ized cartoon version of the team, only their cover is pizza delivery guys in Los Angeles. It’s all drawn in a style reminiscent of the Batman animated series, which I found hilarious. Parody can be tricky for new readers, but in this case, the group is defined through contrast — their behavior shows how they’re not like the imposters or the cartoon version. And I think this volume has everything you need to know, revealing key points through action.
The final story returns to politics, with misuse of public funds, a younger politician trying to clean up corruption, and a museum dedicated to execution and torture devices. And as always, there are the best endnotes in comics, with editor Carl Gustav Horn not only explaining references but elaborating on cultural differences.
If a new reader doesn’t want to start here, the first three volumes of the series will be re-released in an omnibus this August. The endnotes mention that sales on that volume will likely affect the release schedule for future series volumes, so I encourage people to sample the series, either now or then, if they’re interested. The publisher has posted some preview pages.