The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service – Slick, visceral horror
By S.T. Cartledge
The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service – written by Eiji Ōtsuka, and illustrated by Housui Yamazaki
“Your body is their business!”
I’ve read the first few volumes of this manga series and was incredibly impressed. Did you ever see that show, “Ghost Whisperer” with Jennifer Love Hewitt? Yeah, I wasn’t really a fan either… Kurosagi has got that whole “communicating with the dead” aspect to it, helping restless souls find their peace. But imagine if Ghost Whisperer were a manga with a Junji Ito/Uzumaki flair. That sounds a bit more promising, yeah?
Basically, the series is about a group of students at a buddhist college who have a unique set of gifts which allow them to find and communicate with corpses. They’re not just dealing with pesky ghosts, but with real, decaying bodies, too. It’s not straight-up horror. Most of the time it feels like a psychological thriller. But occasionally (and by ‘occasionally’ I mean on a pretty regular basis) things get spectacularly fucked up. They find some sick shit. They find people doing things to dead bodies that people just shouldn’t do to dead bodies.
It’s not as chaotic or batshit insane as Uzumaki, but it’s awesome. Sometimes the bodies are just after something simple, and sometimes they’re after revenge from their psycho killers. The series plays out on a case-by-case basis, so it’s pretty episodic. And the stories are great. And the art is slick and neat and visually stunning. The corpses are raw and visceral and violent. It’s all in realistic proportions (none of the typical overly-cartoonish stuff that’s common in manga), which makes the horror all the more shocking.
If this is your sort of thing, you might also want to check out Mail, a three-volume series about a ghost hunter, written and illustrated by Yamazaki. I’ve also been trying to track down MPD-Psycho, which was written by Ōtsuka, as it seems to have the same brand of visceral horror, but sometimes tracking down paperbacks of manga can be a bitch. There are a couple of issues of Kurosagi that I’m having to hunt down. Is it worth the trouble? Definitely, yes.
S.T. Cartledge is the author of House Hunter. His work often borders on the fantastical, with rich world-building and fast-paced action sequences inspired by anime, manga, and the works of D. Harlan Wilson, Carlton Mellick III, and Cameron Pierce. He lives in Perth, Western Australia, where he studies creative writing at Curtin University. He is currently completing an honours thesis on Bizarro fiction.