Overall Rating: A
Synopsis: Your body is their business! From writer, Eiji Otsuka, and artist, Housui Yamazaki, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is a manga that combines horror, and humor. The surprising thing about the series is that it does a good job at both. The story follows five Buddhist college students as they start up a unique service, one that serves the dead. Using unique skills, like dowsing and speaking to the dead, they find the dead and help them free their souls for reincarnation. Oh, and did I mention one of them speaks to aliens through the puppet on his hand?
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service follows Kuro Karatsu, an average student at an average Buddhist college. Kuro is trying to find a job, but his grades aren't good enough to get anything good. Fortunately for Kuro, he has a skill the other students don't, he can also speak to the dead. After getting roped into some volunteer service where he meets other specialists like himself, who can find dead bodies using dowsing, speak to aliens, and an embalmer (a rare occupation in Japan), the group forms the Kurosagi (which means black crane) Corpse Delivery Service. Their job is to find dead bodies whose souls cannot move on, and help free them so they can be reincarnated. Unfortunately for Kuro and the others, apparently the reason souls can't move on is because of some fucked up shit.
For example, the first case they get involved in deals with two lovers killed by the girl's father. Apparently, the girl had been a member of the pop group, Dokkiko, and the father had been abusing the girl. When he found out about her relationship, he became jealous and killed her and her boyfriend. Even more disturbingly, he replaces her corpse with a deer's carcass and takes her corpse back to their home to further abuse. Don't worry, the case ends happily enough, with the dead lovers killing the father so their souls can be released.
So, where's the humor? Well, if people speaking to aliens through hand puppets isn't enough to make you smile, I'm fairly sure you're dead inside. Even if that isn't your cup of tea, there is lots of shit to make you giggle in the series. For example, in the same story, Numada, the bad ass Dowser, comments on the pop group the dead girl belonged to, saying that she was a pure idol, and her departure from the group broke the hearts of all her fans. The delivery is fantastic and it's this kind of humor that makes the book great. The characters in the book deal with the horror like normal people. Well, normal people who have special powers and are kind of weird.
You might think that in a book where characters can speak to the dead, that the stories would be more action focused, or at least fast-paced, but the writing is often somber, and spends a lot of time presenting different facets of death and how people deal with it. The series also does an excellent job of juxtaposing real life issues like scrapping up enough money to buy lunch, and the supernatural issues that come along with speaking to the dead. I highly recommend checking this one out, but don't read it alone at night, unless you like creeping yourself out.