Posts Tagged service
If you’ve just started reading this month’s MMF then I would suggest reading my brief overview of the series beforehand as I explain the setup of the books. Also, if you’d like more information on volumes 1-4 or 5-8, please see my reviews of them.
And as I reach the end of the available volumes of Kurosagi, I’m sitting here, wondering what exactly have I learned from this batch? Well, it’s for certain that our heroes have settled into their roles and the situations they find themselves in. When the gang help a local cop in a coastal town solve a series of crimes and the inevitable massacre of the bad guy at the heart of the matter, they advise him to not write up what he just witnessed. Before, they would have avoided working with the police for fear of what the police would ask of them. Here, they are pretty laid back about it all. Another thing that surfaces is the back stories of both Numata and Makino. Makino’s is only really told as a side piece and Numata’s is kinda bleak. But like the others, they share a similar thread in that the key that holds all the kids together is that they all lost their families when they were young. Sasaki even mentioned the fact to Sasayama that he seems to bring together people with this type of background. But maybe Otsuka is speaking through Sasayama when he replies to her that she’s reading too much into it. Is it a coincidence or not? It’s not told at this point. Also, the eleventh volume’s bulk is taken up by one of the better continuous arcs. The story starts off with a simple idea of a girl who carries a boxcutter around and ends with a paedophile’s psychic essense being devoured by a giant mental projection of a marsupial. Yeah, it’s that wicked.
Other things they tackle in these volumes are the pop idol who’s a complete bitch in real life, an invisible man corpse (no, that’s really what happens), a VR/Second Life and a side story about a couple of kids who find each other only to have tragedy strike. In many ways, the scenarios on display here hark back to the days of pulp sci-fi where the idea on display didn’t necessarily have to involve big things. The hook is all you need. So, if they want us believe that there’s a guy cycling round zapping everyone who recently died so they can finish up their affairs, OK, I’ll buy it. Otsuka and Yamazaki make their creations relatable rather than believable. This distinction is important: if they were believable then you’d be asking yourself why is raising the dead to help put their affairs in order, believable? Relatable makes them seems like you could know them, have lunch with them, go shopping with them, etc. On the flip side of things, the concept behind the books has to be believable rather than relatable. Seriously, if you knew that raising the dead was the same as going through a customer query with a customer in McDonalds, then it kind of takes away the mystique of the whole thing, no? But if you knew that while the idea is far fetched, if the authors present the facts of the case in, at least, a scientific way then you’re in and it would take a serious jumping of the shark for you to un-buy the idea.
One thing, and it’s a minor thing that my screenwriting cap won’t let me let go of, is that after twelve volumes, only one other person has outright mentioned that they knew of the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service and what they do. Now two other groups, The Nire Company and the Shirogani Service knew about them but they work in the other industry so it’s logical that they should know about them. But this is the 21st Century, for pity’s sake, something like the KCDS should be, I dunno, public knowledge. If not on a public level, then the internet should be awash with people asking questions about them. Yes, I know, Japanese culture values privacy but still the chatrooms should have said something by now. It’s the only niggling point I can find with the whole setup of the books.
Finally, I’ve learned that horror can be fun as well as scary. As I’ve said before, there’s an almost EC Comics/Twilight Zone sense of irony at work here. People who have had their dead face ripped off for profit, only want to shag the person who betrayed them, dripping blood and all. Drug runners who use Chinese and Korean drug mules to make drops using the sea is dragged to the beach and out of sea. And so on. At this stage, I look forward to the hammer falling on these edjits as much as the chapter’s setup and execution.
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service continues to go from strength to strength, building the mythos behind its characters, expanding its scope and delving deeper into the whole idea of death and how you deal with it once it happens to you. As long as we continue to buy, enjoy and pass on this series as recommendation to our friends and fellow Netizens then I’m pretty sure we stand a fair chance in seeing it to the end. I commend these volumes to you in the hopes that you too will read them and come up with your own likes and dislikes about it. Let me know, eh?
Just one review today. Thanks, Jenn, for doing that! Please, everyone, keep them coming. I’m really enjoying reading all of your writings on Kurosagi.
Jenn from By The Mochiko?!
Good afternoon! And Day 3 of the Kurosagi MMF gets better with these reviews:
Sean Gaffney from A Case Suitable For Treatment:
If you’ve just started reading this month’s MMF then I would suggest reading my brief overview of the series beforehand as I explain the setup of the books. Also, if you’d like more information on volumes 1-4, please see my review of it.
Moving swiftly into this second bunch of volumes, the gang get their first clues as to Yaichi’s identity and we also see the Nire group in here for the second time. All the while, they go from client to client trying their best to not either get arrested or dead. The Nire Group are interesting. Initially they came across as complete bad guys (and to be frank, reanimating a dead convict who’s already been executed by the state only to have someone kill them again is sick) but as we learn about them, we realise that Nire himself is simply a driven man, not a vindictive one. But Mutsumi, his adopted daughter, has a similar talent to Karatsu and used it to her own ends. These ends aren’t evil in themselves but I dare you to face down a finger-chomping, zombie cat and not poop your pants. Also, the appearance of Shirosagi Cleaning Service is evil personified. It’s one thing to profit from another person’s misfortune, resulting in their death. It’s another when you keep profiting from them after they’re dead. They turn up again later in the series and they just ooze a “We is the bad guy!” vibe. I’m glad that they’ve turned up in the story. Other than Sasaki’s origin story in volume 2, the book has shied away from doing continuous stories and as a result doesn’t have a arc, per se, to follow. So having recurring villains is the next best thing.
I’ve learned something about the title while reading these volumes. There seems to be a double standard going on in terms of nudity. I’ve already seen Sasaki naked from the waist up and in this bunch we see Makino naked, albeit from a distance. And yes, in this batch we do see full frontal male nudity but not from the male cast members. So, it’s OK to see a nondescript corpse’s yoo-hoo but not Yata’s, Karatsu’s or Numata’s? Hmm, it’s kinda one sided, don’t ya think? It’s a minor gripe in an altogether great series but still it niggles at me. Oh, I should bring up Tooru Sasayama, the social worker who used to be a police detective in Otsuka’s MPD Psycho, and who appeared in the first volumes but I forgot to include him on my first review. He’s a bit of a curmudgeon but he really does have a good sense of honour about him. He’s forever giving the kids (as he puts it) terrible unpaid jobs but in the blink of an eye, is cursing them for costing him money (main bone of contention is unidentified bodies have to be paid for by the local prefecture, i.e. Sasayama’s). Also, we are being deliberately misdirected about the origin of Yaichi, the spirit that rests around Karatsu. One origin is set in the mid-twentieth century, another is turn of the twentieth century, yet another is that one of the Shirosagi Cleaning Service’s people has similar scars. They can’t all be the same person so what is going on here? I don’t know but I hope this doesn’t turn into a Darth Vader moment, that’s all I’m saying.
I’ve no real problems with this batch of volumes. The gruesome is consistent (never thought I see myself writing that) and the little bits and pieces we are discovering about the characters are coming along nicely. I really can’t say why I like it. I think it’s a mixture of a few things: the gore done in such an EC Comics way, the fact that the cast aren’t all that fazed anymore, the people they meet are just people plain and simple, the equality of death is shown, the overarching Buddhist system of Karma in action when the wicked are punished for their transgressions and the irreverent way the authors put Japan in the dock in each volume.
The series continues to impress me and I can’t recommend a better book for grown ups who like their blood and guts along with a monthly dose of humor and snark.
Point of interest: another great cog in the machinery of the book is the black, black, comedy on display. You can’t help but chuckle at the way some of the antagonists get their comeuppance. Again, (and I’m really not trying to labour the point here) the EC Comics vibe is really strong when it happens. The cast almost have a collective “Oh, dear. Whatever shall we do to help the poor git?” look on their faces when the poop hits the fan for the chapters antagonists. Also, the way that the one-liners, great comebacks and delivery is presented is stellar. I can’t count the amount of times I laughed and then checked myself because someone had been brutally murdered (they deserved it, of course). Also, the cast is in the joke, while initially scared by what they see, by the third volume they actually can use the scrapes they’re in to their advantage. Just watching Numata and Karatsu coming to a halt and staring in slack jawed amazement as a corpse gets up and whales on an evildoer is great. The end of the chapter dealing with the cyonics swindler still makes me laugh. I feel that the authors are saying to me “Hey, if you can’t laugh at this sort of stuff, what can you laugh at?”