Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Volume 10

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Volume 10 (Dark Horse, 2010)

Over the course of its run, The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service should have started to run out of steam, but it hasn’t. I say that because while I’m certainly not making any claims to being an expert on Japanese comics, I do have several shelves full of digests and every one of those that form long-running serials was feeling at least a little tired by its tenth book, almost as though the creators were working to a lengthy contract and their initial enthusiasm had long ago been dampened.

Kurosagi, on the other hand, just gets better and better with every book. The impression I get is that Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki had a concept so nebulous and a cast so sketchy that it’s taken them years to grow their creepy and promising work into something solid. Again, no claim of expertise here, but I wonder whether other creators that I enjoy do a great deal more behind-the-scenes work with editors before their stories hit the ground running. In his always entertaining annotations, editor Carl Horn mentioned a volume or two back that this series has wound its way through three or four different anthologies. Perhaps the lack of a solid editorial guide, with one eye on the popularity chart and the sales figures, has done Kurosagi a favor?

Whatever the case, over time the cast has become more fleshed out and human, especially Numata, whose mentor we meet in the last storyline here, and the cases more intricate, fascinating, horrifying and rule-breaking. There’s a bit in book ten where a guest character’s best friend is, in a moment I never would have seen coming, killed by the villains of that story, and another bit where I exclaimed aloud and distracted my family from our nice hour of quiet reading time. We need more comics that do that. Long may Kurosagi chill and terrify.

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