The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service: Volume 3

The time has come for me to finally finish out the first Kurosagi omnibus. I’ve had a fun time reviewing them, so expect this series to keep going. That’s one thing about manga, it gives you a lot of material to work with. The same content warnings apply here as my previous reviews of this series.

The third installment in the series goes back to the format of the first volume. There are three short stories that each cover one job that the Delivery Service gets. The first story follows a trail from a kidney that they find in the body of a man dead by organ rejection. The second follows a twisted battle royal game. The third follows a musical mystery that follows a train station suicide.

The first corpse isn’t an entire body, but rather a part of one. While watching an anti-war protest, Karatsu and Numata find a dying man. They take him to the hospital to see if he needs their services. For the most part, he doesn’t. His kidney does, though. It turns out that the kidney belongs to a man that they had found in the sewer six months before. Hamid al-Muhammad was an illegal Iraqi immigrant to Japan who fled during the Gulf war. They find out that he fell victim to a black-market organ harvesting scheme before ultimately being deported back to Iraq. They need to track down his various discarded body parts so that they can send him home.

This is the only story in the third volume that focuses on a single death. This chapter took an unusual political tone. It’s strange for a supernatural horror to date itself and take such a strong real-world stance. This series is otherwise evergreen, so it was a little annoying. Since the first chapter of volume 3 first appeared in Shonen Ace in 2004, this story was timely at its debut. The English translation wasn’t released until 2011, after the war ended.

In the next story, Numata and Yata are working their second job as salespeople for a local newspaper. On their route, they find a murder victim’s body. They notice strange graffiti in the area and dismiss it as being in a bad neighborhood at first. They notice a particular Oni image appears at the scene of a string of murders around Tokyo. They find out that there’s an underground club of suicidal unemployed people. They take part in a fight to the death with the winners getting the insurance money from the losers.

This story was my least favorite of the three. It seemed to go nowhere and it didn’t much of a point. It seemed like a filler chapter. The corpse is almost incidental and there’s not much more that we learn about the characters. I don’t have much to say about it because it was kind of boring.

The third story was interesting in that it didn’t involve a whole body. Two of the three stories here involve bodies separated into parts. In this one, Numata finds that his pendulum is reacting to a magazine at a used book stand. After purchasing the book for 100 yen (about 90 cents), they find that it has a severed human ear. As Karatsu tries to speak with the ear to find out what it was doing in the magazine, he only hears a song. They find that at a particular railroad crossing they can hear the song Karatsu heard from the ear. The railroad bell, a school bell, and the chime on a recycling truck create a sound that drives people to suicide.

This chapter seems to reference the urban legend surrounding the Lavender Town theme. This song from Pokemon Red and Blue is the center of a popular urban legend. There was a rumor that the the song had frequencies that would make children kill themselves. As far as I know, it isn’t true, but it is a rumor that has permeated pop culture. Given the author’s background in sociology, it makes sense that he would use an urban legend as the inspiration for a horror story. I hope that I find more allusions to urban legends in future stories.

The third volume of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service continues the themes from the first two. We learn more about Karatsu’s powers and get a hint at a possible future character arc for Sasaki. One thing that I’ve noticed is the difference between the male and female main characters. Each of the five main characters has an ability that they bring to the Corpse Delivery Service. Interestingly, the men have supernatural powers while the women have learned skills. That means that the men didn’t have to earn their skills, they were just handed them. One could argue that Numata learned to dowse, but it is also equally possible that it’s an ability that he just has. But Sasaki and Makino have skills that they acquired through training or practice. It’s an interesting dynamic , since the women also are much more competent and capable than the men tend to be.

The third volume of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is weaker than the previous two. I liked it, but it wasn’t great compared to the previous volumes. It wasn’t the best way to end the first omnibus, but it doesn’t make me want to stop reading the series.

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