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"Listen, Mr. My-karma-is-oh-so-spotless, we're running a business here, not a charity. Did you check the corpse's credit?"
Sasaki

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is a Black Comedy horror Manga written by Eiji Otsuka and illustrated by Housui Yamazaki.

Answering an ad for volunteer work for extra credit, five students of a Buddhist university meet up at Aokigahara Forest, a real-life suicide spot. Kuro Karatsu, the viewpoint character, appears normal, but the rest are slightly...unusual. Ao Sasaki runs an internet chat room for people who like to share pictures of corpses. Makoto Numata can use a pendulum to dowse, but can only find dead bodies. Keiko Makino is a licensed embalmer in a country where close to 100% of bodies are cremated. And finally, Yuji Yata constantly wears a hand puppet that he believes is possessed by an alien called Kereellis.

As Karatsu decides that he doesn't really want to get mixed up with these weirdos, he turns to leave...and finds a corpse has crawled up behind him. His secret's out -- he can talk to the dead and listen to their last wishes. Sometimes, the dead come to him. When the events caused by the dead man's testimonial have all finished, Sasaki gets an idea: There's not much demand for what the group can do amongst the living, but there's always dead people. Some are bound to be grateful, in the folding-cash way, for what they could do for them.

Thus is created the concept of the Psychopomp For Hire, and so begins a dark, gory, squicky, yet frequently funny exploration of death and dying in Japan, and quite a few horror tropes as well. It's interesting for its episodic style - apart from the characters' back-stories and the arc regarding the origin of Karatsu's powers, each chapter is self-contained. The realistic art style and top-notch translation makes it something definitely worth reading, for those with a strong stomach.


Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service contains examples of:

  • Akashic Records
  • Americans Are Cowboys: Reina Gorn.
  • Back From the Dead: Karatsu's ability allows him to temporarily bring the dead back to finish their business. Nire employs a girl who can bring back the dead. One story deals with another character who can do this (temporarily) with his Magical Defibrillator.
  • Badass: Numata.
  • Bald of Awesome: Karatsu.
  • The Bait: Yata, at one point. Also see Got Volunteered.
  • Bandage Mummy: Shinuhe's standard getup. He's even written Egyptian burial prayers on the inside of his bandages. It's unclear whether he was just horribly burned, or if he is an actual Egyptian mummy brought to Japan in the Edo period and brought to life by Nire Ritual--he has claimed both as explanations for his getup.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Averted.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • Karatsu can talk with the dead. While this makes him the linchpin of the 'Corpse' part of the Kurosagi Delivery Service, it has given him alienation issues.
    • Later in the series another character shows up who has the same ability, albeit more limited.
  • Blinding Bangs: Yata.
  • Body Horror: Quite a lot. Part 4 of Vol. 4 especially. Aarrrgh.
  • Brown Note: One episode concerns a sound that makes people want to kill themselves.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Shinuhe. Having burns is all well and good, but he apparently enjoys dressing like an Egyptian mummy.
    • Unless he actually is one.
  • Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: It's all part of the service.
  • Came Back Wrong: The first Nire storyline has a girl that can revivify the recently dead, but not very well. They turn into vengeful zombies, which usually doesn't come up, given what Nire actually uses the bodies for...
  • Captain Obvious/Understatement: The Mad Doctor, surrounded by the animated (and angry) corpses of his victims: "No... This isn't right."
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Karatsu, the medium. Whether he does it out of curiosity, boredom or the goodness of his heart, he just can't seem to abandon a penniless corpse in need. This is a frequent source of exasperation for Sasaki.
    • Sasaki comments in the first volume that the reason the restless dead come to him is because he's "a guy that can't say no." For all that he's a cynical wiseass, he's astonishingly compassionate.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Kereellis, Yata's alien-possessed hand puppet, is very foul-mouthed; the others' language can get salty at times.
  • Cool Old Guy: Sasayama.
  • The Coroner: Given that the protagonists work outside the law, they obviously don't have professionals to rely on. Makino (as an embalmer) usually fills this role in regards to the plot, but for professional aid they usually have to pull Sasayama into the case.
  • Creepy Child: Mei in Vol.11, although she has a good excuse for it.
  • Crossover: With MPD Psycho. And Mail.
  • Dead All Along: The 'ghost member'.
  • Dead Little Sister: The reason why Yata keeps his hand puppet.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The entire cast apply sarcasm liberally, though Kereellis is by far the worst.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Sasaki believes in this trope, dismissing out of hand the need for the corpse of the man who murdered her parents and sister to apologize. This feeling may not be genuine when she says it, although she and her sister do legitimately forgive him by the end of the storyarc, mostly because it's revealed that he only killed her father, and someone else killed her mother and sister.
  • Demonic Dummy: Well, more 'foul-mouthed alien' than 'demonic', really, but Kereellis qualifies, if only because he seems to be able to do things that normal ventriloquist dummies can't. Although we're still not sure if it's not just a combination of Yata's powers and some dissociative mental disorder.
  • Driven to Suicide: Several of the service's clients are suicides, including their very first.
  • Drop-Dead Gorgeous: See Fan Disservice.
  • Due to the Dead: Giving the dead their due is what the service is for.
  • Dysfunction Junction: So far we've one whose entire immediate family (except one sister) was murdered, one who lost his sister and both parents to a murder-suicide and barely survived, one whose mother committed suicide in front of her, one whose parents and older brother 'disappeared' (and later discovers where their corpses are buried, but is unable to retrieve them) and the Blessed with Suck entry above. His parents are probably dead too.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: Makino tends to go for this look.
  • Evil Phone: Who knew insurance salesmen could be so deadly?
  • Eye Scream: See Body Horror. Do not read that chapter unless you have Brain Bleach close at hand.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Corpses, both male and female, are realistically rendered in various states of undress.
    • When Makino is finally given a nude scene, it's as she's being prepped to be dissected for a plastinated corpse exhibition. Alive.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Furo Scene: Another excuse to show both Sasaki and Makino fully naked, although the fact that there's a very young girl with them makes it more uncomfortable judged as Fan Service.
  • Gallows Humour: Obviously.
  • Generic Cuteness: Averted. Realism is the order of the day.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Karatsu sarcastically says that yeah, they could call the suspect in one story and ask to meet up. Cut to Yata finishing a call to the suspect. He agrees.
  • The Glasses Come Off: Numata -- who is normally seen wearing Sunglasses At Night -- takes off his glasses once in order to identify himself to his old master.
  • Hot Librarian: Sasaki.
  • Hot Scientist: A stereotypical blonde American entomologist, wearing a bikini, in the fourth volume. Still didn't compensate for the Body Horror in the same chapter.
    • For bonus points, said bimbo scientist is named Reina Gorn.
  • Human Popsicle: One chapter is devoted to cryogenics, and feature a few of these.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The chapters are all named after obscure Japanese rock and pop albums and songs, with the chapters of each book usually being united by theme such as a common artist.
  • The Imp: The hand puppet through which Yata talks to the aliens.
  • Jack the Ripper: Shows up in a flashback story in volume 6.
  • The Lab Rat: Makino, occasionally.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After helping their first suicide victim and (with his permission) taking a lottery ticket from his corpse as 'payment', the group discover it's a winning ticket. It turns out to be just enough money for starting capital for the service, and the group continues to do their good deeds for promises of karmic payoff. Several villains also get defeated in a very karmic manner.
  • Magical Defibrillator
  • Manly Tears: Numata tends to do this a lot. Or at least protests that his crying counts as manly tears a lot. But he also explains that the tears aren't manly if the emotion isn't genuine.
  • Meaningful Name: Mr. Shinuhe the embalmer and suspected mummy, whose name is composed of the kanji for 'death' and 'door'. As the translation notes, 'not foreboding at all'.
    • Seeing how he looks like an Egyptian mummy (or possibly is one), it might also be a reference to Sinuhe the Egyptian, a historical novel set in ancient Egypt.
  • Meganekko: Sasaki. She's even called this in the notes at the back of the English-language volumes
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Numata's dowsing master.
  • Million-to-One Chance: The evil insurance agent has learned how to manipulate the odds to make this a method of murder. So naturally his Karmic Death involves such an unlikely event.
  • Misapplied Phlebotinum: A young scientist invents an invisibility suit and uses it to sneak into women's locker rooms so he can watch them undress. At the end it's admitted his perversion actually saved the world from having invisible spies and assassins running around, so it's mostly a good thing.
  • Moment Killer: Makino's walk with Yata is interrupted by him being dragged off to help with an obese corpse.
  • Monster of the Week: Revives this trope in the form of, "What's the story behind the corpse in this chapter?".
  • Ms. Fanservice:
  • Nausea Fuel: This happens in-universe when Yata tries to view some of Sasaki's pictures while eating. It...does not go well for him.
  • Nipple-and-Dimed: Averted Trope, especially with Reina and Sasaki.
  • Not Using the Zed Word: They don't ever call them that, but what else would you call it when the dead start moving? They have used it jokingly.
  • Older Than They Look: Jenny Kayama, Sasaki's professor. She looks as young as her student, but she's actually Sasayama's age.
  • Parental Abandonment: All of the Kurosagi crew, except possibly Karatsu, suffer from this in one form or another. In Volume Eleven, it's hypothesized that having your parents die violently when you're a small child increases your chance of developing odd abilities.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Endemic. You're reading along, then all of a sudden STIFF OUT OF NOWHERE.
  • Perpetual Poverty: They're good at what they do. They aren't that good at doing anything else, which means they have to resort to odd jobs when the bodies dry up.
  • Powers Via Possession:
    • Yata, who is a channeler.
    • Karatsu, who is possessed by a benevolent spirit.
  • Psychopomp: In addition to acting as this in general, the Service's symbol is kurosagi, the black heron that takes souls to the land of the dead. Chapter 3 references both this and the white stork that bring souls into the world of the living.
  • The Psycho Rangers: The Shirosagi Corpse Cleaning Service.
  • Psycho Serum: Volume 11 has a short story about a serum that contain viruses used in gene therapy. It leads to buildup at muscle mass but screws up your circadian rhythm and makes the recipient go into a deathlike sleep during daytime.
  • Red Right Hand: What with his business suit, scar running across his head and missing leg, the Kurosagi crew's first reaction to Sasayama is to assume he's Yakuza. He's an ex-detective.
  • Sadist Teacher: Played with in the school arc in Vol. 11. the Vice-Principal is a nasty, shouting, stereotypical Sadist Teacher, but the gentle, forgiving, Principal is a serial child murderer.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Karatsu was about to do this when he heard about Yata's alien-channeling hand puppet, but then the puppet exposed Karatsu's talent.
  • Shout-Out: Quite a few.
    • For starters, Numata makes many shout outs to classic shonen titles as a result of reading too much manga.
    • Yata also has a few shout outs to Star Wars, including a Darth Vader cellphone charm.

 Yata: (wielding a lightsaber) You'll find I'm full of surprises!

    • The one with the otaku-bot features the Dragonslayer, or at least a small and fragile replica.
  • Show Within a Show: The anime/manga Magical Maid Girl Mumume-tan, whose lead character Makino sometimes cosplays.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Disjecta Membra - the section in each English volume that translates the SFX, and which doubles as Useful Notes for Japan's writing system, culture and history. The 1st volume's, for instance, covers Aokigahara Forest, Pac-man, what's considered an 'old' building in Tokyo and Japan's construction industry, folklore, Buddhist altars, old manga, Easter Eggs in the story and emergency numbers.
    • The manga itself tends to be fairly well-researched as well and provides mostly correct information (with a few embellishments) on many diverse topics, ranging from Egyptian funereal rites to the use of AAVs as a (potential) form of doping in sports.
  • Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror
  • Start to Corpse: The second page of the first volume.
  • The Stoic: Sasaki. May be justified due to the medication she is taking to suppress her childhood trauma.
  • Sunglasses At Night: Numata. This being Kurosagi, there is a genuinely tragic explanation for why.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. Sasaki is still going to therapy for finding the corpses of her murdered family when she was eight. She's one of the saner members in the service.
  • Tontine: In volume 3.
  • Totally Radical: From a cryonics poster from the 80s: "HOT" is a term of art meaning "gnarly"
  • Undeath Always Ends
  • Valley Girl: Makino lets bits of the accent slip into her speech but not to the point where it hides that she's actually very intelligent.
  • Ventriloquism: The suspected truth about Yata's alien, especially for Numata.
  • Very Special Episode:
    • Kurosagi addresses Japanese social ills like suicide or the justice system in several chapters. Goes with the territory, since the main characters' job is to clean the skeletons out of the closet, so to speak.
    • Kikuchi's introduction arc addresses abortion and infanticide.
  • Wax Museum Morgue: A very disturbing example. Makino almost becomes a victim.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Sasayama has a reputation for this, especially in his last job. He's able to get away with -- and help the corpse delivery service with -- a lot of unusual things because people know that weird stuff just happens to him.
  • Widget Series: The real-life "weird Japanese things" are almost as weird as the series itself.
  • Zeerust: The Habama cryogenics corporation, which ran a cryogenics scam in the eighties, had an ad that claims that by 1997, Manhattan will be a maximum-security prison, off-world colonies will be established by 2019, and the billionth Betamax will be sold in 2052.
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