I capped off the weekend’s manga read-a-thon with the second volume of Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki’s The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service and liked it even better than the first. Otsuka and Yamazaki set aside the episodic structure for a single story that consumes the entire volume, and while I really enjoyed the short-story structure of the debut, the change is tremendously successful.
The story starts with the execution of a convicted murderer and spirals out into a number of unexpected, entirely satisfying directions. Without giving anything away, things become extremely personal for some of the Kurosagi sleuths. That’s not a direction I generally enjoy in mysteries and thrillers, but Otsuka uses it exceptionally well here.
Beyond the added layers of personal resonance for the characters, it’s also an extremely well-constructed mystery. Otsuka plays fair with the mechanics of the story while carefully emphasizing the moral ambiguities of the scenario. The long-form story coalesces gradually, asking as many questions as it answers along the way while providing some appropriately gruesome moments of suspense.
The peril and complexity of the scenario doesn’t lead Otsuka to neglect the quirky charms of his core cast. They’ve got more on their minds, but it doesn’t fundamentally change who they are. It just deepens readers’ understanding of them.
It’s great stuff. Mystery fans looking for a polished, substantial graphic novel would really be doing themselves a favor by picking it up.