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Manga / The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service

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"Just your ordinary, everyday delivery men." From the bottom and up: Karatsu, Sasaki, Makino, Numata, and Yata/Kereellis.

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

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, the folding cash kind of grateful, for what they could do for them—generally by giving the group permission to sell their belongings (after all, it's not like they'll need them anymore).


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, most chapters are self-contained. The realistic art style and top-notch translation make it something definitely worth reading, for those with a strong stomach.

Twenty-one volumes have been released in Japan so far, completing the series. The first 14 were released in the States through Dark Horse Comics, but have since been dropped, meaning that the last seven volumes likely won't be translated any time soon.


Contains examples of:

  • Akashic Records
  • Amateur Sleuth: The Kurosagi gang are five young adults fresh out of a Buddhist university, but thanks to Karatsu's I See Dead People ability and Numata's dowsing, they often get roped into investigating situations that are usually left to professional authorities. Their only ally is Sasayama, a former police detective who's now a social welfare worker.
  • Americans Are Cowboys: Reina Gorn sports a cowboy hat.
  • Animal Motifs: Kurosagi as a whole is represented by the black heron, the Psychopomp who brings souls of the deceased to the afterlife in Japanese folklore. Shirosagi, its malign counterpart, has the white heron as its image.
  • Arranged Marriage: In Vol. 8, a group of men ran a company that specialized in arranging posthumous marriages, sometimes against the bride/groom's will by murdering them. They hired a Starving Artist to paint the portraits of the people who are supposed to be wed, and these portraits summon the dead long enough to kill their bride/groom.
  • Astral Projection: Nene in the stand-up comic plotline of Volume 12.
  • 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. Except they come back as savage, angry zombies.
    • One story deals with another character who can do this (temporarily) with his Magical Defibrillator.
  • The Bait: Yata, at one point. Also see Got Volunteered.
  • Bald of Awesome: Karatsu, who is bald due to being a student of a Buddhist university, and has Psychic Powers.
  • Bald of Evil: The villain of the school arc in Vol. 11 is completely bald. It's the kindly school principal, who is also a sadistic serial child killer, who has been targeting Sasayama's adopted daughter because she's the Sole Survivor and direct witness to one of his crimes.
  • 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.
    • A similarly bandaged character also named Shinuhe shows up in the side story at the end of volume 6, which is set in 1901.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Some of Sasaki or Makino's outfits do this; also, see Ms. Fanservice below.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Sasaki pulls one off in volume 9.
    Numata: H-How are you able to walk in and out of their party headquarters?
    Sasaki: Lies. Couture. Forgery.
    Numata: I ain't gonna visit you in prison, you know.
  • Between My Legs: This title page for a chapter in Vol. 8 features this shot.
  • Bicep-Polishing Gesture: In Volume 14 Karatsu does one which may, given the context, be an insulting European style bras d'honneur as well.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Due to the nature of Kurosagi, some of the endings echo this trope. Most of the Kurosagi gang's clients were murder victims who, thanks to Kurosagi, were able to find closure. One case in Vol. 8 had a girl who committed suicide out of shame of failing her studies and not being able to please her parents by getting into a good university. When the Kurosagi gang accept her into their fold and offer to show her around, she cries Tears of Joy knowing she finally found a place where she belonged.
  • Bland-Name Product: Yata has a plastic lightsaber with a "Star Peace" logo.
  • Blessed with Suck: Pretty much the entire company, which is the reason they stick together. Their skills are very useful, but at one thing and one thing only (namely, working with corpses) and the idiosyncrasies that accompany their skills pretty much renders them all completely unemployable in any other sectors.
    • 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's kept his shaggy bangs since he was a kid.
  • Body Horror: Shows up occasionally.
    • In part 4 of Vol. 4, a parasite causes people to develop massively swollen eyes and a compulsion to climb tall things so their eyes can be pecked out by birds.
    • In the last chapter of vol. 13, a man is turned into a tree in an extremely invasive manner.
    • In one case in Vol. 7, the body of a dead female model was used as an ear transplant farm, which resulted in ears growing all over her body. The ears themselves were used in ear transplants, which resulted in a part of the model's soul possessing the receiver of the transplant and manifesting in the form of a face. The Kurosagi gang was horrified to discover this.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • Numata's dowsing master, when he confesses that he knew where the corpses of Numata's parents' and older brother were buried for years and didn't tell him because his employers at a construction company offered him a huge sum of money in exchange for keeping quiet, and he accepted, something that the dowsing master later came to regret. Numata found his family using his master's directions, but he couldn't retrieve the bodies because the site was already built over, resulting in a HUGE loss of respect for his master.
    • From Volume 1, Kei Tsutsui, Makino's classmate when she was studying embalming in America overseas, was misusing his skills to create what he called "perfect corpses" by taking parts he found desirable and stitched them together into one body. Makino, who looked up to him, was devastated to learn this.
  • Brown Note: One episode concerns a sound that makes people want to kill themselves (entirely accidentally created).
  • 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: The corpses Kurosagi finds sometimes have vague requests for them that takes quite a bit of time to figure out. The gang is willing to put up with this, though, because it means earning some potential yen.
  • 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...
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The French translation calls the shoulder weasel/hyena ghosts "mice".
  • Captain Obvious: 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, who 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. His age doesn't stop him from lending aid to the Kurosagi team even though they drive him up the wall sometimes.
  • The Coroner: Given that the Main Characters 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.
  • Cover Drop: See Idiosyncratic Cover Art below.
  • Creepy Child: Mei in Vol. 11, although she has a good excuse for it.
  • Crossover: With MPD Psycho (through Sasayama) and Mail.
  • Dangerously Close Shave: In the second chapter of Vol. 1, the Kurosagi crew had a run-in with a psychotic hair stylist who knocked out his victims, locked them in his back room and amputated them limb by limb with his razors. It's Kei Tsutsui, a classmate of Makino's whom she idolized, who misused the embalming skills they learned overseas in America to create "perfect corpses" from his victims in an attempt to stave off the decaying effects after death.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: This being Kurosagi, most people have utterly messed up backgrounds.
    • All members of the Kurosagi team have utterly messed up backgrounds. Numata's parents and brother were murdered and buried at a construction site, and the person who taught him dowsing knew the location but didn't tell him until years later because he was bribed. Makino watched her mother commit suicide by train in front of her, in explicit detail. Yata was the Sole Survivor of a Murder-Suicide his parents committed that claimed both them and his younger sister. Sasaki discovered the horrifically mutilated corpses of her parents and one of her sisters when she was 8, and it traumatized her so much that she still sees a therapist and takes very strong antidepressants. Karatsu is implied to have one since his powers give him social alienation issues.
    • The girl adopted by Sasayama in Vol. 11 lost her mother and sister to a serial child murderer who is also her school's principal, and the weird behavior she develops as a result of that turned her into a target for bullying.
    • It's also suggested Vol. 11 that Sasayama's actually seeking out people with tragic pasts after enough experience with Karatsu and co., seeing as they tend to be the ones with supernatural powers.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Kurosagi gang associates itself with death and corpses all the time, and its name even means "black heron", which in Japanese folklore is a Psychopomp who takes the dead into the afterlife. Their outfits are mostly colored black . That being said, the kids' job is to help corpses find closure in fulfilling their last requests, even though they don't get paid (which is often) and/or the requests aren't very clear (which is also often).
  • Dead All Along:
    • One chapter in Vol. 8 had a young girl who applied for the Buddhist college the Kurosagi gang is attending, and later becomes a member of Kurosagi. The gang later discovers that she is actually a ghost, who committed suicide out of shame of failing her studies and being unable to get into a good college. The Kurosagi gang offer to take the girl back to campus, and she cries knowing she finally found a place where she was truly accepted.
    • Vol. 13 had a girl who hunted down men suspected to be online pedophiles because she was the victim of one, killed via a blow to the head when she tried escaping him. She hid her wound with a hat, but when she takes it off the wound is full of maggots, revealing her true status as a resurrected corpse.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The entire cast apply sarcasm liberally, though Kereellis is by far the worst.
  • Death by Falling Over: One of Kurosagi's clients in Vol. 8 was a woman who tripped and fell down a staircase. She was subject to a posthumous marriage ritual that weds two spirits after death, and the ghost she was supposed to "marry" killed her by pulling on her leg as she was climbing down.
  • 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 story arc, 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.
  • Demonic Possession:
    • A ghostly one, to be specific, and also fairly benign. Karatsu is haunted by a scar-faced spirit called Yaichi, who gives him his powers to bring the dead back to life and seems to be devoted towards protecting him. The little girl from Shirosagi is also possessed by a similar ghost, and it is implied in volume 13 that Sasaki may be as well.
    • Keerellis is implied to be an alien who's possessing Yata through the felt sock puppet on his hand. Either that, or Yata is suffering from some kind of mental disorder and is really good at ventriloquism.
  • Dowsing Device:
    • Numata's pendulum, which works either on a ring or hanging from the rearview mirror of the Service's vehicle. It can find hidden corpses, dead tissue and organs, and even people who are going to die.
    • Numata's mentor used bent coat hangers, and this was the method Numata first learned. He uses it per his mentor's request to find his killer.
    • In the "Black Heron" story in vol. 14, Numata's Expy uses dual metal rods in the same fashion as the real Numata's mentor.
  • Driven to Suicide: Several of the service's clients are suicides, including their very first. One case involved a suicidal song that causes people to kill themselves in train stations. Numata and Sasaki nearly kill themselves after hearing it, only to be saved at the last minute. When Makino suggests using the song as a marketing device to help suicidal people who are unsure, they chew her out for being so insensitive.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: See Fan Disservice.
  • Dumb Muscle: Numata is dense (and once punched out a moving truck's windshield). It's frequently noted by the others, especially Makino and Kereelis.
  • Due to the Dead: Giving the dead their due is what the Kurosagi's service is for.
  • Dysfunction Junction: So far we've one whose entire immediate family, save for one sister, was murdered (Sasaki); one who lost his sister and both parents to a murder-suicide and barely survived (Yata); one whose mother committed suicide in front of her (Makino); one whose parents and older brother 'disappeared' and later discovers where their corpses are buried, but is unable to retrieve them (Numata) and the Blessed with Suck entry above (Karatsu). His parents are probably dead too.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: Makino tends to go for this look.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Makino reacts this way in a chapter in Vol. 1 after learning a classmate she looked up to misused his embalming skills to murder and amputate his victims and stitch their body parts together, to create the "perfect corpse". Makino is devastated.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Shirosagi Corpse Cleaning Service, which performs the opposite service of the main characters (Kurosagi helps the dead find closure so they can move on; Shirosagi just gets rid of everything including the corpses, forcing their souls to be stuck in the physical world) and appear to have hostile intentions towards Kurosagi. It's even referenced in their names - kurosagi means "black heron", the Psychopomp who brings the dead to the afterlife, while shirosagi means "white heron", who brings souls to the living.
  • Evil Phone: Who knew insurance salesmen could be so deadly?
  • Eye Scream: Shows up in several different ways. The examples listed under Body Horror both feature exceptionally graphic examples.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • If someone is naked or nearly so, the chances are really good that he/she is either dead or in mortal danger. For instance, Makino's first nude scene is as she's being prepped to be vivisected for a plastinated corpse exhibition.
    • Sasaki bathing Chihaya (who's in her early teens) in one of the Furo Scenes below.
  • Furo Scene: A few of these, both for the guys and the girls. The one for Makino and Sasaki also serves as a bonding moment between them and Chihaya.
  • Gallows Humour: Obviously.
  • Geek:
  • 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 is normally never seen without his shades, but he takes them off once to identify himself to his old master.
  • Government Conspiracy: Vol. 14 involved Wetware CPU - a politician was trying to create an efficient political system by taking the heads of people with some of the brightest minds, storing them in canisters and hooked up to electronics, and programming them to only serve Japan.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: In Vol. 10, when Numata finally finds the burial site of his murdered parents and older brother, he starts crying due to being unable to retrieve their bodies and the fact that his old dowsing master (who knew all along) had lied to him for years. At the same time, it starts raining in a downpour.
  • Harmful to Minors:
    • Makino watched her mother commit suicide by train and had her mother's blood splattered all over her as the train ran her over. The train workers gave Makino a bag containing her mother's head so carrying the body will be easier.
    • Sasaki discovered the mutilated corpses of her parents and one of her sisters when she was eight, and was so traumatized that she's still taking therapy and antidepressant medicine even as an adult.
    • Yata was the Sole Survivor of his parents' Murder-Suicide, due to having his window slightly open while his family's car was running and spouting toxic exhaust fumes. Because he didn't know what a corpse was at the time, he thought his parents and sister were sleeping and tried waking them up.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Vol. 13 featured a young girl who fought against sexual predators because she was killed by one. After she was revived by the Shirosagi Corpse Cleaning Service, she went back to her killer (who was a brilliant inventor) and used his prototype mind-control device to kidnap and take control of men who targeted vulnerable young girls. Yata and Numata end up as her victims for investigating her and nearly killed but Karatsu managed to save them. The girl later dies at the hands of the men she "punished" thanks to Karatsu's powers.
  • Haunted Technology: One case involved a "helper robot" built by a trio of engineers who stole a corpse of a fanatic video-gamer and used it as their base, while the "brain" was supplanted using a game console and cartridge. The robot, controlled by the spirit of the body inhabiting it, went on a rampage in an anime convention. Karatsu had to expel the spirit so it can gain closure.
  • Hot Librarian: Sasaki is very attractive, very intelligent, and an extremely competent hacker.
  • Hot Scientist: A stereotypical blonde American entomologist, wearing a bikini, in Vol. 4. 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. A cryogenic scientist was able to swindle people out of their money by offering to put their heads in frozen capsules with the promise that they'll be richer after they're revived, when he actually abandoned them in a cave. When the people found out they were fooled thanks to the Kurosagi team, they were pissed.
  • Idiosyncratic Cover Art: The tankobon covers all have two distinct features:
    • They all feature pics of the group that follow a theme. For instance, on one cover the pics are digitally blurred. In another all the members are shown as kids. In another, they're all hand puppets just like Kereellis. The one exception is Karatsu, whose pic never changes.
    • They all feature a diagrammatic illustration of the theme of one chapter within that particular tankobon.
  • 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.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Except for his scar being on the lower half of his face, Sasayama's cousin looks exactly like him, down to the glasses, cheapness, using a cane, and having a peg leg. Numata even jokes that peg legs must run in Sasayama's family.
  • Infant Immortality: You wish. Given the manga deals with dead bodies, not even children are safe from becoming corpses.
  • I See Dead People: Pun aside, Karatsu is an itako who can hear the voices of the dead just by touching their bodies. The nurse Kikuchi has similar powers, except she only hears the last words of the deceased before they move on. She was later kidnapped by a member of the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) so she can make another member who's dead spill his secrets.
  • Jack the Ripper: Appears in an early-twentieth-century flashback chapter, in which the Ripper's ghost haunts a coin-operated telescope and possesses voyeurs who use it to spy on sexual activities in a brothel, causing them to kill the brothel workers. The story is notable for its acceptance of the theory that the Duke of Clarence was the killer: he isn't mentioned by name but a very well-known photograph of him is clearly reproduced as a manga panel.
  • Japanese Ranguage: Karatsu will occasionally mispronounce a Japanese word, but is quickly corrected.
  • Karmic Death: Almost all the culprits that die are killed either by their own victims, or by the motive or method they themselves used to kill their victims.
  • Kubrick Stare: Karatsu. When he does this, it's a sign that someone's gonna get an ass-kicking from the (often very angry) dead.
  • The Lab Rat: Makino, occasionally, due to her embalming expertise.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: During a case involving a suicidal song, the Kurosagi gang find an ear in an erotic magazine. Makino questions if they should play the case by ear. Sasaki's reaction is to tell her "Never Say That Again".
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • A rare heroic example with Kurosagi - after helping their first suicide victim and (with his permission) taking a lottery ticket from his corpse as 'payment', the main 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.
    • In a more played-straight example, almost all the villains also get defeated in a very karmic manner, usually by the corpses of their victims (with Karatsu's help). The ones that survive such an ordeal are turned in to the police.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Volume 13 brings a series of these out of the woodwork, implying that not only is the creepy little girl in Shirosagi somehow related to Karatsu, but Sasaki is apparently his half-sister.
  • Mad Artist: One chapter from Volume 1 had this as the main culprit. The "artist" in question was Kei Tsutsui, a hair stylist and Makino's fellow classmate and embalmer-in-training overseas in America. Bothered by how people's bodies decay after death, he kidnapped women who came into his salon and stole their body parts he found desirable and stitched them back together into one body to create what he called "perfect corpses".
  • Mad Doctor: One chapter involved a man whose family and ancestors participated in Unit 731, and the tradition of conducting illegal experiments continued with each generation. The man in particular tested various viruses on the male subjects, while the female ones are dissected and turned into plastinated corpse exhibits.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: The criminal conspiracy in Volume 12's MMORPG arc specializes in this. Just don't ask them where they get the replacement faces from...
  • Magical Defibrillator: One character uses a specialized AED to revive corpses temporarily.
  • Mama Bear: One chapter had a pregnant woman who was murdered by her friend for "stealing" her husband's love away from her. When the killer discovered she managed to give birth, she was going to kill the child, but the woman's spirit possessed her and raised the baby while in the killer's body. Eventually the killer briefly gained control and killed the baby, which caused the mother's spirit to go on a rampage and dragged both the Kurosagi gang and the protagonist of Mail into it.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Nene from the stand-up comedy arc. Then, her boyfriend is killed.
  • 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.
    • "Makoto" is Japanese for "truth" or "sincerity". Numata Makoto just so happens to find hidden corpses by dowsing, along with dead tissue and people who are going to die.
  • Mega Nekko: Sasaki. She's even called this in the notes at the back of the English-language volumes.
  • Men Don't Cry: Numata's dowsing teacher taught this trope to him when he was very young after the guy catches him crying for his murdered family, saying that a man should always hide his tears no matter what. This is the reason why Numata always wears Sunglasses at Night.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Numata's dowsing master.
  • Million-to-One Chance: Weaponized in one chapter by an evil insurance agent, who has learned how to manipulate the odds to make it 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?".
  • Motive Rant: Usually when the culprit of a case is revealed, they will go off on a tirade that reveals why they killed the Kurosagi gang's "clients" (i.e. corpse).
  • Ms. Fanservice:
  • Mummy:
    • Shinuhue may be an aversion as he's revealed to be a man covered in severe burns who really knows a lot of Egyptian rituals, though he also might play it straight.
    • The mummies in one chapter for Volume 5 play it completely straight, complete with shambling. They're victims of Makino's university history teacher who runs a scam by tricking people, killing and mummifying them against their will, and dressing them up like authentic mummies so he can make enough money to fund an expedition for real mummies. Once he's outed by the Kurosagi gang, his mummified victims kill him.
  • Murder-Suicide: This happened in Yata's backstory; his parents drove him and his sister into an isolated part of a forest and intentionally left their car running so the whole family will die from breathing toxic exhaust fumes. Yata was the only survivor due to having his car window slightly open.
  • 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.
  • Never Say That Again: After finding a human ear in a magazine and discussing what to do next...
    Makino: We still don't have much to go on. What are we supposed to do? Play it by ear?
    Sasaki: Makino, please don't ever say that again.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: Vol. 8 had a popular female idol whose nice and cuddly persona hid how bitchy and insensitive she is, causing one of her fans to commit suicide after being cruelly rejected. The deceased fan's sister stole some dolls left at a temple and sent them over to the idol's apartment as part of an urban ritual to avenge her brother. The Kurosagi team later aided the sister in fulfilling her brother's wish of spending time with his favorite idol by sending the idol a bunch of dolls containing his spirit, scaring the idol enough to reinvent her career.
  • No Periods, Period: Inverted. One chapter reveals that when Sasaki is in her cycle, Karatsu can't access his power. The Shirosagi group appear to be wanting to use this for sinister purposes.
  • 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.
  • Offing the Offspring: A couple of cases had a mother murdering their child.
    • In Vol. 4 one case had a child who was killed by a woman who was possessed by the spirit of her friend who had the baby from an affair with the woman's husband. The woman succeeded in killing the baby's mother, but the mother refused to stay dead so she possessed her killer so she can look after the baby through her. One day the woman gained control over the spirit and suffocated the baby, hiding it in a train locker where the Kurosagi gang found the body.
    • In his backstory, Yata's parents tried doing this to him and his sister via Murder-Suicide. While Yata barely managed to survive, his sister did not.
  • Off with His Head!: One chapter in Vol. 14 revolves around a form of organic computer created from people's severed heads. Sasaki narrowly averts having this happen to her; the politician she was working with wasn't so lucky.
  • Older Than They Look: Jenny Kayama, Sasaki's professor. She looks as young as her student, but she's actually Sasayama's age.
  • Overprotective Dad: In the Kurosagi gang's very first case, a father of a teen pop idol who committed suicide greatly disapproved of her boyfriend, who he believes "stole" her daughter away from him. Since this is Kurosagi, the truth is far more sinister - the father is actually in love with his daughter in a not so very platonic way, and even hid her corpse in his house when it was time for her to be cremated so he will love her forever. Numata lampshades it by calling the father the "World's Greatest Dad".
  • Parental Abandonment: All of the Kurosagi crew, except possibly Karatsu, suffer from this in one form or another. Other minor characters have either dead or no-show parents as well. In volume 11, it's hypothesized that having your parents die violently when you're a small child increases your chance of developing odd abilities.
    • Yata's parents committed a Murder-Suicide by driving him and his sister to a deep part of a forest and leaving the car running so they can all die from breathing exhaust fumes. Yata survived due to his window being slightly opened, but his sister and parents did not.
    • Numata's parents and older brother "disappeared" (i.e. murdered and buried somewhere) when he was young, so he took up dowsing to find closure. His dowsing teacher knew where the bodies were buried, but was bribed to keep him quiet. Numata found this out after his teacher died, but while he was able to find his lost family, he couldn't retrieve them.
    • Sasaki's father was killed by a man who he got into a financial disagreement with, while her mother and one of her sisters was killed by someone else. While Sasaki later forgave her father's murderer after finding out he was framed, she had deep psychological trauma that required constant therapy and consumption of strong antidepressants that left her The Stoic.
    • Makino's mother committed suicide when she was young by letting herself get run over by a train.
    • The nurse Kikuchi's mother died from severe injuries during a plane crash in her childhood.
  • Parental Incest: The villain of the very first chapter. The villain was the father of a teen pop idol and his relationship with his daughter far surpassed the Overprotective Dad trope. After she killed herself as part of a suicide pact with her boyfriend, her father stole her corpse and substituted it with someone else when it was time to be cremated, so she'll always be under his protection forever.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Endemic. You're reading along, then all of a sudden STIFF OUT OF NOWHERE.
  • People Puppets: A villain in volume 13 has access to a device that lets her take control of people's muscles by remote control. She uses this to kill or enslave her victims.
  • Perpetual Poverty: The Kurosagi team is good at what they do, but they aren't that good at doing anything else, which means they have to resort to odd jobs when the bodies dry up. It doesn't help that dead people can't really pay in cash for their services. One of them ends up being kicked out of his previous home for failing to pay rent.
  • Potty Failure: Shown graphically for some of the victims of the People Puppets villain above. Being forced to stand in one place for 16 hours straight will tend to lead to that.
  • Powered Armor: In one case, a trio of engineers developed a powered suit designed to aid those with crippling physical disabilities.
  • Powers via Possession:
    • Yata, who is a channeler. Keerellis may or may not be an alien who's possessing him via Yata's sock puppet.
    • Karatsu, who is possessed by a benevolent spirit.
    • The girl in Shirosagi, who is possessed by a female spirit who is connected to Yaichi in some unrevealed manner.
  • Psychic Powers: Quite a few in this series. It's suggested that childhood trauma (usually Parental Abandonment) increases the chance of someone developing psychic powers.
    • Karatsu is an itako who can talk to the dead by touching their corpses and temporarily reanimate them so they can finish any Unfinished Business. He's actually possessed by a benevolent spirit who's doing the real work.
    • Yata, as mentioned above, is a channeler where aliens can talk through him via his sock puppet Keerellis. Keerellis is implied to be an actual alien who's using Yata as his current mouthpiece.
    • Numata can dowse for hidden corpses along with dead tissue and people who are going to die using a pendulum that's either hidden in his ring or hanging from something. Unfortunately, dead things are all he can find.
    • Numata's old dowsing teacher can do the same things he can, but uses bent metal coat hangers.
    • Mutsumi who was adopted by Nire had Karatsu's ability to raise the dead. Unfortunately they come back as savage Revenant Zombies.
    • Vol. 11 featured a young girl who was adopted by Sasayma who had the ability to conceal things and see invisible "rats", which are the evil and murderous intentions inside people's hearts.
    • The Shirosagi Corpse Cleaning Service had a young girl among their ranks whose abilities are similar to Karatsu's and are sourced from a female spirit possessing her.
    • Vol. 9 featured "Listening Ears", Seers who can predict the future by using their ears. Most of them were children used in Japan to predict the outcome of the war, and were killed because it was blasphemy for someone to have an ability that is usually associated with the Emperor. The killer of the children was also a Listening Ear who survived his suicide attempt, and was used by politicians as a tool to help them stay in power.
  • 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. They basically do the opposite of what Kurosagi does, which is help corpses.
    • The gangsters in Volume 14 who impersonate the Kurosagi group but dispose of corpses for people.
  • 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.
  • Reality Ensues: The Kurosagi gang's Perpetual Poverty status eventually results in Numata losing his previous home and having to look for a new one when he couldn't pay rent on time.
  • 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.
  • The Resenter: One of the villains in Vol. 7. The villain is Koyama, an assistant film director who wanted to make his own career, but due to Japan's seniority system in filmmaking, he was stuck in his current role because his mentor, a famous film director himself, had not retired yet. He killed one of the actors who was going to star in a film his mentor was making because he hated how his choice was passed over, so after the actor left production, Koyama cut the brake lines on his car so his death will be ruled as a car accident. Later he killed the film's makeup artist and another actor to invoke Enforced Method Acting. He was eventually exposed by the Kurosagi team and killed by his own victims.
  • Revenant Zombie: Karatsu's strongest use of his power can temporarily raise them long enough to finish their Unfinished Business. The girl adopted by Nire also has this ability.
  • Revenge:
    • The female spirit possessing the girl in Shirosagi is pissed at Yaichi for some reason, and their scheming is mainly to trap him so she can avenge herself on him.
    • This is Nire's entire motivation for starting his company in his debut chapter. His wife and daughter were attacked by someone during a walk. The daughter died, while the wife bled just enough to be rendered clinically brain-dead. Their attacker was tried and executed, but to Nire it was as if the man got only a slap on the wrist.
    • Usually, the corpses found by the Kurosagi gang are murder victims looking for some kind of compensation. And by the case's end they receive it.
  • Running Gag: Kerellis annoying Numata, who takes it out on Yata while the latter tries to excuse himself with "the puppet said it, not me!".
  • 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 at the beginning of Vol. 1 when he heard about Yata's alien-channeling hand puppet, but then the puppet exposed Karatsu's talent. The rest is history.
  • Seers: Vol. 9 featured people called "Listening Ears" who can foretell the future by "listening" with their ears. Most of them were young children used in Japan to predict the outcome of World War II, but they were killed by their handler because it was considered blasphemy in Japan for someone other than the Emperor to accurately foretell the future. But their handler was also a Listening Ear, so after he buried the children and cut off their ears, he tried to commit suicide, but he ended up surviving and was used by political parties.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: One disturbing case referenced the Rape of Nanking - a former soldier who participated in it went mad from the atrocities he committed, so he went back to his birthplace in Tumani Village and murdered everyone there, including the children. One survivor, later revealed to be the Kurosagi gang's "client" for that case, killed the soldier to put an end to his rampage. The Japanese government later engineered a dam accident to flood Tumani village to quell rumors of soldiers going mad from PTSD and erase evidence of the country's war crimes.
  • Ship Tease:
    • In-story. As the story goes on, Sasaki gradually shows more and more of an interest in Karatsu, leading the others to wonder if there's something going on between them. The readers learn later on that it's not what it seems—Sasaki suspects a connection between them, and eventually learns that they are half-siblings.
    • There's a small bit of Ship Tease between Makino and Yata, particularly in Volume 9 where she gives him a kiss on the cheek as thanks for unintentionally letting her see her dead mom through Kereellis abilities.
  • Show Within a Show:
    • The anime/manga Magical Maid Girl Mumume-tan, whose lead character Makino sometimes Cosplays for pay.
    • Volume 14 has an American cartoon that eerily parallels the Kurosagi characters, and seems to foreshadow a case that they immediately get involved in.
  • 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: On one hand, we have corpses in varying stages of decomposition, and very disturbing subject matter that come with the stories of said corpses. On the other, we have the Kurosagi gang being Deadpan Snarkers.
  • Smug Snake: Practically every single villain.
  • Sole Survivor:
    • Kikuchi from Vol. 8 was the only survivor of a plane crash, except that while seven people survived the initial crash, only Kikuchi was physically well enough to survive the aftermath. This childhood incident led to her developing similar powers as Karatsu's.
    • Yata was the only survivor of a Murder-Suicide that claimed his parents and sister. His parents tried to kill them all by driving their car into a forest and letting it run so they can all die from breathing exhaust fumes. Yata managed to live because his window was slightly open.
  • Start to Corpse: The second page of the first volume.
  • Starving Artist: In Vol. 8 one case had a young man who despite being an arts major was homeless and unable to apply for a steady job, instead staying overnight in internet cafe booths. He was eventually hired by a company that specialized in posthumous wedding ceremonies, and was made to draw portraits of people who would die when the spirit of their "bride/groom" attacked them so they can marry. Eventually the artist had enough, but he was killed to prevent word from spreading. With Kurosagi's help, the artist was able to earn his posthumous revenge by drawing portraits of his killers with their intended brides, who killed them so they can "marry".
  • The Stoic: Sasaki. It's often lampshaded sarcastically by the others. Justified due to the medication she is taking to suppress her childhood trauma of finding the corpses of her murdered parents and one of her sisters when she was eight.
  • Strawman Political: Fairly subtle by the standards of that trope, but judging by the occasional foray into political storylines it's a fair bet that the author doesn't vote LDP.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Numata. This being Kurosagi, there is a genuinely tragic explanation for why: When he was a kid, Numata's parents and older brother were murdered and their bodies were buried in a construction site. Numata, who didn't understand death at the time, thought they "disappeared" and took up dowsing to find them. He later revealed his reasons to his old dowsing master and started crying while doing so. His dowsing master gave him a pair of sunglasses, telling him that a man should always hide his tears, no matter what.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Yata still wears his felt puppet Keerellis even while attending university and helping Kurosagi because it's his last reminder of his dead sister, who was killed in a Murder-Suicide and liked Keerellis.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. Sasaki is still going to therapy for finding the corpses of her murdered family when she was eight. As a result she's one of the saner members in the service.
  • This Cannot Be!: Occasionally uttered by the villain of the chapter due to disbelief that the dead really can come alive.
  • Tontine: In volume 3.
  • Totally Radical: From a cryonics poster from the 80s: "HOT" is a term of art meaning "gnarly"
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Sort of a stretched-out version. It's implied that having a Dark and Troubled Past increases your chances of developing weird powers, though it doesn't look like any one particular thing sets it off for anybody.
  • Undeath Always Ends: Karatsu's ability doesn't last for long, but usually long enough for the dead to do what they need to do to set things right. Mutsumi, Nire's adopted daughter, tries to avert this by using her powers to bring people back permanently, but they always result in Came Back Wrong.
  • Unfinished Business: The cast's profession is to help finish such business for the dead.
  • 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.
  • Values Dissonance: In-Universe. Makino's specialty is embalming corpses, a perfectly common practice in other countries but getting her weird looks in Japan (where cremation is the norm) even from her teammates.
  • Ventriloquism: The suspected truth about Yata's alien, especially for Numata.
  • Verbal Tic: The attractive blonde American entomologist rolls out the 'r's a lot.
  • 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.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The members of the Kurosagi gang often make jabs at each other, but
  • Wax Museum Morgue: A very disturbing example. Makino almost becomes a victim if it weren't for Karatsu pulling a Big Damn Heroes by reanimating the preserved corpses to save her (and kill the Mad Doctor responsible).
  • Weirdness Magnet: Sasayama has a reputation for this, especially in his last job. He's able to get away with — and help Kurosagi with — a lot of unusual things because people know that weird stuff just happens to him.
  • Wetware CPU: Volume 14 has a very disturbing Government Conspiracy to create these.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Makino suggests marketing the suicidal song to people who aren't quite ready to take the final step. Both Sasaki and Numata who nearly died from hearing the song themselves were not amused.
  • Widget Series: The real-life "weird Japanese things" are almost as weird as the series itself.
  • Yakuza:
    • A group of this appears in volume 6, running an operation that uses a magic ritual to kill people to provide people's dead relatives with a marriage post-mortem.
    • Amusingly, the Kurosagi gang mistakes Sasayama as a member of one when they first meet him, due to the latter having a Face of a Thug.
  • You're Insane!: Makino shouts this in Vol. 1 when she discovers her fellow classmate overseas, under the guise of a hairstylist, used his embalming skills to amputate and murder unsuspecting victims and stitch their body parts together to create the "perfect corpse" that won't decay after death. Karatsu corrects her by saying [her friend] is just wrong.
  • 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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