Spooktoberfest Special: Zombie Robots Over Tokyo!

Despite its creators’ uncomfortable fixation on naked female corpses, Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki’s Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is a fun and–at times–genuinely terrifying read.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, here’s the basic rundown: When a bunch of unemployed Buddhist university students find out that one of them–Karatsu–can speak to the dead when he touches their corpses, they decide to do the sensible thing and monetize their skills by ferrying dead bodies to wherever it is they want to go. It’s a weird enough premise that it could almost be the basis for a sitcom if they weren’t always running across serial killers and the occasional shambling, maggot-infested Zuvembi.

As it stands, it’s still pretty funny–when it isn’t grotesque and terrifying–and one of my favorite new manga series. To be fair, though, I’ve got to admit that I prefer Yamazaki’s other work, Mail, which is essentially what would happen if every episode of The Twilight Zone ended with Rod Serling kicking in the door and blowing the bad guys away with his magic pistol. Gunplay aside, though, Kurosagi holds up.

And it’s in the latest volume that it hits new heights with the best story since that flashback where a psychic orphan kicked the ghost of Jack the Ripper in the face. Why?

Because this is the one with the Zombie Robot Cosplayer.



So here’s how it goes down: Being perpetually strapped for cash–because the recently deceased, as it turns out, don’t always have the spending money to throw around at nosy spirit media–the guys from the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service take a second job delivering tombstones, which, as you might imagine, is backbreaking labor. Fortunately, they’re able to speed things up a bit when they run across these guys:



A team of enterprising young scientists who–as enterprising young scientists are apt to do in the wonderful world of manga–have created a robotic exoskeleton.

Incidentally, their argument over the nature of robots is part of a pretty great joke that I didn’t get until I hit the footnotes at the end. They spend their time debating over whether the word “robot” in pop culture represnets a commonplace tool used by humans (like in Gundam), a unique and super-powerful artifact (a la Mazinger Z), or an autonomous human-sized artificial intelligence (i.e., Astro Boy), with each of the scientists named after the creator of their particular favorite. That’s the charming Miss Tezuka there in the middle.

Anyway, point is they made an exoskeleton, complete with what appears to be a hollowed out Metool from Megaman:



Sadly, the robot suit doesn’t work out so well, but helping out with the tombstone delivery does give them the chance to acquire some mysteriously unnamed “components” in a bit of what we in The Biz refer to as “slapstick foreshadowing,” and the next time they show up, there’s a missing cadaver and a robot that no longer needs a human pilot riding around inside.

You can probably see where this is going.

What you might not know, however, is that they’re controlling the robot with a Super NES.



Not only that, but they’ve hollowed out the corpse’s brain and replaced it with an SNES, programming him through an overwritten Super Mario World cartridge that, for some reason they can’t quite figure out, still makes him jump like he’s going after coins.

The actual reason, of course, is that the body they’re using the power the robot is a hardcore video game fan, and contact with the greatest system of the 16-bit era causes his restless soul to rise once again and hunger… for games.

Exacerbating the situation is the fact that they’ve brought ZomBot to a multi-story shopping center full of video games, anime and manga, and before long…



And to complicate matters even further–officially reaching a Cary Bates-level rigamarole–the robot gets its mitts on a copy of Die Die Zombie-Kun–game about a zombie whose goal is to consume the flesh of the living–and goes to town. Fortunately, everyone’s able to get away before he whacks them with his plastic replica sword, although much like in real life, nobody’s able to tell that anything’s really all that amiss, since they can’t detect any difference in scent between rotting flesh and the crowd at the convention.

Just sayin’.

Anyway, as is so often the case in these matters, the solution is provided by a judicious application of professional wrestling, the ghost gets exorcised, and we all learn a valuable lesson:



Never bite off more flesh of the living than your cybernetic jaws can chew.

25 thoughts on “Spooktoberfest Special: Zombie Robots Over Tokyo!

  1. If there had been random Simpsons references and a Spider-Man cameo, this would pretty much be everything I like/am obsessed with in one manga story. Which is pretty weird, because usually they only get like half of my nerdy obsessions in that kind of space.

    Also, while speaking of manga; do you read Death Note, and is that the dumbest question I’ve ever asked anyone? Two parter for you there.

  2. I snorted soda at “The robot has started to move on its own??”, which is as much of an epic pop culture reference as the three inventors and delightfully unexpected.

    (Something like 40% of all mecha shows have the robot move on its in the first episode, prompting some dude to yell that line, with another 40% save it for a concluding episode, where some dude still yells that exact line.)

  3. If you like humor with reanimated dead people, check out Pushing Daisies on ABC on Wednesday at 8:00 EST. A pie maker whose touch reanimates the dead is the basic premise, with a PI, a dead girlfriend and a multitude of plot threads to fill it out to full on guffaws.

  4. Okay, I’m not usually interested in Manga/Anime, but this Corpse Delivery Service sounds kinda neat. I mean, it’s odd to see a manga so deliciously self-aware like that.

    Now if I can just purchase a copy of it without totally embarrassing myself.

  5. If you like humor with reanimated dead people, check out Pushing Daisies on ABC on Wednesday at 8:00 EST.

    …Dave Campbell, is that you?!

  6. The ISB is a great blog, but it’s even better when it’s enjoyed with a delicious beverage like Coke Zero! Coke Zero gives you no calories without that awful diet aftertaste. You all know how refreshing Coke is, and now it can be enjoyed without any guilt at all! Try Coke Zero! It’s as awesome as shark-chucks!

  7. No, but since we’re on the topic, Pushing Daisies is an example of the fine quality programming you will find on ABC, Chris. Tune in tonight for the premiere of Life on Mars, right after an all new Grey’s Anatomy!

  8. “Now if I can just purchase a copy of it without totally embarrassing myself.”

    It’s OK. The book’s brown paper covers are practically like it comes in a brown paper bag already to help you hide your shame.

    No, seriously, Kurosagi is awesome and you should be PROUD and DELIGHTED that Dark Horse is giving you the privilege of marching up to your retailer’s cash register, book in hand, to slap your book and your cash down and declare in a voice for all to hear, “I AM BUYING THIS MANGA AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT!” You can say the same about VIZ Media’s Black Lagoon manga.

    On-topic: Housui Yamazaki does expressive faces as well as Kevin Maguire. There are lots of jokes that play in KCDS because of a look or a reaction shot. And I must remember to buy the first volume of Mail as soon as possible.

  9. I got every joke and reference here and I don’t care who knows it.


    Yes I am.

  10. That sword the guy’s holding is from the Berserk manga, which is the greatest manga ever created. You should definitely read it.

  11. This is a great manga. Seriously fun times. Funny and at times really does bring the horror.

    I find the creator is obsessed with naked dead bodies. Can’t say I ever noticed a preponderance of naked female bodies before.

  12. Honestly, who among us hasn’t encountered problems when reanimating the dead through video gaming software? The logistics required to fuse a robot exoskeleton, rotting human flesh, and ancient (though fun) 16-bit gaming platforms is staggering.

    I mean really, we’ve all been there, right? Right?


  13. Danicus: Try switching to the Sega Saturn. That way you get to re-animate two corpses in one shot!

    Dave Campbell: Jaysis, is that an American remake of Life on Mars, or the British original? If the former, what is wrong with you people?

    On topic: Sold!

  14. Oh, and Diet Coke! Does Chris drink Diet Coke? And are we all just reccomending things to him in hopes he winds up mock capping them here?

  15. Well… okay then. I’d feel weird reccomending it to you, since you don’t read enough comics and all. But it is pretty good. Especially with a Diet Coke between commercials on Pushing Daisies!

  16. I have to stop coming here every time I resolve to cut back on my spending habits. Or else I have to learn impulse control.

    *does not order anything on-line tonight*

  17. Sims, you magnificent bastard. You’ve just given me a plot seed for my next RPG campaign.

    Now, should I use Unhallowed Metropolis or AFMBE…

  18. twilightcorps, all the above fake (I hope) talk of advertising aside (although, why do American’s keep making really bad remakes of reasonable english shows? Surely it’d be cheaper to just broadcast the originals? Or better to make, yknow, good remakes in the least! Here in Oz we tend to get both versions…) Anyways, I think you’ve crossed the line into combining to many geeky things at once. The manga with robot zombie snes cosplaying teeters on the line by itself, so RPGing such a senario could create a blackhole and suck us all out of existance. You’ve been warned.