Looking at the shrink-wrapped cover to the first volume of Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki's The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (Dark Horse Manga), you wouldn't immediately get the sense that the book is a grisly horror series.
Text-heavy, printed on flat brown paper, its primary image a cleanly stylized body parts diagram which looks like something Chris Ware might've designed (though, per Dark Horse's web page, the artist is one Bunpei Yorifuji), it doesn't quite prepare the reader for the first sight we get in the book's opening pages: a fly-bedecked corpse hanging by its neck in the middle of a forest.
Outside the forest, seated at what turns out to the be the entrance to Fuji Hakone Izu National Park, is a forlorn-looking student named Kuro Karatsu. Regular guy Kuro explains in voiceover narration that he's a senior at an "average Buddhist university." Because he has no connections (he doesn't come, we're told, from a "priestly family"), Kuro's employment future looks bleak, so he's followed up a flyer asking for volunteers to chant sutras over the bodies of suicides that've been found in the forest. (In the visitor's area is a "Suicide Prevention Message Box," which quickly establishes the fact that offing oneself is a regular occurrence around these parts.) Said flyer was the inspiration of a bespectacled young woman named Ao Sasaki, who has been taking photos of the dead bodies she finds and posting them on the Internet.
Ao has already recruited a group of other "different" students – would-be tough guy Numaki, who has the ability to find dead bodies with a dowsing rod; perky Makino, schooled in the Western techniques of embalming; plus mop-headed Yata, a "channeler" who speaks the "voices of the aliens" through a nasty-mouthed lizard hand puppet – in the ill-defined hopes of using their collective attachment to the dead as the gateway to a money-making business. In a way, she's a less whole-heartedly acquisitive variation on Reiko, the mercenary heroine of Reiko, the Zombie Shop, only sans the provocative schoolgirl outfits. With Kuro, it turns out Ao has stumbled onto an even more useful talent: a psychic, the young bald Buddhist can hear and speak for the dead. Perhaps, though it's not at all certain, he can even temporarily revive them.
That body in the woods proves to be half of a lovers' suicide pact, and through Kuro, the dead young man asks to be buried with his girlfriend. That proves a little complicated, since the girl's buried body has been replaced with a deer carcass so that the old pervert can have her corpse all to himself: like the first episode of Reiko, the opening of Kurosagi turns out to be tied into parental sexual abuse, though Housui Yamazaki's images of the obsessed dad lustfully holding onto his naked daughter's frame are much more disturbing than anything we got in Reiko.