And now, I justify my constant use of the anime tag by reviewing something that isn’t; Shoulder A Coffin Kuro. It’s a manga written by Kiyuzuki Satoko, also known for GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class, and features a very cute, super deformed art style. Why review this title? Because it’s pretty good, and deserves to be more well-known than it is.
The title character, Kuro, is a (somewhat androgynous) girl on a journey. This alone earns it a comparison with Kino’s Journeys, though it is on the whole a bit lighter than Kino, in spite of the fact that Kuro is dressed like a mortician and carries a coffin that looks about her size on her back. Where Kino has a talking motorcycle as a constant companion, Kuro has talking swarm of bats named Sen, and acquires a very unusual pair of twins named Nijuku and Sanju.
Rather than Kino’s “just because” reason for travelling, Kuro does have an objective, though it takes a little while for the manga to get around to covering what it is. Naturally she has some remarkable adventures and encounters some very odd things, because otherwise what would be the point in a manga about travelling? It’s generally pretty charming and whimsical in tone, though can get very dark at points.
It’s also sadly being released very slowly; it was on hiatus for quite some time between the release of volumes 2 and 3. It is continuing, but there’s currently no telling when volume 4 will come out.
Now obviously I like it a lot if I’m bothering to review it, and specifically because I think more people need to know about it, but why? Well, for basically all of my life I’ve been pretty obsessed with works of fiction, and having read, watched or listened to just about everything that comes along and looks kind of interesting, I’m often able to see where a work is going with something. You don’t spend 30-odd years fixated on fiction without spotting some common patterns, and all the time I’ve spent reading TV Tropes has only strengthened that.
This is a title that’s full of surprises for me; it’s got a lot of very imaginative stuff going on, and while I do see some familiar patterns in certain arcs and events, I’m never really sure where it’s going overall. That makes it quite an exciting journey for me, as a reader. I like the sense of humour it has, too. It covers a lot of pretty serious subject matters, but always has just the right amount of humour to keep it from getting too depressing. But it’s also pretty heartwarming in a lot of places.
In spite of its humour, it’s not something I’d classify as a comedy. And while it is an adventure, I’m not sure that I’d really call it an adventure title either. It is, well, a journey. So who would I recommend this for? Anyone interested in a title off the beaten path, so to speak. Anyone who wants something a bit different to read. Anyone who likes surprises.