“Well, no matter how much the road branches off… in the end, you can only go down one path.”
This volume builds a lot off of the previous two. Start with volume 1.
Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro follows of the unusual traveller Kuro, her sensei who just happens to be a talking bat, and two odd children. Kuro wanders with a coffin strapped to her back and is often mistaken for a boy and/or vampire.
Volume 1 of Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro introduced our cast in stand alone adventures tinged with dark whimsy. Volume 2 continued with the same style and atmosphere, while fleshing out the world more and giving glimpses of the backgrounds of Kuro and the twins.
This volume continues in that vein, giving even more information regarding the pasts of Kuro, Nijuku, Sanju and Sen. It also continues their travels in the present as Kuro still searches for a cure, and features some key encounters and events. The tone is even darker in these stories than previously (which is surprising after some of volume 2) and there are a lot of intriguing philosophical overtones. Touches of humor and the familiar charming antics of the twins remain though to help us along.
While I enjoyed this installment the first time I read it, I feel like I got a lot more out of it this time through now that I have a better idea of how certain things fit together and am picking up more of the subtleties and foreshadowing. The storytelling is dense and takes effort to unravel, but is exquisitely layered and built and it’s rewarding to see it slowly come together.
As always the manga uses the 4-koma style, which gives it a very unique rhythm. The art is impressive as usual, particularly the gorgeous and numerous color pages, and the printing quality is excellent. I feel like there’s more use of white in the black and white pages this time, which makes it easier to see the detail work and is very nice in general considering the borders are all black.
Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro is a very odd series but is quite engaging in its own way. I’ve become completely engrossed in Kuro’s journey and revel not only in continuing along with it, but also going back to these earlier volumes and experiencing layers and nuances I missed the first time.