Reviewed by: Dallas Marshall
Released by: Yen Press
Publishing Country: USA
Author: Satoko Kiyuduki
Age Rating: 13+
Page Count: 128
Kuro, a little tomboy garbed in pitch-black with a little-tomboy-sized coffin on her back, heads out on a journey to find a certain witch. In the company of her faithful bat friend, Sen, Kuro encounters all manner of people and places along the way. Told in 4-koma (four panel) style and peppered with full-color pages, Satoko Kiyuduki’s debut captures all the whimsy of the most memorable fairy tales
Kuro is a black clothed female who is constantly being mistaken for being a boy as well as a vampire. It must be the fact that she always carries a coffin on her back (for some yet unexplained reason) while at the same time being followed about by her smarmy bat friend named Sen.
Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro is a fanciful tale, however aside from its artistic presentation it is forgettable and acts more as a way to kill an afternoon than something that can be read over and over again. Satoko Kiyuduki has dipped her hand in artwork for video games such as Yggdrasil Union as well as Knights in the Nightmare but her resume is rather small comparatively to other artists. She decided to dip her toes into the world of manga.
The world of Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro reminiscences of old European folklore which gives the manga it's charm as a whole, utilizing fairytale conventions such as witches and anthropomorphic creatures, all while keeping hold of the slice of life genre truly capturing the feel of a quasi European backdrop complete with cobblestone roads, cottages in the woods and tea-time imparting a quaint style. The character design is modern with sharp edges, cutesy girl characters and an almost Tim Burton style with its semi Gothic overtones as well as humorous, albeit macabre plot lines.
The downside to this seemingly silver lining is that Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro is that it lacks any kind of pop to make it stand out or be memorable. Granted, I guess I am expecting too much considering that it is in four panel style of comic storytelling. This is usually used for simple tales, so it does not have to be memorable. However I can also think of a few other titles that are done in the same fashion such as Azumanga Daioh which are oozing with memorable moments. The problem with Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro is that it depends more on style than it does on any solid form of substance.
All in all, Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro does its job acceptably and needs not go any further. It has its charms and somewhat edgy style all of its own. Is it worth your time to sit down and read for an afternoon? Yes. Is it worth buying? That all depends on your preferences, and if you are willing to drop $10.99 to obtain it. Personally I'd say it's one to borrow from a friend or library.