The Embalmer: Volume 1 by Mitsukazu Mihara

The Embalmer: Volume 1 book cover
Rating 9.1/10
Original, interesting, gothic and touching.

This first volume of The Embalmer, written by the gothic loli queen author of best selling DOLL, introduces us to Shinjyurou Mamiya, who works as an embalmer. It is a profession where he is mostly alone and feels cast out by most people around him. The reason is due to most Japanese people cremating their dead rather than burying them as they tend to view burial as unusual and alien to them. Shinjyurou leads his life outside his job with a vibrant attitude, his love of the girls and socialising in general belies the darkness of his chosen career.

One day Azuki, his friend, comes back from work to see her house door is marked by cruel graffiti due to her being Shinjyourou's friend and embalming being looked down on in Japanese society where most cremate their deceased relatives. He leads his life with his friends and is asked to perform an embalming ritual on a young girl who has been murdered. He is asked to do his best as she has facial cuts from her attacker, but Shinjyurou makes her family proud by showing her as she would have looked when she was alive.

Readers will find he always keeps a level head and his sense of humour, which is all too evident in this masterly handled manga concentrates on a few stories concerning his job as an embalmer and the people he works on, their lives before they died and the prejudice he faces every day. After the readers have started taking this manga in, it will not be long before they want to get the next volume, as the crafting of the story is so wonderful. Each separate story in this manga gives the reader an insight into a particular character's personality, some who are unfortunate to die, while others die for reasons even unknown to themselves.

It would be right to view this title as an original as it will appeal to gothic-minded folk and those interested in people with unusual lives. People will also find it an emotional story to read, as it deals with all the strange things death brings with it, and certain parts of this story will bring tears to the reader’s eyes.

There is a lot of DOLL in this work as far as the art is concerned, as the style of the dresses creeps into the volume in general. The flow of the material, look, and use of ribbons and bows give the reader enough to be able to somehow link the two manga titles. Original, interesting, gothic and touching – an inspiring manga readers will find impressive.

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