Corpse Party: Blood Covered Vol. 1 - Manga Review

One stormy night, one last farewell, one pact of everlasting friendship, and one haunted elementary school. Will our fateful students conclude their final day all together as their final day alive?

The Lowdown

When a group of friends from Kisaragi academy class 2-9 find themselves stuck inside the school after hours, they decide to use a friendship charm to stay together, as one of them will be leaving the school for good the next day. However not all is as it seems, as the group suddenly gets thrown out of their own safe reality and into the halls of a haunted Elementary school that stood where their own school now stands only a few short years before. Now trapped in this alternate dimension filled with decay, ghosts and corpses, can these students find their escape? Or will the only end up as the school’s latest victims?

Who Is It For?

Those looking for a sadistic, sexy and grotesque horror manga (with a touch of humour) may find something here. Not for the faint of heart.

This also happens to be an adaption of the Video Game of the same name, which also had an Anime OVA adaptation.

How Was it?

Corpse Party: Blood Covered was an interesting read, a strange mix of tones and styles that by all rights really shouldn’t fit all that well together. Horror and chibi art, guts and boob grabs, this manga veers wildly from one thing to the next as it juggles all of these disparate elements into one single narrative, and thankfully it mostly works, ending up as a manga version of a teen slasher movie that does wrestle with some interesting underlying themes.

Now full disclosure: I, the reviewer, am not someone who typically watches horror/slasher media as such, however as an outsider I did end up finding a decent amount to enjoy in this book. The most surprising thing about this book in my eyes, was how much I enjoyed the wildly shifting artstyle. For while the “normal” style is a soft, rounded style (likely to be called “moe” by some) the manga has at least 2 more distinct styles: the even more deformed, round and soft chibi style and an overly-exaggerated, hyper-detailed and darkly shaded style for use in the grotesque, scary and disturbing scenes. All 3 of these styles, normal, chibi and grotesque all have their merits, with the art being expressive, able to help convey the wide variety of emotions this series attempts to convey very quickly. However, it is not just the art by itself that makes this series work, but how it uses those same art styles to help convey some of the hidden meanings.

During the middle section of the book especially, the thematic undercurrent becomes about dealing with stress and the emotional toll of keeping a happy face on. It was here in particular where the previous whiplash-esque thematic switches between horror and comedy really felt justifiably earned as the main characters of that arc, Seiko and Naomi, have the mood switching as a character trait and character foil respectively. Seiko especially, as the eternal optimist, actually undergoes some fairly good development, development that helped me stomach some of her groping humour. But since the active participation in the “fanservice” was part of her character, I didn’t find it overly annoying, or at least only as annoying as the character Naomi herself found it, so it actually helped in drawing me into the story and not just derailing my immersion. That deft touch in itself elevated for me what could have been a merely mediocre story to something much more interesting.

The other aspect that kept me intrigued throughout was the mystery of the haunted elementary school. The selection of ghosts do seem to run on some specific themes, and their postmortem descriptions actually unlock surprisingly rich teasers of backstory, which only led me to be even more invested as we went along.

This first volume though isn’t quite without faults though. The first chapter, at the moment, seems a bit detached. It’s not a terrible chapter, but what it sets up is a large cast of characters, most of whom don’t even show up in the rest of this first volume, as the story nicely splits off to focus on a couple small subsets of the group one at a time. So while in the long run it is not a bad idea for this starting chapter to exist as a series opener, as a single volume (or double volume as this is a 2-in-1 omnibus version) what we are left with is a large selection of the cast being barely identified, and with little shown personality. This will likely be fixed later on, but for now the prospect of meeting these other characters is not nearly as appealing as sticking to the few that have already been fleshed out.

Final Thoughts

Corpse Party: Blood Covered ended up being a surprisingly good series, all things considered. With interesting artistic choices, a good mystery, and some clever writing that justified some of the more potentially off putting “fanservice”, It made me want to keep going with this series. It may not be the most original of horror stories out there, but it manages to make even its cliches interesting to read.


Corpse Party: Blood Covered Vol. 1 was published by Yen Press on May 24, 2016 and translated by Alethea and Athena Nibley. The story was written by Makoto Keduin, with art handled by Toshimi Shinomiya. Volume 2 releases in English on August 30, 2016.

Verdict:

B+

Date of Publication: May 24th, 2016

Translator: Alethea and Athena Nibbley

Author: Makoto Keduin + Toshimi Shinomiya

Publisher: Yen Press