The Funeral Procession of K, the review of the manga by Maki Kusumoto

The Funeral Procession of K, the review of the manga by Maki Kusumoto
Mangaka Maki Kusumoto finally arrives in Italy, thanks to Edizioni Star Comics, with a story that made school in the manga culture of the Japanese underground scene of the 90s. We are talking about K's Funeral Procession, published in our country in a single volume and part of the Wasabi series, inaugurated last year with works such as Il Giardino Dell'Eden and Notes from apartment 107, dedicated to the manga trend based on stories more mature and works by niche artists that partially move away from the canonical Japanese style.

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The Funeral Procession of K: a ambiguous funeral between empty coffin and colorful participants

The title of the work is emblematic and in fact The Funeral Procession of K, a work created by Kusumoto in 1994, speaks of a rather mysterious and disturbing funeral. The deceased, Mr. K, was not found and the coffin is empty. None of those present, ie the tenants of the same building, have any idea where the body may be, but everyone is sure that Mr. K is dead.

The tenants are people out of the ordinary and the same building seems to arise in a universe of its own: we have a strange gentleman who spends time in the tub and constantly runs around with swimming goggles, a handyman engineer and owner of the building who becomes a parish priest for the occasion of the funeral, a butcher with a small shop on the first floor that sells precious pieces of meat and gives mysterious eggs that are always different, a vain woman and her mother, a strange gentleman who daily asks to collect mysterious Morcufara and a beautiful and contemptuous girl with whom the dead sometimes entertained for long chats.

suddenly, during the ceremony, comes a new tenant of the name Mikaya that randomly occupy the apartment number 301, which is the same town from Mr. K until the day of his death. Once you discover the history, the new entry starts to experience strange events that lead him to investigate the death of K together with the wacky tenants of the condominium. From that moment on, the story will take the implications very special and unexpected rich of twists .

A josei atypical between Kafka and Agatha Christie

The Funeral Procession of K is not a manga for everyone is for graphic style, both for the organizational structure – some chapters do not have the pages or the titles and the intro even is placed at the end of the volume – that for themes, but it is a manga that a more experienced reader may not only pleasure, but to remember the classic works of authors like Ai Yazawa, Kaoru Mori, and Asumiko Nakamura . It is, in fact, a josei , a manga dedicated to a female audience adult, atypical, because the issues dealt with involve every type of player, and only in the final stage is closer to the stylistic features of the genre.

Maki Kusumoto is one of the artists most famous in Japan thanks to the themes of his manga that focus mainly on death and on love , two themes that are central to de The Funeral Procession of K . This time, however, the two issues are intertwined in a world that is almost dreamlike, where the suspension of disbelief is mandatory for the player who otherwise would run the risk of getting lost in the swirl of realism, the fanciful of which is wrapped in the story. The latter, also, the first focuses on the search of the body of K, then the guilty of his disappearance and, finally, on the same figure) of the K to unravel the mysterious thread of skein.

K, although it is never stated explicitly, is a letter that immediately brings to mind Kafka and his narrative . The figure and the style of the writer, pervades the whole story: the condominium reminiscent of the structure confusing and labyrinthine The process , especially when breaks in the elevator and all of the tenants find themselves wandering around the building, through the winding spiral staircase, the characters are cryptic and only partially defined , sometimes anonymous and sometimes interesting, and finally, the same K is known as a great writer .

Everyone, in fact, has its own role in the story and sometimes the story takes folds very similar to the works of Agatha Christie like Murder on the Orient Express . All of the characters, however, have a great admiration and respect for the silent and almost invisible K. it Is with this beginning that the author goes beyond, touching the strings of the unreal and the fantastic , enriched with tables of white on a black background and backgrounds totally non-existent, characterized by a white celestial. Each apartment reflects, both in the decor and furnishings of the house, the oddities and the character of his tenant, and when you start to investigate, on K starts to position themselves in an aura of sacredness disturbing that shows itself also in dreams and in the psyche of the same tenants.

Storytelling and the twisted as much as the artistic style

The plot, so it's quite linear : there is the funeral of K, the coffin is empty, we search the body and investigates on tenants. The narration, however, is the brilliant and twisted : it all starts with one of the tenants looking for extravagant Morcufara and ends with the explanation of who was K with the twists really well placed and for anything top . This translates also in the internal pages that show the color, but use only three colors: black, white and a touch of the occasional bright red for the key scenes.

The aesthetic is somewhere between the punk, gothic and noir, with citations to the ’80s and early ’90s. The characters of this manga are the classic examples of beautiful, but damned as almost all the stars of the music scene of the time. The clothes are inspired by european fashion of those years, but are mixed with recurring of christian symbols and clothing worn by non-conformist japanese who came in the ’90s if you wish to remain anchored to the glorious ’80s. The Funeral Procession of K is also a work of virtuoso which allows the author to show off his artistic skills and narrative.

The faces and elongated bodies, long-limbed and long hair take a cue from Nana by Ai Yazawa, but they are also the hallmarks of the style of Kusumoto and fit like a glove with the story. The slight stretch and thin in turn contributes to make the characters almost illusory, giving the feeling of floating and estrangement that we have explained a little above. This feeling is reinforced by the structure of the tables, and by the representation of some environments . For example, the display periodically the spiral staircase used by the protagonists to go into their homes it allows you to give the reader an idea of the history of a psychedelic half-way between reality and fiction .

The narrative, finally, is structured in blocks chronologically scattered and makes use of flashback effective and necessary . Undoubtedly, this generates a bit of confusion in the reader , but this is a feeling desired and essential to explain the mystery behind the life and death of K. The dialogues are also confused and exaggerated and maintain the rhythm of reading at very high levels allowing the reader to enjoy the work without the risk of getting bored.

The themes of death and love are treated with extreme lightness , as a normal event of everyday life. Some of the characters in them are venerated, they have desires morbid to them, because, knowing that sooner or later you will have to deal with them, they can't wait that to happen.

The editorial point of view

From the point of view of the editorial component , the volume created by Edizioni Star Comics is of fine workmanship and elegance . The cover is golden, and the first pages of the glossy are vaguely reminiscent of the baroque style of the manga. The format is slightly larger than the usual manga and this limits the ease of transportation, but ensures a better use of the boards and of the wonderful designs, also due to a binding of the solid and of the rough pages of good paper weight . The volume is so well edited it's a shame that there are no curious extra.


The Funeral Procession of K is therefore a very delicate Maki Kusumoto manages to create to perfection, but that does not make it easy to use to all readers. The issues dealt with are heavy , but told with a lightness such as to be almost offensive to a certain audience. There is no shortage of symbolism and some of the citations to a culture half-way between the punk and the gothic, which are strengthened by an aesthetic and a narrative taken to extremes of virtuosity.

The choice of the sensei was certainly brave , especially because it tells clearly the issues and the hardships the youth of the ’80s and ’90s, and surely please to the lovers of this genre.

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