By Satoko Kiyuduki
Released in the US by Yen Press
Slugline: A 4-koma non-comedy title
Kuro is a black clad girl (who does not look very girlish) that carries a coffin on her back, a flock of talking bats and two children who follow her that has strange abilities. Kuro is apparently looking for a specific witch, has been injured in some way and carries the coffin on her back because she believes she will need it on her travels, for her that is. The exact nature of her travels isn't really revealed, though it can be pieced out from the book. The title seems to vary a slice of life to a supernatural quest style story.
I haven't read that many yonkoma, Japanese gag strips which are four panel, usually one on top of each other. It's an odd format, because despite having a continuing story and discrete episodes, the four panel structure makes it full very choppy. Like a movie reel that is missing some frames, it just doesn't flow smoothly. A whole lot isn't explained, and there is the requisite cute kids, but they seem to have a mystery attached to them that won't go away. The book has several color pages scattered throughout, probably as a legacy from original publication (presumably in 4 panel sections) which shows a subtle sense of coloring. At the moment, it's parts are charming and work well enough that I gave it 2 1/2 stars despite the fact as a total package you can see the joints and gears trying to mesh between its parts.
Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.