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A chilling dramatic series about Shinjyurou Mamiya, an embalmer in a nation where men of his profession are viewed as outcasts engaging in an unaccepted and unclean practice. For Shinjyurou, it's just a job. But in doing it, he's gained an understanding of death, and more important, what it truly means to live...
Balsamista Balzamovač Shigeshoshi The Embalmer 死化妆师 死化粧師
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I'm a fan of MIHARA Mitsukazu after reading Beautiful People, that one was really impressive.
That's why I lasted on these long and painful 7 volumes, hoping.
Most of this manga is episodic, with every chapter going as a oneshot. You don't know those people, you don't have time to know them, you don't even want to. Embalming must be one of the most boring subjects I've seen in a manga, or at least that's how MIHARA Mitsukazu makes it to be.
Shinjyurou Mamiya is out main character, a beautiful american-japanese that whores himself for stupid reasons. We should care for him and understand his pain, though I found it impossible. He even gets some chapters for background but they're in a tight race to boredom with the oneshots.
So what do we have here? You don't care about the episodic cases, you don't care about the main char and his reasons, you're left with the art, which is OK and nothing more. I'm amazed how this got to the length of 7 volumes.
Never thought it'd be this good!
I can't help myself but wanting to share my reviews to anyone who ever read this :'))
First of all, it's the story. From the title and cover, my guess was "is this about surgeon?" (yeah, the mask) and "Okay, maybe some genius young but laidback male lead?" That's how it goes to my reading list. Then, I kept it in my folders and when I read it, there's only the name of the folder "The Embalmer". I once again thought that it must have relate to some balming or herbs or any fantasy(?) manga, until I decided to read it.
OMGGGGGGGG IT'S THE SAME MANGAKA WHO DREW "TAMASHII NO FUTAGO". If so, then I expect to see a really good and unique plot :3 And turns out my expectation wasn't any less betrayed!
The first chapter makes me curious and can't stop asking for next and next chapter. I guess what makes this manga a plus point for me, is the romantic interest (like, no offense, no "romance as subplot", no "BL in non-BL manga", or that kind of manga with male and female characters, but the main hero doesn't have any bit interest in romance). I'm. totally. satisfied THAT THEY SHARE A ROMANTIC DEVELOPMENT YEAY. I have no comment about the art style. I like it for being unique and gothic.
Story-wise, I feel like the mangaka did a lot of detail-ful research beforehand. I can totally relate it to real life. The importance of embalmer, how it was seen in medical term, how it was rejected by some people at first..... On top of that, there is also point of view from the autopsy side and hospital side, even from a mortuary's point of view. And of course, the patients, "corpses", and their families. A few first volumes started as "collection of oneshots", in which the main hero would do the embalming to a lot of different "people", in different background stories or --how to put it-- way to die/cause of death. True, it might be a linear storyline, but there's totally a message the mangaka wanted to convey--about the living.
Aaaaand soooo, after a long journey of 7 volumes, it was all summarised beautifully on the last chapter. I was like "ah, so true, so many times it had been repeated, all about that one thing." It saddens me because I saw an embalming procedure of my loved one right in front of my eyes. But that must be more the reason why I can relate to the story and the message it shares.
Thank you for the wonderful stories!
Gorgeous, meaningful manga
The stories are amazing, episodic pieces that are well-crafted and powerful. The romance is cute too. Even if you are a guy/not a fan of romance, you can ignore those parts and the plot is extremely well done.
Not a crappy, tropey manga. A real story and meaningful read~ Lots of themes like death, grief, love, etc.
An unfair story....
Why must you make me cry even when the chapter is not sad?! I bow my head to sensei for such a meaningful way to express life, parting and its struggles.
Darn it, I cried!
Only from the fourth volume onward though. Up until then the story is rather episodic and not that great (and the main character badly needed dumping for a while.) But after that...
I was crying
At some point in this story, I cried. More than one. It isn't interesting at the first volume. But it starting to get very interesting at the second volume when the past explained. It made you understand the story better. Please don't comment about this manga before you read about the past of Mamiya.
i did not expect this to be good!
i was reluctant to read this even though i have an interest in morbid stuff but it never occured to me that a plot about an embalmer could be so interesting! the plot is really good and has depth! for what i feared could be episodic, boy was i proven wrong. plus the romance in this is quite sweet as well.
There are few mangas in the world that I give a 10...
..And there are few mangas in the world I'd think of purchasing.
I love the mood of this, I love the dialogue. The romance element is a major part of the story but at the same time it's not - it exists in the periphery and threads through each volume in subtle ways. I disagree with those who say this manga is 'boring' (though of course, this term is mostly a matter of personal taste). I also disagree with those who say that this manga gets formulaic in that there is no more surprise at what happens - we know that there will be an embalming at the chapter's end. But I argue that the surprise isn't the embalming act - rather, the embalming act is the common element that ties each chapter together. The surprise lies in the stories each chapter contains, the lives of the particular character that chapter focuses on (I especially loved chapter 10 in volume 2 in which Shin and the son with the drunken father are paralleled - heartbreaking and powerful).
True, this manga is about embalming and death but moreso about life, and the different lives explored in each chapter are what makes it poignant, urgent, surprising and uplifting in a strange way.
I'm an American reader but I've yet to find this 'awkward' or alienating. More like riveting, emotionally-moving, sophisticated. It's pretty educational, too, so I think readers could just welcome the experience of learning an aspect of a different culture. I don't find it creepy at all, either, perhaps because the term 'creepy' connotes 'illogical', to me (ack, that doesn't make much sense but... an example of a manga I find creepy is "Oujitachi wa Izonsuru" because of the art style and the characters' actions/reactions are so illogical for their personalities.) This manga is beautiful because despite the 'morbid' subject matter, there is a very human element. If I have to pick one theme that summarizes this manga, it would be 'love.'
EDIT: The mangaka has an effective way of using panels for maximum impact. Lovely.
... Last updated on June 21st, 2012, 8:22pm
Very good, very intriguing
Spoiler (highlight to view)
To start off, for those who say this may be awkward for an American reader, I, a resident of the US, must say that that is not true at all. In fact, the embalming in this manga is very chic in comparison to actual embalming id est most people don't look as nice as some of these character in the manga do after death. But I love the turn the mangaka makes on embalming (as I have for the twists in all of her other works), and I like how it is shown more as an art than a medical procedure in this story, and the emotional depth behind the process.
All of the stories are slightly dark (especially because they all involve death :) ), but I find that, at the end of most of them, I felt good about life. They were all very touching stories. And, yes, you know the story would end with someone dying and being embalmed (or turned into a doll), but the emotions felt in each story and how it reaches the end was different in each one. "It's not the destination, it's the journey," or, "It doesn't matter where you're going, but how you get there," prominently display this point.
The romance was good too. I love mangas where the main guy tries desperately to keep his hands off the only girl he really loves. So poignant, so bitter sweet...-continues reciting dramatic lines- I love it!
... Last updated on June 18th, 2010, 8:22am
More of a Concept Manga
Mitsukazu Mihara is great at spinning dark, emotional stories. This manga is no different in that respect. She always spins a good tale.
However, the very subject matter of this manga is its very downfall. Not because it deals with death or embalming or the treatment of corpses (as others have said, the point is continually made that embalming (and thus, these stories) are more about the living), but because there's no element of surprise. Every story starts out in a different way, but you know they're all going to end in the same way - someone's going to die and be embalmed.
Maybe that says something about life itself. I have high enough esteem for Mihara's work that I'm pretty sure it's meant to. Our stories may all be different, but they're all going to end the same way. It's a deep and profound thing to express in a manga... but it doesn't necessarily make for the most riveting of reading material.
Also, American readers might find the subject matter a little awkward at times. Again, not because of the corpses and constant death - but because in America, embalming isn't a particularly taboo or interesting job choice. The almost fangirlish reverence for the embalming profession is almost... awkward. Sort of like fangirling about plumbers or accountants.
However, this cultural difference is kind of fascinating in itself. In that vein, the "Japanese foreign student in an American school" chapters were really interesting. It's interesting to see a Japanese person's perception of the experience. I found it fascinating that Mihara mentioned how fast English is spoken. I've always thought Japanese was spoken ridiculously fast by native speakers, so it's eye-opening to find out they feel the same way about our language!
All in all, I would say that this is almost a concept manga. If you can suspend the need for plot twists and turns and just take it as an artistic statement, it's really quite beautiful.
Also, I feel that the 4 scanlated/licensed volumes do a decent enough job of conveying the story. It would be great to see the next two volumes, but the 4 we have available don't leave you with a cliffhanger that will have you denouncing Tokyopop for dropping the license or offering scanlators your first born just to get the next volume uploaded
TL;DR: For conveying a deep/sensitive issue beautifully and artistically, this manga is superb. For fun reading material, it's a little below par. Also, don't let the incomplete scanning/licensing hold you back. The 4 available volumes do a decent job of telling a complete story.