Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro (棺担ぎのクロ。～懐中旅話～) by Satoko Kiyuduki
Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro had the pleasure of showing me there are 4-koma manga that I like! But then again, Kiyuduki doesn’t use the format in a traditional sense. Her low-key humor and simple but precise art makes this series a real charmer.
Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro follows the story of a haphazard group of travelers headed up by the mysterious, coffin-carrying, black clad, girl going by the name Kuro. She along with a bunch of bats (one snarky one in particular, Sen) pick up two little cat girls along the way. Where they are headed remains a rather amorphous concept though they do seem to be looking for someone. Along the way we learn bits of pieces of character’s past. Each traveler plays off the others; Kuro being none too talkative while the kids are little balls of energy and mischief. The series has a melancholy undertone, not unlike Kino’s Journey but also not that heavy, though it is balanced out by the adorable art style and banter.
The way Kiyuduki plays with the format is of particular interest from using one giant panel to tell a story to expanding an adventure to two or three times that of usual 4-koma. At times she is using the format merely as a structure but still these adventures feel like quick bites. The printing is also nice with many color pages to enjoy.