A group of high school students and their teacher celebrate the success of their class’s event for the culture festival by telling ghost stories in the classroom. It is also one of their classmates’ last day with the class, so they perform a ritual that will guarantee they stay together forever. Suddenly, they fall through the floor into a dilapidated school called Tenjin Elementary. Separated from their classmates and teacher, students Naomi and Seiko explore the school, only to discover that it’s actually a collection of alternate dimensions created by vengeful spirits who hunt and kill those pulled into their world. Will the girls be able to reunite with their classmates and escape?
The first volume of Corpse Party focuses on the characters’ exploration of the setting as they—and the reader—learn more about Tenjin Elementary. As tension grows, there are plenty of gross-out moments and disturbing revelations. The artwork effectively depicts the creepy atmosphere with shading and tones that set the mood, coupled with plenty of dead bodies, gore, and terrifying figures to ratchet up the scare factor.
While Corpse Party has an intriguing premise, certain aspects cause the story to fall flat. For instance, the main viewpoint characters for this volume are close friends Naomi and Seiko, but towards the end, the story switches focus to another group of two students and their teacher. Interestingly, neither of these two groups include the character who actually started the story; this is an odd choice because that character connects with the reader immediately, while the others appear to be background stereotypes. Since Corpse Party was originally a video game, decisions about viewpoint and characterization might be carry-overs from that version of the story. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with a point of view reminiscent of video games, the lack of character development lessens the impact of certain plot points.
Corpse Party’s fanservice also weakens the story. The cover features the main female characters in a compromising position, and there are a few upskirt shots and weirdly placed intimate scenes. Perhaps the biggest offense, however, is the fact that Seiko frequently gropes Naomi; this “gag” consistently interrupts the flow of the story and dispels its tension. It also impacts the believability of Naomi and Seiko’s friendship, and the lack of respect for Naomi’s boundaries will likely make readers uncomfortable.
The premise of Corpse Party: Blood Covered would certainly attract horror lovers, but they may ultimately find themselves disappointed by the delivery and characters. This volume would be of interest to fans of the Corpse Party video game and possibly other gamers who enjoy horror, but otherwise, it will likely have a limited audience.
Corpse Party: Blood Covered, vol. 1
by Makoto Kedouin
Art by Toshimi Shinomiya
Yen Press, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: OT (Older Teen)