by Rebecca Silverman,

Corpse Party: Blood Covered

GN 3

Corpse Party: Blood Covered GN 3
Two of the trapped students have died and the remaining members of the group find themselves in increasingly desperate straits. With each new corpse they discover, their hysteria mounts, revealing that people are not always who they assumed them to be. Meanwhile the ghost of Naho has singled out Ayumi as the person most likely to be able to break the curse on Tenjin Elementary – but can she really be trusted to tell the truth?

With each subsequent omnibus edition of Corpse Party: Blood Covered, the decision to release the series as two-in-one volumes makes more sense. Not that the game adaptation isn't capable of holding our attention, but the major plot points appear to come at a rate of every other volume, meaning that those readers who prefer that their gore comes with a story would be less likely to enjoy the series if it had been released in single volumes. In part this appears to be a result of which characters take on which roles – although Satoshi is nominally the hero of the story, his part in the plot is thus far mostly to find random clues that feed the reader's understanding of what's going on while generally acting like a comfort to the various other characters he interacts with. In other words, he's helping our interpretation of the larger story without actually doing a whole lot with the information. It is Ayumi and Kishinuma who have the more active roles, and they don't take the lead until the second half of the omnibus, original volume six.

This is where things get more interesting. Volume five does provide some very important clues, of course – when Satoshi finds himself alone in the teachers' office, he discovers papers containing the first part of an investigation into Tenjin Elementary and what happened after the events of 1973. The most important piece of information that we're given is that there were four, not three, kidnapping victims, although only three were murdered. The fourth is the mysterious girl in red, but why she should haunt the school when she must have gone on to live her life far away is unknown. Granted, the major logical flaw that most readers will pick up on is that everyone seems to assume that this girl went on to live a happy, normal life after being kidnapped and watching three of her classmates get brutally murdered. Yes, this is fiction, but really, if that was the case, we'd have to wonder about her emotional and mental state at the time. As it turns out, we really ought to be thinking about that, but the fact that the characters have such a simplistic way of thinking feels like a plot device to fuel their inability to figure out the mystery. This is not unheard of in the horror genre, but still, it is an issue that may take readers out of the story. It is also particularly jarring because the second half of the Satoshi section, where he meets up with Naomi again, relies heavily on trauma having an effect on someone's emotional stability. Satoshi finds Naomi in the girls' bathroom talking to Seiko's corpse, and when Satoshi gives Naomi back her phone, she finds what appears to be a message from Seiko blaming her for her death. To say that this sends Naomi over the edge would be accurate; the message cuts the last thread tying her to sanity. Although it is relatively easily resolved (though not without its suspense), it points out the fatal flaw in Satoshi's thinking about the girl in red, creating a disconnect within the story's own logic.

Fortunately, this is less prevalent in the second half of the book, which shifts the focus to Ayumi and Kishinuma. Naho, whose motivations are getting more suspect by the moment, tells Ayumi that she is the school's best chance of breaking the curse, and that if she is able help the murdered children move on by bringing them their lost body parts, the nightmare will end. Naho isn't entirely wrong, but she's also not telling everything she knows, and the gruesome treasure hunt gives Ayumi a chance to see what really happened on the day everything began. Just why Naho is leaving things out, as well as her connection to the author of the report Satoshi finds, is perhaps the most intriguing mystery of the series. Murders and mutilations can be explained away with psychological terms, but what motivates Naho? Has she been warped by her time trapped in the school, or is there something more, possibly tying her to the girl in red? That looks as if it will be the major question going forward, and it makes her attraction to Ayumi as her “helper” feel very ominous.

Although it wouldn't be entirely fair to call the plot progression here “jerky,” it also doesn't flow especially well, and even if the original end matter wasn't included in the omnibus after each single volume, it would be easy to tell where the books start and end. The art is likewise still having some issues, primarily in terms of foreshortening and angles. Toshimi Shinomiya does a fine job with gore and definitely deserves props for remembering, or at least illustrating, that the bladder lets go when someone dies, and the little girl without half of her head is truly scary. But the rest of the art has some major issues with perspective, and the sameness of the school hallways really begins to get grating, especially since characters can apparently tell where they are despite a total lack of identifying features.

Corpse Party: Blood Covered is a serviceable horror story. In its third omnibus it does manage some scares, gross-out moments, and plot progression, but the way it's laid out and presented doesn't always do it any favors. Basically by this point it feels like a series good enough to keep reading, but without a few major shake-ups in the books to come, not necessarily one that will be worth revisiting once it's over.

Production Info:
Overall : C
Story : C+
Art : C-

+ Parts of the mystery are beginning to become clear, Naho is an intriguing character, some effective gore
Story flow is off, art has some perspective issues, a few logical flaws

Story: Makoto Kedōin
Art: Toshimi Shinomiya

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