"Scaring the living is technically against the rules, but we all do it." - Manny Calavera
The Land of the Living is a location visited during Year One of Grim Fandango's four-year quest. It is the physical world in which all living things exist before death. Upon death, human souls are reaped and introduced to the Land of the Dead by "travel agents" employed by the Department of Death. Other beings such as animals and vegetables (depicted in the forms of a hamburger patty and lettuce) are said to be under the jurisdiction of other bureaus.
Role in the gameEdit
The DOD's building is directly adjacent to the road connecting the Land of the Dead with the Land of the Living. The route is known to be perilous, as Manuel "Manny" Calavera comments how none of those that have tried to cross it on foot have ever returned. Under usual circumstances, the DOD appears to assign the responsibility of reaping and escorting a soul to an specific employee, which in turn travels there in a company car to accomplish the task. However, in Year 1 a Don Copal memo is sent to all employees warning them of a mass poisoning that was caused by a batch of spoiled gazpacho, which due to its size and complexity was declared a "first come, first served" case. Celso Flores is the first victim of the incident seen, having died along his wife. Manny's first journey to the Land of the Living is sabotaged by Domino Hurley, who sends his driver home. After convincing Glottis to serve a replacement, he traverses the road, but in the way sees Domino returning with the mass poisoning biggest client, a nun. Manny arrives in the Land of the Living and interacts with the living, expressing that they creep him out and wondering aloud if he looked like them while alive.
All inhabitants are depicted as overly enthusiastic with smiling faces made out of magazine cut-outs and do not move unless prompted, suggesting that time has stopped relative to inhabitants of the Land of the Dead. This is further emphasized by the fact that none see particularly concerned by the fact that a body bag remains in the restaurant, instead eating and interacting as usual. Manny also notes that all travel agents seem to enjoy scaring the living, who are somehow able to sense them despite being explicitly stated to be unable to hear the dead. Despite his dislike for the attitude of those alive, he does try to warn the remaining ones to avoid the gazpacho.
Being the last one to arrive, Manny is forced to settle on retrieving Bruno Martinez a rude client that was conveniently left behind inside a body bag by the other agents. Deciding that he was tired of attending dead end clients, he intercepts the memo that assigned another high profile client to Domino, the altruist Mercedes "Meche" Colomar. Now riding a modified company car turned into a hot rod by Glottis (and driving Domino off the road), Manny arrives at the hospital where Meche died of chicken pox and secures her as a client. However, this stunt proved to be the last time that he would visit the Land of the Living, leaving him unemployed and only barely able to avoid being sprouted by the corrupt DOD leadership.
The art of The Land of the Living is presented in a surreal dadaist style, clashing with the relatively realistic aesthetic of the Land of the Dead. All of the living models are asymmetrical, with most displaying this trait in the depiction of their head and faces, though a minority show disproportionately large hands as well. On the other hand, inanimate objects are distinctly realistic when compared to their Land of the Dead counterparts, featuring sophisticated lighting and textures. In general, the Land of the Living reflects the 1930s, featuring car models and clothing reminiscent of the era where the noir film genre was at its peak.