16 Feb / No Longer Human (vol. 3) by Usamaru Furuya, based on the novel by Osamu Dazai, translated by Allison Markin Powell
The three-part manga adaptation of Dazai Osamu‘s classic semi-autobiographical novel of human disconnect concludes here with utter fear and loathing. To catch up to this point, click here for the first two volumes.
Yozo Oba, now 22, is living so blissfully with his lovely young wife Yoshino that Usamaru Furuya the online voyeur scoffs, “… the unexpected happy developments disappointed me.” But, of course, he doesn’t stay disappointed for long.
The lovebirds have enjoyed a year of true happiness together. He’s a rising manga artist, and she helps him produce his panels. He’s stopped drinking and smoking. He’s contentedly basking in Yoshino’s complete and irresolute trust in him.
Into their idyllic nest arrives bad-boy Horiki to deliver a letter from Yozo’s past. All too quickly, Yozo succumbs to his old vices, easily dragged down by Horiki’s envy. Horiki calls Yozo a “criminal” for his many past misdeeds: “The word made my heart skip a beat. Sooner or later, the day may come for me to pay for all I’ve done.”
That same night, the descent begins. Yoshino is brutally attacked while Yozo watches in paralyzed horror. Yozo’s anguish turns him gray overnight. His disgust with humanity – but most especially the utter loss of Yoshino’s innocent trust in him – sends him into a destructive spiral from which he will never emerge.
By volume’s end, the story diverges from Dazai’s original novel, as Furuya the writer concludes with his own framing story: as the online reader Furuya finishes Yozo’s diary, he comes upon an “Afterword” from Horiki, who has put the diary online in hopes of finding a now-disappeared Yozo. In the days that follow, Furuya can’t get Yozo out of his head, and seeks out the various characters in the diary, only to find them all too real. “‘I want to draw this man …,'” and so the adaptation comes full circle.
The final pages of the trilogy end with another “Afterword,” most sobering of all as author Furuya reveals his own high school identification with the suicidal Dazai. “I drew the last scene with Yozo, where he may have ascended to a painless dimension, as faintly salvational. … [T]he original novel … ends with an astonishing, bewildering scene of terrifying, weak humanity that pushes the reader away,” Furuya explains. “I sincerely hope that those who feel the manga is too dark will go and read the novel. A despair that I was in the end unable to convey can be found within its pages …”
Furuya writes, ironically, from his home in Mitaka City near the Tamagawa Canal: “It feels like a thread that connects me to Osamu Dazai, who drowned himself in it.” Whew … goosebumps, anyone?
Readers: Young Adult (with caution), Adult
Published: 2012 (United States)