No Longer Human 2
January 31, 2012
Usamaru Furuya – Vertical – 2011 – 3 volumes
Saturday was the last day of the Usamaru Furuya Manga Moveable Feast over at Experiments in Manga. Furuya’s definitely a mangaka worth looking at, and there’s a ton of content over there. I did contribute to the feast with a look at Palepoli, but since I had the second volume of this laying around, I thought I might pick it up while in the mood for more.
It is interesting that Furuya chose to adapt this work, but for me, the power here is in the writing (instead of the art or black sense of humor that Furuya often brings to his work). No Longer Human is a hard thing to read. You know that Yozo isn’t going to have a happy ending. There’s nobody left to help him. And he alienates those that try. It’s a self-destructive circle, and both the story and art do a good job of portraying the utter despair that permeates absolutely everything in this story.
Most of the allure here is just how bleakly Yozo is viewing his own life, so a story summary doesn’t really do it justice. But here, he is saved from his suicide attempt and isn’t charged with murder after his father bails him out. He’s sent to live with a friend of the family who hates him, but collects a paycheck for taking care of him all the same. He eventually runs away and back into the life of his best friend, where he hooks up with an older woman who takes care of him and launches a career as a children’s manga artist. He drinks and smokes to excess, and begins alienating even the older women that feed and clothe him. By the end of the book, however, things are looking better, as he believes he’s found a true love. I don’t really think this is going to go anywhere good, and I’m almost dreading reading the third volume because this thing is just so sad.
At one point, he mentions that his main problem might be that his life lacks purpose. He was looking forward to being sentenced and paying reparations for the death of Ageha, since having a job to pay her family for the rest of his life would give his life meaning. It doesn’t work out that way, but I found it interesting that he seems to have picked up a career in manga relatively easily by the end of the volume. Even more shocking, he seems to be good at it, and quite successful at sticking with it. Given how flaky he is about absolutely everything else, it’s interesting to me that he maintains this career while apparently completely intoxicated 24 hours a day. And he seems to keep his deadlines, too. And somehow, while he maintains this degree of professionalism, this is not giving his life purpose. I don’t know how much can be read into that, but it’s part of the story, all the same.
But yes, my whole opinion on this series seems, so far, to be that I’m not sure how to feel. It’s supposed to be dark and depressing, and it’s conveying those quite powerfully. But it’s not easy to read, and it’s hard to pick up a book like this knowing it’s just going to bring me down. But it’s an excellent series all the same, and I’m curious to see how it will end badly in the next volume.