No Longer Human, Part Two
written by Usamaru Furuya
illustrated by Osamu Dazai
Osamu Dazai’s original novel brought into the comic world by Usakmaru Furuya delivers a chilling blow to readers’ sense of humanity and the extent of their sanity.
In the previous volume of this three-part series, Yozo Oba attempted to commit double suicide with a girl he had just met, but he, himself, failed to die, and at the outset of this volume, he is forced to pay the price for his actions, being arrested and held in jail for many days. As time goes by, and he sits quietly in his cell, Yozo slowly settles his feelings and decides he wants to live, so he can make amends for the girl’s death.
Over time, however, Yozo begins to plunge into a psychological abyss that’s only deepened by the atmosphere of his living space and the people in it, not to mention their attitude toward him. Pushed to the edge, he flees “home,” and through his detached attitude and his impressive acting skills, earns himself a place to live with Shizuko Tanaka, a contact a friend referred him to. His relationship with her, however, is far from pure. It is during this impure engagement that he starts writing a journal, starting it with the words, “I’ve lived a life full of shame.” Indeed, his existence has been shameful for many reasons, but over time, he finds he has a talent for writing manga for kids while drawing silly stories for Shizuko’s daughter, Shiori.
This becomes a new lease on life for Yozo, as his manga, Fretty Ping, becomes a hit with a children’s magazine and eventually becomes serialized. For once in his life, Yozo is living a more proper life, instead of just mooching off Shizuko.
Despite Yozo’s new lease on life, it does not take long for him to sink into several bad habits, not the least of which is heavy drinking and smoking. Soon enough, he comes to a stage where he cannot bear to stay with Shizuko any longer, and takes up lodging at a local bar. He begins illustrating erotic novels under a pen name, in addition to drawing nude women (those willing to get nude for him).
Every time Yozo does something wrong, it made me want to shout at him to get a little common sense and a little decency, just enough to realize that he’s destroying the life that Shizuko helped him attain.
While an excellent manga, No Longer Human is very depressing and can induce a sense that living life is pointless in readers who are not able to handle the heavy dark and psychological content. The storytelling ability shown by Furuka is such that it not only draws the reader into the depths of Yozo’s mind, and even passes on the level of negativity that the book contains.