Yozo Obo seems to have finally found happiness with his wife Yoshino, and his job as a mangaka. But one single event sends him spirally back down into the darkness, farther than he’s ever gone before. One by one, he loses everything, even his sanity.

By Usamara Furuya; Based on the novel by Osamu Dazai
Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
Age Rating: 16+
Genre: Drama
Price: $10.95
Rating: ★★★★☆

I’ll admit, I was dreading reading this last volume of No Longer Human, as I knew the worse for Yozo was yet to come. I had enjoyed watching him find love and happiness in the second volume, and I didn’t want to see anything bad happen to Yoshino. But the darkness that has always shadowed Yozo returns with a vengeance, as if punishing him for his happiness, and swallows him whole. Thankfully though, the title doesn’t end quite as darkly as I was afraid it would.

This volume shows just how fragile Yozo really is. His idyllic world is shattered early in the volume when Yoshino is violently attacked, sending him back to his beliefs that humans are gross. It has such a profound effect on him, that his hair turns grey overnight. He quickly falls back to his old habit of drinking, and when that doesn’t help him escape, he falls further into something stronger, drugs. As a result, he pulls away from Yoshino, who then thinks he believes she is to blame for the attack. I was glad to see that wasn’t the case. He was angry that her trusting innocences was taken from her.

Yozo was also angry with Horiki, which I can’t really blame him. He’s never come off as a real friend. He was more of a frienemy, always envious of Yozo way with a pen or women, and not only does he not help Yoshino, he just yells at Yozo and then leaves him when he’s at his most vulnerable. This isn’t what I consider a friend, and he does just as much to contribute to Yozo’s fall as does Fukawa.Even though at the end he claims to be searching for Yozo, I do wonder how much of him feels glad at how far Yozo has fallen.

Furuya doesn’t end No Longer Human the same way as the novel. In his notes at the end he states that the glimmer of hope that he leaves in his titles is his weakness, that he is unable to properly convey the feelings of utter despair that novel does. But I have to say, I’m glad for that. I would not have enjoyed this series as much if he had ended it like that. The story is dark enough as it is. Furuya does do a good job of showing that deep down, Yozo is essentially good, but that circumstances kept him from achieving the happiness everyone deserves.

I really enjoyed the art at the beginning of this volume. The soft shading and the pencil-sketched look really gave the happiness he felt then a more dream-like quality. Some of the hallucinations he had while on speed were both funny and frightening, really showing his state of mind. I also liked how Furuya had himself researching the blog, using his publishing connections to meet Yozo’s editor, and Google to find the bar where he lived for a while. Those touches really made the story seem more real.

No Longer Human is a stark depiction of how easy it can be to fall into the depths of despair and never find a way out. Furuya grounds the story in a modern reality, making the tale accessible to an audience that might not otherwise have had an interest in reading the original novel. While his ending might not be faithful to the novel, it still gets it’s warning across. We are social animals. The more we pull away from those around us, and isolate ourselves, the less human we become. And in this world where social interaction is becoming the exception, and not the norm, that is a good lesson to learn.

Review copy provided by publisher.

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