No Longer Human, part 1
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
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In honor of the 100th birthday of Osamu Dazai, Usamaru Furuya retells Dazai's most important work No Longer Human in modern day Tokyo where modern vices can bring ruin to the self-loathing.
Furuya's adaptation of No Longer Human takes place nearly seventy years after Dazai's original. Set in modern day Tokyo, Dazai's tale details the life of a young man originally from a well-off family from Japan's far north. Yozo Oba is a troubled soul incapable of revealing his true self to others. A weak constitution and the lingering trauma from some abuse administered by a relative forces him to uphold a facade of hollow jocularity since high school. The series is composed of three parts, referred to in the novel as "memorandums," which chronicle the life of Oba from his teens to late twenties. The comic is narrated by the artist, Furuya himself, making appearances at the start of each volume. In many ways, it could be said that Furuya has traveled a path that may be similar to Dazai's. Maybe that is what led these two together after 100 years.
In this first of three parts, alternative comic artist Usamaru Furuya appears to be overcome with deadlines. While he has been published by some of the biggest names in the comics industry, his star still shines brightest as a cult favorite, an underground artist whose emo comics are the voice of a new generation. To escape the duldrums of work, he loses himself in the internet and comes across the journal of a man whose life sounds very familiar--Oba Yozo. In Oba's First Memorandum the teen is overcome by an intense feeling of alienation. This pressure is so strong he cannot cope with others making it impossible to socialize with those who surround him, even his own family. To counter this Oba plays the role of the fool in order to establish interpersonal
After graduating from Tama University of the Arts, Tokyo native Usamaru Furuya turned his attention to the world of comics. Since his debut in 1994, he has gone on to draw sixteen titles. First translated into English in the nineties before the onset of the manga boom, he won an expectant cult following in the United States that is being rewarded only today with a new spate of localizations.
"What made the original No Longer Human so great — and what has been carried forward into this version — is not just the fact that it has such an impact, but that it uses its impact to connect to things that haven’t diminished with the passage of time...We are moved most profoundly by tragedy not because pain is more worthy of art than joy, but because it’s loss (and, perhaps, the salvation and redemption that can come afterwards) that inspires use to reflect and understand far more deeply than simply winning... Great art, no matter how much sadness it encompasses, is exhilarating because it showcases people working at the top of their game." - Genji Press
"Never have I read a manga which made me understand and feel what it meant to be no longer human...For a first volume, [No Longer Human, part 1] was beautiful and I loved it dearly to feel the need to write this. And how I wished it had garnered enough attention in Japan for it to merit some kind of award because personally, I felt Furuya deserved it...If darkness made me understand the other side of humanity, then I don’t mind sinking deeper." - Otaku Champloo
"No Longer Human was a great read. Usamaru Furuya’s stylish and simultaneously unembellished artwork works seamlessly with the story...The poignancy of volume one’s last words lingers with me even now, leaving me eager to see what places both of mind and body we’ll experience in volume two." - Kuriosity
"[No Longer Human] is essentially one long downward spiral for the character, but it’s not joyless as there’s hints of what his plans for the future are after he hits rock bottom at the end of this first volume. This may not be as visually imaginative as the mangaka’s other works, but the overall storytelling is enough for me to recommend it to those looking for something different in the manga and comics diet." - Glick's Comics Picks