Story: Osamu Dazai/Usamaru Furuya
Art: Usamaru Furuya
Translation/Adaptation: Allison Markin Powell
What They Say
The devastating finale!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Throughout the first two volumes of No Longer Human, we bore witness to Yozo’s depravity and hopeless nature. He is the type of human we all fear becoming and one whom we despise simply because we aren’t that type of person. He has used and abused every person he has ever come in contact with all because he is a broken person; a person incapable of being happy. At the end of volume 2, we saw him finally start to show genuine care for another human being and for a brief moment we thought that he could change. Fortunately, he does change.
The beginning of volume 3 shows Yozo happily married to Yoshino, he has quit drinking and smoking and has finally begun to work for the life he wants. His manga, Fretty Ping, has become successful enough for him to maintain a job and provide for himself and his wife. However, one night a true atrocity befalls him and Yoshino that derails his life once again. One thing that is to be admired about both this manga and, presumably, its source novel is the fact that Yozo’s character has been developed to the point where we narrowly avoid dramatic trappings. It is easy to view this situation and its outcomes as “it’s not Yozo’s fault”; but while it is the act of another that is the catalyst, Yozo is still entirely to blame for how his life turned out.
In short, this book is depressing! We have seen Yozo rise and fall over the course of his life, but here he just falls. Sadly, as a product of the original source novel’s age, it’s a fall we have seen too many times by this point. The story doesn’t do anything different with its topic simply because of the repetition we have seen over the years, but it’s still a fascinating read. This is because of Furuya’s artwork, hands down. During the downward spiral of Yozo’s life after he has succumbed to drug addiction, Furuya manages to enthrall us with his visual style. These are the kinds of sequences that stick with a reader long after the book has been read because the way in which Yozo’s delusions and psychosis pour onto the page and come to life in the illustrations are truly disturbing and interesting to behold.
Having not read the source novel, this wasn’t the ending I was expecting but it is an expected outcome. There are no fluffy bunnies and optimism to be found and quite honestly, this story has the ability to crush its readers. The despair is felt honestly and truthfully but even if you do not wish to partake in such horrible matters, there is a reason to read this series. As I stated in my review of volume 1, there is a pure cinematic quality about Furuya’s approach that reaches the heights of art on multiple levels. We are able to empathize with Yozo and maybe even see a bit of ourselves somewhere in his complex character. It is because of these two elements that we receive a quality release that has a positive effect on our own perspectives despite nothing positive being found within its pages. You don’t need to witness a fall from grace and see the subject overcome challenges and come back out on top in order to draw inspiration (although that is the most common form of inspirational art which we are exposed to). You can also draw inspiration from seeing the depths of depravity, the horrors of life, and the evils of man. Sometimes life doesn’t turn out for the best, and by seeing such a brutally honest approach, such as in No Longer Human, we draw inspiration so that our lives do not turn out like this. We may think that we are good people, that we know how to live good lives but…be honest with yourselves, it is horrifyingly easy to fall down the wrong path, to make the wrong choices, and it is a spiral that is difficult to break free from. Simply, No Longer Human is a ‘scared straight’ program that is visually crafted with pure expertise; beautiful in its depravity.
At the end, No Longer Human ends exactly how it started, a difficult read that makes you uneasy and unsure if you want to continue reading. But there is no denying the mastery of craft that was used in its creation. Furuya knows how to captivate an audience and the deep psychological trauma in the story is relayed in such a manner that it can be compared to masterworks of cinema. How you react to the subject matter depends on your own personal affiliations and objections, but not once does it affect the product itself. This is a high quality series whether you like the story or not! I loved this series start to finish. I hoped the story would turn out better for the main character, but the manner of which it ends is perfect in its own way. A highly recommended series that will impact you in one way or another, for better or for worse; whether it’s worth the trip or not depends on you.
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Vertical
Release Date: February 28th, 2012