No Longer Human, Vol. 1

By Usamaru Furuya, based on the novel by Osamu Dazai. Released in Japan by Shinchosha, serialized in the magazine Weekly Comic Bunch. Released in North America by Vertical.

Vertical released 3 new series in quick succession this past month, and this may be the least talked about of the three. However, it should be talked about more, as it’s excellent, with Furuya creating a disturbing mood of suffocation and pretense as he adapts a classic Japanese novel about despair into modern times.

The original novel by Dazai was released in 1948, and is still beloved in Japan. We’ve seen its influence here already; the first Book Girl novel used it as a focal point, and Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei has many similarities between its protagonist and the narrator of No Longer Human. Furuya uses a bit of a distancing device to bookend the manga, showing himself looking at a website that supposedly describes the life of Yozo Oba, a young man who seems dissolute and bored with life.

The back cover notes that he takes refuge in clowning, but honestly we only see that for the first chapter of the book. In reality, Yozo has a different face for each situation he’s in, and seems to throw on personalities at random. This is not all that uncommon, of course, but he’s also a teenager, and seems to regard his attitude as unique and everyone else as being happy and content. In other words, Yozo thinks too much. As the manga goes on, various bad things start happening to him, but he deals with it by either reacting on the fly or drifting aimlessly. Yozo lacks a purpose.

This isn’t a horror manga (more on that later in the week), but there are certainly several images within that could be right at home in a horror anthology. Furuya loves to draw surrealistic mindscapes showing his characters’ fractured psyches, and so we see swirling faces, blank puppet eyes, and dolls breaking apart in the sea. What Yozo goes through is no picnic, either – he may start out as a rich dilettante, but his family curtails his allowance, then cuts him off completely. And the political group he joins turns out to be a terrorist organization. Is it any wonder he ends Volume 1 where he does?

As with Genkaku Picasso, the emphasis here is on imagery. Furuya is served well by a pre-existing plot, however, even if he’s adapting it to modern times, and so things hold together better than they did in Picasso. This is also for a far older audience than Picasso; there are several scenes with Yozo having sex, and there’s also some violence and graphic situations, particularly at the end of the first volume. No one is going to have their psyche magically fixed by a pen here.

As with most of Furuya’s works, No Longer Human isn’t for everyone. But I definitely regarded it as a step up from Picasso, and it lacks (so far) the sexual violence and gore of Lychee Light Club. Intriguingly, the flipped format we see here *isn’t* flipped – Furuya redrew his entire manga left-to-right for the French market, and Vertical is using that version. It works very well. For those looking for a psychological thriller with intellectual overtones, give this a try.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.


  1. It’s nice to see an Manga adiptation of Dazi’s work get released makes me wonder if the smae type of thing ever got done for Yukio Mishima now that would be intresting

  2. Check out the original novel if you haven’t already; it was the book that essentially got me that much more interested in Japanese literature. I also did my own takes on the manga adaptation: and the original book:

  3. I’m really interested in reading this…but isn’t it that Furuya gave Vertical right to left pages, and so didn’t actually “redraw” them he just flipped them? That’s what I heard

    • Sean Gaffney says

      Vertical notes that he did redraw the entire manga left to right – but not for the North American market. He did it for France, and Vertical used the art from that project. So it’s not ‘flipped’, it’s how he intended it to be L-to-R.


  1. […] edition) (Comics Worth Reading) Connie on vol. 1 of Mars (Slightly Biased Manga) Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of No Longer Human (A Case Suitable for Treatment) Sweetpea616 on Petshop of Horrors (Organization Anti-Social […]

Speak Your Mind