A manga that is both desirable and out of print only leads to one thing: its price will rise dramatically, and No Longer Human is no exception.
In 2009, Usamaru Furuya created a three-volume manga version of more human, which is titled and based on the 1948 novel by Osamu Dazai. It would later be translated into English and published by Vertical, two years later after its serialization in Shinchosha’s Comic magazine.
Unfortunately, people interested in becoming potential buyers of this work will likely have a hard time finding them, as they are currently sold out. Worse still, the cost of those still available has skyrocketed. Today, it can cost as much as $300-500 for the complete set, while single copies usually range between $80-120. With the average retail price of most manga in the US being between $7.95 and $10.95, it seems hard for fans to justify such an expense.
The manga was created in honor of Osamu Dazai’s 100th birthday and acts as a stark reflection of the life he led. The manga, like the novel it is based on, tells the story of Ōba Yōzō from his early childhood through his late twenties and tackles a variety of difficult themes, including depression, social alienation, and suicide.
Ōba’s life is fraught with hardship, from his inability to connect with people to his descent into a vicious pattern of using drink and drugs to mask his suffering. Throughout the story, he is unable to connect with those around him and feels completely separated from the rest of humanity. As Ōba manages to establish several relationships, they all eventually disintegrate, either through his own lack of understanding and compassion, or through a series of unfortunate circumstances.
As the novel is set in the early to mid-twentieth century, Furuya decided to take a more modern approach. While that may not appeal to die-hard fans of the original work, it still manages to stay true to Dazai’s story and overall vision as much as possible. After 60 years since more human was first published, this reiteration truly shows what a timeless semi-autobiographical tale this is.
Since the publication of Furuya’s rendition, Dazai’s masterpiece has been adapted into manga three times. In 2010, Yasunori Ninose created Ningen Shikkaku Kai (Destruction), which would be serialized in Red Champion. Although this version would also be set in a contemporary time, it would differ from Furuya’s interpretation in its use of its obscure symbolism, in which the negative emotions and sexual acts of human beings are visualized through tentacles.
In 2011, Gakken produced a retelling of the story set in its original pre-World War II setting. However, like the Ninose adaptation, finding a buyable copy is extremely difficult. In 2017, that problem was solved when Junji Ito jumped into the mix by posting his own story, which is still widely available today.
It’s hard to recommend a manga series that sits at the exorbitant price of Usamaru Furuya. more human Is. However, the three volumes that encompass Dazai’s fantasy tale are certainly well thought out and constructed, and they manage to accurately reflect the writer’s vision of a character completely separate from the rest of society.
As the first of their kind, they remain a highly sought after and collectible work. With that in mind, some might argue that the expense of buying Furuya’s adaptation may be worth it – and what’s more, it won’t be in print again anytime soon, if at all. Additionally, collectors will likely fall into the trap of trying to rationalize how they can resell the artwork for a higher price than they bought it for years. While that may be the case, people have to ask themselves: who’s going to buy it?
Although Junji Ito’s rendition is not set in a contemporary setting or divided into three volumes (imitating the three memoranda of Osamu Dazai’s original work), it only costs $25 for the entire story. Fans can only hope that there will finally be a re-release of Furuya more human at some point on the line. However, until that happens, it’s only possible for the majority of readers to turn to Ito’s work for their manga fix of Dazai’s legendary piece of literature.
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