No Longer Human

Viz. Dec. 2019. 616p. from Japanese by Donald Keene & Jocelyne Allen. ISBN 9781974707096. $34.99. Rated: Mature. HORROR
As a boy, Yozo Oba adopts a clownish persona to disguise the severe anxiety he feels while interacting with other people. His buffoonery results in several tragic deaths, transforming his fear into full-blown terror and sending him down a path of compulsively self-destructive behavior that typically leads to others suffering the horrible—and frequently fatal—consequences of his actions. After an misguided adventure as a member of a Marxist group and a failed suicide attempt, he meets and marries a young woman who naively dotes on him, providing a small window of stability in which his work as a manga artist thrives, until his paranoia, cowardice, and innate selfishness send him spiraling into darkness, addiction, and insanity.
VERDICT If the internationally acclaimed master of horror Ito (Smashed: Junji Ito Story Collection) seems at first a strange choice to adapt Dazai’s 1948 novel, his skill for stories mixing existential dread, body horror, and nightmarishly surreal imagery quickly prove him matched to the material. This unsparingly intense vision of life as a journey through hell, reminiscent of Dostoyevsky and Kafka, just might be Ito’s magnum opus.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month