junji ito no longer human

No Longer Human – Manga Review

No Longer Human adapted by and Illustrated by Junji Ito

This version of No Longer Human has been adapted and illustrated by horror manga artist Junji Ito. The story was originally published in 1948, written by Osamu Dazai. I have not read the original so I cannot speak to how this work functions as a remake only how it is based on its own merit.

No Longer Human follows the life of Yozo Oba from his youth all the way to old age. In the beginning he is a class clown who has a literal fear of respect. It’s almost a pathological phobia that causes him to act out in class and around authority figures. This behavior may also have something to do with him being molested by at least two of the adults in his life. The book is disturbingly casual about this part.

Throughout most of the book the chapters almost function independently of each other. They all are within Oba’s life but they do not link together smoothly, more a collection of anecdotes that piece together who he is and who he becomes.

Who he is is honestly pretty despicable. He maintains very unhealthy relationships with women, his father, and with drugs and alcohol throughout his entire life. He never seems to learn or grow in any way and he attempts suicide several times with no relief of death. It’s a rather odd tale about a purely unlikeable character.

Ito’s style of horror manga does compliment this story well though. It honestly makes sense to have the art enhance how shitty this guy is as a person. Without the art it might be easier to mistake him for a down on his luck fellow who just needs some sympathy. With the art it is clear to see that we don’t have to like this guy. He has no redeeming factors.

This is not Ito’s first reimagining and I hope he continues to pepper his work with them. I truly enjoyed his Frankenstein adaptation and I would imagine No Longer Human also stays fairly close to the source material. It’s interesting to see other works through his distinctive lense.

However, his original works remain to be his best and I would not recommend No Longer Human for someone who has not yet experienced Ito with drawing his own creations. If you have already gotten a taste of Ito I would say check this one out and see how he works when the story work was already done for him. It’s captivating if nothing else.

3/5 barely human distortions 😱😱😱

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Since I haven’t read the original source material by Osamu Dazai I thought I’d try asking an AI to compare them and summarize its take here. According to the robot on the internet the two books are quite similar as far as plot points go. Ito is known to make faithful adaptations, he essentially just changes the medium to manga.

The main differences lie in pacing and structure. Dazai’s novel is slow and introspective as it goes deep into the psychology of the protagonist and his internal turmoil. Ito’s version is fast-paced and focuses more on the horror element of being inside this person’s head.

Dazai’s novel is non-linear and recalls events more true to how memory functions. It hops around and goes back and forth in time. Ito rearranges events into chronological order which makes the story more accessible and easier to read.

If you’ve read both versions of No Longer Human and have anything to add about the differences or similarities please let me know in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “No Longer Human – Manga Review

  1. I feel like No Longer Human meant more when it was originally published and has aged somewhat poorly. The English translation is now in the public domain.