Category Archives: Manga Moveable Feast

Love, an Incoherent Fan (or “Three Reasons Why I Love The Viz Signature Line”)

I’m extremely excited about this month’s Manga Moveable Feast topicViz’s Signature imprint. I’ve been so excited in fact, that I haven’t been able to come up with a coherent topic for the Feast all week, despite racking my brain. What makes it even more difficult is that, in preparation for the Feast, I counted all the series from the imprint that I have at least one volume of. I came out in the neighborhood of 20.

I suppose that speaks volumes (ha!) in and of itself. The imprint is really just that awesome. Since an MMF post with just the sentence “THIS IS AWESOME!” written over and over again isn’t especially compelling, I racked my brain a little harder for some reasoning behind my love affair with the line. I came up with three.

Continue reading Love, an Incoherent Fan (or “Three Reasons Why I Love The Viz Signature Line”)

Jiro Taniguchi MMF: A Zoo in Winter

This month’s Manga Moveable Feast features the works of Jiro Taniguchi, a creator I only know by name. I was excited to dive into someone completely new to me, and a quick search of my local library system turned up three choices — the first volume of The Times of Botchan, Samurai Legend, and the A Zoo in Winter. I remembered the last of the three getting a little buzz before it came out; I always enjoy a good coming of age story (being at that age, I suppose) so I snagged A Zoo in Winter and read it slowly throughout this past week.

Continue reading Jiro Taniguchi MMF: A Zoo in Winter

Osamu Tezuka MMF: The Good Ol’ Doctor

My second Manga Moveable Feast posed an intimidating topic for me: The “God of Manga,” Osamu Tezuka. Considered the father of manga, I can’t help but know who Tezuka is but I admittedly hadn’t been exposed to any of his work up until a few months ago.

Organization Anti-Social Geniuses posed the question earlier this week that got my mind going: How were you introduced to Tezuka?

My answer: Black Jack.

Continue reading Osamu Tezuka MMF: The Good Ol’ Doctor

Usamaru Furuya MMF: We’re All A Little Human

My first Manga Moveable Feast! I’ve lurked in the manga blogging community, but this is my first contribution, so hopefully it’s not too terrible!

Having no prior familiarity with the original No Longer Human novel that Usamaru Furuya’s manga adaption is based on, I picked up the manga for two reasons: a) I liked Lychee Light Club b) the premise for the original novel — a young man alienated from other human beings, having no idea to relate to them genuinely — seemed like a personal struggle I could identify with and appreciate. It turns out I could relate to the main character Yozo, but it left me with some uncomfortable feelings.

“I also need to pay attention to my teachers. I make sure to give the wrong answers at critical moments. A perfect student isn’t popular. I need a bit of slipping up in order to be liked.” — Volume 1, p. 15

For someone who didn’t necessarily feel an innate understanding of or connection to other human beings, Yozo’s calculated displays of emotions seemed learned to perfection. Having learned social rules as an “outsider” (almost like he studied them), it seemed easy for Yozo to manipulate people’s perceptions of himself. Soon, he was a class clown, popular with women and well-liked. At the same time, I couldn’t helped but feel sorry for Yozo; it was clear early on he’d suffered some trauma at the hands of his father, and his constant inner battle to appear perfect and agreeable all the time seemed like it would wear on anyone. I thought, “Yozo just wants everyone to like him,” and I found myself rooting for and relating to Yozo, ultimately thinking that Yozo would connect more and more genuinely with people as the volume progressed.

Instead, Yozo “calculated displays of emotions” were used to survive. He seemed to care less about whether people liked him as opposed to using people in order to sustain himself. This became apparent when Yozo met Misaki in the middle of the first volume; Misaki is kind (it’s obvious she has a crush), buys Yozo food and a laptop, and eventually has sex with Yozo; Yozo on the other hand seems this than taken with her and more excited that he “scored a laptop.” Even with Ageha, I find it odd that Yozo just so happened to be sitting outside in the rain right after her work shift ended; another warm bed to get him through the night. Everything with Yozo seems calculated just right to take advantage of whatever situations and people arise.

The more I read, the more I felt like an “outsider” to Yozo; a voyeur almost, not unlike the Usamaru character in the manga as he scrolled through the “Ouch Diary.” “This is awful,” I thought. “How can anyone manipulate people like this?” My feelings of disconnect with Yozo especially intensified with the mother and child arc in the second volume. Shiori, the daughter, quickly gets attached to Yozo; the mother, Shizuko, admits that she loves Yozo, despite his drinking, apathy, and generally being a leech. At this point, I thought Yozo was downright pathetic, caught in a downward spiral I wasn’t sure he even cared to escape from.

Realizing he’s in far too deep emotionally, Yozo leaves the mother and daughter for good, escaping to a bar run by an older lady that he’d recently began to frequent. It’s here that Yozo makes me re-think his entire character: “If God exists and if he’d listen to the prayer of scum like me, just this once in my life, I pray this — May those two find happiness. Some modest happiness.” Yozo isn’t trying to hurt anyone, he isn’t completely with feeling — he’s simply surviving the only way he knows how.

And in retrospect, maybe everyone else is too. For me, Yozo seemed so dislikeable because of how calculated all of his actions were. Had things simply happened, would I have liked Yozo more? How are his actions any worse than the Shizuko’s, who knew Yozo didn’t love her? Did Misaki buy things and lavish attention on Yozo because she wanted a boyfriend? Did Ageha keep seeing Yozo because she was lonely? None of these things excuses Yozo’s actions and outright manipulation, but it struck me that the character that feels less than human was so aware of how his actions affected other people, while the other characters in his relationships simply reacted to their own feelings, wants, and needs. It’s here I realize that I’m left with uncomfortable feelings towards Yozo. Yozo is a manipulator and takes advantage, no doubt, but how many of us acknowledge it like he does? Does that make him any better or worse that us — no longer human? These are questions I could mull over a long time.

That being said, the end of the second volume gives the sense that Yozo is redeemable, but whether he’ll get the chance to be is doubtful. Now I’m glad I’m not terribly familiar with the source material so the ending will be a surprise. Thanks for this one, Vertical.