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review 2017-07-23 21:47
No Longer Human (manga, vol. 2) by Usamaru Furuya, based on the novel by Osamu Dazai, translated by Allison Markin Powell
No Longer Human, Volume 2 - Osamu Dazai,Usamaru Furuya

[Content warnings: this volume includes on-page sex, and there’s a deliberately disturbing sequence in which a children’s manga character is given an enormous penis, has sex, and is then killed and left to be eaten by birds.]

This volume picks up where the previous one left off. Yozo has survived his attempted double suicide with Ageha. The idea of being punished for her death gives him the sense of purpose he craves, but this is snatched from his hands by the police’s decision to set him free and deliver him to the hands of one of his family’s former servants. Yozo blames his father and stews in his own bitterness while essentially living trapped in the former servant’s home.

Yozo manages to escape one prison only to end up in another. Having no other place to go, he ends up living with his friend Horiki's editor, Shizuko. She dotes on him, seeing his pretty face and nothing else. Although outwardly things appear to be going well for Yozo - he now has a roof over his head, a job as a children’s manga artist, and somebody willing to fork over money anytime he wants to go out and buy booze - he feels stifled by Shizuko’s love and her young daughter’s wish for him to be her real father.

By the end of the volume, Yozo has finally found something like happiness. Will it last? Ha ha, of course not.

I think I’ve finally accepted that this isn’t so much an adaptation of Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human as it is Dazai’s plot and Usamaru Furuya’s Yozo. Although I still end up comparing the two works a lot in this review. Sorry.

My interpretation of the original book and Furuya’s interpretation continue to differ wildly. Furuya’s Yozo is less sympathetic than Dazai’s (who, granted, tended to be pretty terrible), more likely to blame his father for his own problems, and more calculating. Rather than just sort of being taken in by Shizuko, he does his best to manipulate her into offering to take him in, making use of both his good looks and his abilities in bed.

Yozo isn’t a likeable guy. He’s prone to self-destructive behavior, doesn’t think things through, and then wallows in bitterness rather than accept the consequences. He was even more disgusting than Book Yozo when it came to life with Shizuko and Shiori. I remember Book Shizuko putting up with more from Yozo than I thought was wise, but I’m pretty sure the undressing scene was entirely invented by Furuya, and it was awful. The inclusion of Dazai’s “Papa is...too good of a person” scene afterward was bizarre, since both Shizuko and Shiori had just witnessed Yozo being very much not a good person.

In some ways, I’d argue that Yozo’s brief period of time with Mama at the bar was probably the best period of his life, even better than his “romance” with Yoshi at the end of the volume - this was vastly different from how I felt while reading the original book, by the way. I think Furuya’s Mama was a more fascinating character than Dazai’s.

Mama was an older woman who, for some bizarre reason, was fond of Yozo but also well aware of his problems. She didn’t expect anything from him, and her happiness certainly didn’t depend on him. There was one scene I particularly liked that I think Furuya invented (I don’t recall it being in the original book). Mama was acting as Yozo’s nude model and asked to see Yozo’s drawing of her. She accused him of being too kind and told him to redo the drawing, this time including her wrinkles. I loved that she not only refused to accept flattery from Yozo, but also that she seemed to genuinely love her own body. Here’s her description of her wrinkles: “These are my growth rings. Each stands for a love and a parting.” I don’t recall having any favorite characters in Dazai’s No Longer Human, but Furuya's Mama was wonderful.

Had Furuya broken free from the constraints of writing an adaptation, I imagine his Yozo could have stayed with Mama long enough to finally gain something resembling emotional maturity. Or maybe she'd have eventually gotten tired of him and tossed him out. At any rate, the story moved on and continued to follow Dazai’s original plot. This was another instance where I felt that Furuya’s changes to the original story were an improvement upon the original. Furuya’s Yozo was younger than Dazai’s Yozo, which meant that his Yozo was also closer in age (only 20) to the

cigarette shop girl Yozo fell in love with, Yoshino Asai (18). It was still a terrible idea for her to agree to marry him, considering he was drunk almost every time she saw him, but Furuya’s Yozo and Yoshino worked better for me than Dazai’s.

(spoiler show)


As happy as he seems to be by the end of the volume, this series is pretty upfront about the fact that things do not end well for Yozo. If I hadn’t already read the book, and if it were just bad things happening to Yozo, I might be tempted to read on. However, I’m going to stop here.

Yoshino’s a sweet girl and, despite her terrible taste in guys, doesn’t deserve what happens next. I don’t particularly want to read it, and so I won’t.

(spoiler show)


I prefer main characters who inspire me to root for them, or who at least interest me. Furuya's Yozo, a loser who hurts and/or drags down most of the people around him, doesn’t appeal to me. That said, I did think this volume was better than the first.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-07-09 02:35
No Longer Human (manga, vol. 1) by Usamaru Furuya, based on the novel by Osamu Dazai
No Longer Human, Part 1 - Osamu Dazai

This is technically the first volume of a manga adaptation of Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human. However, in reality it’s more like a work inspired by Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human. It has a lot of the same characters and a lot of the same events, but also enough important changes that the impact of certain familiar scenes and characters is completely different. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

The volume begins with Usamaru Furuya as a character in his own manga. He’s trying, and failing, to think up an idea for his next serial when he suddenly gets an anonymous email pointing him to an online “ouch diary.” The website contains three images: one of 6-year-old Yozo posing with his family while wearing a wide fake smile; one of Yozo at age 25, his expression lifeless and worn down; and one of Yozo at age 17, cool and handsome. Furuya proceeds to read the diary that goes with those images, to learn how Yozo fell so far so quickly.

Then readers get the story of Yozo’s life, starting with a few pages showing him as a child and middle school student, behaving like a class clown in order to get people to like him. The story quickly progresses into Yozo’s high school years, when he is befriended by Horiki, who Yozo believes is truly what he has spent his life pretending to be, a friendly and shiftless clown. Although Yozo starts off with everything in life handed to him on a silver platter, things rapidly fall apart, and the volume ends with Yozo’s first suicide attempt (I’m assuming the manga will include the next one).

When I reviewed Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human, I said that the beginning of the book, which dealt with Yozo’s childhood, worked best for me. Furuya opted to either skip most of that or include it as vague flashbacks. I thought, at first, that I’d be okay with this, until I realized that it really changed the overall tone. In the book, Yozo started off as a child who couldn’t empathize with others, had trouble figuring out what other people were thinking and why they acted the way they acted the way they did, and was terrified that people would see through his desperate attempts to fit in. The manga wasn’t as successful at setting the stage, and so high school Yozo was even more insufferable. Readers basically only saw Yozo at his absolute worst, looking down on everyone around him, drinking, skipping class, and paying for sex and doing his very best to not get to know the women he had sex with as actual people.

A few things I should add, at this point. First, Furuya aged Yozo down a bit. I don’t think Yozo met Horiki until college in the book, whereas in the manga they became friends during high school (with Yozo, the word "friend" can be assumed to mean nothing more than "acquaintance with whom he spends time"). Also, unlike the book, which alluded to sex but never mentioned anything in detail, there is quite a bit of on-page sex in the manga. One scene in particular did a good job of getting across the kind of guy Yozo was: he found himself distracted by thoughts of something a friend from school told him while he was having sex with a girl who’d just told him she wanted him to be her boyfriend. Then he couldn’t understand why she was so upset with him. I don’t know that the other sex scenes (four, total) were strictly necessary, though.

Now, back to the story/character changes. Another thing Furuya did was add a bit more to the plot. In the book, Yozo hung out with Marxists and took part in meaningless (to him) meetings and activities. The work annoyed him, but he stayed with the group because he couldn’t quite figure out how to leave and because others expected him to do things. In the manga, Yozo actually kind of liked being involved with the Japan United Labor Association, although he looked down on its members. He gradually realized that they were

planning terrorist activities, and he might have become even further involved if it hadn’t been for an incident involving a jealous boyfriend.

(spoiler show)


Furuya also ascribed emotions to Yozo that I’m not really sure he actually felt in the original book. For example, in the manga Yozo indicated that he actually cared about Ageha (I can’t remember if that was her name in the novel, too). I don’t know that the Yozo of the original novel truly cared about a single person, especially enough to admit it to himself. He cared about how people made him see himself, and that was pretty much it.

This was a funhouse mirror sort of adaptation, although the end result was still largely “miserable people doing self-destructive things." I’ll read the next volume because I already have it on hand, but I doubt I’ll be putting in an ILL request for the third and final volume.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-09 03:59
Entertainiing but ...
Risky Behavior - Cari Z.,L.A. Witt

It’s day one of Darren Corliss’s career as a detective, and not only has he been assigned a notoriously difficult partner, but the guy might also be a pill-popping dirty cop. Internal Affairs needs proof, and Darren gets to be their eyes and ears whether he wants to or not. Detective Andreas Ruffner doesn’t play by the rules, and he doesn’t play well with others. With bodies piling up and a list of suspects who are way above his pay grade, the last thing he needs is a wet-behind-the-ears kid for a partner. Or babysitter. Not even if that partner is easy on the eyes. As Darren gains Andreas’s hard-won trust, they both realize there’s more than just mutual suspicion simmering beneath the surface. But their investigation is heating up as quickly as their relationship, and Darren has no choice but to go along with Andreas’s unorthodox — and borderline unethical — methods. As IA puts the squeeze on Darren to give up the man he’s falling for, he has to wonder—is Andreas the only cop left in this town who isn’t dirty?

Review:

Dear L.A. Witt and Cari Z,

I enjoy the books packed with action, I am happy to read them even if they don’t have gay romance in it, but of course romantic storyline is always a nice bonus to me so I was unable to resist clicking on your book.

The blurb mostly gives you the correct set up. After doing several years as beat cop twenty eight year old Darren ( I think he is twenty eight, even though certain paragraph made me wonder if he is in his early thirties, but that was probably just a mistake, because there was another reference to Darren being in his late twenties later on) is ready to start his Detective career and he is assigned to be a partner to Andreas, who had been on the force for twenty years, who seemingly cannot (and does not want to) keep the partner to save his life and whom Internal Affairs suspect of being a dirty cop, had suspected him of being a dirty cop for years but could not find nothing on him. Internal Affairs guy pretty much asks Darren to report anything suspicious about Andreas, actually demanding is the more appropriate word than asking. And Darren and Andreas’ Boss pretty much powerless to stop this arrangement or just goes along with it.

The book is narrated by both Andreas and Darren and we learn very quickly that Andreas’ previous partners were also asked to spy on him and that was a big reason why he prefers to work alone now if he can help it.

After a rough start (and of course attraction, but really I thought attraction part was well done, both men seemed to assess each other , found each other attractive but their brains did not switch from their jobs to constantly thinking about each other. If we are to have the attraction from the first site, that’s how I would have liked it done. Andreas still does not trust Darren and Darren is just not sure what to think.

Then the men have their first I guess assignment together and lo and behold Andreas does something that blurb would probably call “borderline unethical” and I would call illegal ( planting heroin in the apartment of low level drug dealer) as it turns out because Andreas wanted him to become an informant and then put him in the witness protection.

Surprisingly Darren decides to trust his partner and not report what happened during the raid. I say surprisingly because he seems to brush it off and buy Andreas’ explanation that he is not dirty, he is trying to catch really corrupted people and correct methods were not working. All right then.

Andreas was indeed speaking the truth. Some time ago he stumbled on unimaginable corruption which included some city officials, judges, cops, you name it, people who were supposed to protect and serve were involved and apparently he decided that for the good, noble purpose some breaking of the rules was justified because otherwise he would not catch these people.

I really liked the twisty action part of the plot – the guys were investigating, their mind was primarily on the job and the corruption amongst the people of power went very deep and very high. I was entertained. But I have to once again note this and please, I am not lowering my grade because of that since I feel that within the story the characterization was believable and made sense, but I feel that it is fair to state how much I disliked Andreas’ “borderline unethical methods”.

As I said elsewhere, I feel that the writer of the blurb was getting cute with this description – Andreas’ methods were not “borderline unethical”, they were very much illegal. For the good purpose everything goes, really? Okay fine, this case was really unusual in a sense of what Andreas and his partner were up against, it is REALLY tempting to think that in this case his “ bending of the rules” ( bending of the law, once again let’s be honest here) was justified. But why the heck would he decide to go back to not planting the evidence in his suspect’s house or not “roughing up” his suspects if it worked? Why if he is so convinced that legal methods were not working?

I just feel that the writers really missed the chance here with his characterization of portraying somebody really complex who is reflective enough and knew that for the sake of catching Big Fish and Smaller Fish he became like them in his methods and maybe decided to do better next time around even if the purpose was achieved. Of course I realize that in the previous sentence I am talking about the story that was not written and this had no bearing on my grade, but I was just really disappointed in the character. The ultimate irony was that Internal Affairs guy was at the end completely on his side (as he should have, because his targets were involved in the horrible activities), but we know that Andreas has plenty of reasons to get his ass terminated and he knows it himself.

 

"Darren’s eyebrow rose. “‘ Informal interrogations’?” “Sometimes the end justifies the means.” “Right.” He drew back slightly, and the uneasiness in his eyes was palpable. I sighed. “Listen, no matter what IA or anyone else has told you, I’m not a dirty cop. Yes, I’ve done some things that could get my ass terminated, if not shot in a back alley. I’ve roughed up suspects when no one could hear us. I’ve threatened people. I’ve—” “Bought heroin from kids so you could arrest someone on false pretenses.” “Yeah. But do you understand now why I did that?” He stared down at his hands as he tugged a stray thread on his sleeve. “I get it. But goddamn, Andreas. There’s lines, you know?” “There are. And I tried to walk those lines for a long, long time.” I paused. “I’m not a dirty cop. You’ve got to believe me, Darren.” “You need me to trust you.” I swallowed. “Yes. I need you to trust me.”"

 

Romantic storyline was secondary, as I said getting into bed with each other was not on their minds all the time and there was not much sex in the book and it made perfect sense to me because their investigation was their top priority. I liked how it was handled.

Now, I do realize that the book says book one on the cover, so it could be that Andreas will do some growth in the next book BUT I have no idea if the second book is even going to be about them or a completely different couple and for that reason I am presuming that this is the end of their story if that’s not true I will reevaluate later on.

Grade: B

 

 

 

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review 2017-05-08 18:45
Start with a little murder, add some mayhem & mystery and stir in some heat...
Risky Behavior - Cari Z.,L.A. Witt

it'll all make for some 'Risky Behavior and one hella' good read.

 

Andreas is a cop, a police detective...he just doesn't always play by the rules because sometimes the rules just get in the way of a good man doing his job. Andreas also works alone, he can't afford to trust a partner. Unfortunately we don't always get to decide those things. When Andreas boss decides he needs a partner someone to watch his back. Andreas is determined to see how quick he can get rid of him.

 

Darren's work hard to get his detective's shield and he's determined to do his job and do it well and if that means getting along with a partner who's got a rep and not a good one...well than that was just what would need to happen.

 

The plot for this story had so many smaller pieces scattered throughout but each piece came together to connect the bigger story. I loved reading this and gathering each of those pieces and putting them together to form the larger picture, just like a jigsaw puzzle.

 

While the romance is more of a secondary factor in this story that doesn't mean it's not hot and important...really, really hot and a strong part of the overall story.

 

'Risky Behavior' is a police procedural story with a strong romance unfolding in the background and this story was beyond awesome for me. I love mysteries/procedurals they're like the best kind of candy all tasty and yummy and good to the very last bite add in some well done romance and things become deliciously good...good enough to make me want more.

 

********************

An ARC of "Risky Behavior" was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-04-30 13:40
Good Story and Characters
Dangerous Behavior - Nancy Bush

Sam had gotten a text from his brother Joe and it said “ meet me at my dock at noon”. Sam and Joe had a rift and it grew over the years and they didn’t speak much anymore so Sam was surprised by the text. Sam answered with a text and said he couldn’t make even though he really could have. But he didn’t hear back from Joe. Sam had quit his job as a Seaside cop for a job in Portland for a better job but then someone with power took the job and left Sam without a job. Sam could have went back and got his job back at Seaside but he didn’t know if he wanted to. Joe didn’t answer any of Sam’s further texts so he drove to Joe’s house but no one answered him at Joe’s house. Also Joe’s boat was nowhere at the dock. Sam headed toward the bay when no one showed up by 12:45. Then Sam put a call into his ex partner Giff. They had been partners for five years. Sam drove to the sharp cliffs that reached into the ocean. It had created an isolated beach that you could only reach at low tide. Then Sam saw a shoe bobbing in the waves. Then Sam jumped in and pulled the woman to shore and gave her CPR and she finally brought up a bunch at ocean water from her lungs. The woman was Jules where was Joe. Julia/Jules was Sam’s ex girlfriend and she married Joe - Sam’s brother. Sam and Jules had been sweethearts in school but broke up and Julia ended up relying on Joe in some difficult times in her life. Joe’s body is found a couple of days later and Sam is determined to find out what happened and who took his brother’s life. When Jules finally comes to in the hospital she has no memory of anyone or anything including her husband Joe but she does remember loving Sam. Then there is a man and woman perfect for each other. They love to kill for thrills and love getting paid by an anonymous old man.

This was a great thriller  and I enjoyed reading this. This book keeps  your attention from the very beginning of the story to the end. This story had you sitting on the edge of your seat. I loved how Sam was so determined to find out what happened to Joe his brother.  I also liked how we were kept guessing who the killers were. The only thing that bothered me was how Sam and Jules had been brought up a lot that Sam and Julia had been in love when her husband was dead and under mysterious situations.She had been left to die also. I liked the plot and the characters and I loved the twists and turns and I recommend.

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