The World is My Burrito Podcast

E23 - No Longer Human (novel + Manga)

March 04, 2024 Kory Torjussen
E23 - No Longer Human (novel + Manga)
The World is My Burrito Podcast
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Leave a little verbal snacky

Yo! Welcome to The World is My Burrito AKA TWIMB, a podcast where I drown myself in a puddle of a topic, discover how deep that body of water goes, then drown myself even further for weeks on end to create content for listeners like you. 

Today we’re gonna cover Osamu Dazai’s 1948 novella No Longer Human, 2 of its 3 translations and the Junji Ito and Usamaru Furuya manga adaptations.

Content Warning

If you or someone you know is considering suicide or struggling with suicidal thoughts, call or text 988. That’s just the numbers 9-8-8. Or visit, the International Association for Suicide Prevention website. They have info on how to help yourself or approach those close to you.

Hey maybe you haven’t yet reached that point but you’re strugglin’. [Stop it. Get some help.] You can quickly check out the BetterHelp website or app for online therapy. I’ve heard it’s pretty easy to switch therapists if you ain’t vibin’ with one. You can also look local, because plenty of them offer online sessions. Look at their website. Find someone whose words ring that broken bell trapped behind that ribcage.

Sometimes hangin’ with ya bros or ya best femmes doesn’t cut through the mental fruitcake that comprises your complex emotions, so seek professional help.

Obviously can’t have an intro like that without a trigger warning: this episode talks about suicide, emotional abuse, sexual abuse towards adults and minors, the greatest imposter syndrome you’ve ever read, and probably a few other things. It’s not jam-packed, but it is there. Some of this is pretty personal. A weird mix of comedy and acceptance of an unchangeable outcome are my means of covering it.


Yo! Welcome to The World is My Burrito AKA TWIMB, a podcast where I drown myself in a puddle of a topic, discover how deep that body of water goes, then drown myself even further for weeks on end to create content for listeners like you. 

Today we’re gonna cover Osamu Dazai’s 1948 novella No Longer Human, 2 of its 3 translations and the Junji Ito and Usamaru Furuya manga adaptations.


What is up all my Valentine’s? Yes, you! The collective listeners. You are or, in this case, were my Valentines and didn’t even know it. The phoenix arising from the oceans, it’s ya boy Kory T. comin’ at ya from Tampa, FL this warm March 4, 2024. Before we get into the fun we should probably do some


Sorry this took so long to release. I wanted this to be an official Valentine’s episode but was going between the thoughts of do I/don’t I based on the content? Then did the thing where I couldn’t figure out if I’d release this or another episode first as there were a lot of possibilities and shifting plans that included more than just me. A lot of content was consumed for topics that will not come to fruition any time soon, which is a bummer. 

I also tried using both Descript and Riverside.FM for podcasting as a way to re-invest in the podcast and be more inclusive to those with hearing problems, those who do not understand inserted Japanese words, or those who just want to come back later and read something I said; a feature I really think every podcast should have. Unfortunately both are absolutely terrible and fell apart within the first 15 minutes of use after hours of watching tutorial videos beforehand, during the process, and communicating with representatives afterwards. It happens. Podcasting is fun. In retrospect it was kinda funny watching Descript further descend into madness every time I switched between Japanese and English. You say “Professor Ochanomizu” enough times and it begins to forget what English is. So, unfortunately we’re still on auto-generated subtitles on YouTube and you will only ever see transcripts on solo episodes like this which are fully written in advance.

While things are still hot lets do a spoiler-free hot take on today’s topic!

Hot take

I’ve been trash at doing these on solo episodes but it’s always first and foremost in Let’s Taco 'bout episodes. Whatever. Maybe I’ll improve.

If you know how to get in touch with your inner Shinji Ikari or are filled with the positivity and love for mankind like H. P. Lovecraft. If you revel in the unendingly wretched anime like Devilman Crybaby and Berserk, manga like Blood on the Tracks, novels like Tender is the Flesh, or films like Suicide Club and Rashōmon. If you’re pretty darn mentally stable and want to try just a little sample of misery you may never have tasted before - I highly recommend this. It’s very short, begins despondent, and homeboy’s clearly never seen a gym cuz buddy that bar never gets lifted. It is a great example of why I love Japanese storytellers and came up with the description: Impending reality.

If you have issues with the journalistic writing style of books like Dracula, or books that cap at just telling a story with no eluded goal, this might not be for you. At least not yet.

Moving on to!

Personal history/Why did I choose this topic?

Prior to this year I had no real knowledge of this book other than it existed. If you ever get into Japanese literature you can’t avoid the name. Dazai will likely be right next to Haruki Murakami if they arrange by author nationality. Because of this, I originally thought it was contemporary-ish -like no older than the late 90s- then thought it was maybe a 60s book, then learned it was just after WW2. Picked it up in January of this year and finished it in 2-3 days.

  • I really enjoy Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, THE early 1900s Japanese author/sad boi who has a whole literary award named after him. 
  • Move forward to last year when I met with a friend who casually mentioned this book, saying it was basically a suicide note but nobody else knew it until it was too late
  • I pick it up this year and discover that Akutagawa was not only an inspiration but both authors existed at the same time, so hey those are immediate points
  • Sad energy FTW, which is also something I love about Akutagawa
  • It’s not about heroes fighting villains, just a story about a journey. The execution fits in with film titles like Kikujirō and Ran.

Now for…

World History

It was WW2 what do you expect. Moving on to- the next topic


No no, there’s actually more. In early 1900s Japan one of the most popular styles of writing was called “I-novel” or Watakushi shōsetsu (私小説). Not like the Steve Jobs “I” but like the personal “I”. The description is in the name: it’s confessional literature where the written events resemble events in the author’s life, blurring the line between fiction and reality; whole lot of winking and nodding while it’s being written. To quote translator Mark Gibeau, “Their narratives were not overly concerned with plot development or with showing how a character transforms or overcomes a particular problem”. 

Phyllis Lyons wrote a book on Dazai in the 80s saying, “he does not explain why something happened or what its effects were but only shows that things happen.”  

Okay back to history-history.

Non-War Japan

The wealthy had access to things like European literature, American movies, modern and classical paintings, sculptures, and more. Dazai himself freely mentions plenty of authors and artists, and while the reception may not be identical to their native lands, an understanding and reverence are still there. If you were rich.

Donald Keene, original English translator of the novel, wrote a marvelous introduction the likes of which probably nobody today could capture solely due to him living in this era. It’s very respectable towards the Japanese but also a very sad read, highlighting how the nation basically shuns its own works, choosing to prioritize education of foreign arts and literature in its universities, relegating its own history to niche classes in select colleges.

Wartime Japan

Don’t forget Japan was fighting in the Second Sino-Japanese war, exer-extending across the entirety of Asia. Nationalism was at its peak in this era. Then WW2? Fuggedaboutit. Up the ante because they had god, anime, and ze Germans on their side.

Up until that part where they didn’t. 

Japan failed, the people were failed by the person they thought was a literal deity -hey don’t forget they genuinely believed the emperor was descended from god- after being guaranteed for years that Japan and its armies were kickin’ ass and taking names, all the while other political ideologies like Marxism and Communism were slowly spreading underground.

There were a lot of emotions at this time and being an intelligent or well-connected youth often resulted in some questionable experiences.


Finally, from a historical standpoint I actually think the one thing that requires the least amount of explanation is the otherwise difficult topic of suicide. It seems like everyone is pretty well aware of its role in Japan’s history. Dishonoring your ruler or family, or failing in an important battle, not getting into a prestigious university: EZPZ moments to commit seppuku or harakiri or whatever other form related to that period.

Let’s delve a little deeper into the mindset with

Author History

My man Osamu did not live the best of lives, but it was a lot in a short time. I’m gonna save you a little time and skim the surface of his life. You’ll thank me later.

Born Shūji Tsushima on June 19, 1909 on the Tsugaru Peninsula, the northernmost part of mainland Japan. He was the 8th surviving child of father Gen’emon Matsuki, wealthy landowner and politician, and mother Tane Tsushima. Don’t we think it’s weird he was named after his mother and not father? Hmm?

His mother was a sickly woman and his father passed when Shūji was only 14. This didn’t monetarily impact anyone as one of the older brothers followed Gen’emon’s footsteps into politics.

Shūji bounced around multiple schools and eventually multiple universities, was allotted an allowance by his older siblings, had rent paid for or stayed at family housing in other cities, allowing him to dabble in various forms of art - particularly literature, writing his own magazine and editing student publications.

After the suicide of prominent author and personal idol Ryūnosuke Akutagawa in 1927, there was a change in Shūji. He began neglecting studies and spent his allowance on alcohol, clothing, and prostitutes.

He first attempted suicide in December 1929, failed, and graduated from Hirosaki University the following year. 

This is where we ramp it up… 

  • He Enrolled in Tokyo Imperial University 
  • Stopped studying again 
  • Ran away with a geisha named Hatsuyo Oyama - despite how quick it is to say, this is what we call a “not good move” 
  • Was formally disowned by his family
  • Was expelled from Tokyo Imperial University
  • Attempted suicide a second time with bar hostess Shimeko Tabe - not to be confused with the geisha he previously ran away with - Shimeko died but he was rescued by a passing fishing boat
  • Got charged as an accomplice
  • His family got the investigation dropped, reinstated his allowance, and got him married to first girl Hatsuyo
  • He was arrested for involvement with the communist party - a big no-no in Japan
  • Allowance was cut again, but the family still intervened with legal matters and offered the allowance back if he would just study and graduate. He agreed.

In 1933 Shūji met established author Masuji Ibuse who helped him get works published and establish his reputation. This next part -one of the most important parts of the episode- is of course a little obfuscated. In 1933 Shūji wrote the short story Ressha (列車) meaning Train. One source says this was either about a character named Osamu Dazai, another says that’s when he first used the pen name, and yet another combines them, saying he wrote about the character and decided to use the pen name. Unfortunately, none of these have sources, Ressha is not in English production, and all of his works are attributed to the name we know today.

That all seems like a lot, yeah? From the time he enrolled in Tokyo Imperial University until he became Osamu Dazai was only 3 years. We ain’t even done so let’s speed it up again.

In ’35 Dazai realized there was no way he could graduate, so he:

  • Collected a bunch of his short stories in a book called “The Final Years” or “Bannen” (晩年), a planned final novel
  • Tried to hang himself
  • Failed 
  • 3 weeks later he gets acute appendicitis, is hospitalized, became addicted to a morphine-based painkiller called Pavinal
  • After a year of addiction was taken to a mental institution, locked in a room for a month, and forced to quit cold turkey.

During the lockup his wife cheated on him with his best friend, after which the two of them to attempt to commit shinjū (心中), a new-to-me word meaning suicide among close relations; lovers, best friends, whole family.

  • They survived 
  • He divorced her
  • Quickly remarried a teacher
  • Had a daughter with her

WW2 begins aaaaand

  • He gets tuberculosis, keeping him safe from the draft
  • His mom dies
  • His House was firebombed twice causing no injury to his family
  • Had a second child, a son
  • Then a few years later another daughter

Bringing us to 1947. After the war:

  • He got dissed by another prominent writer of the time
  • Developed a severe case of the alcoholism
  • Left his wife and 3 children for a beautician who had been widowed mere days after marrying

On June 13th, 1948, just shy of his 39th birthday, the bodies of he and his last woman, Tomie, were found in a river, having successfully committed that shinjū. But don’t worry his body was discovered on his birthday. Yaaaaaay (sound effect?)

If you’re wondering how or why a dude got repeatedly disowned by the same family who kept intervening in his personal and political shenanigans, let’s not forget Dazai’s older brother, Bunji, was in politics. A lot of this was to save the family’s face, I’m sure there was some harsh punishment intended, but also they felt bad for him. 

Wrote 16 books, at least one of which is a collection of short stories

On the literary end of our person, we really don’t know a lot of hard facts about Dazai. At the beginning of this section you’ll recall that his name is Shūji. So, when author Osamu Dazai writes an autobiography, it is about the character created named Osamu Dazai, not exactly events that happened to Shūji.

So then we have Shūji Tsushima writing as Osamu Dazai writing as Yōzō Ōba. We’re all thinking of the same meme rite now, “I’m a dude playin’ a dude disguised as another dude”. So, that.

Where Donald Keene wrote a foreword placing us in the mindset of a country and its education system at the time, Mark Gibeau writes an amazing afterword placing us in the 3 different seats of Osamu Dazai and explaining the thought process behind and final execution of his translation. He references Lyons a lot. I was already sold on his translation, but the afterword really hits home.

So this was the short version. I’m missing connective tissue, reasoning, a whole lot of information. Which is great because it’s time for

Book History

No Longer Human, AKA A Shameful Life AKA Ningen Shikkaku (人間失格). Ningen means “human” and a few of Shikkaku’s meanings are “disqualified, elimination, being unfit for one’s role, being a failure”. For a further breakdown the kanji represent “loss” and “status/character”. 

Author: Osamu Dazai

 It is a quasi-biographical novella in 1948 The length is between 60- I think 150 pages based on formatting. It’s split up into 5 parts: a preface, 3 journals, then a postscript.

It was published barely more than a month after Dazai’s death. That’s crazy. Though not technically correct I understand why my friend referred to it as “a suicide note without anyone realizing it was a suicide note”. 

3 Recognized translations; you can find plenty of translations available on Kindle but be warned of the quality. Apparently some of these cheap-o versions were just run through Google Translate. Each of these translations was written independently from the ground up, not like the Bible where they just translate the translations.

New Directions - Donald Keene in 1958. Definitive translation that you will readily see on bookshelves. Having recently worked at a book store and often visiting others, this is a very easy find. Let’s go a little into this translator. United States-born Keene was 51 years old when his translation released and it shows in the writing style; matching the somberness of the tale, but with a classic strong vernacular and impactful sentences. Without going too far off tangent or listing every Japanese literary award, in 2008 he was the first ever non-Japanese citizen to receive the Order of Culture from the Imperial Family, then in 2012 relinquished his US citizenship and became a naturalized citizen of Japan. He passed in 2019 and was post-humously given the title of Junior Third Rank, the lowest in a system that is basically only given to people who actually ruled or had great impact on Japan’s history. Prime ministers, Daimyo, Shogun, people like that. So he may be at the bottom but he that’s still a god among men. Hope this helps you understand not only how cool this dude was but the importance of the novel.

Stone Bridge Press - A Shameful Life by Mark Gibeau published Nov 20, 2018. I did not know this one existed until finding an article about the upcoming third translation. It’s a bit more personal in the writing style but still has some $10 words in there. Where Keene is rigid and dramatic, Gibeau is very chill, man.

Tuttle Publishing is releasing another “No Longer Human” this March 5, 2024 by Juliet Winters Carpenter. This means I haven’t read it but others got advance copies. Her translation sounds in between her predecessors, using softer wording than Keene but not as relaxed as Gibeau. Based on an article reviewing the advanced copy, Carpenter’s translation is probably like the modern Keene, adjusted for modern writing proclivities.

There’s a dude named Tony who conveniently began reading each of these translations as I began researching this episode. That’s where I got the opinion on Carpenter’s translation and is the reason I checked out Gibeau’s translation.

No respectable translator will claim any greater accuracy, and Gibeau makes a point to say he wanted to take it in a different direction. Barring blatant mistakes, omissions, or unfounded adjustments, it’s difficult to say that a “best” translation can exist. This may come as a surprise to all but Japanese and English are not the same language. It’s one helluva short book so pick one that sounds interesting then maybe, if it captures your interest, pick another. I felt very rewarded in reading both.

Manga History

Written and illustrated by Junji Ito, the original Japanese was serialized in BIGGU KOMIKKU ORIJINARU from May 2, 2017 - April 20, 2018, aimed at the seinen demographic.

Shogakukan collected it into 3 volumes on October 30, 2017, March 30, 2018, and finally July 30, 2018. That’s some helluva service right there.

Viz Media released the full collection in America on December 17, 2019 and uses the Donald Keene translation.

The Viz collection Comes in around 616 pages. That’s insanely longer than the actual novel. But we’re still not doing spoilers.

The intro comes from the report of Dazai’s actual death. A local family friend said it looked like Dazai was willing to die but grasped for life at the last second.

In an interview with VizMedia, Ito said he’d been writing horror for a female audience but wanted something new and original which proved difficult. In this context I think he means something that exists but isn’t popular, at least in this medium.

He and his crew had their feelers out until his supervisory editor Kato -a literature buff- recommended this story.

Ito was unfamiliar with this tale but had read “Run, Melos”, another Dazai book that was widely read in schools.

Ito could relate to Dazai's extreme self-consciousness in his younger days. If you have read Ito and read this book you will totally see a kinship only separated by time.

He also openly admits to -let’s call it- adjusting the outcome of a few characters, putting more emphasis on minor characters and some sentences, adds a lotta bit of insanity, shows more sex, and even feels he may have overdone the hopelessness but enjoyed it.

Apparently the way they make Takeichi appear is based on Sōseki Natsume’s “Kokoro” which is some else that has also been recommended to me in tandem with this book

Spoiler warning

If you don’t want this soggy, certified addictive personality of a burrito spoiled then put it back in the sanatorium fridge, cuz we’re finally moving on to the topic of the hour…

What is…

No Longer Human

Depression or misunderstanding?

I will once again iterate how No longer human is overtly and relentlessly depressing, the first topic I’d like to cover. 

But let’s preface it with one thing to keep in mind: for every moment of depression or fright he also sounds completely out of touch - even so much as reminding us that he cannot seem to grasp. Ningen Shikkaku at first came off like an emo song with the main character thinking the world was against him. But as I continued through the first read then began the next, I realize this emotion comes from the aforementioned misunderstanding, which made it even sadder. Now, I’ll argue against my own point by mentioning the passage where he views himself as a toad, lesser than a dog or a cat. There’s still some pop-punk in the boy. And this does wane back and forth.

The happiest of moments are only ever briefly mentioned and never go into lengthy detail. There are many sentences where it’s an open face depresso sandwich: a helping of a great recollection that’s slathered atop some toasty lifelong regrets or self deprecation. The first journal is written in the future, making it a memoir of Yōzo’s youth which only comes off as either terrifying or an act created to mask the terror. One of the wildest interactions was when his dad asked if he wanted a lion mask on a business trip. Yōzo froze all because his dad posited about a specific item that he didn’t really want, thinking his dad would be disappointed or angered if he’d said “a book”. The conversation is short but there is an immense amount of weight in that lack of conversation. Was his dad this harsh of a person or could Yōzo just not read the room?

Shortly after is the troubling bit about not understanding why people eat, or at least eat as much as they do. But this is wrapped within a statement about his family always eating the same meal at a planned time and location like clockwork. Any one or combination of the 3 could have been the real issue, because it doesn’t sound like he ever really connected with his family. Or maybe he did just have a tiny tummy.

In Journals 2-3 there are many other points where he briefly mentions a future event out of nowhere, like attempting to commit double suicide or watch a future wife get raped. The event mentioned is never nearby, so you just sit with that in your brain waiting for it to happen. Then it happens and he just digs the knife in deeper. “The slow blade penetrates the shield.” 

Here’s where I think the writing shines and where most will appreciate it: Dazai never focuses on any of the rough topics. They just kinda happen then he moves on to how it altered the situation for all parties involved. The multiple attempted suicides are kinda like “Hey you wanna die? Yeah? We tried and failed, or tried and she succeeded.” And kinda move on. Even the rape scene is limited to a single sentence: “The light was lit and two animals were visible”. Side note - for being the dude who had to put that warning in the beginning, I cannot tell you how relieved I was on first read that that is how it started and where it ended. From then on it’s the reaction leading into how sad the rest of their time together was, which takes up plenty of pages.

We also have a repeat bearer of bad fortunes in the shape of Horiki. Every time Horiki comes into Yōzo’s life, shit gets fucked up. Almost instantly. The only time an interaction benefitted him is when Yōzo went to Horiki’s place and accidentally met Shigeko, which was an improvement in every way. But after Yōzo marries Horiki appears, knowing they’re wed, and is like “Hey Shigeko said you should come visit some time”. This is the guy Yōzo considers his best friend, despite admitting he hates him the most. Which is also probably why he says they’re like peas in a pod. 

Despite all of this, so may people who were wronged by him reach out to him. He was loved by some, and others at least felt some responsibility or were possibly paid to be responsible for him.

The Structure

The preface sounds very much like the author looking at himself. [disguised as a dude] I know what I said. 

There is a lot of personal stuff throughout the story but this feels the most personal as it is a condensed look on the main character’s life as represented by 3 photos. But let us not forget that while Dazai is the author of the book, the preface and afterword were written by an unnamed fictional author.

The 3 journals go through the different periods of life: childhood, young adult hood, into adulthood. Where Journal 1 is a recollection, 2-3 feel like they were kept in a diary then expanded upon later.

This segues perfectly into the next part:

Lying? Or untruth?

Within the context of the novel we are made to believe that the story of Yōzo is unchanged and true. Yōzo didn’t write this book, they were just journals. The unnamed, fictional author of the preface and afterword published them without any changes, only providing opinions and additional, anecdotal comments. Yet even so we still don’t know how much of the journals is true, as Yōzo repeatedly states that he and the entirety of mankind are liars. 

The way he speaks about childhood sounds very poor, then suddenly not only can the family afford his housing, tuition, allowance, etc., but his father has real political weight. There was never a shift or explanation of an improved quality of life. Could he have been lying about his youth or just misinterpreting things because it was youth? 

We’ll never know if 

Mark Gibeau mentions the lying paradox: Yōzo is either lying about lying and actually telling the truth, or telling the truth about lying and lying the whole time.


Our MC clearly has an issue with addiction and even addresses this, saying that he is inclined to do the bad thing that people say he shouldn’t do but expect him to do. Like saying “Oh well you’ll probably just use this money for liquor” is almost a command of sorts.

While he fervently mentions his addiction to liquor and later morphine, we shouldn’t forget the remaining personality traits. He was addicted to being the jester for so long that he eventually lost who he was. Despite his fear of women he became a womanizer, going back and forth between 2 women at a time more than once until he lost that, too. If there was an easy way out, he took it and ran with it until there was nothing left. Both the jester and the womanizer allowed him a freedom of sorts that he embodied. 

Most of all he seemed to be addicted to failure. I’ve heard it mentioned that people addicted to gambling aren’t addicted to the idea of winning, they’re addicted to losing because that is where the high kicks in. Yōzo is that to a T. There are plenty of moments where everything is given to him on a platter and he screws it up. Sometimes everything is great until Horiki appears and, knowing what the outcome will be, ruins all prospects for a good future.

The Cliffhanger

This story just kinda ends. The final journal entry is with our already unhealthy MC almost shitting himself to death, but finding humor in the situation. 

I had never considered this but Gibeau puts quotations around this “accident”, making another minor quip a HUGE deal. Was the medicine mix-up at the end truly a mix-up? Or was it intentional? With an obviously suicidal dude always acting like a miserable wretch, who wouldn’t want to put him out of his misery? Their living quarters were ass, so clearly the family didn’t care about him.

We’re escorted to the afterword so quick you risk breaking your neck. The fictitious author recounts the tale of how he obtained the journals to begin with. The madam at the Koenji bar has no idea about whether or not Yōzo is alive or where ever he could be. And despite her seeming to hold his life in high regard, there is a sadness to her just ditching these journals that were sent to her, the woman who least knew our MC but the only one who didn’t know him well enough to have a negative view or become part of his thieving and suicidal shenanigans.


There is no hero here. There is no justification for Yōzo in the end. Nothing here was meant to cloud Yōzo’s motivations. He admits to stealing from several of the women who showed him kindness, including his wife after she was raped, all to get liquor. 

Personally, the final woman is when he truly weaponizes his sad boi persona. Though at the same time, it seems like they were meant to be together since neither of them had a solid grasp on life.

He seems to find several women who have that “I can fix him” mentality and takes it to the max, asking them for money to buy booze, often leaving them for days at a time yet they willingly accept him back. From his account, most of them yearn for him even when he has gone off and married someone years later.

There is some positivity when he left Shigeko. It’s like he realized how big of a piece of shit he was and how much she and her daughter had to live for, so he left without a word or a trace. Again, not to justify anything, because this was once and he seems to have pushed further later.

No comparison

When I began this there was intent to make comparisons between reality and fiction. As I have both read and discovered in the next part, that is a huge mistake. Yeah there are a lot of similarities but again, there are not a whole lot of hard facts about Shūji’s life and Osamu may have been lying or bending the truth about any number of things. So making any attempt to find truth in Yōzo’s example is utter folly.

Moving on to

The Manga

I read two only because I accidentally snagged one of them. These will be much quicker because we covered the story. I just want to highlight some artistic approaches

Junji Ito

Ito’s retelling is the better of the two, but I almost feel like he kinda wants Yōzo to be a tragic hero, providing Yōzo with a greater strength that he can’t seem to enact upon. But at the same time a closet serial murderer. There’s a lot of killer’s intent. This is kinda confusing.

The best part about his approach is extending some of the off-handed remarks. The earliest of which was a comment made about  the horrendous things done to him as a child. Ito has like 3-4 pages of straight up sexual abuse to a child. Seriously, like 1-2 sentences in the book with zero descriptors for what could be the most momentous looks into our MC’s formative years. Yeah it’s disturbing but in this tale of an extremely messed up dude, that’s very important info. It sounds a bit hypocritical based on my comment about the novel, but by then I had already consumed it twice. I think being Ito’s work and not Dazai’s really separates it.

Ito moves quickly through most of the novel then really slams on the brakes upon the marriage to Yoshiki. Everything also gets a little weird here. A lot of focus is put on how everything in life improves as he gets more jobs providing a stable income and throws his liquor addiction out the window cold turkey. But this is also where Ito puts a TON of focus on Yōzo’s art. He draws an amazing piece that draws the attention of a popular artist who invites him to participate in a competition, Horiki sneakily takes some manga jobs away from him, the dude who rapes his wife works for the paper that hired Horiki instead of being a nobody, oh and the ghost of his father comes to live with them and they BOTH interact with him for a while before he just disappears.

The supernatural is woven into the entire structure of Ito’s retelling from beginning to end. Many details are changed, some to swerve into that direction, like anyone he commits suicide with is always there with him. There are two big reveals near the end, one of which involves him meeting a previous lover. The other I’ll leave a secret because there’s no reason to spoil everything.

There are 2 very unprompted masturbation scenes that are not hinted at in the book.

It’s okay. It’s difficult to recommend but I will say I’m glad I didn’t purchase it. Ito is telling his own story instead of doing an exact play-by-play, I think the life events of Dazai that he includes show that he not only did some research, but it does help his own tale flow. And, y’know, there’s something to that.

Usamaru Furuya

This’ll be super quick. I hated it. It infuriated me. This author was insanely focused on Yōzo’s involvement with prostitutes and complete lack of concern for women to a point of straight up misogyny and for no benefit to the character. He basically never addresses that Yōzo was afraid of everyone and kinda turned him into a weird player/narcissist. I’m not praising Yōzo but this just makes him seem like he always had a plan and that plan was to be as terrible as possible, leaving no room for the reader’s take.

It’s also heavily focused on Dazai’s real-world involvement with the Communist party. Actually, Ito kinda does the same thing, but Furuya will not let that go. This stuff is very brief in the novel and the punishments nonexistent.

Furuya’s is like the manga adaptation of the Cliff Notes of both the novel and Dazai’s life. It’s terrible from beginning to end and the art doesn’t help.

Your thoughts?

I think that’s enough. It was a lot, right? Imagine being the one researching and writing this.

What do you think? Is the author depresso for the sake of it? Does the seemingly terrible upbringing seem to be the guiding star for this twisted individual? Or do you, like he, feel he simply could not adapt to reality? Was he a womanizer or was this the only way he knew how to deal with women? 

There are only a few dozen pages of notes remaining but I think this should help you discover if you’d like to discover anything more. And if you have already this hopefully you’ve learned something more.

Pop Culture References

  • Aoi Bungaku Shiriizu (青い文学シリーズ) “Blue Literature Series”
  • Bungo Stray Dogs - added it a year or two ago on Crunchy and haven’t watched it. Might not watch it now that I know it’s based on real people whose content I really like. Maybe a listener can sell me on it.
  • There is a 2019 Japanese movie that I think I found on Tubi. Maybe that’ll be a Taquito in the future.
  • There is at least one other English translated manga but I think this is enough.

What did I learn

I need to read more Dazai. All of his stuff sounds terrible, which is right up my alley. I mean, the fact that he wrote a book about the fall of Japan with respect to the emperor is crazy to me. That’s just an oxymoron, but apparently he made it work.

New words. I’ve known that jisatsu meant suicide since my teens, but was unaware there were situational words. Yeah it’s sad that they felt the need to categorize it but that is also very Japanese.

Mindset of the era and I-Novel

Subsequently more about Akutagawa

The Tsushima family is still serving in politics.

There’s an Osamu Dazai page for kids! It’s basically a gutted Wikipedia entry. Absolutely. Hilarious.


  • Wikipedia, duh.
  • came in CLUTCH with the Japanese version of Ningen Shikkaku
  • Junji Ito VizMedia Interview
  • Tony’s Reading List is the site with the reviews of each translation
  • Eugene Thacker article on Japan Times
  • Official Japanese Dazai Museum website - I never referenced anything from it because there’s not really a ton of good life information, but lots of info about everything else. You may be interested if you are or will be in Japan, wanting to visit his memorials.
  • If you want to learn more about Dazai, check out 1975’s Dazai Osamu by James A. O’Brien and 1985’s The Saga of Dazai Osamu: A Critical Study with Translations by Phyllis L. Lyons. Neither is still in print so whether you go back to Internet Archive or the seven seas, good luck in your efforts.
  • I’m including a link to Osamu Dazai facts for kids if you’re interested in checking it out because its existence still makes me chuckle. Like, by this point in the episode you will see the glaring omissions.

Nacho Business

  • Horizon 2
  • FLCL manga
  • Brick City Anime Festival and CollectiveCon
  • Spookala in Tampa if you’re in the area
  • Hoping to cover a new-to-English horror manga very soon.
  • I’m gonna try to tackle a bigger topic this year. Not Tezuka yet, because that’s a little too grandiose, but planning to cover Aum Shinrikyo and a few of its pop culture references in October. This should be a good stepping stone into more complex topics.
  • In May or June I should have an episode on System of a Down where I chat with Deftstroke
  • Oh hey I should be getting a tattoo in a week. Finally getting my commissioned Ultraman piece done and completing the Kaiju trinity
  • We’ll see how these things go.

Call to action

Before I send you on your way, I want to address something. It’s pretty cool that most of my episodes get more than 20 listens, with plenty in the 40-50 range, always leaving me in surprise. Oft times I don’t feel like I even know that many people, and yet here you are.

Those who have directly messaged me about my podcast do not partake in the kind of content I cover, only learning about it from me. These are written with the intent that you have already consumed at least something, but I’m with you. Sometimes the only thing that sells me on watching, reading, or listening to something is an in-depth spoiler. It’s also sometimes the reason that same thing may be avoided like the plague.

To you, do you think there’s something else that can be added? Is there some other topic that you feel could be added to improve the experience? 

Whether you have an answer to that or not listeners, you’re always welcome to reach out to me. You can find me at TWIMBPodcast on Insta, Twitter, Bluesky, Facebook, e-mail me at You can look me up on YouTube if you wanna see the face in action.

But as for now… Yeah, I guess that’s it!

Content Warning
Spoiler-free Hot Take
Personal History/Why I Selected
World History - I-Novel
World History - Japan of the Time
World History - Impact of War
Author History
Book History
Manga History
Spoiler Warning
No Longer Human
The Manga
Your Thoughts?
Pop Culture References
What did I learn?
Nacho Business
Listener Question/Deuces