Osamu Dazai's The Setting Sun: The Manga Edition TP
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Release Date: March 12, 2024
Price: $14.99
Creator(s): Based from a novel byOsamu Dazai; Adapted art & story by Cocco Kashiwaya
Format: 192 pgs., B&W, 5.5" x 8", Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9-784-8053-1761-7
Age Rating: N/A
ICv2 Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

Since about the time of Osamu Dezai’s death in 1948, the publishing firm of Tuttle has been instrumental in bringing translations of Japanese literature and culture into forms suitable for the English-speaking audience.  In this case, an attempt was made to make a short but very grim novel into a manga.  The problem is that the manga itself is a little too short to convey some of the real emotional content into more than an abridged form, and thus the reader may have trouble diving into this complex family story.

The result of this shortening, by converting a 175-page novel into only a 192-page manga, is that readers will see the mechanics of the story take place, but not enough of the reasons for the actions of the main characters.  This is especially true because some of the story is based on forms of Japanese traditional family structure. The result is that the main character comes across as "just" a victim, but not why she allows this to happen.  It is especially difficult to understand things that even the character doesn’t seem to understand, like why she sabotages her own marriage.

That is not to say that this is a bad manga.  The writing and the artwork are very good, within its limitations, but many who would otherwise be curious about this literary adaptation may find it difficult to read.  For those who read it, they will find themselves wrapped up in a grim and painful story of postwar Japan, coincidentally the same setting as the new Godzilla movie.  It was difficult not to compare the two, but a movie can convey some things more easily than a manga page.

This manga adaptation is aimed at adults.

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--Nick Smith