The story begins when Aki Fujino, a beautiful girl who the novelist Mizorogi knew, dies under mysterious circumstances. Then a girl appears before Mizorogi, and although she introduces herself as Aki's twin sister Sakura, her true identity is a complete mystery. As Mizorogi's past ties with Aki come to light, people begin to suspect him of plagiarism. Mizorogi's life spirals deeper into darkness as his editor and the police probe further into Aki's death and Mizorogi's connection with her.
To an author, to write is to live. What happens if you can no longer write? What then, is life?
When I first came across this book, I knew nothing about it nor its author. The cover art alone intrigued me enough to want to pick it up, and I'm glad I did. The art on the inside was off-putting to me at first because because the characters, especially the male ones, looked like typical Yaoi or Shonen Ai character designs. Which means that they may be shown to sometimes have unusual, broad shoulders, be incredibly handsome in
the face, or suffer from Yaoi basketball hands. The male characters may have some visual tropes from those more erotic comics but the women are also drawn very beautifully. With that said, it would be really unfair to judge this book by character design preferences because there are a lot of good things going for this book.
As the title of the book implies, Utsubora is the story of a novelist. The main focus of the story is about an author and what happens to him when he succumbs to the lows of plagiarism. Filled with mystery, drama, and sensuality, Utsubora is a fun read. In the end, Utsubora is also a smart book that will have you guessing what exactly is going on with the cast of characters in the book.
At the end of the book, there are some extras. Including an Illustration Story and Translator Notes. I really appreciated the translator's notes segment because it included interesting, informative cultural facts of things seen in the story and its the closest you can get for having commentary for a book. I feel this really adds to the cultural understanding of parts of Utsubora
Utsubora is Asumiko Nakamura's first book published in English, and I enjoyed book enough that I would definitely pick up another book by her if it were ever published.
Recently published in North America in a single, thick volume by Vertical Inc., Utsubora is definitely worth checking out.
Nakamura Asumiko is known for her dark, dramatic-themed works (and BL too). While Utsubora, even though it is both dark and dramatic, feels different than her other works. It is strange why it was never nominated for any notable awards despite its many praises from Western publishers. Nevertheless, this was Nakamura-sensei's only English-licensed manga.
To describe elaborately about the manga would ruin its ‘thrill’. Utsubora is a story, about the story itself, which blurs in lies and truths. What happens to a creator if creativity is taken out of the equation? This story is just like a plagiarised work, where we often think how trustworthy
the content is. As a result, the unreliability of narration plus the convoluted truths (that are possibly lies) allows for readers to read it multiple times and would come to different conclusions every time. As well as questions raised with answers that are probably unreliable too. Should we trust Mizorogi Shun the narrator? Who and how trustable is Aki Fujino? Why?
One notable character is Mizorogi. He is mainly the eyes of the story’s narration. At times the story does not add up, which is questionable to say that: a) He had been lying to us, the reader, or, b) His situation in his career results the deterioration of his ‘vision’.
Despite it not having the genre tag 'horror' it personally felt like one. Because of the ambiguous truths, readers reflect back and are haunted with its ending. But one thing is for certain – Mizorogi Shun was an author.