This is probably the most sane work I’ve read from mangaka Usamaru Furuya, who was also responsible for the deranged, psychosexual coming-of-age story “Lychee Light Club” published earlier this year. It starts out with a metafictional twist as Furuya is struggling to come up with an idea for his next serial and is directed to the online diary of one Yozo Oba. Oba is a child of privilege who has gotten through the first seventeen years of life by acting the clown, as he has no real idea of how to interact normally with other people. This facade is slowly broken down through a new friend who acts the clown in a natural fashion, a falling in with a group of radicals, his slow withdrawal from school and eventual disownment by his father.
How much interest this will be to the reader will depend on whether or not you buy into the sadness inherent in his position. For me, Furuya does a very good job of dramatizing this since even though Oba is popular in his class, has all the luck with the ladies, and lives a swank lifestyle we see that his efforts to maintain these is nothing more than a very calculated act by the young man who derives no joy from its performance. Even the sex isn’t all that fulfilling, and to prove it Furuya shows all of these scenes in the least erotic ways possible. The volume is essentially one long downward spiral for the character, but it’s not joyless as there’s hints of what his plans for the future are after he hits rock bottom at the end of this first volume (two more are forthcoming). This may not be as visually imaginative as the mangaka’s other works, but the overall storytelling is enough for me to recommend it to those looking for something different in the manga and comics diet.