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, Asumiko Nakamura. 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 modern Japan.
Utsubora is Asumiko Nakamura’s first book published in English, and I enjoyed the book enough that I would definitely pick up another book by her if it were ever published.
Recently released in North America in a single, thick volume by Vertical Inc, Utsubora is definitely worth checking out.