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Utsubora: The Story of a Novelist

(ウツボラ / Utsubora #1-2)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  848 ratings  ·  125 reviews
Young author Aki Fujino appeared poised to making it big in the world of publishing. Her debut title UTSUBORA was being pitched about to a number of editors and at least one person felt it was set to propel her into stardom. However, before she could ever have her book published, the young woman was found dead. Some believe it was a suicide, but those close to her feel the ...more
Paperback, 460 pages
Published June 18th 2013 by Vertical (first published June 9th 2010)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  848 ratings  ·  125 reviews

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Seth T.
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
Utsubora by Asumiko Nakamura

I'm a huge fan of Haruki Murakami. He may be my Favourite Author—if not, he's definitely part of a select handful of Favourite Authors. I haven't read all of his works but I have read eleven of them, some of them multiple times. When I was reading Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (for the second time) alongside my wife (her first time), we were so taken with the book that we named our as-yet-unborn daughter St. Wind-Up Bird (while she awaited a proper name) as mark of our affection for the novel and, conv
Katie Colson
Jul 25, 2022 rated it it was ok
You know, it's fine. It's fine and it really tried to do something but it didn't succeed (in my opinion!). I was lost for half of it and anytime I wasn't lost, I was bored or disgusted. ...more


I was absolutely blown away by this manga - my head still hurts a little bit from it lol.

I 100% agree that this feels VERY Murakami-esque! Any Murakami fan should go out and pick this one up if you want a very similar feeling story but in comic-book style!

Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: manga
4.5 stars

“You write because you’re alive. You’re alive because you write. An author who can’t write isn’t an author.”

WOW. Talk about breathtaking! Utsubora is a complex, graphic and unsettling story about authorship which left me wanting more.

Full RTC
Mar 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, books, graphic
A strange, slow, kinky psychological melodrama of confused identities and origins and other secrets.
Very Aubrey Beardsley.
Sian Lile-Pastore
Sep 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ooo enjoyed this. Read it in a sleepy post- festival daze. The plot was slightly confusing (but in a good way) and it was a little saucy.
Stewart Tame
Nov 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I wavered quite a bit on whether this should get three or four stars--I don't do half stars. I figure three is average, a decent book, but nothing special. Four is above average, probably something I'd reread at least a few times. I finally went with four. So the book opens with a suicide. A woman seemingly jumps from the roof of a skyscraper. Author Shun Mizorogi is called to identify the body as his number is stored in her phone's memory. Dark things are hinted at. There's another woman who's ...more
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
My first proper manga!

This was an interesting, strange read. I burned through it at a quick pace, despite the length, about four hundred and fifty pages over two, maybe three sittings.

It's good. Oh, I should probably say more? Right. This is an adult story, and it makes use of sexual content--but it's certainly not pornographic. Most of the sexual scenes I wouldn't even describe as erotic; there's a sense of unease to them.

There's interesting stuff here, about success and about the "siren call
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Elegaic, beautiful study in why writers write wrapped in a murder mystery entwined in a romantic drama set in a zen- like gallery of visual sequential poems and pauses.
Ashkin Ayub

A plot is like a glacier.

And like a river born off the frozen depths of its glacial womb, a story, too, gets unfurled from deep within a plot.

The pages are the soils where she meanders and flows. The chaotic presence of a newborn torrent fizzles out gradually down the slopes. She stretches, yawns and grows, much like a story. Vast, impactful, wise.

Civilizations start thriving along her banks, and she grows aware of her own impact. Characters are steadily building themselves up in her wake. Di
Michael Scott
Feb 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
I bought Utsubora in the Kinokuniya Tokyo library. I guess it was a typical impulse buy: the book looked interesting, it was placed on the special display table for selected manga, and its synopsis said something about a novelist. It also said "18+" on the cover, so I figured it must be a book less for adolescents and more for mature readers. I suddenly felt pandered to and thus immensely gratified to be able to buy it on the spot. Also, given how many words I'm spending on describing this impul ...more
Hoàng Nguyễn
Jun 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Today, in my Japanese class, I was lent the most astounding graphic novel I've ever come to read in my life up until now. Even though I'm a fan of Asumiko Nakamura for quite a long time and this book was her usual motif but she still got me. After all these years I thought I totally knew her tricks but no, I did not. In fact, I knew nothing at all.

The beautiful yet angsty world she lures her readers into, just to shuts the door completely. Locks us with a very bittersweet ending.

If you were born
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: manga, favorites
This is such a hidden gem. A real masterpiece. Recommended for fans of crime thrillers, (toxic) romance, and generally mind-fucky stories that keep you theorizing up until the end. This is a story about stories, or rather, their authors. It's a story about plagiarism and perception. It's hard to say anything more than the synopsis without hindering the experience. There's a lot to figure out, and a lot of possible angles to consider while reading, so I want to leave that experience as intact as ...more
Halley Hopson
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
2 stars.

This was much too graphic for my tastes; I had expected one or two slightly mature scenes since I knew it was 18+ but nope. I also just didn’t quite get or even like the story itself. I will agree with others and say it is very reminiscent of something Murakami would write but having that type of story presented in a manga format just did not work for me.
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommended
4.5 stars.

Core to the book is the question of do readers love the author or their work? The plot is an extreme situation to explore that question. The writing was coded and unpredictable. It wasn't what I expected at all. There were many characters, all who were complex and each got a small moment to shine. Because of these moments I was invested in every character, and it was disappointing when a few minor characters dropped off instead of getting a clean wrap like everyone else. I felt co
daemyra, the realm's delight
The left and right eye see slightly different things. The one for which they stay put is your dominant eye. You thought you were seeing the same thing with both, did you? You're not.

Utsubora is an unforgettably sophisticated and sexy femme fatale noir fiction about a novelist whose life begins to unravel after he plagiarizes a work from an unknown author. Nakamura has a magnificent handle of each panel, so much so that a film could conceivably shoot the story using the graphic novel as a story
Taylor Ramirez
This was a very interesting story. I decided to read it because I heard it was like 1Q84, which I greatly adore. I really enjoyed this book. It was so interesting and twisted. I didn’t understand everything that was going on but the story and characters kept me so interested. I really loved this book.
Jan 28, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: manga
This is a very unusual (for me) read. Comparing to Classmates and Maiden Railways, this Asumiko Nakamura manga feels different. It’s an adult suspense standalone, the publisher calls the manga “suspenseful, intelligent and sensual”. I agree with these descriptors. However, I did not have a reason to care, I was distanced from the story, the woes of the author who plagiarized a young woman and the consequent tragedies didn’t interest me. Without doubt, the artwork is beautiful, I love Nakamura’s ...more
Meagan Danielle
Oct 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Rated 3.5
 The Black Geek
Sep 12, 2021 rated it liked it
Although the story did not pick up until the third chapter, I was pulled in by the mysterious and untimely death of one of the faceless characters. With this said, as the relationships between characters began to unfold, I became lost and, at times, increasingly frustrated. Some characters were fueled by obsession, some love, some by a bit of both....

Nakamura has a tendency to add interesting plot points and not fully develop them. It is not always clear who the villains or victims are in this s
This one took me a while to get through, partially because of school but also because it's kind of like Shrek and onions: it has layers. You can read through this in a rather quick and fast manner and still greatly enjoy the story for its beautiful artwork and story, but you'll miss out on a lot. I still don't know that I really caught everything the story was trying to tell me the first go round, so this is definitely one to pick up repeatedly and re-read.

The whole layers and symbolism in the
Maria Ella
"That misaligned dual viewpoint is what allows for a three-dimensional field of vision. That you have two points of view - subjective and objective. It's through sustaining the misaligned pair in tandem that our world becomes real."

Delivered via Royal Mail (view spoiler), this one-volume manga by Asumiko Nakamura explores the visions of a writer being tangled in a crime. One has to be challenged in a non-linear writing style, in its gothic strokes o
Sean O'Hara
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: manga, mystery, josei
Why is it that lame T&A series like Mayo Chiki and Kanokan get licensed by the dozen while artistic and literary manga like this rarely ever make it stateside, and usually go out of print before you even know they're on store shelves? Seriously, the characters in this are more complex, and the story more mature than most novels.

The story centers on Shun Mizorogi, an author once lauded as a literary genius but who's been coasting on his reputation for many years now. But his newest work, Utsubora
George Ilsley
Aug 04, 2017 rated it liked it
A complex work, if at times confusing. Not sure really what the story was. Not exactly. It is fuzzy around the edges. Certainly this felt like an adult work, that attempts to engage on several levels.

The english translation was wonky in places, and for some reason I am less comfortable feeling adrift in graphic novels than in pure text. With pure text, I appreciate the open spaces and the ambiguity; with a graphic novel I always feel like I am missing something.

For those who never expect to see
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
The art is gorgeous and accompanies a fascinating story that can't be grasped at first glance. I really want to read it in the original, though, since the translation reads rather odd at a lot of times. And don't get me started on the lettering.. I guess it's because I read translations so rarely these days that that sort of thing becomes more obvious.

I really want to read even more by Nakamura-sensei though. And there needs to be more by here available in English.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First manga I am ever reading and this was absolutely mind-blowing. It's not just due to the style, but also the plotline, the insightfulness into the characters and their backstories and the way different narratives combine and their rhythmic evolution. I feel like I need to look more into some of the symbolism used (like traditional Japanese clothing for the main character, to show that he is a man of letters), as well as interpretations for Aki's personality. Would highly recommend. ...more
Marcela Huerta
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
the paul verhoeven jumped out!!! this book had me so confused that i'll probably have to re-read, yet it was completely gripping from beginning to end. asumiko nakamura's empathy with her characters is key to the way they feel real even as their actions make their motives tricky to pin down. gorgeous. give me more nakamura translations plz ...more
Ehsan Sharei
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: manga
A perfect artwork with a story which has an appealing complexity. There is much more happening than what we actually read and see in the book. I struggled a lot with it to classify the events and human acts.
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese, comic
OK wow. This was just so weird and confusing but I like weird and confusing :D maybe a bit too graphic and a bit too confusing for me, but other than that it was a great story with amazing artwork. And it definitely had some Murakami vibes :)
Cláudia Fonseca
Oct 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's a good mystery novel, but I was a bit confused and lost sometimes, since it goes between past and present events, but otherwise it's a great book. ...more
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Asumiko NAKAMURA (中村明日美子) is a Japanese manga artist.
Born in 1979, she is one of Japan's hidden gems. The artist has penned a lot of titles since 2002 and has reached critical acclaim for her sensitive protrayals of romantic narratives featuring a wide range of characters - men and women, young and old. Nakamura has worked in a range of genres for an equally broad range of audinces winning recogni

Other books in the series

ウツボラ / Utsubora (2 books)
  • Utsubora 1
  • Utsubora 2

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