“Nigeru Otoko,” translated as “The Man Runs Away” or “Escaping Man,” is a succinct, one-volume manga by renowned author, Natsume Ono. This is a “mystery” narrative, spread over five chapters from May 2010 to January 2011.
The story is set around a local town’s lore of a magical bear that transforms into a man at night, visible only to children. However, this enchanting tale is far from the actual truth, as a young girl stumbles upon when she ventures into the woods. The “magical bear” is, in reality, a man seeking refuge from his past mistakes and responsibilities. The forest serves as his sanctuary, an escape from the burden of his errors. But will there come a time when he must leave this forest, face his past, and rejoin civilization?
Ono’s signature simplistic drawing style continues in “Nigeru Otoko,” albeit with more detailed touches than seen in “Not Simple.” This more intricate approach beautifully complements the layers of the narrative. The first chapter and synopsis might suggest a different plot, potentially misleading the readers about the true essence of the story.
Despite its short length, “Nigeru Otoko” efficiently encapsulates the struggle that humans face when bound by their ‘vices’ to escapism — in this case, the forest. It highlights the difficulty in breaking free from these constraints to face the real world. While it is not a tear-jerker or profoundly moving, the manga offers a satisfactory conclusion that tends towards happiness.
As a quick binge-read, “Nigeru Otoko” scores a 6 out of 10. It’s a concise, mysterious tale of escapism and resolution. The narrative doesn’t offer grand realizations, but it does leave you pondering about the courage it takes to face our mistakes and overcome our self-imposed limitations. I personally prefer Natsume Ono’s other works.
What do you all think of this manga? Am I treating it too harsh? Let me know in the comments!
Check out our other coverage of manga here on LAN:
A Simple Guy in a Not Simple World – Not Simple Review
Twisted for Twisted’s Sake? – Zankoku na Kami ga Shihai Suru Review
Konya Mo Nemurenai Review – When You Accidentally Summon a Demon Prince