A modernized Macbeth for manga fans, but the Bard deserves better.

MACBETH

MODERN ENGLISH EDITION

From the Manga Classics series

Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy gets an overlong Manga Classics series treatment.

This is a modern-language counterpart to the series’ 2018 manga adaptation of Macbeth that preserved the original text. Choy’s black-and-white manga-style artwork is crisp and dynamic, suiting the martial moments but also adeptly portraying characters’ internal struggles. The sharp lines and claustrophobic close-ups capture Macbeth’s journey from loyal liege to unhinged tyrant. Disappointingly, the less nuanced portrayal of Lady Macbeth relies on a literal interpretation of her lines. In a mostly successful attempt to illustrate and explain Elizabethan analogies, Macbeth’s abundant allusions, metaphors, and similes are translated into background imagery. Regrettably, the accompanying, modernized dialogue ultimately detracts from the retelling. The cadence and language of the original text is lost, sacrificed for an unappealing blend of stilted formal English and clichéd phrases. Converting a Shakespearean play to a popular, visual, modern medium may attract new audiences otherwise daunted by archaic language, thick tomes, and impenetrable theatrical productions, but the new dialogue has its own biases and interpretations that may escape readers unfamiliar with other approaches to understanding the play. No Throne of Blood, the medieval-ish Scottish setting remains intact, and the characters read as White.

A modernized Macbeth for manga fans, but the Bard deserves better. (cast list, manga-reading instructions, character sketches, creators’ notes) (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-947808-21-8

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Manga Classics

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

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Shakespeare’s fantastical dream in an appealing format that can be shared with a wider audience.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

From the Manga Classics series

Manga that brings to life Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy.

This third entry in Manga Classics’ adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays maintains their practice of reproducing the full text of the original. The black-and-white illustrations allow readers to easily follow the plot while also picking up on subtle themes that are significant to understanding the play. For example, the abundant imagery surrounding the moon is emphasized by the moon’s presence in the backgrounds of many panels throughout the book, drawing readers’ attention. Long dialogues are also explained visually, which allows young readers to grasp what is being discussed without the need for a glossary or translation into modern English. The nobility is portrayed in a typical manga fashion with large eyes, small noses, and well-defined ears—but with appropriate Grecian clothing—while the commoners are easily visually distinguishable from them in style. The guide to reading manga at the beginning unfortunately describes the right-to-left reading order as “backwards from the normal books you know,” a strangely judgment-laden description for a book using manga to broaden the cultural exposure of young readers. However, the creators’ notes at the end offer fascinating insights into the adaptation process and may inspire budding manga artists to attempt their own works.

Shakespeare’s fantastical dream in an appealing format that can be shared with a wider audience. (cast, creators’ notes, character design sheet) (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947808-10-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Manga Classics

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A timely and unabashedly feminist twist on a classic fairy tale.

RED HOOD

Sixteen-year-old Bisou Martel’s life takes a profound turn after encountering an aggressive wolf.

Following an embarrassing incident between Bisou and her boyfriend, James, after the homecoming dance, a humiliated Bisou runs into the Pacific Northwest woods. There, she kills a giant wolf who viciously attacks her, upending the quiet life she’s lived with her Mémé, a poet, since her mother’s violent death. The next day it’s revealed that her classmate Tucker— who drunkenly came on to her at the dance—was found dead in the woods with wounds identical to the ones Bisou inflicted on the wolf. When she rescues Keisha, an outspoken journalist for the school paper, from a similar wolf attack, Bisou gains an ally, and her Mémé reveals her bloody and brave legacy, which is inextricably tied to the moon and her menstrual cycle. Bisou needs her new powers in the coming days, as more wolves lie in wait. Arnold (Damsel, 2018, etc.) uses an intriguing blend of magic realism, lyrical prose, and imagery that evokes intimate physical and emotional aspects of young womanhood. Bisou’s loving relationship with gentle, kind James contrasts with the frank exploration of male entitlement and the disturbing incel phenomenon. Bisou and Mémé seem to be white, Keisha is cued as black, James has light-brown skin and black eyes, and there is diversity in the supporting cast.

A timely and unabashedly feminist twist on a classic fairy tale. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-274235-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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