Thursday, July 9, 2015

Manga Classics Mini – Reviews: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Po Tse, Stacy King and Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, SunNeko Lee, Crystal Silvermoon, Stacy King

Oh yes. Surprise, surprise – this blog is showing symptoms of life again. I really have no idea how this blog went on an unprecedented hiatus– one week there I was, happily making a list of future posts most likely to show up in this space and then two months later I find myself, sitting desolately in front of a blinking cursor thirsting for words. Since we have found ourselves in this situation more often than we would have liked, I think it is time to officially place this blog in a state of eternal excusal on the grounds of academic workload that borders on intellectual slavery.

But I digress. Let us read that formidably long but enticing enough blog post title again and get right down to business.

Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Po Tse, Stacy King


I won’t be able to guarantee the exact number of Austenites who will like this book (and the hard-core ones probably won’t), but any estimation made would be done by taking those who love manga into consideration. And those who haven’t read the original classic either. And broadly speaking, those who give less importance to how faithful an illustrated character is to the biblio-characters and have an eye for beautiful graphics.

The reason I wanted to read this book in spite of my being a professional Jane Austen fangirl, was my manga-tastic literary and artistic senses tingled when I saw the title. Ergo, not a minute was wasted after being approved for a copy in cracking open the book.

This book succeeds in fulfilling its objective. It’s an enjoyably light read; one that you can quickly read through, especially if you, like me, know the novel well enough to quote lines by heart. Any time actually spent, is because you spent too much of it admiring the artistic details (watch out for a bare-chested Darcy in the highly charged climax – OOPS Spoiler Alert! Sorry, not sorry.)

But the Austenite in me couldn’t help but bristle at the manga version of Lizzy. I didn’t care much for the others’ but Lizzy’s killed me. Manga-Lizzy is blessed with luscious locks, venerable beauty and heavy boobs whereas the Classic-Lizzy is “tolerable” with a “pair of fine eyes”. And poor Manga-Collins is relegated to the level of comic relief while Manga-Charlotte appears only when necessary. Of course when considering the depth of the novel to be adapted and the required product, the effort expended is commendable.

I highly recommend picking up this book if you catch sight of it in an airport bookstore or packing it if you’re the kind of person (like me) who enjoys light reading material on road trips.

VERDICT: 3 stars

Manga Classics: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, SunNeko Lee, Crystal Silvermoon, Stacy King


The title of this book awed me into stupefaction. I personally consider it an achievement to even contemplate adapting a thousand-plus paged tome into manga. That book has always intimidated me due to its sheer volume despite my love for the movie and the – ahem – abridged novel we had to read for English in school. Of course, then it was only a matter of time before I got the manga version in my hands – I would love Les Miserables in any attire, although the mammoth classic still remains buried in my TBR pile. (I am yet to gain access to the Broadway musical and the TV series though.)

Let me take a moment to appreciate the panelling and the overall layout of the book. They enclosed a chunk of the factual portion of the actual novel in floating boxes, thus crunching down critical page space. As the story progresses we find a lot of flashback scenes and they’re almost never rendered in the same style, thus eliminating the annoying nag of repetition. And there were some scenes that you wanted to frame and hang on your wall – the emotion in the faces portrayed were too poignant. There were a limited number of extremely dramatic close-ups, instead the enormity of it all was brought to perspective by zooming out a character against an artistic backdrop. Then there were panels drawn that felt like snapshots from a thespian-grade movie. I loved the abrupt geometrical shapes of the panels used when a memorably jarring scene took place and the angle from which it was drawn. I could go on, actually.

I resent the necessity to cut down on the plot because of the page limit. Like Silvermoon, the screenwriter, says in the bonus material (which you should totally read, just to get an idea of the work involved behind the pages) many backstories and character-intensive sub-plots were omitted. But I liked the general structure of the plot and how they were divided into time-based, character-focused parts.

I actually read the book a while back so I don’t remember the exact places where I noticed some inconsistencies, but they were there. However, if you aren’t a reviewer, but a person with an insatiable appetite for art and words, please do yourself a favour and read this book.

VERDICT: 4 stars  

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