Friday, December 04, 2009

R&J Redux

Manga Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet William Shakespeare, ill. Sonia Leong

Ok, so... it's Romeo and Juliet, manga style. The words are (heavily edited) Shakespeare and the pictures set this in modern day Tokyo.

The good: Leong certainly didn't phone it in on the art, which was what I was expecting. It also uses several manga conventions that you normally don't see in Western producted manga-style comics. We see little chibis to underscore someone's childish behavoir or to show inner thoughts and faces take on animal characteristics to show emotion. I'm not well-versed in my visual manga clues, but I'm glad they were there. I think these add a layer to the storytelling that we don't see in a most Western manga.

The not-so-good: I realize it cannot be easy to abridge a play that is so well known as Romeo and Juliet but some of the cuts were really jarring. Mercutio's Queen Mab speech is a mere 5 lines. Juliet, while whinging on the balconey, hopes Romeo will "deny thy father and refuse they name" but that's where it ends. She never offers to do the same "if thou whilst not." Sigh

I think I would have prefered a retelling of the story with this art instead of such a cutting down of the original text.

Book Provided by... my local library

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