Home / Graphic Novel Review: Manga Shakespeare – Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare, Richard Appignanesi, Sonia Leong

Graphic Novel Review: Manga Shakespeare – Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare, Richard Appignanesi, Sonia Leong

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Manga Shakespeare. You hear the words and you think, Manga Shakespeare? Really? You’re not quite sure what to think. Then if you’re like me, you start thinking, well if it gets kids to read, why not?

What a great surprise! The first Manga Shakespeare I opened up was Romeo and Juliet and the first pages were beautiful.

“Present day Tokyo. Two teenagers, Romeo and Juliet, fall in love. But their rival Yakuza families are at war.”

The author’s introduce the characters of Shakespeare’s wonderful play in full color. Each character has one of their famous quotes introducing them like this one: Tybalt – nephew of Lady Capulet “As I hate hell, all Montague and thee.” Tybault is pictured looking over his tattooed back and hefting a large sword. The manga style artwork is beautiful and it conveys the story so well.

I loved that the language of Shakespeare is intact. Sure the characters are speaking in bubbles but the language is still poetic and gorgeous. The authors have done a great job in blending pop culture and classic literature. It works! Manga Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet is sure to be a big hit.

The idea of incorporating Shakespeare’s plays into the extremely popular manga genre was a smart one and to my mind, perfect for teenaged kids that may not be big readers. What a great way to get them reading the classics! I always struggle with getting non-readers to read but always seem to get a foot in the door if it’s something visual like a graphic novel. Once I hook them, they become readers for life.

These Manga Shakespeare books will hook a whole new audience to Shakespeare. Wouldn’t they make great text books? Buy the books, bring them into the classroom. I’d lay odds that the reading level of that class would go up. The non-readers will stop and take notice because the art is so beautiful and modern. They’ll love the setting and the fact that the Capulets and Montagues are Yakuza. These books will grab their attention and sooner or later, they’re going to want to read the actual play.

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About Gina Ruiz

  • This article has been selected for syndication to Advance.net , which is affiliated with newspapers around the United States, and to Boston.com. Nice work!

  • wtf

    What are you talking about?! the art was terrible, like 12 year old terrible. Whoever illistrated it, must not have been very experienced or was just lazy. Though this was from Tokyo Pop so their “originals”are not very good, especially art wise.
    And alright they are oposing Yakuza fine, but why is juliet wearing an ugly “new age” short kimono? And in Tokyo non-the less, while Romeo is blonde with blue eyes and wearing some weird bomber jacket. Bad character designs, and speaking of which why is Romeo part of the yakuza when he looks like that? In regular manga you can get away with this since nationalities and groups aren’t really ever mentioned, but who heard of a Japanese Yakuza head who was blonde with blue eyes…in Tokyo…