Edition : Digital (also available in Paperback, Hardcover, and Kindle eBook)
# of Pages : 401 pages
A Conspiracy and a miscarriage of justice turn the gentle Edmond Dantès into an implacable agent of fate: The Count of Monte Cristo . Obsessed by vengeance and empowered by providence, the Count avenges himself on whose who have wronged him – but is this justice, or is this hubris? In the end, does even the Count know?
Alexandre Dumas’ skillful narrative combines intrigue, betrayal, and triumphant revenge into a powerful conflict between good and evil. Now this exciting saga, rich and diverse, takes on an entirely new life in this Manga Classics adaptation!
**Many thanks to Netgalley and Udon Entertainment for providing an e-ARC of this volume for review.**
So I kind of knew going into this one that I would love it. I love manga, and have a keen curiousity about classics but, guilty as charged, rarely ever read them due to the often imposing lengths (The Count of Monte Cristo, for example, is 1,200 pages.) and weightier writing that is common of classic literature. It can feel like work sometimes, yet there is always this lingering curiosity about the storylines and characterization- I mean there’s a reason these stories have endured throughout dozens of years or even centuries, right?
So in comes Manga Classics, intent on bringing the storylines of classic novels to life via graphic novels that can be read in a fraction of the time and have the added benefit of an art style I’ve been in love with since I was 2 years old (Adventures of the Little Koala is a seriously underrated children’s anime you guys.) So it’s pretty much a win-win.
First thing I want to mention art-wise is that the nature of The Count of Monte Cristo’s plot happens to be perfect for the lovely art style employed here. The high drama, the twists and turns, the romance, the shades-of-grey characters and situations. All of it meshes well with beautifully illustrated characters and briskly-paced panels. The Count himself, while not looking perfectly like the book description, has attractive, slightly ethereal looks that are perfect for a manga protagonist and match well to the fascination the character is intended to inspire. Backgrounds, costumes, architecture- all of it is quite meticulous and pretty to look at.
The art is more reminiscent of 90s manga than 2000s manga, which I think some will prefer and appreciate. The characters have fairly realistic and mature proportions, long-limbed with gracile features. They have distinctive details to their hairstyles, shading, and costumes- which is good since the cast is kind of big, especially in the first half where a whirlwind of characters are introduced.
Now onto the storyline. It’s very noticeable how much of a challenge it must have been to take 1,200 pages of historical text and convert it into 400 fully illustrated pages, approximately the size of 2.5 typical volumes of manga.
The dialogue comes off very naturally and the narrating panels that detail more of the on-going storyline are concisely written.
The beginning feels a bit rushed. Several characters are introduced. Pleasant, but overwhelming. It’s at the midway mark that I can say I was officially glued to the action, and the last hundred or so pages are filled with character development and plot lines reaching their fully realized and dramatic conclusions.
There are several quotable lines (most of them courtesy of the main character) and I’d call the content safe for all ages due to any violence being non-graphic in nature and the life lessons at the core of the story being good ones. There are also some afterward pages detailing the process of adaptation and the reasoning behind certain panels, handling of characterization, etc. It’s easy to see how much work went into this. Highly recommendable.
Rating – 9/10
Why You Should Try It – Gripping storyline that is well adapted. The art is beautiful in a classical way (again, suited to the storyline and time period.) If the concept sounds at all appealing, it’s definitely worth checking out. Also, as a fan of manga, the idea of having a good manga in a hardcover format is sublime.
Critique – The second half was noticeably more captivating than the first half.Manga Classics: The Count of Monte Cristo (Amazon Link)