Category Archives: Manga Review

Manga Review : Orange by Ichigo Takano (Complete Collection 1 – Volumes 1-3)

Orange : Complete Collection 1 of 2 (Omnibus of Volumes 1-3) (Amazon Link)

Author : Ichigo Takano
# of Volumes : 5 (This is a review of volumes 1, 2, and 3. Part 2 review forthcoming.)
Year Published : 2016
Genre : Manga, Romance, Fiction, Sci-Fi
Edition : Paperback, Digital (ComiXology)
# of Pages : 523 pages


Summary

On the day that Naho begins 11th grade, she receives a letter from herself ten years in the future. At first, she writes it off as a prank, but as the letter’s predictions come true one by one Naho realizes that the letter might be the real deal.

Her future self tells Naho that a new transfer student, a boy named Kakeru, will soon join her class. The letter begs Naho to watch over him, saying that only Naho can save Kakeru from a terrible future. Who is this mystery boy, and can Naho save him from his destiny? The heart-wrenching sci-fi romance that has over million copies in print in Japan!

Review

Note : A few pictures are included in this review, I took them personally of the paperback omnibus edition of Seven Seas Entertainment’s English Translated release of Orange. For those unfamiliar with manga, the text bubbles/paragraphs are read from right to left.

Only half-joking in saying this, I need to make a series on this blog called Time Travel Tearjerkers, and this will be its theme song. (If the embed doesn’t show up, it’s Morphogenetic Sorrow from the 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors soundtrack)

But seriously, Orange is a sweet, warm-hearted, well-intentioned shoujo (for teen girls) manga. It gives lots of warm fuzzies and has a cute, inviting art style.

But- content warning- it’s also about suicide and how friends and family of a loved one cope years afterward.

The main character of our story is Naho. She’s 27 years old, married, and has a child with a childhood friend. But she still thinks back to a day ten years ago, when a boy she can’t forget about took his life. His name is Kakeru. She copes by writing letters to her 17 year old self, telling her the things she should do or would have done to help be there for him and perhaps prevent multiple deaths.

Storyline

This is a sci-fi romance with two timelines- Naho as an adult, and Naho from a parallel universe at 17 years-old who receives the letters and is trying to follow the directions therein to change the course of fate in her timeline and save Kakeru’s life. The story follows these two timelines in equal measure with equal consideration. While my frankness at revealing this plot may make the story seem dark, the prevailing tone is heart-warming and following the characters in their everyday lives.

This is a story full of nice and good-hearted characters who take every step in trying to help each other. While cultural differences and this already very dicey subject matter can easily lead to a piece of work that is laden with potential controversies to warn about, Orange is pretty high up there as being sensitively handled on a surprising universal level. About as much as one can be in dealing with this subject matter.

It should perhaps be disclosed in critiquing this area of the story that I do have personal experience in knowing people who have committed suicide and struggling with mental health in general. My main takeaway from these experiences is that everyone is different, their comfort levels are different, and whether a work will serve as cathartic or potentially harmful varies so much. Orange is mainly centered around the feelings of loved ones in mourning. Where I live, the main problem surrounding the depiction of suicide is the culture of silence that surrounds it. Hostile and ignorant viewpoints of victims has been rampant and finding thoughtful representation of this topic is rare and usually very recent. Orange is such a massive step up from the hurtful and unproductive viewpoints I’d heard growing up. If teenagers and adults read this and come away with more compassion, I think it’s doing good work.

The prevailing genre explored here is slice-of-life– for those who are not familiar, that basically entails a strong emphasis on the everyday lives of characters. Heavy emphasis is placed on conversations and relationship development. There are some moments that try to explain the time travel mechanisms, but the focus remains mainly on an aww-worthy romance and friendship-driven storytelling. Slice-of-Life is very much a hit-or-miss for me. It hits if I end up feeling for the characters, and very much misses and flows into boredomville otherwise. Orange was very much a success hinged on its unique back-and-forths through time.

Characters

I liked Naho. She’s an average type of character, but her devotion to helping Kakeru is often touching. However, I do sense that she is a character that could annoy some people. She cries early and often, and struggles to follow the simple directions of the letters she’s given. I found this a mostly realistic approach though, as her ability to strongly deviate from her meek personality as a teenager- based on 27 year-old expectations- that’s just not easy. She can come off as delicate and wimpy though. I would like to mention to anyone whose first manga ends up being Orange, if you prefer heroines with more take-charge attitude and powerful presentation, please don’t let Naho’s characterization be too influential. There are many shining examples out there worth trying out. An English Translation coming out in January of an all-time classic, Rose of Versailles, comes to mind.

Naruse Kakeru is sort of a mystery. I’m very curious about his past and his family. We know he’s dealing with heavy stuff but puts on a very brave/pleasant front for his friends. He’s usually seen smiling and being lighthearted. But there are occasional moments where he reveals that there’s more going on, and I found those to be well-handled.

Hiroto Suwa is a side character and, unexpectedly, my favorite. I loved this character. Please do note that some of this forthcoming description gets minorly revealing so feel free to skip the rest of this paragraph. Suwa could be considered the odd one out in a love triangle between Naho and Kakeru. But thankfully, this series bucks convention a bit by making him one of the most unusual third wheels ever- giving, great, and caring deeply about both characters to the point of doing everything in his power to set aside ego and.. ship them? He’s the most unexpected character I’ve come across in romance/fiction. There is a series spin-off film devoted to his viewpoint called Mirai and it has shot up in my must-watch list. /

There are a number of other side characters, students who are part of their inner friend circle. While they don’t get a large amount of side story development or back story, each one stands out and is brimming with potential. I am hoping volumes 4-5 in the second omnibus gives them more time to shine, or that some of the adaptations make an attempt because characterization across the board is quite good in this series but has much more room to flower.

Art Style

You can probably tell whether or not it will be to your tastes looking at the pics I included (all from the Seven Seas English-translated release of this title.) The style is simple but clean, the panels flow nicely due to the lack of clutter. The character designs are cute. The transitions between more serious/realistic proportions (usually during serious moments) to cuter ones (during more lighthearted moments) are smooth though might be jarring for those unused to such things. I’m a fan of shoujo art in general and the charm here is quite top-notch and at a level on par with other titles from 2016 to now. I have a bias toward old-school manga art, but the approach to design here is still appealing. Reminiscent of Ai Yazawa’s works like NANA and Paradise Kiss. Also reminds me somewhat of Honey and Clover by Chiho Umina.

Overall – I liked Orange so much and am somewhat struggling to come up with areas to give it noteworthy criticism. In short, everything Orange tries to do it does well. I’m giving it a 9/10 mainly on account of reading so many ambitious manga over the years and titles that get a 10/10 from me are generally unputdownable despite long-running volumes, massively creative artistically and in world building, or have a large cast with oodles of impressive development. Orange might not aim for such extravagances, but it brings a dynamic take on time travel and has a meaningful storyline. These first three volumes of Orange well done and a must-read if you find yourself very drawn to its basic ideas, style, and story concept. Moreover, the success of this title led to a live-action film from 2015, anime series, other manga series/sequel, and novelization in Japan. Orange is a sort of rabbit hole of a franchise to dive into with several adaptations to hunt for if you end up enjoying one foray into it.

Overall Rating – 9/10

Orange : Complete Collection 1 of 2 (Omnibus of Volumes 1-3) (Amazon Link)


Thanks so much for reading this review! It’s probably more elongated than usual, since there is much to say about the first 500+ pages of this two-part collection. I do plan on reading and reviewing the second and final collection of volumes in November. Also very interested in trying out its sequels and adaptations as well. Have you read Orange or want to? Do you read manga? I haven’t posted a manga review in a while so am glad to read another series this month. I have more manga features planned, including some reviews of longer series I’ve loved this year. Thanks as always for your comments, likes, and views.
~ Kitty

Manga Review : Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Manga Classics

Manga Classics : Jane Eyre (Amazon Affiliate Link)

Series : Manga Classics by Udon Entertainment / Official Site
Illustrated by : SunNeko Lee
Adapted by : Crystal S. Chan, Stacy King
Original Author : Charlotte Bronte
Year Published : 2016
Genre : Manga, Classics, Romance, Fiction
Edition : Digital (also available in Paperback, Hardcover, and Kindle eBook)
# of Pages : 319 pages

Summary

As an orphaned child, Jane Eyre is first cruelly abused by her aunt, then cast out and sent to a charity school. Though she meets with further abuse, she receives an education, and eventually takes a job as a governess at the estate of Edward Rochester. Jane and Rochester begin to bond, but his dark moods trouble her. When Jane uncovers the terrible secret Rochester has been hiding, she flees and finds temporary refuge at the home of St. John Rivers.

Review

Another great adaptation by Manga Classics. I’ve been a fan of the Jane Eyre story and watched movie adaptations of it, but haven’t read the actual book quite yet. This manga does a good job including many little moments and events that I hadn’t recalled from other Jane Eyre adaptations. The hefty 300+ page count definitely helped in making the story fuller and getting into minor details, but the chapters are also well organized and the pacing is quite fast with large, clean panels.

As usual I love the art style by SunNeko Lee, who also did a fabulous job with the adaptations of The Scarlet Letter and Les Miserables. Characters look distinctive and charming. Child characters stand out as being extra adorable, Rochester’s ward Adele comes to mind. The only point that may be of concern to some is in Jane looking so young and perhaps a bit too pretty given how Jane is sometimes adapted as being plain. I found an interesting blog post about the matter of whether Jane’s perceived plainness is related to her actual looks or influenced by her station. It’s an interesting read.

Now to tackle the dialogue and overall script. I was relieved to find that these aspects, while convincingly faithful, were still very easy to understand from a modern perspective. Though the original book is from the mid-1800s, the motivations of the characters and their feelings are simply grasped. I never came across anything too dated to fathom. There are also several pages toward the end detailing the adaptation process and a long note expanding upon the role of a governess at that period of time, adding further context to Jane’s duties. The little added details are nice to see, and customary for Manga Classics.

Note : Many thanks to Netgalley and Udon Entertainment for providing me an e-ARC of this title for the purpose of review.

Overall Rating – 9/10

Why You Should Check It Out – This is a nice adaptation of Jane Eyre, that seems to have a lot of effort put toward containing many details. SunNeko Lee’s art style is pretty. The age of the story is barely noticeable, the characters are realized with clarity.

Why You Might Not Like It – The art style might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Particularly if you much prefer realistic proportions to more cute types.

Manga Classics : Jane Eyre (Amazon Affiliate Link)


Have you read any titles from the Manga Classics line from Udon Entertainment, or do you want to? What do you think of the source material, Jane Eyre? Feel free to comment, your thoughts are much appreciated. Thank you for reading! ~ Kitty Marie

Manga Review : The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and Manga Classics

Manga Classics: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Series : Manga Classics by Udon Entertainment / Official Site
Illustrated by : Kuma Chan
Adapted by : Crystal S. Chan
Original Author : Mark Twain
Year Published : 2017
Genre : Manga, Classics, Adventure, Adaptation
Edition : Digital (also available in Paperback, Hardcover, and Kindle eBook)
# of Pages : 393 pages

Summary

Chafed by the -sivilized- restrictions of his foster home, and weary of his drunkard father’s brutality, 14 year-old Huck Finn fakes his own death and sets off on a raft down the Mississippi River. He is soon joined by Jim, an escaped slave. Together, they experience a series of rollicking adventures that have amused readers, young and old, for over a century. The fugitives become close friends as they weather storms together aboard the raft and spend idyllic days swimming, frying catfish suppers, and enjoying their independence. Their peaceful existence ends abruptly, however, with the appearance of the King and the Duke, an incorrigible pair of con artists who take over the raft. After many difficulties, Huck and Jim escape their tormentors, and with the help of an imaginative rescue by Huck’s old friend Tom Sawyer, Jim gains his freedom. Manga Classics breathes new life into this American Classic with a faithful adaptation of Mark Twain’s masterpiece.

Review

Note : Many thanks to NetGalley and Udon Entertainment for providing an e-Arc of this title to me for the purpose of review.

Another nicely done adaptation from Manga Classics. The art style is befitting for the characters. There is a lot of charm in the rendering of Huck, Jim, and Tom. I did find Huck’s shadeless eyes a bit odd though. The direction and flow of the panels is well done and kept me into the story. There are certain dramatic and emotional moments that are conveyed well and in fitting somber ways, while the light comedic moments are also well handled and fitting to manga stylization.

There are a number of end notes from the staff that go well in explaining their methods of adaptation and how they approached certain scenes. At almost 400 pages and almost 40 chapters, they took great care in trying to keep a great deal of the story intact. The language utilized is, as customary for Manga Classics, purely faithful to the subject matter. I did grapple at times with the speech patterns of some characters and the addition of artwork assists with the context.

Overall I enjoyed this one but on a subjective level, there are classics that I feel are more outstanding and show off the skill of Manga Classics adaptation abilities more readily. The Count of Monte Cristo and Les Miserables still stand out as my favorites. But for pre-existing fans of Huckleberry Finn who may have some nostalgia for the work, you wouldn’t be steering wrong in checking this out.

Overall Rating – 8.5/10

Why You Should Check It Out – A charming adaptation of the original story that does well in conveying the seriousness and the humor of its source material in appropriate measure. Character designs are well thought out and match the characters, especially the main characters, nicely.

Why You Might Not Like It – There are other adaptations by Manga Classics that are more enthralling choices. If you’re not a fan of Huck Finn, this adaptation probably won’t change your mind.

Manga Classics: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Have you read any titles from the Manga Classics line from Udon Entertainment, or do you want to? What do you think of the source material, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? Feel free to comment, your thoughts are much appreciated.

Manga Review : Deep Scar (Volume 1 of 2) by Rossella Sergi

Deep Scar, Vol. 01

Series : Deep Scar, 2 volumes
Author/Artist : Rossella Sergi
Year Published : 2018, France
Release Date : English language version comes out August 20th, 2019.
Genre : Manga, Romance, Contemporary
Edition : Digital (also available in Paperback, and Kindle eBook)
# of Pages : 308 pages

Summary

Sofia is a quiet young woman who longs for more independence. When she moves to Turin for school, it’s her first time away from her family and her boyfriend Luca. But her new roommate, Veronica, leads a life very different from hers: she prefers evenings in the company of beautiful boys! Luca dreads the influence of Veronica and her entourage on Sofia, and especially the presence of the enigmatic Lorenzo, who seems to be a little too interested in his girlfriend…

Review

**Many thanks to Netgalley and Tokyopop for providing an e-ARC of this title for review.**

I’m overjoyed at the return of Tokyopop! I went into this manga blind, having no idea what to expect. I am really surprised at how likable it is so far since I usually only read manga-style comics by Japanese or Korean artists, so this being a manga of French origin is a bit of a change of pace! The English translation is very well polished, perfectly easy to understand.

The first thing I want to mention is how much the storyline resembles romances in the New Adult novels genre, but dodges the annoying things that put me off from many of that genre. I think for people who’ve never read manga-style comics before but enjoy contemporary romances, this could be a decent entry point.

Lets start with the main character, Sofia. She is the wholesome and virginal, “good girl” type. But she doesn’t feel superior to other girls and seems open to cultivating friendships with them. Also, her family situation seems complex- her parents give me bad vibes, they’re smothering and overprotective even though Sofia is entering college. There are definitely negative elements to her being as naive as she comes across, its not flaunted or set up as a way to make her “better” than other girls and she strikes me as someone who wants to evolve and grow. I definitely want to find out more about her.

She has a roommate, Veronica. This girl is the classic bad girl archetype and Sofia’s opposite. She comes off as prickly at first but given the effort put toward her character design and dialogue I am hoping that there will be decent character development for her. Seems to be leading that way.

Sofia has a boyfriend named Luca. They seem to have a long history and he is protective over her. He comes off as pushy and needy. I’m getting signals that they will probably break up at some point but so far I kind of like him despite his shortcomings. Maybe it’s the character design. The guys all look incredible and one isn’t favored over another in drawing style, and unfortunately, Luca is the most aesthetically my type. That’s kind of my curse though, to like the guy who probably won’t be chosen, lol.

Lorenzo – The tall, dark, handsome, brooding type. It’s very evident that he has some type of dark past and/or trauma. At first I thought he was going to be a sort of bad boy archetype but he’s really not that easy to pigeonhole and has some surprising moments of thoughtfulness. For example, he seems to be trying to avoid Sofia because he considers himself a bad guy. He gives me insta-love vibes, which I usually don’t care much for but if it’s one-sided that’s a little fresh and different. I hope they have some type of history together (childhood friends I hope, since I love the childhood friends-to-lovers trope.)

So far I’m pretty interested in the characterization and am curious to see how it will go. There is the mystery of why Sofia’s family has sheltered her so severely. I really hope there won’t be cheating as an element in future volumes but things could really go anywhere. There is a lot of room for the storyline to blossom in different ways.

But at its core this is a romance, leaning toward a love triangle.

So onto the art style. I LOVE IT. It’s just beautiful in a very classic girly manga way, but I’m already a huge fan of shoujo (girls) manga art style. The lines are clean, details like eyes and hair are given to prettily excessive design. The characters are distinct (the stark differences in shading and hair colors for the main cast helps with that though) and subtle emotions are well-conveyed. For example, there is a scene where Sofia is uncomfortable about something but feigning being fine about it and you can tell this quite easily from a few little added lines to her expression.

I also want to make note of the panels and pacing. This volume was super fast-paced with uncluttered panels. I zipped through this very fast, and felt like there was sufficient dialogue nonetheless.

All in all I am really quite pleased with this first volume and it did pretty much everything it was trying to do, rightly. I’m curious about the characters, their back stories, and what directions the romance is going to go. I know there’s at least a second volume and really hoping there will be more than that. I already have things I hope will happen and characters that I favor, and the art is lovable.

Overall Rating – 9/10

Why You Should Try It – If you’ve ever liked manga for female audiences (shoujo manga, josei manga) and are totally up for some nice polished art of that style or a romantic contemporary comic in general. The storyline seems traditional but has a lot of areas where deeper development might be made. It’s just fun.

Why You Might Not Like It – The heroine is passive and meek, you might prefer a different series if looking for a more vibrantly ambitious type of heroine. If you’re very well-versed in manga, this title might come off as nothing too special.

Deep Scar, Vol. 01 (Amazon Link)

Have you read any romance-centered comics before or do you want to? Feel free to comment, I always appreciate your likes and comments.

Manga Review : The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Manga Classics

Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter

Series : Manga Classics by Udon Entertainment / Official Site
Illustrated by : SunNeko Lee
Adapted by : Crystal S. Chan, Stacy King
Original Author : Nathaniel Hawthorne
Year Published : 2015
Genre : Manga, Classics, Historical Fiction
Edition : Digital (also available in Paperback, Hardcover, and Kindle eBook)
# of Pages : 308 pages

Summary

A powerful tale of forbidden love, shame, and revenge comes to life in Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter. Faithfully adapted by Crystal Chan from the original novel, this new edition features stunning artwork by SunNeko Lee (Manga Classics: Les Miserables) which will give old and new readers alike a fresh insight into the Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tragic saga of Puritan America. Manga Classics editions feature classic stories, faithfully adapted and illustrated in manga style, and available in both hardcover and softcover editions. Proudly presented by UDON Entertainment and Morpheus Publishing.

Review

Note : Many thanks to NetGalley and Udon Entertainment for providing an e-Arc of this title to me for the purpose of review.

I was pretty sleepy when I started this one and just intended to read 20 or so pages or a designated single chapter and put it aside. Turned out I was enthralled enough to finish the whole thing in one sitting.

In order to express why I loved this one so much, it would probably be beneficial to reveal some of my subjective and very favorite components of fiction, all of which this story and adaptation happens to have in spades.

  • A dark, thick atmosphere.
  • Characters who are harshly challenged by the plot in some way.
  • Psychologically complex and puzzling characters.
  • A brisk, focused, and consistent pace.
  • A sinister yet thought-provoking tone. Not just grim for the sake of it.
  • Messaging that is critical of injustices.

There are a lot more things I like but that is just a short list of what is very present in The Scarlet Letter and extraordinarily well adapted here. One thing of note though, forbidden romance is mentioned in the synopsis. I really did not sense any romance whatsoever here, nor affection between the main couple. The whole matter of them even getting together seemed mysteriously inexplicable. Just in case anyone may be expecting a touch of romance, that’s not the aim of the story or characterization here.

The main thing I focus on with Manga Classics is the art style and adaptation qualities.

The art is by SunNeko Lee who was also responsible for the art in Les Miserables, which I’d heaped considerable praise on for its art. The Scarlet Letter is one year newer and noticeably even better when it comes to finely detailed art style.

There is a lot more shading, characters are of a slightly more realistic proportion, and their expressiveness (both facial and the overall vibe of each character) is more distinctive. There are few characters though so that was probably easy to accomplish. The backdrops have lovely little details.

I was most impressed with the marked strength and dignity of Hester and how this was expressed both in text and in her facial expressions. Her child, Pearl, is the cutest thing imaginable but also has an eerie, pixie-like quality. It’s mentioned in the end notes that the artist strived to make her eyes unique to embody how the text mentions her eyes looking different from ordinary people. Long story short, I love the art, it’s carefully thought out and nice to look at.

I’m thinking of making a mega-post of the Manga Classics after some time of finishing the ones I have access to, and ranking them in order of my absolute favorites. As a sneak peek I’ll just say now that this would most likely make the top 5 at least.

Now the final thing I want to cover and perhaps the most important- the original novel, The Scarlet Letter. On Goodreads among other sources, classics are highly rated and praised. Negative reviews are kind of buried by a deluge of positive ones. The Scarlet Letter is a sort of exception to that rule and there are no shortage of reviews lambasting the book as profoundly boring, with a very unlikable if not impenetrable writing style.

I’ve read multiple reviews before (perhaps more than five, from varying sources) that bring up (paraphrasing) how it’s unfortunate for this book to be taught in high schools as there are so many more appealing and readable classics that could be chosen. By comparison, The Scarlet Letter could dissuade young people from reading.

I haven’t read The Scarlet Letter myself (very curious if any of you have, would love to hear your thoughts!) but just from all I’ve heard, it’s amazing how appealing this adaptation is. Perhaps simplifying the core of the storyline and characterization may have played a big role in that, but I do have a bit of an interest in seeking out the classical novel now after reading this.

Overall Rating – 10/10

Why You Should Try It – A darkly atmospheric tale with odd and distinctive characters. Without familiarity of the original novel, there were several tense moments where I wasn’t sure what to expect. The art is lovely and went far in getting me to feel for the cast, especially the adorable and precocious Pearl. The original book has a wide reputation for being one of the less exciting classics, so the fact that I was glued to the pages of this adaptation is really special.

Why You Might Not Like It – That aforementioned dark atmosphere lends a grim sadness to the overall tone of the story. Some of the behavior of the characters can be hard to fathom without a larger understanding of the setting and cultural norms of the time. The art style is not for everyone.

Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter (Amazon Link)

Have you read any titles from the Manga Classics line from Udon Entertainment, or do you want to? Are you familiar with The Scarlet Letter? Feel free to comment, I appreciate your likes and comments.

Manga Review : Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare and Manga Classics

Manga Classics: Romeo and Juliet

Series : Manga Classics by Udon Entertainment / Official Site
Illustrated by : Julien Choy
Adapted by : Crystal S. Chan, Stacy King
Original Author : Shakespeare
Year Published : 2018
Genre : Manga, Classics, Romance, Action
Edition : Digital (also available in Paperback, Hardcover, and Kindle eBook)
# of Pages : 409 pages

Summary

A classic Shakespearean tragedy, Romeo and Juliet is the tale of two star-crossed young lovers who dare to defy their feuding families, put aside all obstacles, and find happiness together – but at a tremendous cost. This grimly beautiful tale, set in the Renaissance Italy, follows Romeo and Juliet from their hateful first meeting to their last.

Manga Classics ™ brings you this incredible new manga version of William Shakespeare’s most popular play, featuring the unaltered original text in its entirety!

Review

Another good entry into the Manga Classics line. I enjoyed this more than Macbeth, but then I am something of a hopeless romantic so all the scenes with Romeo and Juliet were quite charming to watch.

I love the art style. It is very in line and current with the conventions of shoujo (girls) manga from the 2010s. The characters are prettily detailed and cute. In particular, Romeo, Juliet, Mercutio, and Paris are so attractively drawn.

I love how the style did well in capturing Mercutio’s distinctive whimsy. The emotions during the famously tragic scenes are well conveyed. Buildings and scenery are also highly detailed and cleanly drawn.

There are many comically drawn scenes that illustrate and express some of the humorous banter that might be hard to grasp from the original prose.

Speaking of prose, as was the case with Manga Classics adaptation of Macbeth, the purity of the lines is fully intact and not re-written with modern standards in mind. I was surprised by how text-heavy some panels are and real effort is made to keep the story as intact as possible. As a result, I find myself reading more slowly to try to fully understand the passages. I like that no major changes were made. As usual for Manga Classics, this adaptation is nicely thick at around 400 pages, so I’d say it’s a great dollar value for the time spent.

My two favorite Manga Classics are still The Count of Monte Cristo and especially Les Miserables, but this is easily still among the best in terms of quality and appeal and has perhaps the most high quality art I’ve seen so far from Manga Classics.

Note : I received this title as an e-Arc via Netgalley and Udon Entertainment for the purpose of review.

Overall Rating – 8.5/10

Why You Should Try It – The art style within is as adorable and consistent as it looks on the cover, even more so. Romeo and Juliet are endearing as ever, and the character designs in general are charming and finely detailed. The humor present in areas of the text are well conveyed.

Why You Might Not Like It – The cute approach to character design might not be for everyone. The pure approach to the scripting makes this a slower-going read.

Manga Classics: Romeo and Juliet (Amazon Link)

Have you read any titles from the Manga Classics line from Udon Entertainment, or do you want to? What’s your favorite Shakespeare play? Feel free to comment, I appreciate your likes and comments.

Manga Review : Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen and Manga Classics

Manga Classics: Sense and Sensibility

Series : Manga Classics by Udon Entertainment / Official Site
Illustrated by : Po Tse
Adapted by : Stacey King
Original Author : Jane Austen
Year Published : 2016
Genre : Manga, Classics, Romance, Family, Regency
Edition : Digital (also available in Paperback, Hardcover, and Kindle eBook)
# of Pages : 308 pages

Summary

Impulsive Marianne Dashwood and cautious Elinor are as different as two sisters could be, yet both are shattered by their father’s sudden Death. Elinor’s attachment to the reserved Edward Ferrars is torn asunder by family opposition and his own dark secret, while Marianne’s brilliant romance with the dashing John Willoughby comes to a tumultuous end in a devastating public betrayal. Can the two sisters overcome these trials to find true, lasting happiness?

Jane Austen’s beloved first novel, filled with romance, redemption and social critique, is brought to life for a modern audience in this gorgeous manga-style adaptation!

Review

This is my third time reading and reviewing a Manga Classics work. The other two were The Count of Monte Cristo (which remains my favorite, highly recommended) and Macbeth (good for fans of Shakespeare and more action and intrigue-oriented manga)

Sense and Sensibility is a huge shift to something different in terms of art style, content, and overall mood. I’m impressed so far with how this company employs a unique art style and approach with each volume I’ve tried thus far.

First of all, the art. It’s pretty, girlish, and flowery. Very suited to the subject matter- a warm storyline about sisters and and first romances. The characters are all easily differentiated and have their own unique characteristics. I was most fond of the approach to Elinor and Marianne, as Elinor appears more upright and down-to-earth whereas Marianne is vivacious and dreamy. Their character designs and expressions reflect the stark contrast.

To be honest, it took me a while to become fully enchanted with the art. I grew to like it more going forward and believe that the quality of nitty gritty line work also improved as the book proceeded. Important, pivotal scenes are given an extra splash of detail, with carefully drawn faces, expressions, and backdrops.

I have not yet fully read the original novel, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Last year I made it to about the 30% mark and put it aside for other books, part of the reason being that I had difficulty gleaning finer details due to the classical prose.

One of the great advantages of Manga Classics is in taking the valuable elements of stories and making them easier to digest, and in an appealing way for people who enjoy manga. I am now far more eager to eventually read Sense and Sensibility and more interested in the storyline and characters after gaining an increased familiarity with them.

From what I remember of the 30% of the original novel I did read, it seems this adaptation did indeed take the best parts of various conversations and prominently feature them. There are many beautiful lines in this story that are thoughtfully decorated and/or illustrated befittingly. I found it very easy to follow along and fully gain from the conversations between the characters. The level of clarity in this adaptation is very good.

I hadn’t known venturing into it that Sense and Sensibility was such a bittersweet story of romance under complicated social mores and class divisions. As a story about sisters, it is also touching and endearing. The length was perfect, 300 pages is a lot for a single volume of manga that remains within a reasonable price range. But the time spent reading it is also just a bit longer than a movie and offers that seem feeling of experiencing a brisk adaptation.

*Many thanks to Netgalley and Udon Entertainment for providing me an electronic advanced reading copy of this volume for review purposes.*

Overall Rating – 8/10

Why You Should Try It – If you enjoy or have an interest in reading Austen novels AND adore manga. If you want to read a warm-hearted, bittersweet (and positive!) classical romance that doubles as a heartfelt storyline about sisters. Manga Classics editions also have hardcovers which is awesome and a rarity in manga publications.

Why You Might Not Like It – If you’re an avid consumer of very modern shoujo (girls) manga from 2015-2019, the art style employed here can seem old-school. It took me a little while to get comfortable with it. There are other Manga Classics entries that have art I enjoyed more (Les Miserables and The Count Of Monte Cristo come to mind.)

Manga Classics: Sense and Sensibility (Amazon Link)

Have you read any titles from the Manga Classics line from Udon Entertainment, or do you want to? Are you a Jane Austen fan? Feel free to comment, I appreciate your likes and comments.

Manga Review – Les Miserables by Victor Hugo Adapted by Manga Classics

Manga Classics: Les Miserables

Series : Manga Classics by Udon Entertainment / Official Site
Illustrated by : SunNeko Lee
Adapted by : Stacy King, Crystal S. Chan
Original Author : Victor Hugo
Year Published : 2014
Genre : Manga, Classics, Drama, Historical Fiction
Edition : Digital (also available in Paperback, Hardcover, and Kindle eBook)
# of Pages : 337 pages

Summary

Adapted for stage and screen, loved by millions, Victor Hugo’s classic novel of love and tragedy set in 19th century France is reborn in this fantastic new manga edition!

Gorgeous and expressive art brigns to life the unforgettable stories of Jean Valjean, Inspector Javert, and the tragic Fantine in this epic adaptation of Les Misérables!

Review

I’m going to say the most important thing first. This is my favorite of the Manga Classics selections I’ve tried so far, I can’t imagine how it can be outmatched, and I recommend it to practically anyone.

So I have a Goodreads account and it shows that apparently I’ve read 1,000 volumes of manga. Have been thinking of starting a once weekly post about manga recommendations, titles I’ve read/am reading, all of that. After 17+ years of reading manga, I’m not often moved by a series these days.

I am beyond impressed by this adaptation of Les Miserables. The art flows by like a film, perfectly paced, clean, each panel resonating and encouraging immersion.

The art style is adorable when it needs to be adorable, the child version of Cosette is aww-worthy and incredibly cute. It can be serious when it needs to be serious, Jean Valjean is drawn in a way that is mature, poised, and fatherly. As is his more sinister-looking adversary, Javert. I really adored the art style for its clean lines and just aesthetically, it completely worked for me. It just looks polished and vetted for quality. But it’s definitely not a style for everyone. The cute aspects might be too cute, especially when it comes to the adult female characters. Subjectively speaking, I liked EVERYTHING to do with this art style. If I could draw, I would want to draw my characters like this. Hoping the artist will or has done other work with Manga Classics.

Now about the storyline and characterization. Lets start by stating that Les Miserables is a 1,400+ page behemoth of classical literature. Unfortunately, not all of the sub-stories were included in this adaptation. The end notes mention some of the sub-plots that were unfortunately missing. This manga volume is 337 pages. I wish it had been 600+ or split into multiple volumes but I can see how that could be an issue, not to mention counter to Manga Classics symmetrical record of keeping to one extra-large volume per classic retelling. That said, I would have totally been open to 600 or 800 pages of this. But what was already present- particularly the character development of the main character, Jean, was already enough to make me tear up at the emotional ending.

I went in blind. No prior interest in nor exposure to the story of Les Miserables. After reading this, I have a determination to read the classic novel someday. Now I know how worthwhile and suited to my interests the storyline is. I’ve mentioned something like this before in another review of another Manga Classics volume, but the broader value of an exercise like this (adapting classics to a manga format) is that within a 1.5 to 3 hour span (however your reading speed is) one can get a fulfilling experience of a classic that might otherwise be looked over due to length or the difficult prose within. This is what makes adaptations so special. I feel like I have a working knowledge and admiration of the plotting and characterization and am up for the challenge.

Overall Rating – 10/10

Why You Should Try It – Clean, cute, yet versatile art style. Perfectly paced and quick-flowing yet detailed panels, and a storyline that’s so good I’m kicking myself for not pursuing some adaptations of it earlier.

Why You Might Not Like It – The late 2000s-2010s-style cuteness/roundess of some characters (aka moe) might be off-putting. The relentless suffering in this story (it does translate as The Miserables after all) can be hard to stomach.

Manga Classics: Les Miserables

Are you interested in reading this adaptation or have already read it? Have you read Les Miserables or seen any adaptations of it before? I am curious about your thoughts. As always, your likes and comments are very appreciated.

Graphic Novel Review : Manga Classics Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Manga Classics: Macbeth

Series : Manga Classics by Udon Entertainment / Official Site
Illustrated by : Julien Choy
Adapted by : Crystal S. Chan
Year Published : 2018
Genre : Manga, Classics, Action, Drama
Edition : Digital (also available in Paperback, Hardcover, and Kindle eBook)
# of Pages : 329 pages

Summary

Welcome to the Manga Classics brilliant adaptation of Macbeth! In this classic tale by William Shakespeare, a brave Scottish general named Macbeth receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan and takes the Scottish throne for himself. He is then wracked with guilt and paranoia.

Review

So confession time, I know practically nothing about Shakespeare’s writing style or Macbeth. I’ve only read about the plots of some of his plays in passing.

Comparing to Manga Classics rendition of The Count of Monte Cristo to Macbeth, I think I prefer the former for its more easily comprehensible dialogue and, subjectively speaking, an art style that’s more to my preferences.

The art style employed in Macbeth is no slouch though, it’s very versatile with varying approaches to to the character designs. Some characters look tough and burly, others border on pretty and several linger in-between. They have an intensity to their poses and facial expressions that would be at home in any action-oriented shounen (for male, usually a young male demographic) manga publication. Some of the final scenes of the book boast some well-directed action.

I think that this volume, for all its efforts, is easily recommendable to people who either have a familiarity and/or affection for Macbeth, an interest in Shakespeare in general, and would like to see an ambitious attempt at marrying those concepts to a shounen-style manga while keeping the dialogue purely intact and not re-written, not updated or reimagined.

I usually prefer keeping things pure in that way. I can tell this is a fine effort, but I struggled more than I would have liked to in deciphering every line. This warrants a slower and more analytical approach to reading. I do intend on checking out several more works by Manga Classics after utterly loving The Count Of Monte Cristo though. I hope they continue making these adaptations, though I might be more keen on checking out ones that adapt literature from the 1800s – early 1900s. If your purpose is to get kids/pre-teens into classics, I think some of the other adaptations by Manga Classics are more suited to that end.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Udon Entertainment for providing me an e-ARC of this title for review.

Overall Rating – 7/10

Why You Should Try It – If you’re a fan of manga (particularly, shounen manga) AND Shakespeare. If you have a familiarity with Macbeth. If the art style speaks to you.

Critiques – The art style, while by no means bad, was less personally appealing than expected.

Manga Classics: Macbeth (Amazon Link)

Graphic Novel Review : Manga Classics Presents “The Count Of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas

Manga Classics: The Count of Monte Cristo

Series : Manga Classics by Udon Entertainment / Official Site
Illustrated by : Nokman Poon
Adapted by : Crystal S. Chan
Year Published : 2017
Genre : Manga, Classics, Adventure, Drama

Edition : Digital (also available in Paperback, Hardcover, and Kindle eBook)
# of Pages : 401 pages

Summary

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!

Review

**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)