Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice

Let’s be clear about this right from the beginning – I love a good Jane Austen adaptation. I love the movies, the BBC productions, the audiobooks. I love the modern spin-offs like Bridget Jones’ Diary and The Jane Austen Book Club. I’ve read plenty of the Austen continuations (my personal favorite is Darcy’s Story by Janet Almer). I gobble it all up, but it never occurred to me that someone would take one of Austen’s stories and turn it into a graphic novel.

PPmanga cover

UDON Entertainment Production is evidently planning to release a whole line of Manga Classics. The first two books of the collection, both published on August 19, are Les Miserables and Pride and Prejudice. What a fabulous idea. Evidently, this isn’t even the first P&P adaptation of its kind. I poked around Amazon and found that Marvel Comics (you read that correctly) has a version of P&P as well. Mind blown. The only graphic novels I have ever read are Maus and Hyperbole and a Half, and my experience with manga is limited to a brief (though surprisingly intense) obsession with Sailor Moon as a child. But when I saw this title on NetGalley, I knew I had to try it.

The text was adapted by Stacy King, and the artist is Po Tse. According to UDON, these Manga Classics are intended for young adult readers, “with strong and accurate adaptations that will please even the toughest teacher or librarian!” As I was reading this one, it reminded me of the Great Illustrated Classics I read as a kid and loved so much. They really opened the door for me as a reader, and I think that these adaptations will do the same thing for kids who love comic books.

I have to start off my thoughts on the experience of reading this by saying that the artwork is absolutely beautiful. I have no idea how long it took to illustrate this, but the amount of detail included on each page is astounding. Take a look at this drawing of Elizabeth and Jane:

PPmanga elizabeth jane

I could have spent hours looking at the illustrations, just soaking up each facial expression and clothing detail. Really, really beautiful.

Beyond the gorgeous artwork, Austen’s story that we know and love is still what keeps you turning the pages. The good stuff is all there – Mrs. Bennet is as irritating as a swarm of gnats, Mr. Collins is ridiculous, Lady Catherine is imperious, and Wickham is dangerously charming. Since this adaptation is geared toward a younger audience, King occasionally took some liberties with the story. These instances were rare though, and I understood how simplifying certain plot points or making the occasional small change could make the adaptation easier to follow.

Every once in a while, King will make a shift in the language that feels abrupt. The occasional exclamation of “No way!” doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the dialogue that King has obviously tried to keep as close to the original as possible.  But even these moments are not enough to distract you from plowing ahead.  I found myself itching to flip ahead a few pages to see how some of my favorite moments in the story would be illustrated.  For example, here is Sir William Lucas pairing up Lizzy and Darcy for a dance:

PPmanga darcy2

As a manga newbie, I appreciated the guide at the beginning of the book that explained to me how I should start at the back of the book and read the pages right to left. It wasn’t that hard to adjust to, and after the first few pages, I didn’t find it at all distracting. I think this is a great new medium for appreciating an old favorite story.

What do you think?  Would you be willing to give this a try?  What are your favorite Austen adaptations?

Top Five Friday: Movie Adaptations

I found out a few weeks ago that a movie adaptation of The Giver is coming out in August. I remember really liking The Giver when we read it in school, and I’m excited to see the movie. Since it’s been so long, unless I reread it before I see the movie, I probably won’t have any kind of opinion on how good the adaptation is. This got me thinking about my favorite movies that are based on books (of which there are dozens, but this is Top Five Friday, not Everything I Ever Loved Friday).

much ado 1. Much Ado about Nothing: This is such a great play, and Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branaugh are absolutely amazing as Beatrice and Benedick. If you can overlook a very weird performance by Keanu Reeves as Don John, the whole cast is great. My favorite monologue of any Shakespeare play is Benedick’s speech when he finds out Beatrice is in love with him. If you’ve never seen it, you can watch the scene on YouTube.
 mice and men  2. Of Mice and Men: I saw this movie for the first time in sixth grade, and I remember sobbing loudly through the last twenty minutes while my classmates all gave me weird looks and wondered what was wrong with me. John Malkovich is the PERFECT Lenny. It’s his voice I hear in my head now as I reread the book. I just want to give him a big hug. When my students watched this movie, it was always funny for me to sit back and wait for them to realize that George was Gary Sinise. I think the longest I ever waited for someone to ask, “Hey, is that Lieutenant Dan?” was about 10 minutes.
 order  3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: I’m a huge fan of the HP books, but this book really rubbed me the wrong way. I thought emo, teenage angst Harry was incredibly annoying. So I was surprised by how much enjoyed the movie, and then I realized that most of Harry’s “nobody understands what I’m going through” nonsense came from internal monologues in the books – unless the director wanted to punish us with a lot of voice-overs and sad violin music, that all had to go in the movie. Harry still had some anger issues, but I had much more patience with them when I wasn’t reading about them constantly. Also, the scene where Harry & Co. basically destroy an entire floor of the Ministry of Magic was pretty awesome, even if I didn’t remember them wreaking quite as much havoc in the book.
 pride  4. Pride and Prejudice: I’m sure Jane Austen purists everywhere would be grabbing their torch and pitchforks to see this one on the list, but I adore it. I feel like you get a much clearer picture of how far apart Lizzy and Darcy really are on the class scale from this version. The Bennet house, the Bennet girls’ dresses and the ball at the ball at Meryton look a little shabby and really country when you compare them to Pemberley, Caroline Bingley’s gowns, and the ball at Netherfield. I don’t think you get that distinction with the BBC adaptation. This movie is beautiful to look at, it has a great cast, and I think it’s true to the spirit of the book.
 julie  5. Julie and Julia: Even though the movie has the same title as the book by Julie Powell, the movie is actually based on the book Julia and Julia and Julia Child’s memoir My Life in France. Amy Adams (who I love) manages to bring some likability to Julie’s character, and Meryl Streep is at her most adorable as Julia Child. Watching this movie makes me HUNGRY. There is food in almost every scene. It also makes me want to try some recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

 

Happy Friday!