Having just finished reading the Marvel Illustrated version of Emma, I figured why not try the Manga Classics version! I received a copy from Udon Entertainment in return for my honest opinion with no compensation. And let me tell you, I am very glad I requested it!
The closest thing I’ve ever come to reading manga is watching Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z in high school and I never thought I would actually read one. I’m glad however, that I happened to listen to this Good Job, Brain! podcast the week before I read this! I felt so knowledgeable going in. This won’t be a side-by-side comparison of the two graphic adaptations of Jane Austen’s Emma, but I’m sure I will refer to the major differences between the two. But first, let’s start with how to read manga.
I knew going in that you read back-to-front and right-to-left, but the editors at Udon entertainment were very savvy and gave a quick how-to guide at the actual front of the book (not the manga front). This was great because you might know back-to-front, but not right to left! It was a two page spread and was really nice to see. There was one layout problem in that one of the first traditional pages said to go to the back of the book, but then when I finished reading I couldn’t figure out how to read the about the author, editor and illustrator pages.I wasn’t sure which to read first or where to flip as I’d spent the entire book flipping “backwards.” I almost wish it would’ve had instructions for that too! (This may have just been a problem as it was on my iPad and not a physical book.
Now for what I REALLY enjoyed about this adaptation:
Obviously not the boobage, but the super dramatic over-the-top emotions and spotlights. I mean they were so ridiculously over the top you couldn’t help but appreciate the amount of emotions Austen put into the original. King, Chan and Po Tse (is it one name like Madonna, a first and last name or what?) put into this adaptation. I read most of the about sections and I actually appreciated that they put more emphasis on the subtle story you’re not supposed to know until you’ve read the book the first time. It made the story that much better, to me at least.
Where this version pulls ahead of the Marvel Illustrated Emma is in the amount of the story they get into the adaptation. The Manga Classics version doesn’t stay as true to the dialogue, but it fits so many more of the minor details of the original into the story. These aren’t details that are vital to the story, but that add flavor to the various characters’ personalities (like Mrs. Weston’s pregnancy or Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley’s other children).
Aesthetically, I preferred the Marvel Illustrated version. I think this is because it is full color (see the podcast about why manga isn’t in color traditionally), but also because I find the rounder faces to be more attractive on the male characters. That being said, the manga version read a lot faster and I felt flowed a lot better even with chapter breaks and change of scenery.
I think all of these graphic adaptations are excellent additions to the classics. I don’t think someone should read one in place of a classic, but I think they are an excellent tool to introduce people to the classics. I have no doubt some people will read any number of the graphic adaptations and want to know the full stories and thus go on to read the original work, so kudos!
Recommendation: Definitely check it out! It was a fun and very quick read. I can’t wait to get my hands on the Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice. I hope they adapt all of the novels because I’d love to see their take on Mansfield Park and Persuasion, neither of which Marvel Illustrated adapted 😦
Opening Line: “Poor Miss Taylor! For 16 years she was your governess…”
Closing Line: “Nothing could be better!” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)