Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Manga Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, drawn by Sonia Leong

Everyone is familliar with the plays of the bard, but many kids have a hard time getting into them. This should no longer be a problem with Manga Shakespeare, which recasts Shakespeare's plays and places them in the modern age: visually, at least, since the words are kept the same.

Romeo and Juliet is cast as a feud between two Yakuza families, the Montagues and the Capulets. Romeo is now the frontman and singer for a band called the Montagues, while Juliet Capulet is a dutiful daughter and Shibuya girl. Prince Escalus is a detective with the local police force, and Japanese locations substitute for those in Italy (Nagoya for Mantua, for example).

While this book does have all of Shakespeare's poetry, I would recommend pairing it with the actual play for it to get the most impact. If the teenager you are buying it for doesn't quite get the Bard's idea, this is one way to show them.

The drawing is well done, and can be unintentionally funny, as when Juliet shows up at Friar Lawrence's temple on her scooter, which seems rather ridiculous when paired with the Bard's plays. I also had a bit of trouble with the concept of the Duke as a policeman. Better that he be someone further up in the Yakuza that both families owed allegiance to, because making him a cop didn't "fit" the play for me.

On the other hand, it's otherwise very well done, and your opinion may differ.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As one book geek to another...:-) have a look at ours, and let me know what you think. Feedback is always very welcome.
So far response from students has been extremely positive. It's great watching the lights finally go on, as they realise that Will's works are as powerful and as relevant to them as any modern fiction.