Friday, 8 January 2016

Manga Classics: Emma by Jane Austen, Po Tse, Crystle S Chan and Stacy King - Review

Book Cover: Manga Classics: Emma by Jane Austen, Po Tse, Crystle S Chan and Stacy King
I downloaded this Manga version of Jane Austen's 'Emma' with a sense of real curiosity – I love Jane Austen’s works and if I try to analyse why I like them one of the the things that jumps out most is her style and humour. To me, the most important things about an Austen story is not so much what happens but the enjoyment I get from how she describes it, so I was interested to see how well this enjoyment would translate to a graphic novel with far fewer words, particularly as (by the highly scientific method of glancing at my hard copies), ‘Emma’ is one of Austen’s longer novels.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. All the major plot points are there, though some of the finer nuances and changes in attitude which a reader would infer from the text in ‘Emma’ are here spelled out more clearly as there is less text to describe things.

I hadn’t read anything in the Manga style before. There is a useful user guide at the front of the book (what I would usually consider the front of a book) for people new to Manga to tell you how to read the book. I knew it went from back to front but it also tells you how to read across the page. I quickly got used to the reading direction and I enjoyed the drawing style of the illustrator. It gave the story a real sense of movement and energy that I enjoyed. I liked the appearance of some of the characters very much – Emma was particularly good, as was Harriet, who was adorably cute, just the type of girl who would catch Emma’s eye. For me, some of the gentleman were less successful – Robert Martin is almost like the Hulk, he’s so huge as to be monstrous! Mr Knightley was very stylised, and looked quite elfin, which didn’t strike me as quite right for his character.

As I said, I wondered how the book would fare with the loss of Austen’s ‘voice’ in this low-word format, and for me it loses some of its charm, though the Manga style has a charm of its own.  I think part of the target audience for this type of book would be people who’d read a graphic novel but not a novel. Personally I wouldn’t give this to somebody who was reading ‘Emma’ for the first time; I think they’d get all the plot but without the icing on the cake that Austen’s style provides. However, it’d be an interesting addition to an Austen-lover’s library. I enjoyed this book and I’d rate it as a 4 star read.

4 star read

*I received an e-book of this title via Netgalley for my honest review.

6 comments:

  1. Interesting. I'll share with my kids. They are manga people. I think.

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    1. I hope they enjoy it if they read it! There are a number of classics that have been given the graphic novel treatment. If I ever get time I'd be keen to see how well other stories translated.

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  2. I had a good time with this one, too. Reading back to front and along the page in reverse pulled my brain muscle a little, but worth it for something a little different. Glad you enjoyed it, Ceri!

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    1. Yes, at first it was a bit odd, but the guidance in the book really helped. I got used to it more quickly than I'd have thought.

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  3. My son-in-law gave me a Manga P&P when I visited them near Tacoma last August. I did post a review. I was happy to learn of that style as it was all new to me but, as you said, I would not want that to be anyone's first experience with any of Jane Austen's books.

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    1. I just don't think you'd get the full Austen hit with anything but original Austen. If I had read this book as my first experience of Austen I am not sure I'd have been incentivised to read her original works, I don't think I would have seen the attraction in them. Luckily, my first experience was directly reading her works so I could experience all the humour, the shrewd observations and so on first hand.

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