Friday, May 11, 2007

The Bard Does Manga

By Cernig

Two British companies have begun producing Shakespeare graphic novels, one in the manga style complete with bright eyes and samurai swords, in an attempt to make the bard appeal to kids.
Romeo and Juliet, the blurb explains, is set in modern-day Japan. Can the youngsters' forbidden love survive "as violence, betrayal and tragedy explode on the streets of Tokyo?" The text is Shakespeare's, but abridged.

The Prince of Denmark now inhabits the "cyberworld" of 2017, when global climate change has devastated the planet. Hamlet's famous soliloquy begins in familiar fashion, "To be or not to be ... that is the question", but then jumps to "To die, to sleep, to sleep, perchance to dream..." - completely dropping the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and the sea of troubles.
The publishers have said purists have complained, but for my money anything that gets kids reading and has such an obvious step-up to the full work has to be a good thing.

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