Manga Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet
By William Shakespeare
Illustrators Kate Brown (AMND) and Sonia Leong (R&J)
Read for the 24 Hour Read-A-Thon and Midsummer Night’s Dream is for the Once Upon a Time III Challenge
Manga Shakespeare is a new series of graphic novel adaptations of William Shakespeare’s plays from British publisher SelfMadeHero. They marry Shakespeare’s classic text with manga style visuals, creating a radical new way to read and appreciate Shakespeare. This series brings new life to the plays for students, Shakespeare fans and manga lovers.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
A Midsummer Night’s Dream has long been my favorite play by Shakespeare. I was SO LUCKY to have an awesome professor when I took Shakespeare in college who made me fall in love with it. Midsummer is one of Shakespeare’s funniest, most twisted, and enduring stories. Bored, meddling fairies create havoc in the lives of four teenagers. See if you can keep up; Hermia is in love with Lysander. Demetrius is in love with Hermia. Helena is in love with Demetrius. In the time it takes for the sun to set and rise again, they will become bewitched by the mischievous Puck, a fairy with a very powerful love potion and chaos ensues. Now, all the men are in love with Helena, Hermia is furious, and the fairy queen herself, Titania, is in love with…a man with a donkey’s head!
Romeo & Juliet
Everyone knows this story. Boy meets girl. Boy falls head over ridiculous heels in love with girl. Boy can’t have girl. Boy can’t live without girl. Yada yada yada. Romeo and Juliet is, honestly, not high on my list of favorite plays by Shakespeare. I’ve always found it to be one of the weaker plays and it may very well be because I can’t stand Romeo or Juliet. In this context, the graphic novel format only helps marginally because the intent is still there and Romeo is still an ass.
Within the new context of manga and the artistic skills of Kate Brown and Sonia Leong, Shakespeare’s irreverent play takes on new life and becomes something vibrant and awesome. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who has ever had trouble reading and understanding Shakespeare. The words are all there, the intent is all there, but the pictures help breathe new life into the story and teenagers, especially, will appreciate the graphic novel format. I highly recommend to Shakespeare fans, teenagers who HAVE TO READ IT, and anyone who enjoys graphic novels/manga.