Romeo and Juliet illustrated by Sonia Leong
Publication: July 1st 2008 by SelfMadeHero
Format: Paperback Pages: 196
Now presenting Manga Shakespearethe Bard’s greatest plays in an accessible, lively format for a new generation of readers
Romeo and Juliet is ideally suited for the manga formatit has teenage heroes, scheming and villainous adults, heartbreaking tragedy, and the ultimate romantic plot about star-cross’d lovers. Romeo, a Montague, and Juliet, a Capulet, fall deeply in loveand they refuse to let their parents’ age-old feud get in their way. When Romeo is banished from their town, a series of mistakes and misunderstandings, along with their families’ mutual hatred, finally manages to end their love. An exciting introduction to the Bard for reluctant readers and manga fans alike. – Goodreads
Everyone knows the story of Romeo and Juliet, right? It’s a tale of two star-crossed lovers caught up in an old family feud that prevents them from being together. Or, if you want a more true description, it’s a story about two silly teenagers who fall in love at first sight and then proceed to mess their lives up with help of some well-meaning but just as ridiculously delusional adults (I’m looking at you, Nurse and Friar Laurence). Also, stabbing, poison and awful parenting and stuff.
Regardless of my sour take on the storyline, Romeo and Juliet has become quite a treasure for many readers, and while it’s my least favourite play by Shakespeare, I can’t deny its iconic status as a classic. I have come across many Romeo and Juliet retellings, adaptations and what have you, but SelfMadeHero’s manga adaptation is the first of its kind (from what I’ve seen anyway!). I’ve had an eye on their Manga Shakespeare collection since I read The Motherless Oven, the first instalment from one of their original manga series, so I was pretty happy about getting my hands on Romeo and Juliet to see if the manga version would tickle my fancy.
Based on the cover art, I was expecting a modern twist and while the illustrations did deliver a taste of a modern Romeo and Juliet (featuring mobile phones and computers), the dialogue itself was as true to the play as a manga adaptation can get. It was a little odd to read at first but I grew to like it. I think readers looking to grow more comfortable with Shakespeare might appreciate this as you get to immerse yourself in the same dialogue but it’s broken up into more digestible chunks, and it’s spread over beautiful illustrations.
Although I didn’t grow to like the story any better in manga form, I did adore Sonia Leong’s illustrations and I’m now a huge fan. She did an excellent job at conveying scenes and emotions. I thought the choice to use the original dialogue with modern illustration was strange at first, I was expecting it to be too stark a contrast but Leong handled it so perfectly. In fact, I ended up loving the way she balanced the old and modern in the manga and if anything, it actually added a further comedic element to some scenes, which made it an uplifting reading experience.
Curious students won’t find the whole play word-for-word in this manga, but it does a brilliant job of summing up the play in as much detail as possible. I wouldn’t suggest reading the manga instead of the play for school exams, but if you find you learn better with illustrations involved, do give this manga a shot.