Title: Romeo and Juliet
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
Adapted by Richard Appignanesi
Illustrated by Sonia Leong
Publisher: Self Made Hero
May Contain Spoilers
The age old romance of Romeo and Juliet, manga-style! Imagine rival yakuza families, with a backdrop of modern Tokyo. Young Romeo, pining for the love of Rosaline, crashes the Capulets’ bash. Instead of the fair Rosaline, Romeo falls instantly for the daughter of his enemy, Juliet, setting forth a series of events that ends in tragedy for the young lovers. You know the story!
Manga based on Shakespeare – and who said comics can’t be educational? This is an interesting concept, and it’s attractively presented. The interior contains full color pages featuring each character and a notable quote before shifting to b&w illustrations. The paper is a nice heavy stock, and the book is larger, 6″ x 8.5″, making TOKYOPOP and Viz titles seem dinky in comparison. Also included is a plot summary of the story, and a biography of Shakespeare. Overall, Self Made Hero has put together an attractive package.
Reading Shakespeare as a comic was a lot more fun than my memory of wading through the text in high school. The modern setting also gave it a new spin. Romeo on a crotch-rocket? Or party crashing wearing his gansta shades? Definitely more appealing than Shakespeare’s dreary time – how did they survive without cell phones? And no electricity? No, thank you!
The illustrations worked well with the story. The dueling scenes and chibi Romeos added some spice to the story. Romeo, a rather gloomy young lad, weeps mournfully and beats his chest in despair, giving any drama queen a run for her money. The beautiful, willful Juliet is always fashionably attired, but she needs to trade in her scooter for a real set of wheels.
Romeo and Juliet was nice change of pace. If these had been around when I was in school, I might have been compelled to read more of Shakespeare’s plays than those required to graduate!
Review copy provided by Self Made Hero.