Book Review: Manga Shakespeare

Manga Shakespeare is now available at all Paperight outlets! Intrigued by these comic book version of the Bard’s plays? So were we. Paperight’s Marketing Coordinator Marie-Louise Rouget takes a look at them here.

(You can find all Manga Shakespeare books on Paperight by clicking here.)

The works of William Shakespeare may widely be regarded as masterpieces, but this does not help those who find his stories far-fetched or out of date, or find his language difficult to comprehend. In private homes, schools and universities across the globe, the same complaint has been leveled against Shakespeare consistently: “Why do we have to read them in this outdated jargon when we can read an updated summary?” Instead of just giving in and reading a synopsis, these Manga Shakespeare titles are the best alternative.

The SelfMadeHero series, Manga Shakspeare, offers an enjoyable way into Shakespeare for modern readers. The series features abridged versions of five of his classic plays, illustrated in a vibrant, informal style that should open up his works to a whole new audience.

For those who are not familiar with Manga, the term can be translated from Japanese as ‘whimsical drawings or ‘impromptu sketches’. This style of drawing has a lengthy history dating back to the late 19th century and is enjoyed across all age groups in many countries. The narratives cover a host of themes ranging across action-adventure, romance, historical, mystery, comedy, drama, science-fiction and more. The images are known for their exquisite artistic execution, as well as their generous emotional expressions. The images read as easily as films in terms of emotional engagement and sheer action packed narrative, despite the seeming limitations of their drawn medium.

The Manga Shakespeare series uses this tradition with great success. The stories may be abridged, but still make use of original Shakespearean dialogue. The brevity of the Shakespearean language, coupled with the expressive imagery encourages the reader to battle through and yet does not leave them with a watered down version of the original. It is true to Shakespeare, but a wee bit more exciting than just reading the play. Similarly, for those who are studying the text, the brief dialogue highlights only the most important facts, plot movers and memorable one-liners that can be quoted during tests and essays. Then, for those who still don’t quite feel like they’ve grasped the complexity of the plot, each book contains a one page summary of the play at hand. Read it before or read it after; either way, all confusion will be banished. These titles even conclude a one page history of Shakespeare himself to put the play into context.

In the spirit of Dragon Ball Z and, more recently, Naruto, there is something to be said for the sustained engagement that Manga comics offer the audience and the enthusiasm that younger readers show for this medium. If kids have to read Shakespeare, why not let them read about a modern Athens with technology thrown in as in Midsummer Night’s Dream or about ninja star throwing assassins and post-nuclear fallout, tattoo-covered warlords in Macbeth? Shakespeare plays should constantly be reinvented as the themes discussed are timeless and these Manga offerings are a welcome addition to the vast collection of reimaginings of his stories that already abound. They are highly recommended to newbies and seasoned Shakespeare readers alike.

Get your hands on Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Hamlet, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at your nearest Paperight outlet today. Find your nearest outlet at

Find all Manga Shakespeare titles here: