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Baffled by wordy Shakespearen volumes?

books Updated: Aug 13, 2010 12:14 IST
Damini Purkayastha
Damini Purkayastha
Hindustan Times
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Manga Shakespeare – a series of graphic novels retell the Bard’s plays in a cool way. So if you are baffled by those wordy Shakespearen volumes, it’s time to get acquainted to its Japanese alternative.

If you’ve signed up for a 3-year BA Programme of English Honours, and not very sure how to deal with all those heavy Shakespearean plays, just pick up a book from the Manga Shakespeare series.

In the series, the Bard’s best plays are set in a futuristic uber-swanky Japan and retold in the anime-style of Japanese comics. “To be or not to be” asks Hamlet in 2017, woefully staring at a destructed Earth. Something is still rotten about the state of cyber Denmark.

Manga Shakespeare Othello,

who inhabits a fantastical Venetian carnival setting, is drawn dramatically. In

As You Like It

, the Arcadian bliss of Shakespeare’s world moves to China, and the comic scenes of love and misunderstanding are detailed in manner that make the Bard less intimidating.

Published by a Britain-based company called Self Made Hero, Manga Shakespeare became a rage in Britain in 2007, when the first title, Hamlet was released. The artwork of each novel is done by celebrated manga artists – Emma Viecelli and Sonia Leong.

Author Ian Rankin spoke about Manga Shakespeare in an interview. “If I have my way, comics will play their part in the literacy debate. My son has no interest in English at school, but has devoured three Manga Shakespeare graphic novels,” he said.

Akanksha Pandit, a 2nd year student of English Hons at Delhi University, says the graphic version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream helped her understand the tplot better. “The only problem is, now I visualise all the Shakespearean characters as Chinese.” The books are available at for Rs 295 each.