5 Reasons Why Manga is the Perfect Medium for Presenting Classic Literature

Today’s guest post is written by Amy Covel, a Baptist PK and a published author who writes about old fashioned ideals with a modern style. Her inspirational pieces can be read in Area of Effect: Wisdom from Geek Culture, and her poetry, published in The Penmen Review and The Titan Promethean, remind readers to embrace their feelings. She currently works as the lead writing specialist at a college where she guides student writing and sponsors the Phoenix Creative Writing Club. She has a BA in Human Communication, a Certificate in Public and Professional Writing, and is working on her Masters in English and Creative Writing. Amy’s favorite verse—Isaiah 26:3—reminds her that perfect peace is attainable.

At only eleven years old, I may have been too young to grasp the political complexity of the French Revolution in A Tale of Two Cities, but I’ll never forget when lawyer Sydney Carton trades places with his former defendant and lookalike so that the object of his unrequited love will not lose her husband to the guillotine. Classics like these strongly influenced my childhood through their morals and narratives, inspiring my current poetry and novels-in-the-making. When I started reading manga as an adult, I discovered that they contained many of the same elements as the classics I grew up with. A few years later, I discovered Manga Classics, a brilliant crossover series that accurately reproduces classic literature in manga form. Here are five reasons why I believe manga is the perfect medium for conveying classic literature to the modern world.

1. Manga is unafraid of presenting controversial topics for historical accuracy.

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn follows the story of degenerate Huck who fakes his death to escape his alcoholic father and joins forces with a runaway slave named Jim. Along with the story’s inclusion of slavery, the text includes racial slurs and stereotypes, and the manga version of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn doesn’t censor these elements. Why? To preserve history and Twain’s intent, which was to criticize the stereotypes of his day.

Manga has proven that it is not afraid to include uncomfortable historical events to maintain accuracy. The manga Rurouni Kenshin follows a samurai during the Meji era who faces prejudice from a world where samurai are no longer wanted, left jobless, and struggle to find new meaning for themselves amidst society’s rejection of their old way of life.

2. Manga is an expert at hair-raising horror.edgar allen poe manga

Few stories are more disturbing than Edgar Allen Poe’s. While most readers may remember The Raven, I remember the horror of the bladed pendulum slowly descending to slice its captive, or the heart that betrays its killer by continuing to beat beneath the floor boards. Combine these horrors with manga’s black and white pages, deathly silence, and the brain’s untamed imagination, and a monster is created that would do Dr. Frankenstein proud!

Although intense in motion, the Attack on Titan anime does not match the terrifying panels of its original manga. Consider this: Which is scarier, a black-and-white movie or a colorized one? 

3. Manga brings quirky characters to life.

Classics established many of the tropes that stories follow today, and while manga isn’t free of tropes, it does have a way of making characters appear animated and transparent on the page. Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations is filled cover to cover with quirky characters, from the vengeful Miss Havisham to the tsundere-like Estella, who add an unforgettable flair to the story.

Fruits Basket contains some of my favorite examples of quirky characters in manga. Each character has a unique design, a charming personality, and unforgettable and meme-worthy scenes and dialogue. Just like Dicken’s characters, they make the story more enjoyable and memorable for the reader, and the manga format visually exaggerates each hidden layer of the character for an unforgettable impact.

4. Manga has colorful romances.

Many of the classics follow romantic plotlines, and Emma is no exception. Due to Emma’s Cupid-like behavior, her story is full of lovey-dovey scenes, which are perfectly translated to manga form with elaborate and dreamy backgrounds that are more metaphorical than literal.

The manga Your Lie in April presents the idea of the world being colorful when one is in love. And Emma as a manga, though black and white, feels like it is bursting with color as a result of her vibrant personality, mischievous whims, and her own eventual happily ever after.

5. Manga celebrates the mundane.

Some say classics are boring due to their slower plotlines and wordiness. Oftentimes, classics involve realistic struggles of single women or men trying to find their way in the world. In Jungle Book, although Mogli’s life is not in the least bit uneventful, it still celebrates the simple things (or bare necessities) of life.

Bunny Drop echoes these mundane sentiments beautifully. Somehow a story about a thirty-year-old man and a little girl trying to survive life together is enthralling, probably because it speaks to all of us about family and what it means to live fully day-to-day in a not-always-so-fantastical reality.

The above-reference manga—The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Stories of Edgar Allen Poe, Great Expectations, Emma, and The Jungle Book—are all available for purchase on Amazon, as are some of Amy’s works in Area of Effect: Wisdom from Geek Culture.









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