The Manga Bible  

Posted by BlognThings in

If manga is "cinematic" (as so many theorists love to say), then what kind of cinema would it be? In the case of The Manga Bible, the inspiration seems to come from Hollywood's big-budget adaptations of epic books. After all, what book is more epic (or controversial) than this one? This picture-story Bible has its fair share of sharp, dynamic artwork, focusing on the action-adventure elements of the Good Book: bloody wars, stunning miracles, and larger-than-life kings and prophets. But like so many visual adaptations of literature, it falls short at the most important part: telling the story. This volume is little more than a clip show featuring the Bible's Greatest Hits, overlaid with so much text that it defeats the point of pictorial storytelling. Is this truly a manga Bible, or just a series of bullet-point summaries with illustrations?

The greatest challenge in adapting the Bible is that it is not really a single book: it is a collection of books, essays, poems and letters, arranged in rough chronological and thematic order. That alone makes it difficult to dramatize, and so we see The Manga Bible taking plenty of artistic license, especially with the Old Testament—events are re-arranged for better historic context (Moses narrates the entire book of Genesis, for example), other events are recounted as flashbacks, stand-alone stories are inserted as interludes, and less story-driven books are omitted entirely. (Proverbs? Ecclesiastes? The minor prophets? See you guys later.) The life of Jesus is easily the most focused part of this book—after all, the source material has four different versions of his story—but like everything else, it's edited and summarized to the point of having almost no depth.

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