Due to the new Macbeth film with Michael Fassbender being made anyone a bit skeptical might enjoy this. The first time I sat up and took notice of William Shakespeare was at 14 in English class. From the first two lines of the epic Sonnet 18, “Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate…”, I was instantly enamoured. At 17, I discovered my all time favourite Shakespearean piece Macbeth. One of the many excerpts which had an impact on me was “Stars, hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires.” The sheer lyrical brilliance of this play captivated me all over again.
Ten years after my initial enlightened glimpse, I came across the stunning combination of Shakespeare’s Macbeth: The Manga Edition. As a HUGE Manga fan, I understandably proceeded to hyperventilate. Over four hundred years after the death of this genius, Shakespeare’s works are still the most influential, timeless and adaptable plays ever written, past and present. An awesome example of this is Thomas Edison producing one of the first “talkies” using a scene from As You Like It. Manga, which is Japanese for “whimsical pictures“, is another perfect media for the works of Shakespeare. As a storyteller, his comedies, tragedies, romances and histories are almost without parallel so the result of the transition into Manga is amazingly visual and beautiful to read/see. A graphic novel depicts the atmosphere, expressions and overall mood that some mediums just can’t portray. Fantastical yet so believable in their beauty, the pencil, ink and shading add layers of ambience that are oftentimes overlooked in productions of this brutal yet beautiful play. When reading a comic/graphic novel, the reader has the indulgence of lingering over speeches, rereading them in part (the long and intricate soliloquies) or altogether. Another excellent attribute of this superior piece of work, is the fact there is no paraphrasing and the action is not compromised at all. Its basically Shakespeare for people who love comics/graphic novels, everything you read was written by the legend himself. As a woman, it is refreshing to read Manga and Shakespeare as both cater equally to “Romantics” and “Adrenaline Junkies”. Although the cast contains only a handful of female characters, they are vital in this tale of savage greed and despairing regret set in Medieval Scotland. Lady Macbeth is one of the most recognised female characters in history, not to mention literature. The “Out, Damned Spot” Scene (Act V) has transcended beyond the play and her name instantly conjures an image of biblical Eve, at least to this humbled reader. The viragoes (in the archaic sense) are extremely powerful characters as they drive the action from the opening lines, “When shall we meet again? In thunder, lightening, or in rain?…When the hurly-burly’s done, when the battle’s lost and won.” The male equivalents are equally as powerful apart from the title character. Macbeth is a tragic tyrant who could have avoided his inevitable and tragic conclusion if not for his humongous ego and delusion. The first impression we get is one of awe invoking bravery and a man who is a chivalrous, animalistic hero. Unfortunately, we are wrong. The dagger sequence, “Is this a dagger which I see before my hand?” (Act I), is another infamous quotation recognised around the world. Macduff/Banquo can be compared to modern-day Sam Worthington/Christian Bale and King Duncan is the man I want to run this country (maybe not so trusting or naive). I was especially curious/excited to see how the apparition and banquet scenes (both Act III) would look Mangafied [sic] and you will not be disappointed! In distinctive Manga style, this tragedy offers a plethora of fantastical and vehemently violent scenes. While maintaining a fluidity and brilliance synonymous with the name Shakespeare. I personally wish life was animated so to see my favourite written piece brought to visual life by my favourite type of animation was a genuine delight.