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The Bible: A Japanese Manga Rendition

The Bible: A Japanese Manga Rendition
Created by Variety Art Works
One Peace Books, 576 pp
Rating: Not Rated

The latest release from One Peace Books is a massive manga adaption of The Bible. Yes, that Bible. It contains adaptions of key stories from both the Old and New Testaments with a streamlined, all ages friendly feel to it.

As mentioned above this feels like a very streamlined and trimmed down version of the Bible that most people are at least passingly familiar with. It starts with Genesis and covers many of the major and more well known biblical stories right on through to The Passion. That said, it’s not exactly uncut. There are a few stories missing and the snipping and tweaking of the Old Testament reinforces the idea of it as a family history. It essentially focuses on and follows a succession of kings from the blood line of Adam and Eve. While many of the more well known stories from the Old Testament are intact, such as Noah, Moses and Exodus, Solomon, David and more, I couldn’t help but notice some of the missing tales. Things like Samson and Delilah, Jonah and the Whale are no where to be found and what’s left has been edited and tweaked to give it a family friendly feel. For example, yes there’s the bit about Sodom and Gomorra but this adaption glosses over the details of those cities and what happens afterwards with Lot and his daughters. The editing and missing pieces continues into the New Testament portion of the book where they gloss over The Passion, omitting the details of Jesus’ punishment and skipping over the Stations of the Cross. The Doubting Thomas incident is also missing and the book only pays lip service to books and events that took place after the crucifixion. There’s also the omission to the one piece of the Bible I was most looking forward to seeing a manga rendition of, namely Revelation.

Visually the book is average but solid work. Despite some of the hugely memorable moments there are few stand out and eye catching moments. Moses parting the Red Sea is probably the visual highlight of the book, but other events that would seem to lend themselves to a visual spectacle aren’t really given time to convey their import and impact. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorra, David’s battle with Goliath, the siege of Jericho and even The Passion and crucifixion lack the visual oomph you’d expect them to carry. Some of this might be due to the writing, there’s a lot of stuff to get into this single volume even at nearly 600 pages, so everything’s fairly compressed and it lacks some of the visual emotional beats and visual cues often associated with manga, such as lingering establishing shots to enhance the mood and so forth. In fairness if they took the time to include those it’d probably be a multivolume set of thousands of pages, so hey. The character designs are nothing amazing or special but most of the characters are different enough to be able to tell them apart. That said there’s something odd going on with the eyes in this book. The looks of happiness and rapture in several places come off as the opposite, and some of the panicked or fearful looks are so over the top that they’re almost laughable.

It’s hard to critique this given that it’s, well, The Bible and as such wasn’t exactly written with plot and character development in mind. It was intended to convey ideas, morals, oral history and more and this adaption does an ok job at getting some of those things across. It just fails to deliver in the some of the more emotional and moving moments. I don’t think this will be replacing the tried and true prose editions the Bible but I can see where it might make a nice, all ages, accessible version to supplement and perhaps even help encourage interest in Christianity in younger people already inclined in that direction.

The Bible: A Japanese Manga Rendition is available now from One Peace Books. Review copy provided by the publisher.

  1. May 22, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    My biggest impression of the book (I went on at length in Otaku USA) was that they seemed to have switched artists between the Old and New Testaments, with the New Testament, frankly, looking much worse than the Old one.

    • May 22, 2012 at 10:38 pm

      Yeah, I thought there was a change in art between the two. The New Testament had a few more over the top facial expressions too. A few guys looked like their eyes were going to pop out of the head.

  1. May 22, 2012 at 8:23 pm
  2. May 25, 2012 at 8:01 am

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