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.
Breathe Deeply by Yamaaki Doton is the latest release from One Peace Books, a relative newcomer to the US manga market. On it’s surface Breathe Deeply is the story of a love triangle between Sei, Oishi and Yuko, a sickly girl who’s the object of their mutual affection. However, as the story progresses it becomes apparent that rivalry and conflicts between Sei and Oishi aren’t limited to those over Yuko’s love, but include the different schools of thought with regards to medical ethics and research that they come to represent.
Yamaaki Doton crafts a fantastic story, hooking readers with the romantic rivalry and the tragedy that Sei and Oishi share through their mutual love of Yuko, and uses it to frame a lengthy and compelling look at a myriad of ethical questions that modern medicine must deal with. This ranges from organ transplant, stem cell research to issues regarding the quality of life, brain death and more. For the most part it handles these issues rather well, though on occasion it does seem to cross the line into anti-organ transplant propaganda. This is heavily due to the sketchiness of several of the doctors involved with the procedure throughout the story. While most of the book is a complex and thoughtful read, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the one of the doctors who’s a proponent of organ transplants often comes off as ghoulish and villainous. This would seem to go beyond the idea of a cultural fear or uneasiness over the issues and into the realm of manga villainy as it features a sequence where the aforementioned doctor engages in the kidnapping and drugging of another doctor after a brain dead patient goes missing. Thankfully this seems to be something that’s limited to certain members of the supporting cast and Oishi and Sei are depicted as wonderfully complex and multidimensional characters who approach the same problem from vastly different points of view.
The artwork is gorgeous and really a treat to behold. I understand that Yamaaki Doton is the pen name for a husband and wife duo, so I’m not sure who contributes what to the artwork, but it really is a beautifully drawn book. The characters all look different, not just in clothing or in hair style, but physically their facial features, body types and even body language varies greatly. The backgrounds are detailed and help ground the story, giving it a nice solid feel and adding detail to certain characters backgrounds and personalities.
So far Breathe Deeply is the only release I’ve read from One Peace Books and I have to say that if their other manga releases match this one in terms of quality then that’s something I need to rectify. Breathe Deeply is a compelling read which touches upon political and ethical issues that are relevant in much of the developed world. And if the social issues it raises and deals with aren’t your cup of tea, you still have a very engaging, entertaining and gripping read.
Breathe Deeply is available now from One Peace Books. Review copy provided by the publisher.