REVIEW: ‘Manga Classics Frankenstein’

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Manga Classics Frankenstein

Manga Classics is a line of manga adaptations of “classic” literature intended for a young adult audience. These adaptations aim to engage young readers with literature in a way that makes it fun and even offers teaching resources per book. In fact, the teaching resources are complete lesson plans. While I’m not a particular fan of manga adaptations of Western works, Manga Classics has opened a door for me, and as a fan of horror, I’ve begun exploring their catalog, first with Dracula and now with Manga Classics Frankenstein. 

The first of the science fiction genre, Frankenstein was written in 1823 by Mary Shelley and has inspired not just takes on her work, but an entire genre. Manga Classics Frankenstein is adapted by M Chandler and features artwork from Linus Liu and published by Manga Classics. If you’re unfamiliar with this classic story, it features Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist obsessed with natural philosophy who succeeds in creating life from its basic elements. But he abandons the newborn monstrosity in terror when he cannot bear to look at it.  But, Victor is not the focus of this story, it’s his monster instead. The rejected creature vanishes and Victor attempts to forget what he has done. But the monster survives and learns. Deprived of everything, fated to forever be alone, it has nothing left but revenge.

As an adaptation, the story is straight forward and one we’re all familiar with without much deviation from Shelley’s original work, which ultimately makes it a good way to teach Shelley’s work through a different medium. That being said, while I’ve always found the writing of the monster to be infinitely more interesting than Victor, this intensified in a visual format. And that isn’t a bad thing. While Chandler’s writing is expected, it is well done, especially in terms of capturing the monster’s pain and Victor’s fear.

Manga Classics Frankenstein features interesting art. Liu captures a very Western quality in his artwork. It almost feels like a middle ground between traditional Western comics and manga that can be jarring in certain situations. That said, Liu’s design of Frankenstein’s monster is excellent. From the choice to give the monster black speech balloons and narration boxes, to the clear break from the rest of the art around him, Frankenstein’s monster is perfectly adapted.

While I can see the huge benefit of using Manga Classics Frankenstein as an accessible teaching tool for students, it’s hard to judge it by itself when Junji Ito’s manga adaptation of Frankenstein offers a more visceral take on the story and does so with enough deviation that makes it unique. That said, Manga Classics Frankenstein isn’t bad by any means. While the art takes a little bit to get used to, especially if you’re used to manga art styles, it’s a fun read. And if you’re a parent looking to imbue a sense of love for the “classics” this title is a good way to do it.

Manga Classics Frankenstein is available from booksellers now.


Manga Classics Frankenstein
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TL;DR

While I can see the huge benefit of using Manga Classics Frankenstein as an accessible teaching tool for students, it’s hard to judge it by itself when Junji Ito’s manga adaptation of Frankenstein offers a more visceral take on the story and does so with enough deviation that makes it unique. That said, Manga Classics Frankenstein isn’t bad by any means. While the art takes a little bit to get used to, especially if you’re used to manga art styles, it’s a fun read. And if you’re a parent looking to imbue a sense of love for the “classics” this title is a good way to do it.