From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—In these additions to the series, characters are introduced with full-color illustrations accompanied by a play quotation revealing the essence of each cast member. Both adaptations use excerpts from Shakespeare's words paired with black-and-white art to dramatize the action. Although the books are categorized as manga, pages are read from front to back, left to right. Caesar
is set in a contemporary world filled with cell phones and motorcycles. The artist's imagery, such as the serpent in Brutus's home and the puppets in Cassius's hands, adds depth and layers of meaning to the text. Stage directions, noted in boxes at the top of panels, help readers to follow the story. While the style of artwork appears "busy" for manga, the artist's rendition of faces accurately captures each character's feelings in this emotionally charged adaptation. Macbeth
is set in a postapocalyptic world, with crumbling cities, alien beings who serve as "witches," and men with Charles Atlas-like bodies. Bold, dynamic male figures reinforce the notion of mutations in both body and emotion. The setting introduces some anachronisms. Sophisticated communication devices seem at odds with armor-clad riders carrying swords and traveling on horseback. Although segments of well-known speeches are included, the abridgment seems choppy. Numerous, briefly introduced characters and abrupt scene changes make it difficult to follow the story line. However, readers familiar with the play may appreciate this futuristic adaptation.—Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
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*Starred Review* Abrams’ generally high-quality Manga Shakespeare line reaches its pinnacle thus far with Julius Caesar, the bard’s tragedy of conspiracy, warfare, and bloody revenge. Abridged text is spread out to render it less intimidating, and the most dramatic scenes are given plenty of room to breathe. Rome itself is portrayed as a YA-friendly mixture of classical architecture and modern weapons of war, the citizens dressed in Flash Gordon fashion and Judge Dredd headgear. What truly shines in this work, though, is the superlative visualization by newcomer Mustashrik. Working in stark white and inky black, he has created a spare but intense landscape that mirrors the emotions of the characters, and combines a sense of dreamlike isolation with a minimal backdrop that suggests a stage on which the drama is normally enacted. Using shadow, he has managed to make the assassination simultaneously graphic yet subtle, and by alternating tight focus and long shots, and using a thick brush to exemplify expressions, he has fittingly crafted a visual tour de force of Mark Antony’s speech. Especially for the more artistically minded, this is a raw, striking, and powerful introduction to Shakespeare. Grades 8-12. --Jesse Karp