Manga Classics: Macbeth – written by William Shakespeare, adapted by Crystal S. Chan, art by Julien Choy


  Manga Classics: Macbeth – written by William Shakespeare, adapted by Crystal S. Chan, art by Julien Choy, Manga Classics Inc, 9781947808089, 2018

Format: Paperback

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre:  Drama/Play (Manga/Graphic novel format)

What did you like about the book?  William Shakespeare’s Macbeth first graced the stage in the 17th century and has since been performed and adapted in many different ways.  This manga edition tackles the many symbols, themes, and relationships in this complex work in black and white illustrations alongside the full, original text of the play.

Choy’s illustrations offer an imaginative interpretation that creates a story beyond what could happen on a stage.  With just shades of light and dark, readers are given a sense of a character’s motive while keeping the overall ominous tone with depicted symbolism (serpents, crows, etc.).  Scenes that would be verbally described on stage in a monologue, such as a battle, are depicted behind the speaking figures to give readers a stronger feel for what occurs.

The book also offers a note from the author about working on this adaptation, allowing readers to understand the use of Shakespearean language and manga art work to tell the full story and appreciate the small different effects shading, a background choice, or even a character’s posture can have on the tone of a scene.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  The choice to keep the text intact will please many English teachers and allow this title to be a useful tool in interpreting and enjoying the original work.  However, the intended teen and young adult audience may not have the background knowledge or tools to easily interpret some of the history behind Macbeth and the time during which it was written.  Many of Shakespeare’s plays, even when printed for adults, will come with footnotes to explain certain portions of the story to allow a smoother understanding; one example is defining the position of a “thane.”  Other than this, the illustrations strongly support the original work.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This would be a great read for both manga and Shakespeare fans.

Who should buy this book? Teen library collections where the Macbeth is popular or required reading

Where would you shelve it ? Young Adult Manga/Graphic Novels

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? You can pass on most of the Manga Classics unless you have a desire to revisit an old favorite.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Melissa McCleary, Pembroke Public Library, Pembroke, MA

Date oreviewNovember 6, 2018

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