Adapted by Stacey King
Illustrations by Tszmei Lee
The classic Victor Hugo novel, a tale of persecution, tragedy and enduring love, has been given many different renditions and this Udon Manga Classic does the great literary novel justice. The artwork, in Manga style uniquely delivers the pain and fear the characters live under. The sharp lines and exaggerated eyes, belie an innocence that is true to the original story. That perhaps is what this edition of the story does so well. It stays true.
The young mother Fantine, who gives her daughter to a family to raise as she seeks employment. Only to lose her job and be forced into prostitution. The child Cosette, forced into servitude, beaten mercilessly by her adoptive mother as the woman and her husband spend the money Fantine sends them for her child; on themselves. Jean Valjean, the repentant escaped convict who strives to do good but is haunted at every turn by the mistakes he has made. Valjean’s quest, to find the child Cosette and protect her. Behind it all, the foreboding and self righteous policeman who hunts Valjean; Javert.
Valjean, in fear of his life and young Cosette’s, settles in obscurity in Paris. But the times themselves are full of dire works as a revolution is taking grip of the city. Cosette is also changing, her young girl’s passions ignited by a young anarchist called Marius. It is here, with the backdrop of blood on the streets of Paris that Valjean must face his hunter for the last time. It is here that the young lovers must find their lives. It is here in Paris that the story must find its end.
I have never read Les Miserables. I have not seen the musical or the older movies. I did try to watch the Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe adaptation but could only make it part way through before the horrid singing made me turn it off. So finding this Manga adaptation seemed a quick and easy way to introduce myself to the story. It was great. I was very impressed with how the Manga stayed true to the original story and how it did not try to give the tale its own spin. I’m sure its missing quite a bit but I will say that now I do want to really read the novel. Now I do want to see the musical even more than I did before. The Manga adaptation was well drawn and its black and white rendition only made it so much better. Only the covers are in color.
When I was younger I loved comics. In fact I still do. I was introduced to many of the classics through comics. Marvel ran a line of comic adaptation of the classic novels. The Count of Monte Cristo. Frankenstein. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. And so many more. Comic books are often the first books a young child reads on their own. In this manner, introducing classic literature to young minds is a wonderful use of the medium.
I look forward to finding other novels done up in this fashion. An excellent read.