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Manga Mutiny Vol. #01 Manga Review

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Manga Mutiny
Manga Mutiny

The ancient books of the Bible in manga form!

Creative Staff
Story: Ryo Azumi
Art: Ryo Azumi
Translation/Adaptation: Joshua Ginter

What They Say
Manga Mutiny is a Biblically-accurate retelling of Genesis through Exodus 15:27 presented in the authentic Japanese Manga style. This book, third in the Tyndale Manga line, combines cutting-edge illustration with fast-paced storytelling to deliver Biblical truths in a compelling package to an ever changing, post-modern culture. More than 100,000 books sold in series!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In the J-drama Dragon Zakura, the protagonist uses unconventional methods to help the school’s worst students get into prestigious Tokyo University. And his approach for the history portion? Historical manga! And why not? As exciting as a past event might be, if it’s presented as a lengthy wall of text, some may get intimidated and give up reading even before they start. The beauty of manga is that it can offer access to that same information in a way that’s entertaining and more likely to stick with the reader. I have a feeling that’s why NEXT put out its five volume series. The Bible is an amazing piece of literature, packed with truly epic moments, but it’s up there when it comes to dense text. By using the manga format, NEXT uses art and dialogue to bring these stories to life.

To those new to manga, please note, just because Manga Mutiny contains both Bible stories and pictures doesn’t mean it’s meant for little kids. This is because the Bible is NOT rated G. It contains fratricide, incest, and assault, and that’s just the first book. While children’s Sunday school material may skip over this less savory material, Manga Mutiny does not. Azumi-sensei says she tends to be drawn more toward the weaknesses in her characters than their heroic qualities so we see a cowardly Abraham telling the Pharaoh that his wife is his (unmarried) sister and a less than heroic Lot offering to throw his two daughters to an angry mob. Azumi-sensei doesn’t glorify these aspects of the Bible, but they’re not censored out. So keep that in mind before you pass Manga Mutiny to a seven-year-old.

As mentioned before, this is the first in a five-part series, and Manga Mutiny covers the events from Genesis to Exodus. Interestingly, Azumi-sensei doesn’t begin with the creation of the universe, but with Lucifer’s rebellion against God. What that does is place the human story in the context of a greater cosmic struggle so each episode is part of an interconnected whole rather than a stand-alone story. When characters veer toward evil, Satan’s lurking in the background, and when redemption takes place, you see God’s agents at work.

Unlike most manga, this series is done entirely in color like most Western comics, but the artwork is standard shojo style. Azumi-sensei does a satisfactory job of making each member of the sizable cast distinct, but her artwork is probably not the most reliable resource if you wanted to know what the patriarchs actually looked and dressed like. Choices for hair/skin coloring and clothing seem more a function of artistic sense, and you know when you’re dealing with the divine because they have green or purple hair.

Regarding the dialogue, there’s no King James-speak here. In keeping with making this story accessible, characters use colloquial English. Children refer to parents as mom and dad, and people use terms like “okay” and “get lost.” Manga is dialogue-heavy, and there’s quite a bit of dialogue based upon but not actually in the Bible. However, each page includes a footnote referencing which books and verses each scene is drawn from. And to make clear when God is actually speaking, his speech is highlighted in color.

A map and family tree/character profile are included in the back as extras.

In Summary
Although it doesn’t cover every single detail of the ancient texts, Manga Mutiny provides an excellent overview of the first two books of the Bible. Azumi-sensei’s depictions of people, architecture, and clothing are probably more artistic interpretation than archaeologically/historically accurate, but her narrative makes characters relatable while sticking closely to the original story. It’s an excellent resource for teen readers who prefer graphics to text or older readers wanting a quick overview of the Bible.

Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: B +
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B

Age Rating: 10+
Released By: Tyndale House Publishers
Release Date: August 18th, 2009
MSRP: $12.99