Les Miserables (Manga) by Victor Hugo, Crystal Silvermoon (adaptation), and SunNeko Lee (art)

I had previously reviewed the Manga Classics edition of Pride and Prejudice here. When I had the opportunity to check out Les Miserables, I took it, mostly out of curiosity.

Les Miserables (Manga) Front Cover

Les Miserables (Manga) Front Cover (Udon Entertainment)


THE PLOT: This manga is an abridged version of the classic book, and I’m summarizing a great deal here. In 1815 France, Jean Valjean is released from prison (for stealing a loaf of bread) and finds that he can’t find honest work. Thanks to a kindly bishop, he is able to break parole, open a factory, and eventually become mayor of a town. One of his factory workers, Fantine, is unjustly fired and turns to prostitution to support her young daughter, Cosette. Valjean finds a dying Fantine and promises to care for Cosette, but his identity is discovered by Inspector Javert, who has been hunting for him. Valjean takes Cosette from the Thernadiers, the horrible couple who bilked Fantine for every penny, and finds sanctuary at a monastery.

Years later, Valjean and Cosette live in Paris as father and daughter. Teen Cosette catches the eye of Marius Pontmercy, a young man who takes part in the June Rebellion. Valjean has to come to terms with eventually losing Cosette to marriage as well as facing his past, and his old enemy Javert.

MY TWO CENTS: It’s been many, many years now since I read Les Miserables, and the manga includes a bit more story than you get in the musical version, but not much. The art is very interesting. Cosette and Eponine are drawn in traditional big-eyes format, as is Fantine as a factory worker. As Fantine’s fortunes fall, her image becomes more realistic. Jean Valjean and Javert are drawn more lifelike, so sometimes the combination of different styles can be jarring. Javert is a little too sneery for my taste (we know he’s “the villain,” but he operates from an overdeveloped sense of self-righteousness.) Eponine is far, far too buxom for a starving waif!

In the end, I didn’t feel like this version brought much that is new to my “Les Miserables” experience. It’s interesting, to be sure, but not a “must-have.”

BOTTOM LINE: A new (abbreviated) take a on well-loved story; check it out if you’re curious, but will probably be most-enjoyed by die-hard Le Miz fans.

TEACUP RATING: Three out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available now in hardcover and paperback.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Pride and Prejudice (Manga Edition), adapted by Stacy King, art by Po Tse

The first time I read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, I was in high school. It was the book I chose for my senior thesis paper (specifically, I focused on the character of Mr. Collins). To give you some perspective, the Colin Firth miniseries was still a good five years away at that point. So I’ve been a fan for a long time, and I love manga, but I wondered if I could accept a manga version. Could it do the story justice?

Pride and Prejudice Manga Classic

Pride and Prejudice Manga Classic (UDON Entertainment Corporation)

THE PLOT: Wait a minute, you don’t know this classic story? Go read it right now. Go on, I’ll wait.

Okay, seriously: The five Bennett daughters don’t have large dowries or good connections, but they need to marry well because their cousin will inherit their home when their father dies. Things are looking up when a wealthy young man, Mr. Bingley, moves into the neighborhood and is smitten with Jane, the oldest daughter. Second-oldest daughter Elizabeth, an intelligent and witty young lady, spars with Bingley’s unpleasant (and rich) friend, Mr. Darcy. Add in a gold-digging mother, various meddling relatives, a degenerate fortune hunter, stupid little sisters, and two of the worst marriage proposals of all time, and you’ve got yourself a classic.

MY TWO CENTS: As soon as I saw this, I was intrigued. Elizabeth and Darcy in manga format? For the most part, it works well. The art is very pretty, although Elizabeth’s hair is down in formal company a bit too often for my Regency tastes (I know, I’m being picky). The art of Mr. Collins made me laugh out loud every time I saw it.  The story is streamlined a bit, and there are some liberties taken with both the story and language (no one will convince me that Regency-era folk said “No way!” EVER.) There are a couple of weird moments that I’m pretty sure aren’t canon (Elizabeth’s tearful breakup with Wickham). But overall, it’s a fun read.

BOTTOM LINE: A fairly faithful presentation of a classic story. Don’t read it INSTEAD of the classic, though; read it to supplement your enjoyment. I’m interested in checking out more of the Manga Classics that are on the way: Les Miserables (I’m assuming THE BOOK, not THE MUSICAL), and The Scarlet Letter. You can check out the style of the art here: http://www.udonentertainment.com/blog/tag/manga-classics/

TEACUP RATING: Four out of five teacups for this adaptation. (The original, of course, gets a million teacups.)

ON SALE DATE: Both hardcover and paperback formats will be available on August 19, 2014.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


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