I have been slowly exploring the Manga Bible Series which arguably is the first adaptation of the Bible in pure Manga form that started in 2007. In 2016, I reviewed Manga Mutiny. Now I am continuing the series with Manga Melech.
This volume carries over with most of the same team being "Script Writer and Artist" Ryo Azumi, "Art Director" Ai Horie, and "English Editor" Joshua Ginter. However, there are two new faces to the team with "Supervisor" Kenji Oyama, and "Coordinator" Ayako Mosaku.
Manga Melech is technically the 4th installment of the series released in 2010, but the 2nd volume that chronologically follows the Bible. The covers remain consistent in style and design showing some of its main characters with David taking front and centre. While the back cover shows the fallen rebel angel Satan, the back cover of Melech displays a commander (angel) of the Lord's army.
Manga Melech starts the reader off right after where Manga Mutiny left off with the continuation of the story of Moses in the book of Exodus to which he is tasked to lead God's people out of Egypt. Readers will continue on through the books of Exodus all the way to 1 Chronicles with the omission of Leviticus. While the story of Moses is one of the larger stories, there are definitely other pivotal stories and characters such as Joshua, Deborah, Gideon, Samson, Ruth & Boaz, Samuel, Saul, and David.
The visuals are again well drawn with its content mature enough that both teens and adults can enjoy which plans to be consistent in its design and storytelling. This was a very smooth and enjoyable read that only took me 2 hours to blaze through. While slightly less in pages, it still provides engaging material to help readers make sense of a very violent and turbulent time in history which God's people continue to rebel and having to be rescued from various battles. Once again, there are scriptural reference points for every page to help the reader dive into the Bible in order to gain full context of the story in which illustrations can only go so far with.
Manga Melech focusses on one of the most violent periods of history in the Bible. With that, it struggles at times with finding a balance between showing violence and censoring gore. Most of the time there are scenes that just show blood without seeing gore. When it comes to one of the most iconic scenes with David beheading Goliath, it takes the safe approach by not showing Goliath's head, but it awkwardly censors it by only removing the head which shows David holding nothing but air in his outstretched fisted arm. The designers clearly had intentionally meant to show Goliath's head, but removed it. While I understand this choice, the problem is that they did not change David's stance of him holding nothing in his hand which makes the scene awkward and out of place. It felt as if there was an original R rated version, but was changed by just removing Goliath's head without changing the entire scene itself. I felt more effort could have been put into finding a better compromise such as showing a silhouette of David with Goliath's head. That way people know there was a beheading but do not have to see the actual gore of it. It also seems odd that they would completely censor that detail, but then earlier in Judges not censor a spike being nailed into the head of Sisera.
Manga Melech overall continues to help new believers young and old understand God's redemptive master plan for the world. While I did say that Manga Mutiny is safe for children to read, this volume deals with a more violent period of time in the Bible. This leaves parents having to use their own discretion whether children should read this or not. Despite that, the Manga Bible Series team complete a fluent job in guiding the reader through the many wars between kings and kingdoms that is usually difficult to keep track of for new readers of the Bible. They help address this while keeping readers engaged.
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