The Bible is the most widely read and published book of all time. It is undoubtedly the most translated book in the world. Whether it be in the form of a phone app, e-reader, magazine, the language, or even the wording, there is just about every type of way or form to read the greatest selling book of all time. The art of manga however, was one platform that was not explored until the ministry of NEXT Manga created their Manga Bible Series. I was fascinated by the fact that an editorial team would create a series of books drawing out hundreds of pages worth of visual imagery all in an effort to describe the most memorable stories of the Bible.
While this book is a team effort consisting of 'Art Director' Ai Horie, 'English Editor' Joshua Ginter, 'Supervisor' Kenichi Nakagawa, and 'Coordinator' Eunyoung Park, it is the work of 'Script Writer and Artist' Ryo Azumi that is the final product the reader experiences from everyone's efforts.
As I have grown up to enjoy manga anime growing up, I thought originally this was an awesome idea to create a manga adaptation of the biblical narratives and stories. Readers of the Bible often wonder what some of these stories look like visually in context. Ryo Azumi provides his visual representation of the first historical narratives of the Bible. The cover is well illustrated with infamous characters such as Adam, Eve, Abraham, and Moses on the front. The back cover is less to be desired with a basic font and so much wasted space covered in black.
While technically this is the 3rd installment of the Manga Bible Series released in 2009, Manga Mutiny is the book that actually brings the reader to the very beginning of the Bible, so if readers wanted to read this series chronologically in relation to the Bible, this would be the first one to read. For the sake of continuity, I will be reviewingManga Mutiny first. As the title and prologue alludes to, itrepresents the mutiny caused in Heaven when God created angels with Satan wanting to be just as great as his creator. With God banishing Satan from heaven, the mutiny is in reference to Satan taking one third of the angels with him from the heavenly realms. From there, God created the Heavens and the Earth, along with the creation of the first human beings named Adam and Eve. The rest of Manga Mutiny takes the reader through four chapters worth of colourful images and dialogue focussing on the most memorable events of human history found in the first two books of the Bible (Genesis and Exodus).
Both children and adults can enjoy reading this volume. While there is some blood, it is not graphic or gory when it comes to violent scenes which is safe enough for children to enjoy, yet the characters are drawn in a more mature style for the adults to appreciate. The dialogue and story read comfortably and smooth with great detail and colourful images. The stories are engaging which the reader being able to identify with the characters and their dilemmas. I was able to read this 304 page book at a comfortable pace of 90 minutes. The scriptural references found at the bottom of every single page is one of its greatest advantages to this book as it provides the reader context to the stories and scenes Ryo Azumi is visualizing. This also encourages readers to read the Bible to get the full story and details which are absent from this volume. There are also geographical maps which share the journeys of Jacob, Joseph, Abraham, and Moses in addition to character profiles which display the lineage and family tree that start from Adam and Eve.
While Manga Mutiny is generally faithful to the biblical texts, it is important to stress that this is clearly not a Bible. While some would argue these type of books misrepresent the Bible, I would say these are more snapshots of the historical events that took place. If readers do not take advantage of the scripture references this book provides on each page, this will be a very quick read with a basic knowledge gained from these stories. Of course with any visual representation of the Bible, creative liberties are always taken which can cause controversy in interpretations. However, I find Azumi did not stray too far away that controversy would arise from these liberties.
While these types of illustrations can and will cause division among those determining its accuracy, readers must remember these are Manga drawings adapted from ancient texts first and in no way claim to be the accurate portrayal of the Bible. Whether this is for children or for adults, Manga Mutiny is a welcomed version to an adaptation the Bible has never experienced before. For those that want to visually identify with the most well known stories found at the beginning of the Bible, this is a safe platform for children and adults to enjoy. However, if readers are expecting the most important accurate details of these stories, they will find themselves in short supply.
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