Manga Review: Twelfth Night

Manga Review: Twelfth NightTwelfth Night by Richard Appignanesi
Series: Manga Shakespeare
Published by Amulet Books on September 1, 2009
Genres: Humor, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 208
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

A comedy of mistaken identity and thwarted love, Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare's most beloved plays and is frequently performed and studied across the country. When Viola finds herself shipwrecked, she pretends to be a male servant and falls in love with Duke Orsino. The Manga Shakespeare interpretation, which incorporates fresh ideas and thoughtful settings, will introduce the classic play to a new audience of Shakespeare fans.

Usually, I give manga versions of classics a wide berth. Though I love classics and manga, I find that the combination does not generally flatter either. However, Twelfth Night is my favorite play and the cover art looked promising, so I decided to give it a go. I am so glad I did! It is completely silly and entirely delightful.

This version of the play has a steampunk feel to it, which just takes something awesome and makes it better. Orsino has a car, Antonio wears a pirate’s eye-patch and the clothing is completely wild. Most of the men go about either shirtless (with an open coat of course) or with tufts of chest hair coming out the top of their low cut tops. Malvolio, when cross-gartered, looks like some sort of crazy S&M guy. Olivia wears a dress that goes down only to her knees.

So yeah, it’s kind of ridiculous, but so is the play really. I mean, there is crossdressing, cases of mistaken identity, absurd sword fights, tempests and sudden declarations of love (despite supposedly having been deeply in love with others). Actually, all of these ridiculous, but hugely delightful plots, are what make this play such perfect fodder for manga. If you’ve ever read manga, you know what I’m talking about.

Nana Li did a great job with the illustrations. I especially loved Orsino with his emo haircut. Too perfect! Maria, one of my favorites, has been drawn in such a manner that her spunk is entirely evident. Shakespeare fans, this is incredibly nerdy and hugely amusing!

One response to “Manga Review: Twelfth Night”

  1. Christina K. says:

    This is so unique! What a great way of taking Shakespeare to a new art form!

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