Manga Classics: Les Misérables {Review}

I feel as though I should start this off by saying that I haven’t read Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables but it’s not for lack of wanting! It’s just not happened yet! But I’m aware of the storyline as I saw the 2012 film adaptation when I was a student and spent the following 6 months singing the songs in my student flat with my flatmates. So the story has stuck with me after 6 months of repetition, which is why I was curious about this manga adaptation, especially after I enjoyed the Pride and Prejudice one!

I read this in one sitting as it’s quite short (but that’s just the nature of manga!) But it’s a nice, quick read and is perfect for reading in between books or during a long one to break it up a bit!

Now although I haven’t read the original novel I’m pretty confident when I say that the language has been simplified, but that’s obvious because this is a manga adaptation. I found that the language simplification didn’t have a negative impact on the plot, but I did notice that some scenes have been moved around in the timeline. This was initially jarring but for the manga format it actually worked better and kept the pace flowing.

Overall, this was a really well written adaptation and it was really fun to watch the story play out across the pages. The drama and passion from the characters and their motivations was displayed beautifully and really helped keep the pace and interest alive.

les mis coverThe biggest problem I had with this adaptation was that it felt too short. I appreciate that there is a limited amount of space in the manga, and this story has such an epic scale and a lot needs to be cut, but this just felt so rushed. A great example would be the Revolution. This is an integral part of this story and it just didn’t seem that important in this adaptation. It also happened out of the blue – all of a sudden we’re on the barricade and fighting, and just as quickly it’s over.  It’s unfortunate as this adaptation was not as good as it could have been.

I really think this adaptation would have benefited greatly from being a multi-volume story, rather than having the artist and writer try to fit this marathon tale into one reasonably small volume. Plus I genuinely don’t think it would have hurt sales, especially when people see the gorgeous artwork.

This is yet another beautifully illustrated adaptation from Udon Entertainment. Every single page is filled to the brim with stunning artwork that really helps the reader empathise with the characters and their plights. The traditional manga art style of ‘bishie boys’ has been used (very cute and beautiful men) and that might be a little odd for people at first (as well as reading back to front and right to left as is manga tradition) but you’ll quickly adapt.

I’m not sure how fulfilling this adaptation would be to someone who is completely new to Les Misérables – if you’ve never been to the play, read the novel or seen the film you might be a little lost and feel that the story lacks real content or substance and it might be confusing. But if you’ve experienced Les Misérables in some way, shape or form before – even if it was only once –you’ll probably enjoy this adaptation.

I think that what I said regarding fans, adaptations and likability for the Pride and Prejudice adaptation rings just as true for this one – ‘purist’ fans aren’t likely to enjoy this. This is likely for many reasons, but the main one is that there is so much cut out and it really is stripped down to absolutely essential characters and story arcs only.

But if you’re open minded to an adaptation to a different style of storytelling I think that this adaptation of Les Misérables will be a beautiful experience.

les mis cosetteles mis fantineles mis javertles mis barricade

[PLEASE NOTE]: I was given a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my review in a positive or negative way – all the opinions are honest and my own.

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