Disney Manga: Beauty and the Beast – The Beast’s Tale – Mallory Reaves (Adapter)

Illustrations – Studio DICE

Colours – Gianluca Papi

I read Belle’s Tale, the companion to this story, first and it didn’t live up to my expectations, so they were much lower when I began reading the Beast’s perspective. Although I have historically focused most of my attention on Belle’s point of view (her reading habits are so relatable), being able to see things from the Beast’s was a refreshing change. 

Sure, it’s still a story of an angry young man imprisoning a bookish young woman, who then falls in love with her jailer… And this manga-style graphic novel is based on the live-action adaptation that I couldn’t get into instead of the animated one that I was obsessed with as a kid. And Mrs Potts is just as creepy here as she was in Belle’s Tale

But I quite enjoyed this one. It includes some of the Beast’s backstory and his thoughts on how his life has played out so far. 

While Belle’s story was coloured in tones that matched her optimism, the Beast’s story begins as dark as his moods and gradually brightens as Belle’s impact on him grows.

The proportions are variable. When the Beast first captures Belle’s father, the Beast looks colossal. I don’t claim to understand art so this may be a way of highlighting the Beast’s power, but it looked odd, especially when compared to the next page where the proportions are more realistic. 

I absolutely loved the front covers of the two tales, which joined together form a single image. It works both from a marketing perspective and a visual one. I know I’d have to buy a matching set.

The cursed (and I use this term lightly) object I most need in my life is the book that takes escapism to a whole new level.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and TOKYOPOP for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

In Disney’s live-action film Beauty and the Beast, Belle, a bright, beautiful, and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realise the kind heart and soul of the true Prince inside. Dark, cool, muted colours show the Beast’s pessimistic view of the world in this full-colour manga-style graphic novel, which explores the Beast’s struggle as he tries to move on from his past and learn what it is to love.

Disney Manga: Beauty and the Beast – Belle’s Tale – Mallory Reaves (Adapter)

Illustrations – Studio DICE

Colours – Gabriella Sinopoli

I was obsessed with the animated Beauty and the Beast film as a kid. I loved Mrs Potts and Chip. I sang along with all of the songs. I fantasised about living in the library.

I couldn’t get into the live-action adaptation. That’s the version this manga-style graphic novel is based on. There were some scenes I wasn’t familiar with because of this but that didn’t impact how I felt about the story. 

I enjoyed being privy to Belle’s thoughts throughout the story. However, while I was really keen to read this manga adaptation (and its companion, The Beast’s Tale), I didn’t fall in love with it like I’d planned. 

It wasn’t always immediately clear which text was supposed to be read first. Some of the book was clearly intended to be read manga style, from right to left, but other panels made more sense when I read them from left to right.

While some panels were defined and clear, others were blurry. I read an advanced copy, though, so this may not be representative of the final version. 

Sometimes the main characters’ faces were quite detailed and other times they weren’t. Mrs Potts definitely resembled the live-action version more than her animated self (which I loved), but she came across a bit creepy at times.

I will still be reading The Beast’s Tale, but my expectations aren’t as high anymore.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and TOKYOPOP for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

In Disney’s live-action film Beauty and the Beast, Belle, a bright, beautiful, and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realise the kind heart and soul of the true Prince inside. Soft, warm, bright colours show Belle’s optimistic view of the world in this full-colour manga-style graphic novel, which explores Belle’s innermost thoughts as she learns that true beauty comes from within.

Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Story Adapter – Crystal S. Chan

Illustrations – SunNeko Lee

Lettering – W.T. Francis

I don’t usually fare that well with classic novels so, although I’ve been interested in reading The Scarlet Letter for years, this manga was my introduction to Hester’s story.

I feel like I definitely got the gist of the story and the characters (I vote that Hester’s husband is certifiable), although I don’t doubt that I’ve missed out on a lot of the complexities.

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I’m really enjoying catching up on some Manga Classics that have been on my TBR pile for way too long. I loved the artwork in this adaptation, particularly the splash of colour each time the A was pictured. The manga stories I’ve read previously have been exclusively black and white so the colour really popped for me here.

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It was such a quick read that I was done before I gave much thought to the themes of the story. Right now part of me is fuming at the way Hester was treated and I’m shaking my head at yet another story where a woman’s sexuality is the subject of fear and condemnation by men and the church.

Once I read the novel I expect another part of me is going to be loving Hester’s strength and compassion. I liked what I saw of her in this manga adaptation but the format can’t provide the depth that novels can.

If I was on the fence before about whether or not I wanted to read The Scarlet Letter I’m not now. I’m intrigued enough to want to delve deeper.

Thank you to NetGalley and UDON Entertainment for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s powerful tale of forbidden love, shame and revenge comes to life in this manga presentation of the classic story. When Hester Prynne bears an illegitimate child, she is introduced to the ugliness, complexity, and ultimately the strength of the human spirit. Though set in a Puritan community during the Colonial American period, the moral dilemmas of personal responsibility and consuming emotions of guilt, anger, loyalty and revenge are timeless. This beautiful manga retelling of Hawthorne’s classic American novel is faithfully adapted by Crystal S. Chan and features stunning artwork by SunNeko Lee which will give old and new readers alike a fresh insight into this tragic saga of Puritan America.

Manga Classics: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

Story Adapter – Crystal S. Chan

Illustrations – Kuma Chan

Lettering – Jeannie Lee

I absolutely loved the manga version of Anne of Green Gables so I was keen to explore some more Manga Classics. I read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer when I was a child but I never got around to reading about Huckleberry Finn. I thought this was a great opportunity to find out what I’d been missing. I expected I’d want to read the novel once I finished the manga version but it turns out I’m not a fan of this story.

In the introduction we are told that Twain’s “use of coarse vernacular and racial stereotypes in this novel was intended not to endorse but rather to ridicule the racism of his day.” Despite knowing this I still hated all of the racism in this story, especially the consistent use of racial slurs. Even if I could find a way to ignore the racism I still don’t think this would be the book for me. While adventures on rafts sounded interesting to me I found myself getting bored.

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But you know what? The revelation that this story is not for me has made me want to read more Manga Classics, not less. The manga version Anne’s story made me want to read Anne of Green Gables. I now know for sure I don’t want to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It turns out that manga is a great way to get a feel for a book.

Even though I didn’t like Huckleberry Finn’s story I really liked the artwork. The story was easy to follow and the illustrations helped bring the characters to life. There’s definitely going to be more manga in my life in the near future.

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Content warnings include alcoholism, physical abuse, racism and slavery.

Thank you to NetGalley and UDON Entertainment for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Chafed by the – sivilized – restrictions of his foster home, and weary of his drunkard father’s brutality, 14 year-old Huck Finn fakes his own death and sets off on a raft down the Mississippi River. He is soon joined by Jim, an escaped slave. Together, they experience a series of rollicking adventures that have amused readers, young and old, for over a century. The fugitives become close friends as they weather storms together aboard the raft and spend idyllic days swimming, frying catfish suppers, and enjoying their independence. Their peaceful existence ends abruptly, however, with the appearance of the King and the Duke, an incorrigible pair of con artists who take over the raft. After many difficulties, Huck and Jim escape their tormentors, and with the help of an imaginative rescue by Huck’s old friend Tom Sawyer, Jim gains his freedom. Manga Classics breathes new life into this American Classic with a faithful adaptation of Mark Twain’s masterpiece.

Manga Classics: Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery

Story Adapter – Crystal S. Chan

Illustrations – Kuma Chan

Lettering – Daria Rhodes

Kindred spirits, it’s time for us to take a journey together. When you pass through the White Way of Delight keep going. It’s only about another mile before we reach our destination. Oh, there’s the Lake of Shining Waters. If you look over there you’ll see the house Diana lives in. She’s a kindred spirit too. Just a little further and … there it is! Green Gables! You’re home.

Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert are sure to welcome you, as will Cordelia Anne (with an E).

“And there’s one thing certain, no house will ever be dull that she’s in.”

Just make sure the drink Anne serves you is the drink you ordered …

I’ve loved Anne since the day we met. This is such a beautiful adaptation. Everything I love about Anne’s story was included here, including her friendship with Diana, her rivalry with Gilbert and witnessing Marilla and Anne’s relationship deepen over the years. I even experienced my usual overwhelming need to hug Matthew whenever I see him.

Yes, I did get a little bit teary during that scene. You know the one I’m talking about. I think I was too distracted by how cute everyone looked though, so I managed to avoid my customary full blown ugly cry.

The illustrations were so lovely! They did make it quite difficult to take Anne’s complaints about her looks seriously because she’s so darn adorable in manga but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Her doe eyes and that little tuft of hair that’s always sticking up are just so cute!

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Whenever I encounter Anne Shirley my heart feels full. I’m always left with this warm and fuzzy notion that the world is inherently beautiful and that hope and love will prevail, and this manga version of Anne’s story was no different. It left me with a delicious contented feeling. It seemed especially fitting, albeit decidedly strange given that we’re living in 2020 here, that the last sentence was:

“All’s right with the world.”

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Thank you to NetGalley and UDON Entertainment for the opportunity to read this book. I’m all doe eyed about it and am already hankering for a reread.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert were planning to adopt an orphaned boy to help out around their farm, Green Gables – instead, they got Anne Shirley. A plucky redheaded girl with a vibrant imagination, Anne turns first Green Gables and then the rest of Prince Edward Island on its ear. 

Manga Classics® is proud to be the only authorised manga adaption of Anne of Green Gables by the Heirs of L.M. Montgomery, with a foreword by Kate McDonald Butler – granddaughter of the original author! 

This volume presents a faithful recreation of this classic kids novel, from the Lake of Shining Waters to the Dryad’s Bubble!

Manga Classics: Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

Story Adapter – Crystal S. Chan

Illustrations – SunNeko Lee

Jane Eyre was one of my Nan’s favourite books so I have intended to read it for the past 30 years. Over the years I’ve tried and failed to make it past Jane’s childhood. I was so mad at the way she was treated, especially by Mrs Reed and John, and when I finally made it to the beginning of her time at Lowood I was so infuriated by the injustice of her life that I discarded this story and moved on to something else; probably something with unicorns.

Now I’ve finally learned the rest of the story thanks to manga! While I’m not the hugest fan of Jane’s story due to my romantiphobia (I would like to think that had I been in Jane’s shoes I would have bailed on both potential suitors and enjoyed my life as an independent single woman) I was engaged in her story from beginning to end. I appreciated Jane’s strong will and independent spirit, especially considering the adversity she faced, and I think it was Jane’s perseverance that would have drawn my Nan to this story.

I adored the illustrations in this book, although Jane’s gorgeous doe eyes made it difficult to take her seriously when she spoke of her plain looks. I loved that, in true manga style, this story reads from right to left and was surprised by how quickly I became used to reading this way.

Content warnings include abuse, suicide and mental illness.

Thank you to NetGalley and UDON Entertainment for the opportunity to read this book. I’m all doe eyes for manga right now and want to work my way through the rest of their Manga Classics series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

As an orphaned child, Jane Eyre is first cruelly abused by her aunt, then cast out and sent to a charity school. Though she meets with further abuse, she receives an education, and eventually takes a job as a governess at the estate of Edward Rochester. Jane and Rochester begin to bond, but his dark moods trouble her. When Jane uncovers the terrible secret Rochester has been hiding, she flees and finds temporary refuge at the home of St. John Rivers. 

Disney Manga: Descendants – The Rotten to the Core – Jason Muell

Illustrations – Natsuki Minami

Let me begin by telling you I’ve never seen the movie and haven’t read volumes 1 or 3 of this Disney Manga trilogy. Based on the blurb and cover illustration, we’ve got some kids who spend a considerable amount of time at the hairdressers and who usually live on the Isle of the Lost with their Disney baddie parents – Maleficent, the Evil Queen, Jafar and Cruella De Vil.

I don’t know how or why but these baddies in training have been invited to attend a yuppie prep school in Auradon alongside the goody two-shoes Disney hero kids. Our baddie Descendants are Mal (purple hair), Evie (blue hair), Jay (really long hair and probably brushes it a hundred times a day to keep it silky smooth), and Carlos (likely to be bleached, extremely likely to be highly styled, spiky hair).

Baddie parents are counting on baddie kids to act the part in their evil scheme to overthrow the goody two-shoes and take over the kingdom (or maybe just the Auradon part or is Auradon the kingdom?!). Will baddie kids be bad or will they save the kingdom by “embracing their innate goodness”. Hmm… “embracing their innate goodness”. I suppose we are in the Wonderful World of Disney. 🧚‍♂️

I’m not overly sure what happened in this volume other than it being a set up for the grand finale where our baddie heroes decide if they’re more baddie or hero. Other than that there were enough “I need a boyfriend” conversations, makeovers, cheerleaders and insta-love magic style to make me extremely grateful I’m done with high school.

If you loved the movie then you should like this trilogy because, from what I’ve read, it’s a play by play of the movie’s highlight reel. Personally I think I’ll give the rest of this trilogy a miss and will give the movie a very wide berth.

I like my villains to be of the sarcastic, funny, evil variety that is destined to die but they’re going to entertain you until then, like Hans Gruber from Die Hard or Peter Krieg, A.K.A., Simon Gruber (Hans’ brother) from Die Hard with a Vengeance. I want to love my villains, not watch them magically transform into someone we can all look to for moral guidance. If you want your villains to have a lightbulb moment and turn syrupy sweet this may be the story for you.

Thank you so much to NetGalley, TokyoPop and Diamond Book Distributors for the opportunity to read Volume 2 of this Disney Manga trilogy.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The children of Maleficent, the Evil Queen, Jafar and Cruella De Vil have never ventured off the Isle of the Lost … until now. Invited to pristine Auradon to attend prep school alongside the children of beloved Disney heroes, Mal, Evie, Jay and Carlos must carryout their villain parents evil plot to rule once again. Will the rebel teens follow in their rotten parents’ footsteps or will they choose to embrace their innate goodness and save the kingdom?

This is volume 2 of the Descendants Manga Trilogy.

Disney Manga: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – Jun Asuka

It’s Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas! It’s my very first manga experience! What’s not to love?!

OK, so you know the story of The Nightmare Before Christmas, right? If you said “no” I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear you and wait here patiently while you go watch the movie…

[Christmas carol elevator music plays in the background]

OK, so you know the story of The Nightmare Before Christmas, right? Great!!!

So you know that in Halloween Town, Jack the Pumpkin King is over it! After another successful Halloween Jack is disillusioned and wanders off, followed by his trusty ghost dog Zero. I love Zero! After finding a Christmas tree shaped door in a tree trunk Jack stumbles into Christmas Town where he discovers snow, colour and the wonders of Christmas. Jack decides he’s going to be Sandy Claws this year and gets the freaky folks of Halloween Town involved in the preparations. Then things kind of fall apart. Can Sally, who’s secretly in love with Jack, help to save the day? Will the kidnapped Santa Claus ever make it back to Christmas Town? Can Christmas be saved?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then obviously you haven’t been paying attention. I’ll wait here patiently while you go watch the movie…

[Christmas carol elevator music plays in the background]

Right, so now we all know the story, let me say that this manga book is absolutely brilliant! If this is what manga is all about then I’ve been seriously missing out. This story stays true to the magic of the original and the artwork still feels like you’re walking through Tim Burton’s mind. With the cover illustration by Natsuki Minami and manga by Jun Asuka, I’m sold!

Kids and adults alike will appreciate this book. It’s suitable for those who decorate their trees by November and still have them up in January and it’s also a great read for those like me whose December catchphrase is ‘Bah, humbug!’. Plus, there’s Halloween Town! Need I say any more??

Thank you so much to NetGalley, TokyoPop and Diamond Book Distributors for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King, the ruler of Halloween Town and master of all things creepy and spooky. But he’s tired of his life in the shadows and longs for something new. When he accidentally stumbles upon Christmas Town, he decides this is the perfect chance to try his hand at a brand new holiday and is convinced he’ll have the world yelling “Scary Christmas”! With the young patchwork doll Sally trying to dissuade him and the evil Oogie Boogie waiting in the wings to take over Halloween Town in Jack’s absence, he’d better hurry if he wants to get his plan in place by December 25th!