Hey guys, welcome to B’s Views and Reviews, the article series that promotes faith-based, family-friendly comics and the creators that make them, brought to you by Geek Devotions, a show by devoted geeks devoted to letting you know that you are loved. I’m B, and today we’ll be talking about Manga Messiah, the Story of Jesus told with a Japanese Art style.
Manga Messiah tells the story of Jesus, from Gabriel’s announcement to Mary all the way through His ascension to Heaven. Throughout the book, we see several key events of Jesus’s ministry, including turning water into wine, casting out demons, and even raising Lazarus from the dead. While it isn’t a word-for-word adaptation of the account in the Gospels, it does follow them very closely and gives a believable depiction of what the Gospel account would look like drawn in the Japanese style.
An interesting aspect of this book is that they use Jesus’s Hebrew name Yeshua in the book. Mary is called Miryam, and Joseph is called Yosef. It’s an interesting choice to go with names in their more historical pronunciation and spelling than the Romanized modern versions.
Another interesting part of this book that I enjoy is the Scripture references at the bottom of each page. This way the reader can go to the actual Gospel accounts and read “what really happened” absent of the writer and artist’s interpretations. It reminds me of the disclaimer at the beginning of The Chosen that this is a retelling of the Gospel account with artistic licenses taken. If a person wants the true account, they are encouraged to go read the Bible for themselves. This book takes it a step further by pointing out where exactly in the Bible one can read the account.
There’s no denying the influence of Japanese art styles in the artwork. “Manga” being a part of the title of this book is not unwarranted. It’s clear from the way the characters are drawn and the way the action is portrayed that this is a book designed specifically to reach fans of anime and manga. And I for one love it. My only complaint would be that the book is “flipped” (or is it “not flipped”…) Traditionally, manga, even translated to English, is read right to left. So the “back” of the book is actually the “front,” and you read the panels starting in the upper right corner and moving to the left and down. This book is published in the reverse so that you read like an American comic book. I understand the decision to do this, as it probably makes it accessible to more people. However, if you’re intended audience is fans of manga, I think a better choice would be to publish it in such a way that those fans would feel like they’re reading manga. But that’s just my thoughts on the matter.
Content-wise, this is exactly what I’m looking for as a concerned parent. My oldest son has a fascination with Japanese style art, and there just are simply not very many options out there that I am comfortable with him viewing. Fan service is unfortunately a thing, and Japanese culture tends to have different tolerances for content than what I am comfortable with. However, Manga Messiah is a perfect meeting in the middle. It has the look and feel of manga without the content that most people associate with the medium. As a matter of fact, at the time of this writing, my son is three chapters into reading this book himself. Fair warning, it does not shy away from certain topics, and there are some bloodier-than-usual panels. But, for the intended audience–I would say kids 10+–it’s a solid read.
Manga Messiah is written by Hidenori Kumai with art by Kozumi Shinozowa and Otsuko Ogawa. It’s published by Tyndale. I purchased my copy via Amazon, but you can order a copy wherever Tyndale books are sold.
Stay devoted. Peace and Love.