Title: Manga Classics: The Jungle Book
Author: Rudyard Kipling, Crystal S. Chan, and Julien Choy
Release Date: April 3
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
Source: Udon Entertainment on NetGalley (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)
Check this book out on Goodreads.
Pre-order at: Chapters
Heavily influenced by his childhood in British-ruled India, Rudyard Kipling created some of the most well-read children s stories in Western Culture. Book One of The Jungle Book(s) includes Mowgli s Brothers, the story of Mowgli, the abandoned man-cub who was raised by animals in the Indian jungle, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the heroic mongoose, and Toomai of the Elephants, the tale of a young elephant-handler, and in The White Seal, we meet Kotick, a rare white-furred northern fur seal as he searches for a home where his family will not be hunted by humans. Originally published as a series of short stories for magazines in the late 1800s, the Nobel Prize-winning Rudyard Kipling would eventually publish the classic The Jungle Book in 1894.” (Source: Goodreads)
Here’s what the weeks having been building to, the newest Manga Classic….The Jungle Book! It’s an unfortunate way to end the month though, because it was the weakest Manga Classic thus far. It is a difficult book to adapt as it’s a series of stories, not all of which are directly related, so there’s not a close knit story throughout. That definitely hurts the whole thing overall. On top of that the original book contains a lot of poems, which are left in full in this manga adaptation.
The Jungle Book is actually several short stories about various creatures from the jungle. Mowgli, the long beloved main character of Disney’s Jungle Book, is but one character in this book and he’s only in the first couple of stories. After that it gets a little dull. The rest of the stories are mostly about various animals, and they didn’t really catch my attention, I’ve never read the source text but I predict I’ll have the same issue with that.
The poems that are left in this are of course nice, it’s great that they tried to maintain this element of the book but I don’t know if it was the right thing to do? These books had been marketed, to me at least, as a way to make classics more accessible, and giant chunks of text throughout the book do not help, they put the brakes on when you’re trying to read what is otherwise a pretty quick read. It seemed to work against the project of the manga-style classic.
The biggest issue I had with this book was the art. It was very…cartoon-y. Like Yo-Kai Watch or soemthing, I really wasn’t a fan. Even Sense and Sensibility had better art that this. It felt like the art was picked to market this one more toward boys but it turned me off the book so much. There was no definition or depth to the characters and they looked comically bad to me. Another issue was the layouts which were kind of confusing, at times it didn’t seem to follow the proper directions for reading manga and I often times couldn’t tell which dialogue bubble was the next one I was supposed to read.
Overall this book just seemed like a major misfire from the Manga Classics team, and was kind of a disappointment. I think it was a brave move to try and adapt this book but I don’t think it worked out.