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Review: Manga Classics: ‘Pride and Prejudice’

Getting young people to read classic literature can be hard enough when it’s required. Double that if you want them to do it for pleasure. Often there needs to be something new or different to draw them into even picking the book up. Udon Entertainment may have found just the thing: In their new line of Manga Classics, classic literature is converted into a graphic format while staying true to the original story.

Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice
By Jane Austen; Adapted by Stacy King; Illustrated by Po Tse
Teen
Udon Entertainment, August 2014, ISBN: 978-1927925188
376 pgs. $19.99 USD

As a teen, I wasn’t interested in classic literature, and wasn’t forced to read most of it while going through high school. Instead of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen, I read Tennessee Williams and Ernest Hemingway. So when Udon Entertainment announced the Manga Classics line, I was very interested. Pride and Prejudice was one of the first titles released.

Pride and Prejudice tells the story of the Bennets, a family with five daughters. It is the early 19th century, and women can not inherit land, so the only future for the girls is to find husbands. The story begins with the Bennets learning of a new neighbor, Mr. Bingley, a wealthy young bachelor from London. He has rented the nearby Netherfield Park. A ball is thrown to welcome him, and he and Jane, the eldest of the Bennet sisters, hit it off. Elizabeth, the second daughter, meets Bingley’s friend, Mr. Darcy, where the first impressions are less favorable. Following Elizabeth, the story tells the rocky romances of Jane and Elizabeth with Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy. Obstacles they must overcome include Bingley’s disapproving sister Caroline, their soldier-crazy sister Lydia and social climbing mother Mrs. Bennet, Darcy’s haughty aunt Lady Catherine, and of course, pride and prejudice.

Starting out, I had my doubts about whether I would enjoy this title. Mrs. Bennet immediately got on my nerves, but I was happy to see I wasn’t the only one. I loved Elizabeth as the protagonist. She wasn’t too sweet like her older sister Jane, nor too wild like younger sister Lydia. She was the pragmatic, level-headed sister, always ready to lend a hand or take control if needed. She takes the most after her father, Mr. Bennet, which I highly approve. She can be tactful, but she isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She is a bit quick to judge, though you can’t that Mr. Darcy didn’t deserve it at the beginning.

I had a harder time with Mr. Darcy. I wasn’t sure if I should like him or not at first, with his cold and aloof attitude, but I did enjoy watching him fumble over himself as his feelings for Elizabeth grew and he didn’t know how to express them. His anti-social attitude made it easy to believe the bad things said about him, but his earnest and honest feelings did make him more likable as the story went on. Elizabeth and Darcy have the kind of relationship I enjoy in stories, where the couple starts out not liking each other but slowly come to appreciate each other. So watching them was a real treat for me.

Since I hadn’t read the source material before, I didn’t know how accurate the adaptation was. Looking around at comments made about it, they all seemed positive, and all the major points of the story were hit with accuracy. There were some complaints about things that were left out, but I do wonder how necessary they were. The story didn’t feel incomplete, nor did any plot points seem to dangle. King did an excellent job in making the story comprehensive and fun to read.

Po Tse’s art only added to story, with distinctive characters and authentic costumes. The gowns worn by the women were beautifully rendered. The art really embodied the characters’ traits. You could tell just by seeing a character if you should like them or not, or if they were more for comedic effect without the feeling being overwhelming.

Pride and Prejudice is a great story. I guess that’s why it’s still so beloved 200 years later and continues to be an inspiration to writers and artists today. This adaptation retains all of the charm and fun of the characters and situations, and is a great way to expose those without the time or inclination to pick up the novel. I can’t think of a better way to experience this story other than reading the original novel.

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Lori Henderson About Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!

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