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Review: Disney Manga Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas

Disney Manga NightmareTim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
By Jun Asuka
All Ages
Tokyopop, October 2017 ISBN: 978-1-4278-5724-8
176 pgs; $10.99USD

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas has become a holiday tradition, though there is still some debate about which holiday. I was a big fan of the movie when it first came out, especially the music, so when I saw there was a manga available, I had to check it out.

The manga follows the movie fairly faithfully. Jack Skellington, the ruler of Halloweentown, isn’t satisfied with the yearly scares, and he stumbles upon several doors that lead to other holidays. He goes through the door to Christmastown and is so enchanted with it that he decides he wants to make his own. While the manga hits all the important scenes, there were some changes made to fit the manga format. The story is told in part from the perspective of Sally, a rag doll creation of the town’s resident mad scientist. We see several scenes through her eyes and are privy to her inner thoughts. She has a crush on Jack, and while this is just a subplot in the movie, it is emphasized more in the manga. Some scenes are switched around at the end to better fit Sally’s narrative, but nothing is greatly changed.

The movie was a musical, and several scenes were musical numbers featuring Jack, Sally, the big bad Oogie Boogie, and the townspeople of Halloweentown. The manga fit in these scenes and included lines from the songs, which sometimes worked—but not always. The songs were truncated to scattered lines that didn’t always connect, and if you’re like me and want to sing along, this made them feel stunted and unsatisfying. A special font is used to make the lyrics stand out, so at least you know which lines are from songs.

The art captures the look of the movie perfectly, from the characters to the backgrounds. It does a good job replicating the scenes. The experiments montage worked particularly well, as did the montage of Jack delivering the presents and the kids reactions to them. I would have liked to have seen more of “Jack’s Lament” since that is a big scene for Jack and a turning point in the movie. Here, it’s treated as a flashback and downplays Jack’s motivation for returning to Halloweentown.

I did enjoy this manga interpretation of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Making Sally the perspective character and playing up the romantic elements was an interesting choice that made this more than just a retelling of the story. I’m glad they acknowledged the musical part of the story, even if it didn’t work as well. Fans of the movie, and of Jack and Sally as a couple, should pick this volume up.

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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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