Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Manga Messiah

This is a blog post by dear hubby Larry:

Evan was never really into his children and toddler Bibles. Turning 4 years old, he was more attracted to action packed cartoons/comics such as Spider-Man, Ben 10 and Power Rangers, especially the fighting scenes. His vocabulary includes words like ‘kill,’ ‘die,’ destroy,’ and ‘explode.’ Of course, we as parents are to blame to expose an impressionable kid to violent scenes albeit animated ones.

As a child my own father encouraged me to watch action flicks and wrestling shows in order for me to learn some self-defense moves. Thankfully I didn’t encounter any bullies in my childhood, and I remain a passive viewer to action films, which my father regards as educational for me. Therefore I didn’t realize that action cartoons would bring such a negative effect to my son. Since discovering that action cartoons make Evan more aggressive (he would jump around in the house ‘fighting bad guys’ using his toys as ‘weapons’), we got him to quit watching those cartoons.

His behavior has improved since he stopped watching those shows. But he still shows no interest towards the stories in children Bibles. I suspect the pictures in the children’s Bibles are too docile to excite a child who likes to watch action cartoons.

Fortunately, we manage to come across Manga Messiah, a comicbook on the Gospels illustrated in manga style. Since the day we bought the comicbook, Evan would want me to read it to him before sleep every night, without fail. He likes Jesus who he regards as ‘powerful,’ ‘able to help people’ and ‘do miracles’. I think it’s wonderful that Evan has finally found a true Hero to emulate.

The corny title aside, Manga Messiah (MM) is a surprisingly well-written and illustrated book. Although it’s intended for non-church-going teenagers who are not inclined to pick up a Bible, it will also equally capture the attention of a Sunday Schooler as well as an adult familiar with the Bible.

MM combines the four Gospels (Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) into a singular narrative spanning 23 chapters in 287 full-colour pages. It is quite a faithful adaption of the Gospels. Every page includes the chapter and verse of the story being told.

It is written and drawn by a Japanese mangaka team. The English translation is very good and at times employs American expressions (e.g. “Man! That is low!” said a disciple when he discovered James and John’s mother’s personal request to Jesus.) The paraphrase is well done akin to the New Living Translation and New Century Version. The illustrations employ typical manga style character appearances and facial expressions. This manages to convey action and dynamism in the stories.

MM fleshes out the Gospel stories quite well and make it more readable. Case is in point: Matthew 9:9. In the Bible, Jesus called to Matthew the tax collector, and the latter simply drops everything and follows the Lord.  A bit too abrupt if you ask me. In MM, Matthew is first shown overhearing people exclaiming the miraculous things that Jesus had done. Then Matthew’s thoughts reveal that he is despised, unwanted, unloved and alone. So when Jesus pops the question, ‘Follow me,’ it is so much more believable that Matthew will quit his job just like that.

MM makes most everything easy to understand. Specific cultural practices and norms are explained in the course of the story, helping us to make sense of what’s happening. And I must say that despite having read the Gospels and looking at maps of the Biblical regions in numerous Bibles, I only fully grasp the distinction of the three regions of Galilee, Samaria and Judea after reading MM.

I’m really impressed by the overall quality of the manga and most importantly, the Gospel is told clearly in a manner that’s appealing to the younger generation. Evan simply adores the stories about Jesus and listens intently when I read it to him before bedtime. I also get him to recite some noteworthy scripture verses.

Manga Messiah is published by Tyndale and is available at Salvation bookstores for RM20. It’s sister titles Manga Metamorphosis (about the Book of Acts) and Manga Mutiny (Genesis & Exodus) are also sold there.


BuffaFly said...

good to know you've found something Evan can relate to.

Allan said...

Hey..I have this too! pretty good read! :-D

Ben Kong said...

Where do u buy this book? I want to buy it as a b-day gift for a friend of mine...