In the J-drama Dragon Zakura, the protagonist uses unconventional methods to help the school’s worst students get into prestigious Tokyo University. And his approach for the history portion? Historical manga! And why not? As exciting as a past event might be, if it’s presented as a lengthy wall of text, some may get intimidated and give up reading even before they start. The beauty of manga is that it can offer access to that same information in a way that’s entertaining and more likely to stick with the reader.
I have a feeling that’s why NEXT put out its five volume series. While the Bible is an amazing piece of literature with truly epic moments, it’s up there when it comes to dense text. Manga Metamorphosis is the fifth in NEXT’s series, and you can read on for the review. (For those interested in other volumes of the series, click here).
Back Cover Blurb
Manga Metamorphosis dives right into the adventures of Yeshua’s followers after his departure. At first bewildered, they quickly see there is little time for reflection as the forces of their enemies bear down hard and fast upon them. Every ounce of courage and strength is required as these newly endangered followers hold on to their faith and to each other.
They must come to terms with the knowledge that each day could be their last, and indeed, some of them will pay for their convictions with their lives. But despite losses and upheaval, victory is in the making and many believe the adventure and its purposes are worth the sorrow.
Chronologically speaking, Manga Metamorphosis is the last in NEXT’s Bible series, and in my opinion, it’s the best executed. This is for two reasons. First, except for a brief prologue, it sticks to a single book, the Book of Acts. Second, this particular book lends itself well to Shinozawa-sensei’s shonen style artwork. Between the actions of God, angels, demons, Yeshuah’s followers, the religious establishment, and missions trips all over the Roman world, there’s plenty of action going on.
Shinozawa-sensei does well with the dramatic parts. James’ martyrdom is especially moving. She does even better with scenes that lend themselves to humor. One of the best examples is Peter’s escape from prison, where an angel punches him awake and Rhoda’s comic excitement gets elevated by hilarious misunderstanding from the other disciples. All in all, it’s an entertaining and quick read that stays true to original and inserts just enough historical information to orient a modern audience.
While Metamorphosis is basically a manga retelling of the Book of Acts, it does include Paul’s letters to four communities (Philippians, Corinthians, Ephesians, and Romans). What the creators did was create manga mini-synopses of these letters featuring a cute chibi-Paul. These synopses are one to three pages and inserted after the communities to which they were addressed get introduced. They don’t delve into every theological detail of these letters, but they do offer the highlights in a way anyone can understand.
A map, chronology, and character profiles are included in the back as extras.
Manga Metamorphosis is fun and lively yet stays true to the original Book of Acts text. Shinozawa-sensei’s shonen illustrations and humorous storytelling style are a good complement to the wild adventures of Yeshua’s followers after his ascension. While it looks like it was written for a juvenile audience, it’s still a good resource for anyone wanting a quick overview on the history and leaders of the early church.
First published at the Fandom Post.