In life, there are books commonly assumed as Must Reads. If you don't encounter them in high school, you might in college and if you haven't read them by then, you are greeted with a horrified gasp from anyone who finds out you haven't. Heck, books like this are usually on people's bucket lists. The problem is how dense the books are and many people find them confusing or boring. This is where UDON Entertainment's graphic classics come in.
If you are familiar with either of these stories, then nothing will surprise you. Nothing in the narrative is changed. Speaking as someone who couldn't get through Pride and Prejudice and hasn't picked up Les Miserables (yet), these two books are a fantastic way to get the story across. What is most helpful is having faces to go with the names. Sometimes having so many names thrown at you makes you forget who is who and why we care who they are. If they vanish for part of the book and return, you have to go back to remind yourself. (nerd note: I had this problem with Dostoevsky; where some of the characters names would straight up change mid story... UDON, make some manga of those please!)
The art is crisp and lovely. Po Tse's dramatic and flowing style is perfect for a Victorian romance like Pride and Prejudice. Even the comical super-deformed moments are beautiful. SunNeko Lee's art is also great but at some points it was odd to be reading such a dark story with such adorable, classic manga art. But you get over it because you're too busy reading.
Both manga cut huge chunks of exposition out (of course) so don't go thinking you can read these instead of doing your homework. I wouldn't say these are nothing more than illustrated cliff notes; you get much more story than that. These manga give you the experience of the main story so you can hold a conversation about whether or not Mr. Darcy is a jerk* or what the heck is the deal with Inspector Javert's obsession with ONE guy who stole bread as opposed to a murderer, or the horrible people who took in Cosette only to neglect and abuse the little girl.
And not to badmouth the movie or the play but; no singing. You can avoid the singing by reading this.
I would love to see more classic works from UDON if for nothing but to get the stories available to a wider audience of people. The art is great, the story is clear, and I was never bored reading them.
*He did come off as a jerk.
Can't get enough of Lenni's writing? See more here.