Manga Bible may tempt a taste

An Anglican priest translated the Bible into Manga form, but will the

by Becky Lang

Ye children, ye college students of Campus Crusade for Christ, and ye students for whom the Bible is not thine bag – or even anyone who has picked up the Daily to do a Sudoku – hear my story of driving to Barnes and Noble in treacherous snow-slush to find what Internet prophets have foretold of: A Manga Bible.

“The Manga Bible”

Author: Siku
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 200
Price: $12.95

As a woman of Catholic upbringing, I have encountered many a scripture in my day, most of them brought to me during Wednesday night religion class, an event that my mother forced me to attend on a weekly basis, despite the boredom it brought to my heart and the awkwardness of holding hands and praying with kids from foreign lands – high schools. Many attempts did the teachers make to turn the oldest book into a novelty more entertaining than the “Dawson’s Creek” we were missing.

Ye readers, I confess that in my day I have been forced to experience the scripture in the form of a Jesus rap. God made light and saw that it was good. I heard a Jesus rap and found that it was bad.

It is known through the ages that almost no path is more dangerous for a cause than attempting to sway apathetic 12 year-olds to think in their image by masking it in something cool. Wise men know that 12-year-olds are the divine executors of the will of the cool. Many good media have been sacrificed for media that will elicit a tween to spend their allowance. But those of youth can also sniff out a weasel, an infidel to their doctrine of Top 40 radio and Disney channel shows du jour. My mission was to determine if the Manga Bible has what it takes to pass the almighty test.

Manga is a Japanese style of graphic novel I have witnessed in the generation below as an artifact with high potential to be cool. I have sat with two giggling representatives of that age group looking at a Manga cloud of stylized splurge noises and male body parts, trying to interpret it as anything other than gay sex. Manga holds many a secret, and much potential to steal the attention of kids who might otherwise be reading “Animorphs.”

But alas, the good book itself also holds many a story of f-ed up sexual exploits and brutal murder as well, and it is frequently placed near children’s bedsides by their mothers. But chapters of lineage and directions about meat curing often cloud the “action-packed” nature inherent in the Bible. The Manga Bible picks up the scandalous moments as adeptly as a farmer gathering the juiciest grapes.

“Lot’s daughters filled him with wine and then slept with him,” the author, Siku, spaketh in the holy realm of a text box. The chapters of kingdom wars and angels of death take up the majority of the book, with many an eye gouged out and many a traitorous wife being burned alive.

So what function is the Manga Bible to have in history? Will it be adapted by religion teachers as a much-coveted vertex of coolness and God? Probably. But just like the planets and the stars that God makes in the beginning of both Bibles, it is good. The dialogue and sketches are just bizarre enough to offset the potential it has to be pure evangelical propaganda.

Yes, it was written by an Anglican priest, but his eye was turned to the direction of market value just enough to keep it humble. The Gospel is brief and Jesus is given a superhero’s broad jaw, becoming a vehicle for action just as much as for preaching forgiveness.

“Jesus squared up to the 10,000 temple guards, traders, money-changers and pilgrims Ö and let rip!” Siku writes over a comic-explosion of flying jewels; the centerpiece is a victorious Jesus wielding a sword.

Whether it is written that the Manga Bible will successfully bathe tween minds with spiritual grace, the fact that it turns the Bible into a continuous and sharp-edged story implies a hefty load of narrative talent. Ye readers can put it in the records that the holiest of Mangas provided this meandering Catholic at least as much spiritual entertainment as prophesied by wise men of yore.