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"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge
the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4

Manga Messiah

“We’re thrilled to offer the greatest story ever told, about the most controversial man who ever lived, in the most popular graphic novel format on earth.” ~Kevin O’Brien, Director of Bibles and Bible Reference at Tyndale House Publishers

My oldest son recently introduced us to Japanese anime (pronounced “an-e-may,” not “annie-me”). Anime is another word for animation, but it’s far different than ordinary animated cartoons. Anime has exquisite artwork, well-developed characters, and engaging stories. The Japanese word for comic books is manga (pronounced “mahn-ga,” not “mayn-ga”). Like anime, manga has a unique artistic style. This type of comic has become popular among the youth culture worldwide, and it’s also one of the fastest growing genres in American comic book publishing.

Secular anime and manga themes are often based on Shinto beliefs, but I don’t have a problem with this since it teaches about another culture and makes for a useful discussion comparing Christianity with other religions. Nevertheless, as a Christian I was pleased to see that Tyndale House is publishing a whole series of Christian manga, offering positive content with accurate Biblical messages. Manga Messiah and the Manga Bible have been out since 2007. These were followed by Manga Mutiny in 2008, and Manga Metamorphosis in 2009. Fans can also look forward to Manga Malech (Fall 2010) and Manga Messengers (Fall 2011). Tyndale purchased the exclusive English language rights for all of the titles in the manga series from NEXT Inc., a nonprofit corporation formed in 2006 to produce and distribute Biblically-based manga materials worldwide. Behind NEXT is a talented team of Japanese artists, writers, and manga industry professionals.

There are a few other Christian “manga-style” books on the market, but Manga Messiah and its sequels provide the most authentic Japanese manga experience. Although this American manga doesn’t read from right to left like Japanese mangas, it was drawn by real Japanese manga artists so it features true Japanese style artwork with eye-catching full color illustrations on every page. One of the neat things about the manga style is that the artwork is drawn in such a way that makes even still shots seem dynamic with a flowing, graceful movement. This visually engaging art style is intertwined with fast-paced storytelling to effectively deliver classic Biblical truths to our modern youth. In Japan, by the way, reading manga is not just a childhood fad; it’s a lifetime pastime. Likewise, Manga Messiah will appeal to adults as well as kids and teens.

While Manga Messiah is on the cutting edge of creativity, it’s a faithful rendition of the life of Christ pulled from a combination of the accounts told by the four Gospels. This beautifully drawn, graphic representation of Jesus’ life from His birth to His resurrection is full of action and drama that really makes the stories come alive. The authors have taken the liberty to add some extra material which helps highlight the situations and bring out the characters’ emotions. But the message portrayed is genuine and is based on Scripture. I especially like the fact that Manga Messiah lists relevant Bible verses at the bottom of each page, making it easy to look them up. Another interesting thing about this book is that it uses the Hebrew names rather than English names; i.e., Yeshuah (Jesus), Miryam (Mary), and Yosef (Joseph). It also retains the use of other Hebrew words such as rabbi, Messiah, and the month of Nisan. Included in the 288 pages you will also find a map of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea; character profiles of key Bible people; and an illustrated page on the twelve apostles. Just like the classic paintings of old, this manga brings the Gospel to life through art.

Manga Messiah is a nicely sized 5˝ x 8˝, 288-page softcover. It’s a must-have for all “cool” Christians, youth pastors, comic book fans and art lovers. Plus, it’s a wonderful way to introduce anyone to the Bible. You can give one to someone who has a Christian background but is not a churchgoer. It might help them to see some familiar Bible stories with fresh eyes and revive their interest in Jesus. Or you can give one to a friend who doesn’t know much about Jesus. It’s a compelling way to introduce them to the Gospel message. Hopefully, it will get them interested enough to go and read a Bible. It’s also great for someone wanting to engage the Japanese people for Christ. It just might raise some important questions and give you a reference point to talk to them more about Jesus.

If you would prefer an actual Bible that’s illustrated with manga art, Tyndale also publishes the Manga Bible which inserts three 32-page sections of manga into a real Bible (New Living Translation, with Christ’s words in red). The Manga Bible is not entirely manga illustrated like a graphic novel, but the 96 manga presentation pages provide a colorful overview of selected Bible stories. Best of all, the comic pages have footnotes (with verse references and page numbers), making it easy for readers to delve in and read the Bible for themselves. The Manga Bible is great for kids who are ready to move up from their children’s picture bibles but aren’t quite ready for a regular Bible.


These pages are a continuous work in progress.
Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
All rights reserved.

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