What happens when you mix Japanese animation with the compelling stories found in the Gospels? You get the Manga Messiah. Manga Messiah follows the entire life of Jesus according to the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) from His birth to His resurrection. There is only one word to describe this 280 page book – fantastic. If you have students (mainly middle school) who love manga comics, then you have to get this book into their hands. Not only will they enjoy reading it, but you will be glad they are.
Manga Messiah is unlike any other graphic novel adaptation of the scriptures I have ever seen. The first thing that you notice is the quality of art and style which fills the pages. There is not one page of low quality artwork. The accounts of Jesus' life are filled with emotion and this book captures those emotions through vivid manga animation. Like all good adaptations, you will be seeing the stories in your mind's eye each time you read through the Scriptures.
Along with the artwork, another great feature is the scriptural references on each page. At the bottom of each page you will find the passages where the stories are taken from. This allows the reader the ability to read more and discover the details and aspects which cannot be put into a graphic novel. There is no easy way for a reader to find a certain passage of Scripture unless they know the chronological order of Jesus' life. Beyond that knowledge, Manga Messiah is broken down into chapters and subchapters. So if you want to look at the Lord's Supper, you can see it starts on page 232. Along with these Scripture references, you will find a few other great little additions to the pages. One addition that sneaks some education into this Manga is the insertion of cultural background information (ie. explaining what it means to fast on page 120).
As a youth minister, there are a few expectations I have for a resource that can be given out to teenagers. First, I want something that is biblically accurate – Manga Messiah is very accurate. Second, I want something that is high quality – Manga Messiah is extremely high quality. Third, I want something that is going catch their attention – Manga Messiah will not be easily put down. Fourth, I want something that will impact their life – Manga Messiah is all about Jesus and anytime you read about His life you are bound to be changed.
Who should pick up a copy of Manga Messiah? I think there are four groups of people who need to pick it up; fans of manga comics, comic book fans, middle schoolers, and youth workers.