When I was ten years old I became obsessed with fairy tales, visiting the public library and perusing as many books as I could find that were filled with tons of these stories from the past. One of my favorites was Beauty and the Beast, originally created by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740. However, the version I knew was adapted in 1889 by Andrew Lang in the Blue Fairy Book. The universal theme of finding love by uncovering the beauty within a person despite their outward appearance or misguided actions is appealing to all story tellers, so it’s not surprising that this is one tale that has gone through numerous reinventions over the years appearing in formats ranging from stage to screen to television to animation to written word and now – Manga style.
While I love Disney, in recent years their adaptations of many well known fairy tales only retain a teeny essence of the original such as Frozen (doesn’t even slightly resemble The Snow Queen), Tangled (well she did have really long hair), or The Princess and the Frog (not even close). However, many aspects of Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast actually took components from the original, especially if you leave out that whole Gaston bit. While I haven’t seen the new live action Disney Movie, it is my understanding that several details were added to flesh out the story which at least have a footing in the French version.
Along with the artistic talents of Studio Dice, Mallory Reaves has created a manga graphic novel based on this movie. In order to provide some depth and present the points of view of both main charactors, Tokyo Pop has published twin companion books, Belle’s Tale: (Disney’s Beauty and and the Beast, #1) and The Beast’s Tale: (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, #2). Their challenge was to retain the essence of the Disney renditions utilizing the Shojo Manga style which was beautifully accomplished with the location pieces superbly rich with details using line drawings to recreate various rooms in the castle and other locales. My favorite was the vast library which the Beast presents to Belle as her own. While it is difficult to capture all the nuances of a movie in a one dimensional drawing, the artist made a valiant attempt, helped along with our familiarity with the animation, stage, and movie versions so many of us have seen over the years.
As far as the plot is concerned, Belle’s point of view will be the most familiar to the readers, but the Beast’s tale is definitely a companion piece meant to be read in conjunction with the first. While Belle’s story could easily stand alone, too much is missing from the book featuring the Beast’s perceptions, despite the duplication of many panels. Yet I found it fascinating to listen in to the Beast’s thoughts and reactions as he experienced the same events as Belle, helping the reader undergo his transformation from Beast to man in a way which makes us root all the more for true love. While there are a few “holes” in both stories, the manga style necessitates brevity over explanation forcing the reader to interject their own aesthetics into the saga. It was clever how the artists were able to differentiate the character’s thoughts from the dialogue.
Both books contained several pages of concept art at the conclusion of the story.
A thank you to Netgalley and Tokyo Pop for providing this ARC in the exchange for an honest review. Four stars. This review also appears on my blog, Gotta Read.