Jesus. Teacher, healer, savior. The story of one of the most revered figures in human history is revisited in this full-length graphic novel, featuring breathtaking full-color art by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, the creator of "Joan." This faithful adaptation of the New Testament text follows Jesus from his days at Calvary to the time of the Crucifixion and beyond.
My general notion on short pieces is that of caution. The very reason on why caution seems appropriate is explainable by the way that short stories have certain qualities and quantities that encompass them. The very fabric of this pros and cons can be, in my opinion, summarized by the very fact on how much you can present on the canvas. Having no breathing room with the written word or the artistic depiction of the written, in the case of manga, can be a daunting task. You can hear those hardships from writers who try to transition from a long narrative structure to the above
mentioned. In the case of Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, a writer and even more so an artist, who through his early carrier has become known for partially creating one of the longest running anime franchises; decides similarly to the titular character of this manga, to transition his life in a different direction. Through his later career, Yasuhiko takes it to himself to adapt history to the manga world, and by doing so he creates his own fantastical depictions of people and their past.
In the case of this particular manga, its very strength is how balanced it is. The usual method in which I see short stories is a tight focus in a particular area. One can be focused on the artistic depiction or the story, the characters and so on…By ultimately focusing on one certain area, there can be an occurrence of neglect in another. Or a different case can be a too tight focus in a lot of areas, which can create a feeling of suffocation. The most important thing about this manga that separates it from such stories is the way in which the story, characters and art are portrayed. For one, the story of Jesus is told in a simple manner. Being just a story about a leader and his companions, as they travel from place to place. In it we have the traditional account of Jesus, mixed with a very modern depiction of his disciples, detractors, and society. Second, the art retains a sense of complexity but still isn’t over reliant on neither line dependency nor tone, in this case color, making it not a straining read. Also his fantastic character designs are a joy to behold. Although, in the case of Jesus, the bad scanlations are a sight not to behold. And the final category and most important one, the characters. The very depiction of Jesus is a hint to what I mean. Maybe it was a natural conclusion to depict Jesus the way Yasuhiko did. I guess a lot of people know, but the artistic depiction of Jesus is fictious. Drawing him with long hair, a beard and so on and so forth is the idealistic depiction of Jesus. And that is what Yasuhiko retains through not just his image but also through the very actions that we see through the traditional accounts of him. This depictions stands as a point of familiarity for us readers, as we all have our very own view point on the time period, on the actions of the historical personas and on the very man himself. But it is not just our very own view point that is important, but also the way the characters see that idealist depiction of Jesus.
Through reading one interview on the topic of war that Yasuhiko gave, I could see that he didn’t have a bias to either the pros or cons on war itself. Rather he showed a balanced and logical view point on the matter, and this is retained through the characters in this manga. Everyone has believable reasons to why they do what they do, think what they think. There is no ultimate evil or ultimate good. There are just characters that act and react to what their prior life taught them. It’s the collective that makes reading this manga interesting not the individual pieces.
With that, I leave my virtual pen on my dirty desk; I hope you liked this review and thanks for reading!