War of the Three Kingdoms

This week's Manga Wednesday! Or maybe just Manhua Wednesday because this one isn't really a manga...

Recently, I reviewed a bunch of books related to Chinese culture and what not, and so I decided to review another one. I feel like someone out there will say that I'm doing so because I'm trying to connect to a culture that I am a part of and at the same time, not a part of. Maybe.

I had requested Three Kingdoms, a comic adaption of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a 14th century Chinese classic about the three warring kingdoms.  It's a classic Chinese story that's also popular in other Asian countries.

Despite my culture, I barely had any knowledge of the characters or the plot of the book, other than some snippets that I had to read in Chinese school.

To start off, it's no easy undertaking to do an adaption of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Characters are numerous and the plot complex. On top of that, it's an historical novel, written seven centuries ago. Done well, the adaption could be amazing. Done not so well, it could just be one giant scrambled mess (like an omelette, except not so tasty.)

The beginning was interesting and intriguing (a lot more so than Monkey King) and I found myself quickly pulled into the world that is Romance of the Three Kingdoms. However, my sojourn was cut short by the written introduction before chapter two. It wasn't that the comic was a mixture of written word and pictures at the same time, but the transition between the two was a little choppy. The two chapters felt like isolated stories with the only connection being the characters.

Although I'm Chinese, I had a hard time remembering which characters were which. The characters quickly multiplied from three to five to seven, with some inconsequential characters in between. My mind was quickly made into a jumble.

Three Kingdoms will come out on September 04, 2012.

It's hard to be honest to make the characters distinct because it's not possible to make characters have different hair colors or even styles, because it's a historical piece. So... I do applaud the artist in coming up with different features. (I had a hard time remembering who was who, though.)

The comic finally found it's rhythm towards the end of the comic, and I hope that the artist still finds his rhythm for the next volumes.

Review copy via Netgalley

(I can't seem to find a picture of the cover online...:/ )

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Maira Gall