Manga Review: Romeo x Juliet

Romeo x Juliet is a manga adaptation of the anime series produced by the Gonzo animation studio; the anime is based on William Shakespeare’s play. This manga adaptation was written by Hitomi Amamiya, and the art was done by COM. This release compiles the two volumes that were released in Japan into one omnibus edition. Yen Press holds the North American distribution rights for the manga, which is presented as an “unflipped” release; it was translated by Kate Beckwitt. This omnibus was released in 2010. Romeo x Juliet is rated “T” for Teen.

Romeo x Juliet
Written by: Hitomi Amamiya
Publisher: Kadokawa Shoten
English Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: July 27, 2010

At the beginning of the story, Leontes Montague massacres everyone in the Capulet family except for a young Juliet. After the death of the Capulets, Montague rules over Neo Verona with a tyrannical hand. Juliet grows up in hiding in Neo Verona, disguised as a boy named Odin. The series begins fourteen years after the massacre of the Capulets, and Montague’s men are on a hunt for Juliet, who is now a teenager. Juliet/Odin takes on the secret identity of “The Red Whirlwind,” a Robin Hood type figure who rescues the common folk from Lord Montague and his iron-fisted rule. One day, while on the run from Montague’s men in her Red Whirlwind disguise, Juliet/Odin falls off a ledge. Luckily, Romeo is riding by on his Dragon Steed and rescues her.

Romeo is the son of Lord Montague, but he does not share his father’s beliefs; he is also being forced into an unwanted engagement with a young woman named Hermione. Through chance encounters, Juliet and Romeo meet and fall for each other. Unfortunately, on Juliet’s sixteenth birthday, she learns that she is really a Capulet, and how the Lord Montague slaughtered her family. She also learns that Romeo is Lord Montague’s son. The rest of the story focuses on how Romeo and Juliet overcome these revelations and how their relationship grows. William Shakespeare himself even makes some appearances in the story.

In many respects, the story of this manga is similar to Shakespeare’s original, but there are some changes, some of which are described in the plot synopsis in this review, while others are being left unsaid to try to avoid accidentally providing potential spoilers.

The character designs and art style in this manga are obviously based on the anime series, with some minor changes. Even though Romeo x Juliet is being marketed as a shojo title, there’s still plenty of action and panels with “sound effects” in them. With all the action included in this manga, it actually makes this omnibus an easy read.

There’s a good mix of action and drama in the story, and it’s an interesting interpretation of the Shakespeare play. The story is written in such a way that a reader doesn’t necessarily need to be familiar with Shakespeare’s work in order to enjoy it. If you enjoy shojo manga, especially shojo manga with a European setting and feel that features of drama and action, then you might enjoy Romeo x Juliet.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of this manga that my older daughter checked out through the King County Library System.

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