Bassanio loves the fair Portia, but needs money to woo her. He calls upon his best friend and mentor Antonio who makes the mistake of borrowing from the banker Shylock.. Shylock hates Bassiano for a previous cruelty at the hands of his best friend, Antonio and for Antonio undermining Shylock’s business, so his terms of failure to pay on time are quite severe: a pound of flesh from nearest Antonio’s heart. When a turn of fortune forces Antonio to be late in payment, Shylock takes Antonio to court seeking his pound of flesh and Antonio’s life.
This is a part of a series of manga Shakespeare tales some of which I reviewed here. I quite like the elfin, fantasy style they use here. They do a good job of making Shylock look sinister and evil without looking like a stereotype. The layouts are quite good and there is a lot of fun and playful visuals with the romantic plot of the book. I do recommend reading this to anyone that would like to get into Shakespeare but is put off by the language, because visuals help make the action clearer. I will say that this book has some of the same problems of the play. The play can certainly be read as anti-Semitic. A great deal of learned scholars have argued that issue for many years, but it FAR too complicated to be settled by one blog post. The Merchant of Venice is a brilliant play and has a lot to say about mercy, justice, love, marriage, and bigotry, so it should absolutely be read and this is a great way to read it.