Sunday September 17, 2006
Getting to know Anne Frank
EDU-MANGA: ANNE FRANK
Story: Etsuo Suzuki
Art: Yoko Miyawaki
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing; 158 pages
For teens 13+
LEARNING history does get pretty boring and dry sometimes, huh? So, what better way to learn the subject than to read about it in manga form? Digital Manga Publishing has come up with an educational manga series on key historical figures using a popular Japanese icon, Astro Boy, as the guide. The facts, arranged in an interesting manner, are easy to remember while the illustrations are pretty helpful in guiding the reader along.
This particular volume features the story of Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who left a candid and insightful account of her two-year life in hiding from Nazi persecution during World War II – which the world later came to know as The Diary of a Young Girl, one of the most widely read books ever.
Fearing their fate, Anne’s father, Otto, had sheltered his family in a secret annex of an office building in Amsterdam, Holland. Sharing the limited confines of the hideout with the Franks, who also included Anne’s mum and sister Margot, were four other persons. With no freedom to roam about, Anne – the youngest of the eight (only 13 when they went into hiding) – spent her time penning her thoughts, her feelings and the daily events in her diary.
Sadly, Anne and her fellow residents of the secret hiding place, with the exception of her father, did not survive the Holocaust. She was 15 when she died, one of millions of Jews in Europe who met a tragic end at the inhumane Nazi concentration camps.
Later, Otto had Anne’s diary published so that the world will learn about their ordeal and not to repeat such cruelty but to respect human rights.
In this manga, the enactments via the illustrations are not as realistic as reading the actual book. However, it still gives the reader a glimpse of what Anne Frank and her family went through. Throughout Anne’s sad story, Astro Boy doesn’t appear much except in between chapters. That way, the mood of the story is retained.
There are Q&A sections where Astro Boy and his companion Dr Elefun provide interesting titbits of the story, what the diary represents, other people who dedicated themselves to world peace, and a timeline of Anne’s life.
Overall, the illustrations are rather old-fashioned and not very attractive compared to other manga in general. However, the story is an eye-opening read so the bad illustrations can be overlooked. Parents may like to know that the actual horrors in the concentration camps are left out of the picture.
Anne Frank is to be admired for her acute observation, deep thoughts and maturity beyond her years. Although she didn’t live to pursue her dreams, her life story has inspired us to continue to champion world peace.
The manga, in this respect, succeeds in reaffirming all that Anne Frank has come to embody.