Friends of the Library and Anime Recreations or "Why Mercutio is no longer Mercutio"

So, a quick word on something they do in California with pretty much every library and do with some libraries nationwide that I find to be awesome. They have this thing called the Friends of the Library Bookstore attached to the libraries here and I adore them. Often, you can find great books in decent to new shape. These are books that were donated to the library, but as public libraries buy separate rights to books the libraries can’t place them into the collections. By selling them as a used bookstore, the library gets some funding and the reader gets some great finds. I bought 25 books today for $5.00. Name the last time you were able to walk out with 25 books? Go on…think about it…it doesn’t happen. Paperbacks are $0.25 and hard covers are only $1.00. No, granted, you’re confined to a smaller selection, but I’ve never left without at least one book in tow.

Now for something completely unrelated…

I was watching this anime the other day called “Romeo and Juliet”. They even attribute it to Shakespeare. Now, while I liked the anime, other than the names, the design of the city, and a couple of lines it really had nothing to do with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I’m going to list a few of the differences without giving away the story because I really did enjoy it, even if I think that comments along the lines of “I’ve never seen the play, I wonder if it’s anything like this?” and “Wow, who would have thought Shakespeare would translate word for word into an anime” are just plain silly and made me want to scream “PICK UP THE PLAY AND GET SOME CULTURE”. Good grief. I hope the people who wrote comments in those veins are somewhere below sophomores in high school because if not, their education is woefully lacking and I may have to go in the corner and cry for shame.

  • Escalus is a tree.
  • Ophelia.
  • Juliet is the only known living Capulet.
  • The Capulets used to rule the city.
  • Montague killed off all the Capulets and is legit Crazy.
  • Juliet has spent her life in hiding and dressed as a boy named Odin.
  • Juliet is a vigilante.
  • Juliet kicks so much butt with a sword. (She’s really more Joan of Arc/Juliet)
  • Montague is the Prince.
  • There are dragonhorses.
  • There is no nurse.
  • Romeo gets sent to a mine.
  • Neo Verona.
  • Mercutio is a complete conniving, horrible people who goes just as crazy as Montague.
  • Mercutio practically worships Montague.
  • Tybalt is crazy cool but incredibly bitter and I won’t spoil the surprise but just wait until you figure out how his parentage works out.
  • Romeo’s mother is a nun.
  • William Shakespeare interacts with his characters because this is supposed to be the story that inspired the play.
  • Once again I’ll go with giant tree and Ophelia for strangest anime twist.
  • Not a double suicide.
  • The whole world is on the line.

Strangely, as it’s anime I expect the odd and my one quibble has nothing to do with the weird elements added in. I expect the giant tree, the magical gardener, and the reference to a winged goddess who saves the world. I expect evil tyrants, illegitimate children, and love that only the innocent can have. What I didn’t expect was to hate my favorite character and to love the ones that I usually find annoying. I’m strange, I know this, but I typically find Romeo and Juliet to be annoying. They are in lust, not in love. They feel uber-one-dimensional normally. However, I loved them in this. I was rooting for them, not wanting to smack them. Mercutio, my typical favorite (not in small part for his Queen Mab speech) is a character I’ve always loved. I did the scene before the party, Queen Mab and all, in high school and won an award for playing a drugged out Mercutio. He’s always felt more real to me. He’s tortured. He wants love and peace and happy times. Instead he’s surrounded by blood and his best friend, his compatriot in not wanting to fight, is a sappy love sick kid. For all his issues, I love Mercutio. In this anime, I hate him. There’s not a single thing that endears him to me. It made me sad and made me want to smack the creators because everything Mercutio isn’t, he was.

So, other than the Mercutio thing, thumbs up and lots of fun with Romeo and Juliet, even if it was nothing like the play. It was still a fun, “let-see-what-we-can-do-to-twist-up-a-classic” sort of attempt.

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