The Hunger Games: Manga style

I’m currently obsessed with The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins and started reading the final installment, Mockingjay, yesterday. The psychological thriller features an oppressed group fighting for their freedom from the tyrannical rule of the “Capitol” and the twisted “Hunger Games” that pit children against each other in a fight to the death. The more I read, the more I envision transforming these books into a graphic novel/Amerimanga-style series. From the high-paced action scenes of the actual Hunger Games to the tragic moments shared between children thrown into a violent world, the depth and fluidity of all three novels could only be heightened by panels of detailed landscape and exaggerated character expressions that are characteristic of the manga art form.

My first selling point: the main character, Katniss, could appeal widely to audiences young and old of any gender. In fact, she seems more like a man than her actual love interests due to her upbringing and “survival of the fittest” mindset. Katniss grew up filling the role of her father, who died in a mine explosion. Because her mother suffered a mental breakdown and her sister was too young and weak to help, Katniss sacrificed her life to hunt illegally and acquire additional necessitites by adding her name to the Hunger Game lottery multiple times, all to provide for her family. Romance and other girlish worries are the last thing on her mind, and she volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Hunger Games knowing her odds of living are slim to none.

A drawing of Katniss from one cover of The Hunger Games

As a strong, independent female character, Katniss’s narrating skills mainly explore her evolving actions and emotions the further along she gets through the Hunger Games, and later, the rebellion. While this could be seen problematic to translate into comic form, I am confident that the overdrawn emotions characteristic of manga could embody Katniss’s struggle to think like, embody, and act as a killer. She is a powerful character in her own right, and just as she carries the novel with confidence and honesty, a manga character would be able to convey these same emotions.

Point number two: The great literary debate–Peeta vs. Gale. Forget Team Edward or Jacob, the real question on every woman’s mind is how will Katniss choose between these two unbelievable men? Both characters capture a different type of “dreamy” boyfriend any girl would be so lucky to have, but without seeming overly perfect or unrealistic. I actually find the men more feminine and lovelorn than Katniss herself, who has little time to think about love with the rebellion on her shoulders. Even still, this major theme will capture the attention of Shoujo lovers from all over without seeming too cute or typical.

Point number three: Action, action, and did I say action? The fight scenes in The Hunger Games are ideal for all those Shonoen-reading, Dragon Ball Z-loving fans out there. And set against a backdrop of post-apocalyptic chaos and poverty, it’s hard to imagine how it could get any more enthralling. Themes of government corruption, violence, and the endless question of who is a friend and who is an enemy would add even more excitement to an Amerimanga version of the trilogy.

Lionsgate purchased the movie rights in 2009 and has been searching for the perfect cast to bring the magic of the trilogy to the CGI-enhanced, book-to-movie empire that has turned beloved works like Harry Potter and Twilight into cultural phenomenons. But the biggest problem for me is that the actresses they are looking at to play Katniss do not fit at all!

Kristen Stewart is overdone in Twilight, and her monotone voice combined with frail features don’t embody the heroine’s spirit whatsoever. Chloe Moretz is another pick from Entertainment Weekly, but she is much too young and does not fit any characteristic description of Katniss either. She is described as an olive-skinned girl with a long black braid and slightly muscular build (not to mention, a knockout when cleaned up). For this role, I truly believe they need to pick an unknown actress of Italian, Spanish, or Native American descent. While the perfect actress hasn’t come to mind yet, I will continue to ponder over this until they cast the final character. Don’t even get me started about Peeta and Gale, as long as the actors can act, I’ll be satisfied.

But now I’m just getting off track, too excited by the potential this series has in both Amerimanga and movie format. Well, I’m off to finish the third book, maybe someone will take the idea and run with it. I know I’d be first in line to purchase the graphic novel version, no questions asked!

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