Retranslating Shakespeare in Romeo X Juliet

Conference: The Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media & Culture (KAMC2021)
Title: Retranslating Shakespeare in Romeo X Juliet
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies and Theory
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Valentina Rossi, eCampus University of Novedrate, Italy


The reproduction of renowned western literary works in the artistic forms typical of Eastern cultures has always provided a basis for mutual enrichment of both cultures. This paper will focus on the peculiar relationship between William Shakespeare and Japanese animation, aiming to show that the retranslation of the canon in the quintessentially Japanese form of entertainment is not limited to a faithful reproduction of the original as it was inherited by the Bard; in fact in the panorama of Japanese anime, ‘mirror reproductions’ of the canon are rarely present, rather the originals are rewritten, and in the most extreme cases the model is completely subverted. This is the case of Romeo x Juliet (2007): an anime which, even if apparently based on the Shakespearean tragedy from which it derives its name, entirely revolutionises the plot, distancing itself continually further from its source as the series progresses. In Romeo x Juliet the objective of the couple is not to protect their love from the senseless hate of their families, but rather to establish political stability, in Verona. This particular element is an antithesis of the work to which the series makes explicit reference. In short, this paper aims to explore what emerges from the meeting of the Shakespearean texts of the First Folio and the episodes of the aforementioned anime; to reflect upon the effects of a cross-pollination across genres which underpins the process of rewriting, leading, in some cases, to an unShakespearing of Shakespeare.

Virtual Presentation

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Irina Stanova
Thank you very much for the presentation! This is a very interesting case of adaptation.
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