Sunday, March 6, 2016


This month we're shaking up things a little and doing a little bit of spring cleaning when it comes to the themes.  That's why I'm dusting off an old theme for this month:

Now, for the sake of easiness variety we're going to open this up a little to include movie-to-manga and OVA-to-manga adaptations as well.  We're going to kick thing off with one of the rarer instances of movie-to-manga, one where the movie isn't anime but instead a Western movie.  In fact, it's one of the most popular movies of all time.

STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE (Star Wars Episode 4: Aratanaru Kibo), adapted by Hisao Tamaki.  First published in 1997 and first published in North America in 1998.


In a galaxy far, far away, a young farm boy named Luke discovers that his two new droids are carrying a secret....

I'm sorry,but do I really need to summarize this one?  Honestly, the only way at this point you aren't familiar with the basic plot points of A New Hope is to be either a very young child or if you have purposefully removed yourself from the world, preferably by literally living under a rock.  Even if by some small miracle you haven't actually watched the film, you almost certainly have seen it referenced or parodied in various other forms of media.  This was just as true at the time of this manga's release as it is now.  The only difference is that the hype around Star Wars wasn't coming from a new film, but instead the Japanese release of the special editions of the original trilogy.  Honestly, though, the real reason that I don't need to summarize this manga is that this manga IS the film.

This might be one of the most literally movie-to-manga adaptations I've come across in my time.  Line for line, shot for shot, this manga is a match for the original film.  The amount of panels that feature something that wasn't originally in the movie (special edition or otherwise) could be counted on your hand with some fingers to spare.   If you have seen this movie, you know precisely what and when everything is going to happen in this manga.  It also takes its sweet time adapting that movie, as this volume only covers roughly the first quarter of the movie.  That means we get a few glimpses of Darth Vader, but most of our time is spent watching Luke, Obi Wan and the droids wander around the dusty wastes of Tatooine.  So if you want all the exciting stuff - Han, Chewie, Mos Eisley, the Death Star, the Battle of Yavin - you have to read the later volumes.  I just have to wonder why anyone would bother with a manga that's basically the same as the movie but stretched out over multiple volumes.  At that point, you might as well cut to the chase and just watch the movie.


I will grant Hisao Tamaki this much: he's a decent artist.  He does try to capture the actors' likeness as much as possible, although the closer he gets to the main cast the more the characters start to look cute in an anime-friendly sort of way.  What few action pieces can be found here are nicely captured, although his tendency to use speedlines does tend to obscure the action and dramatic angles a little.  Once again, though, Tamaki isn't really doing anything you couldn't get from the movie.  Many panels are a shot-for-shot recreation of a scene.  The only difference between them and the movie is that they were flipped because this is a Dark Horse manga from the 90s and that was simply what was done back then.  He also has the most generic artstyle ever.  He might be the first manga artist I've seen whose art actually looks like something straight out of those bargain-bin "How To Draw Manga" books.  It's all fairly appealing and competent, but it lacks any sort of personality or visual flair.  It's telling that the cover art (provided by Western comic artist Adam Warren, of Empowered fame) is more distinct and energetic than the artwork within the book.  Once again, you'd be better off just watching the movie.  Well, that or looking up manga-styled fanart on DeviantArt. 

I can't give this book a red light if simply because it's adapting a great movie and does a decent, if rather literal, job at it.  That being said, it's such a literal translation that it renders itself kind of pointless by merely existing.  Even hardcore Star Wars fans will likely regard this as nothing more than a curiosity.

This series was published by Dark Horse.  This series is complete in Japan with four volumes available.  All four volumes were published and all are currently out of print.

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