Star Wars A New Hope vol 1 (Manga) - Blending two of my favorites - Star Wars and Manga...what can go wrong!

Star Wars: A New Hope Manga, Volume 1 - Hisao Tamaki, George Lucas

*3.9 Stars*

**Warning: I'm assuming everyone who wants to read this and other reviews in the series has at least seen A New Hope once. Therefore, I will not be hiding any "spoilers".**


*The Gush*

During the late 90s and early 2000s, I was a huge Star Wars fan. I still am today, but then I was trying to get my hands on any novel, comic, etc. in the Star Wars universe. I had also only recently been introduced to manga and was hooked. Enter this, a manga about Star Wars...and the rest is history.

This is a great adaptation. Indeed, the dialogue is word for word; you can almost hear the soundtrack in the background as you read. The artwork is amazing. If you are not familiar with the art style of Japanese comics (what Manga essentially is), the wide eyes and unique facial dimensions might throw you for a moment; however, it does not take long for one to realize how close these characters are to their movie counterparts. The reader has no problem recognizing each one and the artwork soon appears normal or at least not so surprising. The inclusion of a couple cut scenes from the movie (Biggs Darklighter makes an appearance as well as the 'battle' between the Jawas and the Stormtroopers - if you don't know who Biggs don't know your Star Wars, he's one of the X-wing pilots near the end of the movie) is wonderful and really adds to the familiar story.

It is however in the scenery and establishing 'shots' that the book truly shines. Some of the scenes on Tatooine are absolutely gorgeous and the two page spread showing the size and might of the Death Star is amazing.


*The Rant*

Two points:

1) The price. Dark Horse comics are always high and this was no exception. A admittedly flimsy paperback book cost ten dollars and with the breaking up of the story into four parts, that's $40 just for A New Hope and there are two more sets after this. The only reason I was able to get both this and Return of the Jedi was the lucky break of finding both sets in their entirety at a used book store. Since manga tended to be almost solely a teenage interest during the time this came out, I find it kinda shortsighted that they didn't knock this down to more of the price of Viz manga. This reason is also why I have vastly more Viz manga over Tokyopop because the later too was ten bucks a book.

2)The main reason for the lost of a star is the fact that this is a flipped manga. For non-manga readers, this phrase will make little sense, so let me try to explain. In Japanese, the words are read from right to left rather then left to right as most Western languages are. Therefore, what is the back of our books is actually the front of their books and vice-versa. This means little when you deal with text but it means a HUGE deal when you are dealing with pictures. Until the late 2000s, nearly all manga brought over to America was 'flipped' or the pictures printed in mirror-image of the original. So a person standing on the right in Japan is suddenly standing on the left when the story is brought over here. The problems with this become very apparent when reading the Star Wars manga as the artist clearly took care to make each frame as close to the movie as possible...and then the picture was flipped and suddenly people are walking in the wrong direction or the group is standing wrong. Manga artists were very upset by all this as were manga readers and finally a solution was reached: we Westerners have learned to read the 'wrong way' ;P and the artwork is left alone. I prefer this method and sometimes will open a regular book at the end after reading a couple manga. This might not mean much to some people but manga readers will find this volume a bit aggravating to read.



Despite my moaning above by 90s manga practices, I really like this series and thoroughly enjoy revisiting it often. If you are a manga fan or a Star Wars fan, this is a must read. The artwork is incredible and it is a wonderful adaptation of the movie (at least the first fourth of it). If you like probably want to give this a miss.