The idea behind a remake is based on the cold calculations of accountants. It’s known that half of the audience for Story X will come back to check out a sequel. That means, if Story X did big enough business, it’s worth knocking out a follow-up, just to grab the money. Hollywood is the most notorious offender of course, cranking out unnecessary sequels in which we get Another This, Son of That and Revenge of the Other. Manga do it, too. Sports stories take their heroes to the next championship level, martial arts stories bring on new opponents, and girls’ romances find a handy way to split up the lovers once more. In the case of Ironfist Chinmi, creator Takeshi Maekawa simply started renumbering the books – he declared that volume 36 of the old Chinmi was actually volume one of the “New Chinmi”, thereby hoping to attract new readers, even thought the story simply went on as before.

I’ve always been cynical about remakes, and about stories that outstay their welcome. I’m actually glad that The West Wing came to a graceful halt last month, instead of losing its appeal. But modern times have shown us that remakes need not be awful. In the case of the new Battlestar Galactica, a remake can actually turn out to be far superior to the original.

In the manga world, editors have hit on a new discovery. For some, text isn’t all that important, what matters to them is the image, and they rather wish they could “remaster” old stories, like George Lucas tarting up the Star Wars films. So it is when the classic volleyball story Attack Number One was recently adapted into a live-action TV show, it was decided not to reprint the original. Instead, editors dusted off the original script, and got a new artist to draw it again, keeping the feel of the original, but adding a more modern look, and little details like mobile phones and up-to-date cars. Can we expect to see more of such image upgrades in future? Or are we already up to our necks in them, but someone’s changed the titles so that we don’t immediately notice…?

(This article originally appeared in Neo #21, 2006)

6 thoughts on “Remastering

  1. Yukito Kishiro did his manga Battle Angel Alita (née Gunnm). There is a rumour that he got ill part way through and finished the manga off earlier than expected.

    Anyhow, supposedly fully recovered from his ailment he restarted the story from part way through the original series and took it in a new direction, as such you have sets of manga, one that finishes and another that branches off and takes the characters in a new direction: It’s not a sequel, prequel but a para-equal (copyright mcmlxxxviiii PJ). In this case it works for me.

    I wonder if George might consider re-doing Episode1 – let’s call it Episode 1B for arguments sake – whereby Jar Jar Binks is killed in a tragic and excruciatingly painful Combine-harvester accident in the opening scene. And Anakin is taken into care for being too clever and cute- well, that’s my New Hope.

  2. Oh Paul, Jar jar is a pivotal character in the Star wars canon, after all who gets palpy into the senate and thus, is responsible for pretty much all the events that come into fruition.. wait this in an anime blog.

    Neon Genesis Evangelion is being reinvented as four movies, and they’ve updated the Eva fight scenes but left everything else intact, I haven’t seen the first movie though I know it was available illegally through the internet.

    Games get the graphical treatment too, and I don’t mean Streetfighter HD, Metal Gear Solid and Resident evil were both given updated treatment on the gamecube. N64’s foul mouthed squirrel Conker got a revival on the Xbox and the DS received 3D versions of Final fantasy 3 and 4, complete with chibi headed avatars though the graphics here aren’t exactly as pleasant as their nes/snes sprite counterparts.

    of coure not everything is an update in Artwork, I’m probably wrong but wasn’t Bubblegum crash a sort of reinvention of Bubblegum Crisis. Ghost in the shell’s manga got reinvented as two movies, which in turn lead to two 26 episode series, which in turn spawned their it’s own spin off movie (which I have yet to watch along with 2nd gig.)

    What I like about anime is that with things such as the above, there is no fixed canon. The anime stands on its on, the movie stands on its own merit, the manga stands on its own, people accept all three and don’t question which is the genuine universe.

    Meanwhile star wars fans are reading a bunch of books they love that aren’t canon, while being force fed prequels that are canon, but they hate.

    Of course maybe there are purists out there dreading an update of Time Stranger, clutching on to their VHS copy. Like those Alan Moore fanboys clutching their Hardback copies of Watchmen.

  3. Yes, ‘Bubblegum’ was re-done or to be more precise, finished. The slight character re-invention was to do with copyright (I think). Bless the production team for actually wanting to finish that series off! Anyone want to borrow my Hurricane disk (that was taking advantage methinks) to sing along too?

    Sequels I’m happy with as long as we get continuity, as such GiTS 2 & 3 are fine for me and sync with the later series, although JC may disagree with me on this.

    The only prequel I’ve ever wanted to see is the ‘Terminator’. When I saw the first film I thought, yea, I want to see how this comes about… not much longer to wait for that one.

    As a term ‘fanboys’ is an insult IMHO- I’m a fan, certainly not a boy, although my wife may beg to differ (as she frequently does). I have no toys or posters to boast of [looks at Hugh ;-].

    I’m a big Moore fan, in fact I was a fan before I even knew I was a fan, but that doesn’t mean I get upset if Mr Moore is upset about the adaptations, as long as they stay true to the central theme. And really Alan, anarchy isn’t a solution to anything.

  4. Okay sorry, let “fanboy” be stricken from the record, though it does sum up the sort of idiots who leave nothing but negative feedback on every article uploaded on a website I will miss title as “”

    I still stand by my Jar Jar defense, on the whole, though I found the episode of clone wars that centred around him to be far too grating.

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