Title: Star Trek: The Next Generation : Boukenshin
Volumes: 1, out of print currently
Company: Tokyopop, Eaglemoss/IDW (potential upcoming hardbound reprint )
Genre: Science Fiction
Adaptations provide notorious difficulty. Narrative rules vary between entertainment mediums. Additionally, narrative rules vary between cultures. Successful adaptations attempt to satisfy both sets of rules, while standing as its’ own work of art. Countless failed adaptations speak to the difficulty of turning an anime or manga into a Western live-action movie.
In this case, Western work adapts into an Easter style. Star Trek: The Next Generation – Boukenshin adapts the popular show from the 1980’s into 4 new manga stories. As in the show, Captain Picard runs the ship. Commander Riker leads the crew on missions. Worf is a alien warrior living among humans. Data the android desires to be more human. Deanna Troi serves as the emphathic ship’s counselor. Blind Geordi fixes and flies the ship. And, Beverly Crusher works as the ship’s doctor.
Is It Good Manga?
Notably, Star Trek: The Next Generation – Boukenshin reads like a western book from left to right. Additionally, the book’s writers wrote previous Star Trek works. They are not known for manga storytelling but surprisingly, the artists capture the manga aesthetic successfully.
The art from the first two stories has an energetic shonen feel. E.J. Su and Chrissy Delk both draw excellent work. Action and emotion take priority over detailed character likeness. Because the stories deal with empathy the art style works well.
Sadly, the art from the third story is less successful. The plot is about inner emotional struggle. Picard’s emotional imprisonment reflects within a rigidly static art style. However, Don Hundson’s art is stiff and restricting at all times. Even when movement serves the story, Hudson’s art remains unyielding.
In the final story, Bettina Kurkoski provides bold, dynamic art. Her style fits the themes of loyalty, and heroism. Riker’s personal stand lives on the page because of her art.
While some of the formatting is not typical of manga, Boukenshin‘s art exemplifies manga throughout most of the book.
Is It Good Star Trek?
While one of the weakest of the Trek movies, Star Trek: Nemesis provides the most concise definition of what Star Trek is at it’s core. Musing on the differences between himself and his prototype brother B-4, the android Data said, “I aspire, sir, to be better than I am. B-4 does not.”
The series is all about the aspiration to be better. Both on a personal and on a civilization scale, we have the power to make the choice to improve who we are in Star Trek. Good Star Trek believes in humanity.
Pleasantly, Boukinshin understands Star Trek. Throughout the book, characters embrace their ability to be noble. In the first story, Beverly’s son Wesley confronts his attitudes towards his coworkers. Second, Troi confronts an unknown contagion preying on the crew’s mental state. Next, Picard processes his emotional trauma. Finally, Starfleet tests Riker’s loyalty to Picard. Each story utilizes science fiction concepts to explore humanity’s potential.
Excellent Star Trek serves as a counterbalance to fears of the modern world. Cold wars, racial tensions, and terror attacks scare us. However, the future is optimistic in Star Trek. Tomorrow is a better place. And in it, we can be better people.
Perhaps, the best evidence for Star Trek ideals lies within this work. Boukenshin successfully balances artistic concerns from multiple mediums and cultures. It is good manga and it is also a good science fiction at the same time. Ultimately, Boukenshin is good Star Trek in multiple ways. It both delivers excellent Star Trek tales as well as providing practical examples of the benefits of cultural exchange.
While the original Tokyopop edition is out of print, it is available second-hand. There is a potential reprint in the works. IDW and Eaglemoss are currently collecting and reprinting Star Trek comics from all the previous publishers. Eventually, the manga’s inclusion in the Eaglemoss hardbound collection will hopefully occur. The set includes many other rarely reprinted Star Trek comics. For a fan of both manga and science fiction, Boukenshin is worth purchasing in either edition.