Capturing the “Spirit” of a Work

When I first saw the trailers for the new Star Trek movie, a movie designed to be a continuity reboot of sorts with a young Kirk and young Spock, I was worried. On the movie theater’s screen was a whole lot of action and explosions and intense moments all while the trailer implies what a big coming-of-age story the whole thing will be. I felt that while it could still be a sgood movie, there was a risk that it would not be faithful to the spirit of Star Trek. Having seen the movie, I can say that I was thankfully wrong about it. It’s still full of action and is basically a coming-of-age story, but the core of Star Trek felt intact.

Now, this might be hard to believe based on everything I said in the above paragraph, but I am really not that much of a Star Trek fan. I may have caught a few episodes on tv here or there, particularly The Next Generation, sat through parts of the Star Trek original series marathons that would crop up on tv now and then, watched Duane Johnson Rock Bottom Seven of Nine, and know what the hell a Jem’Hadar is, but it’s not something that has consumed my attention like say, Gundam has. I am not speaking from the perspective of a diehard Star Trek fanatic. That said, the core of Star Trek, I feel, lies in its “How far could we go, if only we got along?” message. To extend it further, I feel that Star Trek is an “intelligent” series, not in the sense that you need to be smart to watch it, but that the focus is mainly on the exchange of ideas, be it between friends of the same race or enemies from different planets, and it’s something I think the new Star Trek film accomplished successfully.

I said something similar about Dragonball Evolution about the need for an adapatation to really capture the “spirit” of its source material, something that, for example, I felt the recent Iron Man film also was able to do. However, what I found in speaking about my concerns regarding Star Trek and any other movie where I feel that an adaptation of an existing work may not be adapting “properly,” is that I had a hard time describing what I consider the “spirit” of a work to be, what an adaptation must successfully bring over from the source material to make it truly an adaptation. After some thinking, the answer I’ve arrived at is something like this.

I believe that the necessary ingredient for an an adaptation is respect for the source material. Incidentally, it’s also something which I consider to be essential to the study of anime as well. It’s not about liking or disliking a work, or perhaps even the production quality, but the people doing adaptations must be able to see what at the core of these works made them special, what made them successful, what is it that gives these works their uniqueness, and using that as a foundation to build upon. It’s okay if you want to make it look less “cheesy” or update some outmoded concepts, but don’t completely throw out what made this idea good or effective in the first place.

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