Here’s a question that I have been thinking about for a while. As much as we think we won’t change our ideas later in life, we do. Or sometimes, we see something that we were perfectly satisfied with before, but now think it could be better. That’s sort of a curse/blessing for authors, designers, artists, and directors. Now the question I have is, over the course of a series, does the creator have the right to make changes as he sees fit?
I thought about this question as I read through Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind manga (Japanese comic) by Miyazaki. I started reading it after watching the film for the first time. I heard that Miyazaki is a master animator. As I read through the manga, I could see how the story changed over the course of its 12 year publication. I was surprised. However, just with the first two volumes which the movie adaptation was based on, it was different. I wondered if I didn’t know the movie and manga were done by the same person, would I have yelled at the director for not knowing the source material? Would I have hated the movie instead of thinking it as an opportunity to explore a different path?
The same applies to the Hunger Games movie. While that wasn’t too different from the book, I still felt some peace knowing it was written by the same person. Of course, this does not always fulfill the desires of the audience.
In the Nausicaa example, I found myself disappointed with the ending of manga because it appeared to betray the ideas of the character I held. In the video game world, there was another recent example where the audience felt betrayed by the guy who handled the series for a long time. The case was Metroid: Other M. Metroid is famous for its gameplay but also for the surprise reveal at the end that its protagonist was a woman. In the games, the player rarely hears her voice so they are able to easily create an idea of a strong, silent type. When this other game came out, the audience felt betrayed by her annoying voice (at least for the English version) and her excess of dialogue. She now came across as weak (even while facing a monster she demolished) and whiny. So is the writer allowed to “betray” his audience in that way, even when it’s the same writer as before?
A more famous example that gets people riled up is Star Wars. This is certainly an example where an audience cries out that the “prequels” don’t exist and yells at George Lucas for any changes to the original trilogy. Even as I watched through the original trilogy, I could feel that Return of the Jedi was not the same as planned. After searching through the internet, I could find comments from various actors and producers saying that, such as Harrison Ford not planning to be in it or Leia was not supposed to be Luke’s sister.
However, as annoyed or disappointed I might get from the creator making a change, I just have to accept it. There really shouldn’t be any question of rights here. The story is author’s creation. It’s what the author thinks about again and again, using it to express ideas. Now as time goes on, the ideology of a man changes as well. If the author also discovers he can make the work better or at least closer to his vision, then he should be able to make the changes necessary.