Current Reviews


Trigun Anime Manga: Wolfwood

Posted: Friday, March 4, 2005
By: Kelvin Green

"Murder Machine"

Writer/artist: Yasuhiro Nightow (what this means in this context, I don't know)
Composer: Mulele Jarvis

Publisher: Dark Horse

The good news is that this 23 page full colour manga is only twenty-five cents. The bad news is that it's a waste of money even at that price.

One of the differences, if not the key difference, between comics and animation is motion. Animation is a sequence of moving images, while comics must simulate that experience. As such, the panel or frame, the basic building block of both, is modified greatly by the format. A frame of animation is unimportant on its own; it need only enable a smooth transition between the frame before and the frame after. A single comic panel often needs to do much more. It must encompass a longer period of time, and usually a greater amount of motion. A comic panel is usually much more dense in terms of information than its animated counterpart. As a result of all of this, a comic panel will in most cases be a lot more detailed than a frame of animation. There will be more shading, and more detail in both the characters and the backgrounds. The figures will seem more natural and real, since they have to appear as living, moving objects when in fact they are not. Only the most involved, and subsequently expensive, animations are going to devote this much attention to detail to a frame that will zip past the viewer in less than a second (usually about a twelfth of a second, in fact).

So when you try to make a comic made up of freeze-frame images from an animation, what you end up with are stilted images devoid of detail. This is such a fundamental truth that I'm just baffled by the amount of "cinemanga" knocking around. It's a fatally flawed medium, if it even counts as a medium at all.

All those problems are in evidence here, and are exacerbated by the composer's use of source material of dubious quality. It's a trend in much anime to spend most of the money on the first episode, with subsequent episodes having a noticeable downturn in animation and drawing quality. I'm not sure which episode or episodes of the Trigun anime these images came from, but it's either one in which the money's run out, or Dark Horse were using a pirated video for their screen captures. You can even see the scan lines, which is a bit distracting. The inside back page has one of those "you dumbass, you're reading the wrong way" things (and since this isn't actually a manga, isn't doing it "Japanese style" a bit redundant?), and the sample page they have there (reduced in size by about a half and in black and white) looks much better than its counterpart within. Perhaps that would be more sensible way to do this kind of thing.

The other problem with this format is that the writing has to fit with images that weren't designed to have narrative attributed to them in such a way. As such, the story is a bit of a clunker, with some odd dialogue/image mismatches, and a general lack of coherence. For example, scenes which were obviously advancing a subplot in the original anime come across as pointless fluff in a one shot comic.

If twenty-five cents is nothing to you, then by all means have a look, but Id advise you to spend it on something else. As a comics enthusiast, I considered this corruption of the medium as worthless. Surely Dark Horse is making enough money from their manga line that this rubbish isn't necessary?

What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!