I love Haibane Renmei. The anime captivated me from start to finish with its beautiful setting, heart-wrenching story and incredible attention to detail- so much so that I still try to find a place for it any time a top ten anime list is required. With that in mind, it seems little wonder that I would want to try the manga version of the tale, and when it seemed that Dark Horse had indeed licensed it, I resolved to order a copy of the first volume.
Unfortunately, upon receiving the book in question, I came to realise that the relatively pricy £6.72 I had spent on the book would have been better left in my bank account. What I had bought was not the genuine Haibane manga, but rather an ‘anime manga’ (aka cine manga if you happen to buy them from Tokyopop). For those lucky enough to not have been exposed to this new moneymaking enterprise, the ‘anime manga’ is little more than its title suggests- a manga created by arranging panels of low resolution anime screencaps, captioned with dialogue from the English dub. Admittedly, it is in full colour throughout, but apart from this, there is little to recommend such a creation.
Since returning the book would have been more trouble than it was worth, I decided that I may as well accept my mistake and just go ahead and read it anyway. Given the quality of the original material, this volume (which covers the first six episodes) is enjoyable enough, but also rather unnecessary- if I wanted to experience the anime again, my time would have been better spent watching the actual DVDs. The presentation is also little better than what I could achieve myself if undertaking the same project with the help of Photoshop or GIMP; as mentioned above, the images are of a substandard quality, and whilst the speech bubbles are at least well positioned, sound effects look unnatural and awkward. There are also issues with the dialogue itself, which contains numerous errors, to the point of rendering some lines barely comprehensible. Another round of proofreading would certainly have been beneficial, especially considering the price of the volume (yes, it is in colour, but the page count is rather slim).
Anime manga has never been something that interested me, and had I been paying closer attention, I certainly would never have let it enter my life. Unfortunately, this volume does little to change my mind on the subject, for even a series like Haibane cannot breathe life into a low quality format more suited for children’s books.