Once upon a time there is a Secret Santa Project hosted by Reverse Thieves in the Anime Blogosphere. This projects works by sending your application with your list of Anime you have watched and like. On the other side, a person receives your list and suggests three shows to watch and you pick one to review. Most of you have already seen the list of Anime I have suggested at my side blog, Shiori’s Diary. From the list of shows I was suggested, I decided to watch Haibane Renmei, which is a 2002 slice of life Anime made by Radix. (Image Source)
What is exactly a Haibane? They are angel-like people, which have wings and decorative halos. They are born in cocoons inside a specific area and work with other humans in town while being closed in the walls like a sandbox. Seems simple enough, right? Not really since there are many mysterious things about Haibane. The mysteriousness of the Haibane made Rakka depressed when Kuu disappear in her “Day of Flight,” which is a phenomenon Haibanes face when they goes over the wall and enter the outside world.
The story is mainly focused on Rakka, the main character in the story, which is a teenaged female Haibane. She gains wings and then given some time to get settled before working. During the course of the first 5 episodes, there are some nice and fun slice of life moments with Rakka working in various places with other Haibane depending on the episode to get a feel what everyone else is doing.
Later on, some drama kicks in after Kuu disappears. In the middle of the show (Episodes 6 to 10), Rakka becomes depressed while she develops black spots on her wing. She tries to hide it by cutting them, but everyone notices. Since Reki is worried about Rakka, she treats them with a medicine to hide them. Unfortunately, it keeps coming back until she finds the last piece of her dream, the crow that died in the well she fell into. In several hours, some communicators help her to pull her out of the well. Sadly they left when she tried to ask them questions. This causes her to touch the wall, which inflicts a condition of numbness. The old communicator manages gets her out and the others bring her home to treat her ailment.
The last part of the show is focused on Reki. In the past, she was inflicted with the same condition, which is a mark of being sin-bound. This means that a Haibane who are sin-bound has incomplete dreams. This meant that he/she would never meet their “Day of Flight” and therefore, stay in the sandbox forever. Reki’s blackened wings are developed in the past, which made her an outcast. Kuramori gives Reki affection even though she was different, which allowed her to have more self-esteem. Unfortunately, Kuramori left them, which causes her do bad things like driving a wedge in the wall, which nearly kills Hyohko, but didn’t. As a result, the twin-tailed girl now hates Reki and Reki gets punished. Fortunately, Reki comes back to her senses with the help of Rakka even though it was hopeless at the last minute. This allows her to have her “Day of Flight” and Rakka now takes on the responsibility of caring for the children.
Even though I haven’t heard the opening and ending sequences, the music was pretty nice. The song used in specific scenes conveys the emotions, which made a greater impact on the drama. For the animation, considering that it’s made in 2002, I won’t criticize it too much, but the characters and scenery was detailed. If I can compare the setting of this show, it’s familiar to Sora no Woto with the broken down old building.
Overall, Haibane Renmei was an emotional and touching story. While things can be grim, there is hope at the end of the tunnel. everone should not be afraid of the unknown as in “Day of Flight” when the time comes since they don’t know what lies ahead. Also, people should believe in themselves. After Rakka reunites with her deceased crow, her black spots on her wings went away and she felt better about herself. Eventually, Rakka helps Reki so she can achieve the goal of leaving the sandbox forever.
So in short, I thought Haibane Renmei was a great show and I would definitely recommend it. I thank Secret Santa for recommending this show.
8.9/10, Very Good
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5 Comments… read them or add your own.
Haibane Renmei is pretty much the oddest fantasy / slice of life hybrid show ever. There is something rather captivating about the series that despite its slow progress and ponderous nature. When it works Haibane Renmei hooks you and does not let you go. It is able to simultaneously entertain you and yet make you think at the same time. It also lets you dissect it as much or as little as you would like. While it is not a series for everyone it is an amazing journey for anyone on its wavelength.
I am glad you enjoyed your pick. I hope that you will participate again next year with the same amount of success!
Glad you enjoyed it- it’s probably my favorite anime series. My love for it is deeply personal, making it the kind of series I can have on at any moment and happily absorb myself in. I love the characters, the mystery, the setting, the mood, and the ending breaks me every time. It’s a series that made me more introspective about myself, and why I wasn’t happy with who I was, and ended up making me a better person for it. Frankly, it’s my default recommendation for every Secret Santa who hasn’t seen it yet.
You boxed my recommendations into a small corner with so many restrictions that I was tempted to be an ass and load up the list of mecha, ultraviolent seinen series or some noitaminA josei romance, since part of the point of this exercise is to try something new and expand our anime viewing horizons, but my better angel prevailed and we’re both probably happier for it. In my experience, moe fans tend to love this series, and even those who don’t like moe love it as a gentle meditation on mortality.
All that said, I really think you need to try some more anime that isn’t moe, and since I know you loved Haibane Renmei, let me take a moment and recommend several similar series:
-Kino’s Journey was on my list of recommendations as well. It’s about a girl who travels from town to town with her talking scooter. Each town usually has some sort of mystery that Kino needs to solve. It’s similar to Haibane Renmei in its mood, unique world and being a fairly deep series.
-Yoshinori aBe was the original creator of Haibane Renmei, and he’s the source for several other great series, including the moody cyberpunk classic Serial Experiments Lain. It’s about a girl named Lain who gets sucked into the dark side of Internet and some conspiracies being perpetrated by the government/evil corporations. The series predicts a lot of what goes wrong when people absorb themselves in cyberspace- and it was made in the late nineties, well before the Net as we know it took. It’s pretty drastically different from what you’ve seen so far, but you’ll be a more mature viewer for having seen it.
-I can’t remember if you listed Card Captor Sakura as something you’ve seen. If you haven’t, you need to, because I’m sure you’ll love it. It’s a lusciously animated, gentle magical girl series about a girl named Sakura who has to capture some magical Clow cards that she accidently released into Tokyo. It was animated by Madhouse at their height their powers, so it looks terrific, and is also pretty funny and very, very cute.
Let me know if you watch any of these and get back to me if you do!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Actually, I have watched Cardcaptors back in my early years of watching Pokemon. Yes, lots have changed because of 4kids and we never seen any faithful release in the United States. Such a pity really since CLAMP shows are rather enjoyable (see my Kobato review).
I will watch Kino and review it a few days after Christmas. I was planning to, but I got sidetracked by finals…
So yeah… I am grateful for your suggestions even though they are hard since my tastes for Anime is kind of… tight.
Haibane Renmei is one of the series I’ll be watching during 2011. Wow…it’s really almost 2011. Crap.
If so, yo will most likely enjoy it as much I did… just don’t marathon it like I did. Savor the moment!