This is the most striking anime I've ever seen. The care and imagination that went into every aspect of the show is remarkable, but due to the slow, gentle nature of the series I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, if only because this isn't a typical anime in terms of plot. The suspense is subtle -- difficult to spot if you're watching it for the first time -- and builds up over half of the series. Haibane Renmei starts off languid and mysterious, and it tapers off just as languid and mysterious, and every episode seems to reveal more questions that never get answered. Even
with the sudden spike in conflict later in the series, most of it is internal.
Don't be fooled by the angel-like appearance, by the way. Religion has nothing to do with this anime, and ABe has said before that it's a purely aesthetic choice, though some do feel that there's symbolism involved.
That said, it's provocative and heartbreaking and dreamlike. Pacing is slow, but expertly done. You'll find that one episode transitions easily into the next. And so much of the story is implied... as well as character backgrounds and the like.
Its art doesn't try to wow the viewer, and it seems content to just let the setting and soft colors and unique character designs speak for themselves. The backgrounds are gorgeous and detailed. Characters' personalities are mild and realistic; no character gets shoved into the standard archetypes you so often see in anime.
Also notable is the soundtrack. Every song fits the mood of Haibane Renmei perfectly -- especially notable (aside from the opening, "Free Bird," and ending theme "Blue Flow") are "Garasu no Yume," "Ailes Grises," "Starting of the World," and "A Little Plate's Rondo." Many of them feel like lullabies. Personally, the soundtrack is one of my favorite parts of this series, but looking at the other reviews, it looks like I'm the only one who finds it so breathtaking. Your mileage may vary.
It begins by letting the viewer into the peaceful simplicity of daily life in Glie, allowing insight into the setting and the minor characters, but it grows into a story about friendship and letting go and guilt and forgiving yourself and so much more. The climax of the story is likely to make you cry or cringe or suck in your breath -- maybe all three.
At times depressing and at times gently uplifting and feather-soft, Haibane Renmei is unparalleled in beauty, and I wouldn't hesitate to call it my favorite anime of all time.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a large number of anime fans have encountered Yoshitoshi Abe or the shows he’s created and worked on, nor would I be wrong to say that he has gained a strong fanbase for his beautiful art and creative vision. Many people were turned off by the gritty confusion that was Serial Experiments Lain (one of his previous works), but there were a still few willing to dive into Haibane Renmei despite the previous title's flaws. In his debut as a writer, Yoshitoshi Abe envisioned and penned an anime series that quietly tugs at the heart and that
has carved its own place in the anime medium with its unique charm. Like most things, the show is not for everyone. Although it is a solid work that should be at least enjoyed by most of its potential audiences, for those of us who, like I, find themselves yearning for a show that will sweep them away into another world and enchant them, it can easily become more of an experience than just a work of entertainment.
One of the first things a viewer will notice when watching this series, is the visual and artistic style with which it is produced. Although the animation does not excel on any technical level, with occasional distortions and simplifications in the cel work, it certainly gets the job done and is more than made up for in the other artistic elements. The background artwork is detailed, scenic and fits the tone of the series perfectly. The character designs are simple but memorable and attractive, particularly Rakka. Most importantly, the series is washed in a soft, water-coloured style that gives it a subtle dream-like quality. The audio aspects of production were also strong, but, especially in the case of the score music, did not excel. Kou Otani (who recently did the score for Shana) handled the music and created a score that was engaging but ultimately forgettable. The main problem is likely that a real orchestra and instruments were not used to create the music, and although her synthetic compositions are strong, the sound ultimately feels tinny and a bit cheap. The OP and ED are very good, particularly the OP, which fits the series perfectly and is an inviting start to every episode.
Haibane Renmei (lit. Ash feather federation), starts off in "Old Home," a small, peaceful village full of enthusiastic youths. The story focuses on a group of five female "Haibane," whom are young girls with tiny wings on their back, and halos floating above their heads. The five eventually become six as a new girl, Rakka, is "born" into their world. From there, Haibane Renmei follows the trials and tribulations of these girls until its stunning climax in episode 13. With little tangible plot to grip onto beyond the premise, Haibane Renmei essentially revolves around the characters’ journeys in confronting their own personal issues, set against the mysterious backdrop of Old Home and the encompassing town. People often have gripes about plot points and settings not being literally explained or explored, but in the case of Haibane Renmei the fact that the surroundings of the Haibane and their circumstances are a nostalgic haze lends focus to their internal struggles. This series makes no mistake about what lays at the core of its tale and, as such, every heart-warming gesture or pang of despair is captured with potency and poignancy.
The characters themselves are benefited from this focus, with the two main characters given a remarkable amount of depth and intensity for a series of this length. The supporting cast are lent a certain weight, but are not completely fleshed out, which is befitting of their supporting roles, really. One great asset the series has is that, perhaps because it appears to be completely unconcerned with pandering to an audience or a market, its characterization feels uniquely sincere. They’re not classifiable as prodigies, tsunderes, role models or heroes, but rather feel like real people with a real heart and soul behind them. Not only does it make the cast likable, but, particularly in the case of the leads Rakka and Reki, this earnestness draws you into their emotional dilemmas and makes you empathize and identify with them. As the characters struggle to come to terms with themselves and their mistakes, it’s hard not to be stirred and affected.
But much more than just a drama with believable characters, Haibane Renmei is hued in a melancholic and languid atmosphere, and dripping with beauty in its symbolism and mystery. Inviting, warm, and ultimately gripping, Haibane Renmei is a series that is nurtured on emotion and thematic overtones, rather than being constructed with plot and action. If you can appreciate that, then it is sure to captivate. Where Haibane Renmei truly succeeds and other dramatic anime fall to the wayside is in its sincerity. Rather than being conceived for audience appeal, one can feel the passion and emotion of the creator seep through. In short, on top of its charm and poignancy, it feels genuine.
This review is the final result of a review team composed of members from the "Critics and Connoisseurs" club. The team members were:
Washi - who composed the actual review
Archaeon - who contributed directly to portions of the review and gave feedback
Seishi - who contributed guidance from his own experience after already writing a review of this show
Here are their individual scorings for the show:
Category - Washi, Archaeon, Seishi
An endless fall; a young girl wrapped in white abruptly descends from the skies. A weightless haze lucidly embraces her. A dream too real, a fall too sudden; awakens she, from a strange trance and finds herself confined in a vessel that’s all too familiar in place that’s all too peculiar. A craft in the form of a cocoon holds the enigmatic maiden—a strange rebirth is to take place. The inhabitants of the building in which the cocoon swiftly lies, await in great patience for the arrival of the girl in white.
Thus begins the hauntingly decorative tale of “Haibane Renmei”
Instantly, “Haibane Renmei’s” inquisitive
nature provokes the viewer while simultaneously mesmerizing with an unsettling, yet evocative atmosphere. Aesthetically, Renmei is subtly similar to that of an aged watercolor painting with broad strokes and distinct backgrounds. Musically, the series charms with its mellifluous pieces that refine its forlorn and bittersweet atmosphere with poignancy and care. Thematically, it probes the audience to ruminate indefinitely. Combining all those elements and packaging them in an amicable manner, “Haibane Renmei” manages to weave together a captivating tale with unforgettable characters that will surely capture the hearts of those who give it an honest try.
The story is simple. The series traces the “new” life of Rakka in the quaint town of Glie that is enclosed off from the rest of the world by an impenetrable wall. The bucolic town is home to both humans and haibane—“beings” with halos and char-coal grey wings. Distinctive of something akin to angels, the haibane subtly but distinctly set themselves apart from their physical image and beatific attributes. Rakka with no former memory or traces of her past assumes her new role and life along with her new haibane family.
Although the story seems straightforward, it is equally deceptive because where Renmei lacks in a strict plot, it makes up for infinitely through its substantial style and themes. With that being said, it is important to note that this is a series that capitalizes on maturing with time, making it a slow ride thereby allowing the viewer to appreciate both the artistic and thematic merits that constitute the show. There aren’t any cheap thrills, gratuitous expositions, female and/or male exhibitionists servicing the fans, or flashy fights; rather it’s a simple tale to bring the viewer a thought-provoking and beguiling experience.
As aforementioned, the story is one that may seem simplistic, but under its “no-frills” veil, it’s a labyrinth coated with insightful and empathetic themes. The series is structured in a way that certain, obvious questions are raised. However, while the series provides perceptive themes, it does not supply many answers. Like a distant illusion, a hopeful mirage, the prospect of a potential resolution looms, but never fully manifests. While that can potentially turn away many viewers, this plays to the show’s strengths because it allows room for imagination and speculation while holding true to the essences of the series. Often times there are no answers and in a narrative based around some themes such as self discovery and self truths, churning out linear answers would be clearly unjustified and of poor taste.
"Haibane Renmei" is a tale that inquires, but doesn’t resolve; it’s not to patronize the viewer, but to enhance the experience by showing rather than telling: a technique that’s highly underrated because it’s often misused or overly-done to a point where it can seem conceited or forced. Through Rakka and her fellow haibane comrades, we get to embark on a very special journey; a journey about a once crest-fallen girl who awakens in foreign lands only to discover the greatest truth—one about herself. "Haibane Renmei" illustrates the importance self-discovery, friendship, forgiveness, guilt, salvation, and “truth” in a world shrouded in ambiguity. The haibane almost seem like a nostalgic metaphor, one that eerily resonates with the viewer. Frequently, the closest familiarity lies within the most strangest of places/individuals and through these bizarre encounters do we get the chance to really look into who we are and more importantly, understand who we are.
One of the strongest points of the show is the characters. The developing propinquity between the characters is depicted in a classy manner while also establishing memorable personalities amongst the cast. Most of the themes of the show are actualized within the interactions and through the wonderfully constructed dynamics between the close-knit haibane family, the true importance of relationships shine through with blinding effect. The notion of friendship is crafted with extreme care; it isn’t overdone nor is it overbearing to a point where it becomes a contrived plot-device. Rather, it’s there for a definitive purpose: to engage the themes of the show and direct the characters unto their respective paths while providing the viewer with a filling sense of empathy and endearment. The two main characters Rakka and Reki are idyllic in that sense because their dynamics as friends and individuals are done with principle and relevance rather than characteristics defined by formulaic absurdities that accompany “power of friendship”. Both girls struggle and continue doing so but how they cope with their struggle and try to manifest their true selves through their respective struggles is one of the greatest accomplishments of this series and rightfully so.
The art and music both compliment the series nicely. The characters are designed in a humble manner which can be off-putting to certain viewers, but in all reality, the character design fit well for the purposes of the show. The art is fluid. A soft, pastel palette is used to give life to the rustic town while contrasting with darker tones of blues and grays to maintain the melancholy that lingers throughout the series. There seems to be a misnomer regarding this show’s art coming off as ostentatious and obtuse which could be considered distasteful due to personal preferences but as a whole, the art is alluring, complimentary, and aesthetically appeasing.
The soundtrack is heavily composed of harmonious yet melancholic piano music accompanied by the lilting of a jubilant violin. Although, the soundtrack is sublime at parts, it isn’t a collective masterpiece or something that would compel the viewer to indulge in as a detached element of the show. Conclusively, artistically and musically Haibane Renmei does not disappoint and serves its intended function to augment the atmosphere and setting of the show.
Perhaps it should be noted that this series comes from the unconventional yet brilliant mind of Y.Abe who created works such as Texhnolyze and Lain. Whether that is appealing or detracting, it must be understood that Haibane diverges from the extremely dark and brooding presentation of the aforementioned but maintains the thematic and aesthetic segments exceptionally well, just as the other works by Abe. Consequently, if you’re fan or new to Abe’s works and yearn for something that’s delectably intriguing but its own, Haibane Renmei will fulfill every intended quota.
Haibane Renmei is truly an enchanting series that appeals to the viewer not just as a series to enjoy imminently, but one that forces introspective contemplation afterwards. Truths and answers about the world and self aren’t black and white, but similar to the haibane’s wings--tinted in shades of grey. Immerse yourself in the town of Glie and walk aside the haibane in a world that’s as strange as to you as it is to them; perhaps in the process, you’ll find your shade.
This is truly a stand-alone work in terms of originality. ABe did not self-censor and allowed the full weight of his intuition and dreams to direct his hand, and the result is a beautiful, ethereal, archetypal world fully-realized and yet deep enough to retain mystery. The show does not explain everything, even the most important aspects of Gile, and that feels okay. We can see in this fantastic world what is in our innermost hearts, and our intuition fills in so many of the gaps. Few stories manage to do this so well.
The story manages to blend soft, yet interesting, aspects of slice-of-life with haunting
and bittersweet themes such as suicide, sacrifice, and redemption. This hints of something intimate from within ABe's innermost heart, something he himself has experienced--and in that rawness, there is a universal quality. Many people in fandom have experienced profound loneliness and depression in a manner that seems to echo throughout the story. Many of us have felt useless, hopelessly misunderstood, and lonely. This is a story of comfort.
True to ABe's style, the artwork for this title is utterly fantastic. The setting is stunning in its beauty, European-style architecture amid emerald-green fields and rust-mottled windmills, harmonized with East Asian-style shrines, festivals, and esoteric memorabilia. The characters' names come from Japanese words for concepts, and the world's writing is in Japanese, so it is by no means divorced from its source country, nor does ABe try. The result is not in the least jarring: if anything, it is merely another aspect of integration, something soft and beautiful and lush. And the clouds--the weather phenomena simply looks fantastic.
If you cannot stand anime with a slow, idyllic pace, or you simply must have action, giant robots, and political intrigue, this is not the show for you. Likewise, if you cannot stand symbolic, dreamlike storylines in which not everything is explained explicitly, this will drive you mad. Otherwise, I highly recommend taking a trip into Gile. It will be greatly worth your time.
Please read my review before pressing 'Not Helpful' and if you have any comments feel free to leave me a note
Story: 6 (beautiful anime universe but cliche' story)
Art: 8 (reminiscent of renaissance-era angel paintings)
Sound: 7 (average sound, interesting use of sign language)
Character: 8 (look very unique but stereotypical at the same time)
Enjoyment: 6 (Haibane universe got me hooked)
Overall: 35/50 = 7.0 (good, but leaves questions unanswered)
At first, Haibane Renmei starts off as a wonderful alternate universe where angels and humans coexist but as the story progresses, they manage
to make a very average plot twist that leaves too much to be desired.
Falling from the sky, a young girl embraces a black crow as she's rapidly falling towards the earth. Many images fill the screen as this poor girl is falling. From the start, this brings up many questions and possible reasons of what is going on for the viewer. It's a wonderful start for a deep and involving story, complete with its own take on a Monotheistic society and beings who don't know why they exist or why they are there. Unfortunately, this show sells itself short halfway through the series by turning the main character into a cliche' self-pitying character that finds resole too far into the show to make it matter to the series. Which doesn't make any sense at all considering the creator of this show has made such a detailed civilization with its own take on religion, numerous allusions, and so many better ways to take this show to a more involving story. But in the end so many things are left unanswered and we just end up watching a remake of a show that you've seen many times before.
Another part of wanting to know more of this show is all the symbolism and allusions involved in all the artwork to support the back story. Things like dreams, memories, and everyday things bring out the beauty of the Haibane universe. Some things are also left unanswered as to why things look the way they do. Art quality isn't amazing on a detailed sense, but it IS amazing from an artistic standpoint. One theme referenced over and over again in every episode, old. Things like the "Old Home" or an archaic clothing store all keep their clutter and sense of all things old. Even though they do reference "old" a lot, the only things that are new in this world seem to be the new Haibane. The artwork also manage to make quite a few memories throughout the show. One of the most memorable scenes i have seen in any anime is definitely the first scene of the first episode.
The sound effects and music are something left to be desired but are good at best. The music didn't evoke much emotion with the exception of the OP theme. From a sound effects standpoint, everything sounds standard with the exception of emphasizing silence (you will understand soon). Kids get rowdy, old things creak, shells crack... these things are expected and therefore get a standard grade of good.
Characters are all good and fit their stereotype very well. They're all very cute but in a unique way. If you look hard enough Rakka looks exactly like Lain for obvious reasons (same creator). And in the same vein as Lain, this show has a large female cast. The artwork really brings out the characters in their own unique way. You'll be hard pressed not to feel sorry for all the characters in their tragic situation. That, in turn, makes information about the universe that much more desirable.
Like Lain and Texhnolyze, its artwork, character design, and universe will entice you to wanting more, but will just end up being disappointed again with such poor story telling. I can only recommend this show to hardcore angel lovers and Abe fans.
Some time ago, probably around 2003, I heard about this show called Serial Experiments Lain. Now, at this time, I was only vaguely into anime, and starting my first year at university. Eventually I got it, and watched it, and was amazed that an animated feature could impact me so much. These days, SEL isn't so much a favourite of mine anymore, but the legacy of its creator, Yoshitoshi ABe, passed on to another feature that we call Haibane Renmei; a show that definitely is a favourite of mine to this day.
Story - 8/10
Haibane Renmei (lit. Ash feather federation), starts off in "Old Home," a
small, peaceful village full of enthusiastic youths. The story focuses on a group of five "Haibane," which are girls with tiny wings on their back, and halos floating above them. The five eventually become six as a new girl, Rakka, is "born" into their world. From there, Haibane Renmei follows the trials and tribulations of these girls until its stunning climax in episode 13.
I can't really say enough about Yoshitoshi ABe's watercolour style. Haibane Renmei was adapted from an original doujinshi, almost unheard of for something of this caliber. His artistic style really transfers well to television; animation studio Radix does a superb job making Rakka and Co. come to life.
Haibane Renmei's music is initially highlighted by the appealing opening song and ending songs, but is really made by the stuff in-between. Koh Ohtani (Shakugan no Shana, Shadow of the Collossus) brings his A-game as per usual, really reflecting what it's like to be a Haibane. Also, the sound production itself remains solid to compliment Ohtani's musical score.
Rakka comes across as a generally lovable lead, followed closely by her faithful supervisor Reki. Most of the girls get varying amounts of screentime beyond that. The only negative here is that not every character is developed enough, but minor and overlooked quite often because of the main two girls.
Haibane Renmei definitely starts off slow, but it's a good slow! The characters will marvel you, the majestic scenery will move you, the dark undertones will haunt you, and the ending will spellbind you. If you're an anime enthusiast who isn't completely shallow, you owe it to yourself to at least check this title out.
After watching this for a third time in the last eight years, I can still say that this is my favorite anime. The themes are very real to me and if you let yourself be immersed by the characters, culture, and plot, you will walk away with a heavy heart and a full mind.
Like most ABe anime, this is not for everyone.
If you are looking for constant action or laughs, I would chose something else.
The first five episodes are quite slow, but it lets you take in the details. It helps you focus on the characters and realize they were all part
of different walks in their previous life. It more importantly sets up the culture and setting, helping you to form your own theories about who the haibane are meant to be.
The sixth episode is where the darker underlying theme start. This series tackles ideas of loss, attachment, depression and suicide. I admit for anyone who has not felt the sense of pure helplessness or bundling emotions until they burst can not fully understand the weight of the internal conflicts both Rakka and Reki face.
I personally view this series with a spiritual mind rather than a religious one. Though haibane resemble angels, they are born again due to some past sin that they committed or couldn't overcome. Their wings are useless, they do not have a connection to a higher being, and they are almost seen as mystical creatures by the residing humans, often described as a cheerful presence that can give good luck. The haibane are instructed not to use anything that wasn't first used by a human, leading me to believe it is a hint for both discrimination and to cut off ties of the material nature of man. Their whole existence is to make peace within themselves so they can escape the walls on their Day of Flight.
This anime teaches you that salvation can not come from yourself. You need to trust others and express your emotions or you will find yourself in the endless, vicious, self-loathing cycle.
"To recognize one's sin is to have no sin. So are you a sinner?"
"But if I believe have no sin I become a sinner."
"This is the cycle of sin. Think about it. To spin in the same circle, looking for where the sin lies, and at some point losing sight of the way out. To find the answer is to find redemption."
If you are someone who has trouble breaking the sinner's paradox, you will forever be sin bound. You need to realize your sin and know that you will sin again, but to learn from your mistakes and help others forgive you. In turn, they will aide you to break the cycle.
Both Rakka and Reki exemplify consuming sin, which is shown by their wings turning a spotty black. Rakka had help from a crow (who was someone she knew in her previous life), which showed that although someone cared for her, after she presumably committed suicide, they still forgave her and wanted to send a message that she was not alone. After overcoming the feelings of wanting to disappear, Rakka uses her strength to help Reki, who was even more hopeless in finding salvation.
The ending is bittersweet, but truly outstanding. This series is haunting yet charming, unique and touching. The musical score is enchanting and although the art may not always be the best, it makes up for it in every other aspect. For someone who constantly struggles with depression, it gives you hope and a reason to trust others, even when you don't believe in yourself.
Haibane Renmei, like many other anime, presents to us an slightly mysterious and compelling world where humans and Haibane - angel-like creatures - coexist. The relationship between said creatures and humans is one of kindness, nonetheless, an uneasy feeling hovers near. Something feels out of place. For that reason, at first, I thought Haibane were being used (and maybe abused) by humans, something the protagonist would slowly figure out...
...that concept wasn't explored...
...and what we are left with is, rather than a mysterious psychological thriller, a slightly mysterious fantasy anime with pretentious philosophical themes. The false sense of mystery is
an excuse for the teenage level philosophy about themes like death.
These subjects aren't explored directly. Instead the anime opts for a "metaphorical" approach... but it's hardly deep at all. It only presents us real life situations with a fantasy twist. It's simple. It's pretentious.
Now, I'd like to discuss the worst part of the anime...
Yet, another surprise: it's quite hard deciding what part is crappier: the art, the characters or the story.
But let us start with the art. It's pretty obvious the budget was really fucking small. The animation is hentai-level. Background is either static or a loop of the same scenery. However, I must praise what must be praised. Props to the choice of colors. They really fit AND set the atmosphere.
As for characters, there really isn't any redeemable features about them. They are ridiculously one dimensional (even though they are 2D drawings! What a feat!) therefore extremely predictable. And to top it off, they fucking annoy the fuck out of me.
I don't care enough to remember them, but what I know is: the protagonist is weak and useless. You know that clumsy-shy trope every shit anime uses? She's basically that, but, somehow, far more annoying.
There are a few other characters that get on my nerves as well (but I guess the whole anime does...), but I only remember the smoking woman. I had hopes for her. Had. In the past. She's just as empty as the rest. There is some kind of backstory that explains why she's the "carer" and that's about it. Just like the others, one characteristic summarizes her entire personality.
I wonder where in the world the person who wrote this lives. Where can I find a human being with one only trait?
As mentioned before, the story is deceiving and pretentious. Falsely deep, as I like to call it. However, not only it is shit, it is also slow. But wait, don't judge me yet for not enjoying the good ol' slow burner, first, let me explain: there are 2 types of slow paced stories. First: e.g. Breaking Bad; A slow burner that takes it's time to expand the characters' personalities and make a bond between the character and the viewer whilst creating suspense and tension. And Second: e.g. Haibane Henmei; A slow piece of shit that takes it's time with fillers to add nothing at all to the overall experience of the show, besides boredom. Well, there IS teenage-level philosophy. If it floats your boat, who am I to judge?
Voice acting isn't the worst but it's annoying. The OST, ED and OP are fantastic. A damn shame there is no anime to back it up.
In comparison, at least NGE was really good at being depressing.
This is my 5th year on MAL and this will be my 300th review! I would first like to thank all the people who have given me helpful feedback over the years and all those that have encouraged me to keep writing. It's been a fun journey so far.
For such a big occasion, I decided to pick an anime that's actually legitimately great. No caveats, no buts, it's just flat out an amazing anime. This will be the first in a trilogy of reviews in which I'll be looking at great anime that don't quite have the popularity they deserve. The first in this trilogy
is Haibane Renmei from 2002!
Haibane Renmei was released 17 years ago by a small studio called Radix that is now defunct. While always a critical darling, it wasn't a blockbuster financial success either in Japan or really anywhere else. It never aired on TV here in America, but Pioneer did release an English dub for DVD. I personally thought the Pioneer dub is quite awful and I would highly recommend you view the original Japanese dub with subtitles. Pioneer clearly lacked faith in this project, because they put their D-tier actors on this one. This was the opposite of what they did for Cowboy Bebop.
This may change, but at this point in time Haibane Renmei is the poster child for underrated. Not only is its MAL score far lower than it derserves, but its popularity is well outside the top 500. Not a single one of my offline anime friends had heard of Haibane when I started watching. I asked them to ask all their friends and they hadn't heard of it either. It's odd because you CAN get casual fans to watch more artsy anime. Even the most casual anime fans have seen Evangelion. Most of them have seen Serial Experiments Lain. With Haibane, not only have the vast majority of anime fans never seen it, they haven't even heard of it! That's honestly quite sad, because this is a series I think a LOT of people would really enjoy and get something out of!
There is a mysterious town called Glie that is surrounded by walls. Every once in a while, a cocoon forms and a child emerges. Sometimes they are small children, while other times they are young teens. When the youth emerges from the cocoon, they are asked what they dreamed of when inside. That becomes the basis of their new name. The story begins with a young girl emerging from her cocoon and being given the name "Rakka" taken from the word "falling". Her dream was that she was falling from a great height and a crow was trying to save her from hitting the ground. Rakka can't remember anything personal from her past life, but remembers speech and what objects are. She is told that she is now a Haibane and has a halo placed above her head. She then immediately starts sprouting angel wings, which is an extremely painful process. Rakka is nursed back to health by a kindhearted older Haibane named Reki. It is explained that Haibane must work a job in town and live a modest life to strive towards forgiveness for their sins. It is not immediately explained what these sins are, but it is made apparent later. Haibane that achieve redemption undergo the "Day of Flight" and ascend to heaven. Those that can't find redemption after a certain amount of time has passed are called "Sin Bound" and ultimately face oblivion.
This really pains me, because I want to talk more about the plot and characters, but I also REALLY don't want to spoil anything. The good thing about Haibane though, is that it isn't absurdly esoteric. If you plan on watching this, you probably won't need a critic to explain the true nature of Glie or what the girls did in their past lives to wind up there. The series never ends up saying it outright, but it's really not difficult to figure out.
Rakka: “We Haibane just appear suddenly and soon we disappear. What’s the meaning of our brief existence?”
Reki: “I believe there is meaning. You just have to find it”
Haibane is both an existentialist anime and also a character journey about depression, sin, and redemption. An important element of Haibane is that in order to achieve forgiveness, one must first recognize the sin and then ask someone for forgiveness. Nobody can forgive themselves. In order to find inner peace, you need to open up to other people. However, this is possible because none of us are truly alone. Japan has a HUGE problem with youth suicide and depression, so it isn't surprising that many anime have tried to tackle this. However, I can't think of any that have done it better than Haibane. Certainly Evangelion is also in this category, but Eva spends half its time being a subversion of the kids pilot giant robots genre...or introducing superfluous plot elements like SEELE...or being up its own ass. My own favorite flawed anime is Elfen Lied, which also wanted to be a redemption story with a core message similar to Haibane's. Unfortunately, adapting from a shitty manga meant that some schlock elements like hyper-violence and echii kind of got in the way of its message. Haibane though manages to deliver its message pretty flawlessly. It never really gets distracted from its goal and deserves some major applause for that.
The man behind Haibane's writing and creation was Yoshitoshi Abe, who also did the character designs and helped with the art. Abe is an artist by trade and normally leaves the writing to his friend Chiaki Konaka, with whom he collaborated on Lain and Texhnolyze. If you liked the art and character designs from those series, you will be quite pleased by Haibane. While Studio Radix was never a major powerhouse, this anime looks pretty darn spectacular for 2002. The only exception being the hideous CGI windmills. Why Abe?! Why did you do it?!!
The Soundtrack is fairly minimalist and you probably won't be humming the tunes all day. However, it does its job of helping to establish the atmosphere. The soundtrack was handled by the highly talented Kow Otani, who also did the soundtracks for Outlaw Star, Gundam Wing, and most famously Shadow of the Colossus.
Haibane Renmei is a DAMN good anime. I was honestly split on whether to give it a 9 or a 10. To be honest, if I had seen this in my teens and it was one of my first 150 anime, I would have given this a 10 without question. The only real issue for me is that the first half is a little slow. Episodes 3-5 especially are purely "slice of life" and add little to the overall show. They just flesh out minor side characters that don't end up being important or effecting the plot in any way. These minor characters like Nemu, Kana, and Hikari perhaps add a little to the world building, but that's it. If you do watch Haibane though, I'm begging you to just reach episode 7 and the back half is amazing! If you're looking for an underrated gem or just something a little different, I would highly recommend this series!
Nothing really takes place. I know there's a lot of symbolism and world construction throughout the first few episodes, but these cannot be the primary fuel for the journey. The first few episodes are spent with Rakka trying to find a job, which is supposed to be like a light, existential journey of searching where one belongs, but it's not very strong and clouded by this awkward slice-of-life type of pacing that makes it feel long, boring, and drawn out.
That's not all. The characters are of some interest, but the Haibane are born into the world with little-to-no knowledge of their previous lives. Of course,
this is of interest, but it's not something that is expanded upon or mentioned prominently to be of any real interest. This isn't the error, however. That's merely the cause. The effect is that we get a cast of characters that don't have any real purpose for what they're doing. For instance, a child as it grows merely goes around and does things because why not, but an adult has lived through events that start giving definition to their personality, their choices, etc. None of the characters have this, save for Reki and Nemu. Even then, the majority of their history is only revealed in the latter half of the latter half which makes for a rushed arc.
My problem here isn't the overabundance of symbolism in disguise or slow pacing, but the mere fact that there's little reason to watch up until episode 10. It's a whole lot of nothing, which is unfortunate as the world itself is actually quite interesting. I found myself wanting more to the show not because it was good, but because I needed more of a story.
To reiterate, I do not want the symbolism explained or even reasons for the laws and culture within Haibane Renmei. What I want (and should be wanted by everyone) is some sort of over-arching conflict or goal that is visible from the beginning. In some ways there is one, but it grows thing incredibly fast.
And please, don't get me started on that shoehorned philosophy midway into the story. There's just a lot of problems on a structural level here, and there really shouldn't be with such a star-studded cast working behind it.
The animation was kinda mehh. I mean, it's a dialogue driven anime, but there were some points where I felt things could have looked better. Perhaps it was the color pallet that was chosen. Either way, it's alright.
Settings don't feel all that alive. There's a lot of potential here to create a living, breathing world, but these were most likely skimped out on for financial purposes.
There's 2 decent songs, one I really liked, and the rest were forgettable and unlikable. The intro track was great, though. Actually, so was the outro.
EDIT EDIT EDIT /// I concede to the fact that I was wrong here. After discussing with another individual who has seen the work, I feel as though I've put far too much weight on the music. The purpose of music in a visual work is to assist in translating the emotional value of the scenes and story. The music itself is good. There were 2 songs I felt were pretty fantastic and there was one that I absolutely hated (and was repeated). Perhaps my gripe was due to the fact that there was a huge disconnect between the music and the events taking place. However, I appreciate the comment I received on this, and a special thank you to Buo for coming messaging me. I'm always open to criticism, especially based upon my own criticism. =3 /// END EDIT END EDIT END EDIT
Since the anime is all dialogue it should be expected that the VA work is fairly good. Thankfully, it was all pretty excellent and I never felt like their interpretations of the script were sub-par.
I'd like to make note of it again. Due to the fact that we're limited to the Haibane in this story, and taking into consideration their limited knowledge, it's unfortunate that the story kind of limited itself in this way. There's a lot of potential when it comes to this sort of lore, but the failure wasn't in the characters, but rather in the structuring the story and pacing.
I didn't have any real care for the characters in the first half of this anime, and nearing the middle an event takes place that, to me, felt poorly prepared. This is all the fault of the stories pacing and NOT the characters, as the characters themselves are alright. However, a well-written character is well-written character despite the pacing, and this story doesn't really have that. I did feel some care during the final 3 episodes, but I was still suffering the fatigue of poorly written earlier episodes. I can't overlook this.
I must admit, this was one of the worst anime I've ever had to watch. I know this will seem like the highest sin to many people, (and considering I'm in the minority competing against a median score of 8+) but I can't ignore these issues. I may be putting much more weight on the problems within Haibane Renmei than some other people, but the fact of the matter is that this work is flawed to an egregious degree. I really wanted to enjoy this work considering I found the world, culture, and settings to be quite interesting, but these flaws really killed it for me.
A 4/10, in my book, is a rating I reserve for works that are just below the sufficient mark. They've shown that they can properly do some things but fail so much in others that all it would have taken is some more work to fix the kinks. It's also a grade I reserve for works that I feel didn't jell with me personally, but others have gravitated towards. It's an acceptance that I think it's bad, but it's not 3- bad. I don't feel like I should need to explain this, but I've given another work a 4/10 that people have found enjoyable and someone sent me a long and arduous message about how I didn't love my mother. Please don't send me a message about how I don't love my mother. If you do I'll show it to my friends and we'll make fun of you. We always need a good laugh.
If you want to discuss points of this work in a civil manner, feel free to send me a PM. While I didn't enjoy this work, I love talking about stories, no matter what kind.
((If you liked this review, friend me for new reviews on other works, both manga and anime!))
The only thing worse than realizing you have to take a dump after showering is realizing you've wasted your day on an entire anime series like this once it's over. I don't hate this, then again it's too long, taking me in the middle of no where mentally, and when it's over I ask myself why. I'll try to find good/bad points:
+ Perfect opening scene where she falls from the sky
+ Really addicting harpsicord used in some scenes, watch out for it!
+ I guess it has a nice Castle in the Sky-esque atmosphere
+ Excellent dinner around ep 6
+ The inside of the wall feels like
a dark mystical dream
+ Unbelievably well done climax of the last episode (too bad thoes 20 seconds are the payoff)
- I'm pretty sure halo's are used only in iconography
- The wing growing thing was gross
- What's the purpose of wings if they can't fly? --> filler dialogue
- Storytelling seems forced
- Lifeless characters
- Animation seems cheap, imagery seems primitive
- Lame opening/closing songs
- Takes about 8 episodes for the train on the wheels to get rockin & rolling
- Laptop on my stomach was too hot
All in all, this is a very sad attempt at a series, and I kinda feel sorry for myself for ever watching it in the first place. I have nothing else to say. Have a nice day (I know I didn't)!
Soaring towards the ground, a lone crow flies frantically in pursuit of a falling girl. Clutching desperately to her white dress, the poor creature struggles in vain to slow her descent. Touched by the crow’s efforts, the peaceful girl lovingly embraces the concerned soul, assuring the animal that all will be fine and thanking it for the worry. The crow, now aware of its powerlessness, ascends back up into the heavens, allowing the girl to fall in tranquillity, awaiting her next journey. A journey of self-discovery. A journey of acceptance. A journey of forgiveness.
Self-discovery. Acceptance. Forgiveness. The driving forces behind Yoshitoshi ABe’s 2002 cult-classic, Haibane
Renmei. A true gem of a series and a shining example of what the medium is truly capable of, Haibane presents the viewer with a narrative unbound by genre convention and is one created out of a genuine love and passion for artistic expression. Through its evocative atmosphere and setting, Haibane Renmei is a show that enchants the viewer immediately into its world. Awaking from her dream, the falling girl finds herself entrapped in a cocoon before eventually breaking herself free, with no recollection of her life before this event, or of any knowledge of this new world she finds herself in. Given the name Rakka, the other girls who find her, called the Haibane, inform Rakka that she is now a Haibane herself; an angelic being adorning a halo and a pair of wings. The rest of the series sees the newly born Haibane learn more about the world in which she has been placed into and seeking untold answers about the circumstances of herself and the Haibane at large. While Haibane Renmei may seem like a simple show at a surface level glance, it is deceptively so.
Haibane Renmei is a series that presents the viewer with many questions about the world and origins of the Haibane but provides very little answers for any of them, and this is certainly one of the main pieces of criticism I see many people have regarding this series. While perhaps it may have been interesting to learn more about the world and to have many of the mysteries the show presents us with explored, I believe in doing so would strip Haibane of one of its greatest assets. Its ambiguity.
Haibane is a series shrouded in ambiguity and this is certainly one of the most engaging things about Haibane’s narrative. The show respects the viewer’s intelligence and slowly drip feeds the audience small and subtle pieces of information as the show goes along, aiding in our understanding of what the Haibane really are, allowing the audience to piece together things for themselves. The ambiguity of the show is only enforced by the sense of history the show constantly protrudes from itself too. The Haibane often refer to old customs that they follow, simply because the previous generation of Haibane did so too, or of folklores and beliefs carried throughout the seemingly tranquil town the Haibane share with the humans. In the fourth episode of the show, Kanna, a fellow Haibane, informs Rakka of a book she found containing the work of an unnamed figure, and in the proceeding episode, Nemu writes a book as a gift to her friend about the creation of the world and how the Haibane came to be. The constant references to old figures of the past, or of days gone by cements the narrative with a greater sense of mystery, as the answers the audience, and by extension, Rakka seek, are buried by the mutability of time. It aids in enhancing the mystery of the show, and the viewer truly feels all the more alienated about the world and the true nature of the Haibane as a result, instilling a truly evocative setting, while aiding in Haibane’s inherently captivating nature, making the viewer wish to seek the answers they want all the more. It gives the series a kind of “magical” fantasy-like setting about itself.
This sense of history is also present in each locale the Haibane occupy. Each location, from the town, to the Old Home in which the Haibane live, are all run-down, old, and feel as if they have had years of unknown history behind them. As a result of the watercolour paint aesthetic used for the walls, it gives the show a “muddy” vibe, and just by looking at the different sites, can the viewer understand the level of history and decay each place has endured, which, again, aids in enhancing the mystery of the show.
Ultimately, Haibane’s purposeful ambiguity is used as a means to explore one of the show’s core themes of self-discovery, as the protagonist Rakka desperately seeks answers about the true nature of her circumstances and the world in which she has been placed into, much like the viewer who understands nothing about this world initially either. I would argue that Haibane’s lack of definitive answers about the functionality of its world and the mysteries it presents us with, parallels that of the real-life. Much like Rakka, we often find ourselves questioning the viability of what it truly means to be “alive”. What is it like when we die? What does it mean to “be”? What even IS life? Haibane manages to juggle these heavy themes of existentialism in such a way to never feel overbearing or to drown the viewer in nihilism either. It’s there for those viewers who enjoy such thematic exploration but used subtly enough that those who don’t care for such things to look past it if they so wish. But, even though Haibane Renmei requires the audience to piece things together for themselves, I wouldn’t put forward the argument that Haibane Renmei is an incredibly enigmatic series, as I’ve seen others argue from time to time. As I’ve already mentioned, the show drip-feeds the viewer constantly with small pieces of information, which not only acts as an incentive to watch more and keep engaged with the work in order to pick up on such things but allows the viewer to grasp what Haibane attempts to communicate. The ambiguity in the series serves an obvious function in not only theme exploration but in character drama which I’ll get into more a bit later, so in my eyes, I can’t really agree with the notion that the ambiguity is a “flaw”.
As Momo, the creator of Metacritic for Anime once said, “If you can’t see the value of ambiguity, then you’re gay” which is the ultimate checkmate argument!
Haibane’s use of ambiguity also gives the narrative a strange sense of pervasive uneasiness. The second episode of the series, while starting off itself pretty calm and relaxing, reveals things to the audience about the nature of the Haibane and their rules that result in this aforementioned unease. We learn that the Haibane must live separate from the humans, that the entire town is enclosed in a giant wall in which nobody may enter or leave, and the Haibane must stay away from said wall, and that the Haibane are only allowed to use items that no longer have any use to humans, hence the reason as to why they resort to second-hand clothing stores for any necessary items. As a viewer, we never learn the exact reasons as to why the Haibane are treated as such, or why they have to abide by such rules. There’s a constant sense of looming danger or paranoia lurking in the air, which only grows in intensity as the narrative develops. The overall sense of uneasiness is achieved by making the viewer feel nervous somehow; afraid of some over lurking power or threat that they can’t explain, and thus we seek comfort naturally in Rakka, who shares in the same circumstances as we do, allowing the viewer to grow a greater sense of attachment to her as a result of such.
One thing that I certainly appreciated more during my re-watch of the series was just how much thought was put into the first half of the show regarding the heavy use of foreshadowing for future events. The earliest parts of the series offer the audience small yet important subtleties that play a larger role later on, such as in the second episode when Rakka innocently asks Reki what her dream inside the cocoon was, whereupon everyone present at the table goes strangely quiet and the mood becomes much more hostile, cluing the viewer in that despite Reki’s seemingly kind front, she is ultimately a troubled person. Or in the case of episode four when Kuu’s boss asks Rakka if Kuu is going to “disappear”. While the viewer would take this line in the literal sense initially, it takes on a whole new meaning later on in episode six when one of the Haibane takes their Day of Flight; a process in which the Haibane moves on from the world and goes, supposedly, beyond the walls. And there are plenty of other examples of this as well. The use of foreshadowing not only indicates thought put into how the narrative is structured but also makes it more rewarding for a viewer to experience as they piece things together, enhancing the level of engagement with the work at hand.
I’ve seen many people remark that the show only begins to be of any true value in the second half of the series, where the aforementioned Haibane takes her Day of the Flight, as the narrative henceforth centres more so around a continuous drama, and the themes of self-discovery, acceptance and forgiveness are explored in more depth during this period too. However, to make such a claim would be silly in my eyes. The first half of the show is devoted to establishing the world, and the customs of the Haibane, all the while adding layers of characterisation onto some of the cast in their own standalone episodes. During episodes four and five, Rakka accompanies two different Haibane who befriend her, in their work to see what job would be best suited for her, and in both instances, the viewer learns a substantial amount about how the world in which these characters occupy functions, as well as their outlook on it too. Kana’s work involving the fixing of clocks has obvious allusions to the mutability of time, a pervasive concept throughout the narrative, and she even projects some level of introspection into her life as a Haibane too. Nemu, working in a library in episode five with extremely old books that are practically falling apart, once again aids in the sense of history the show permeates, but it also provides the audience with Nemu’s creation story about how the Haibane came into existence, which of course alludes heavily to that of religion, something that is explored much more in the latter half of the series. While certainly the earlier parts of the series still retain that level of uneasiness I mentioned before, the show is still somewhat light-hearted for the most part, depicting each character as being incredibly cheery, all of which seem perfectly happy going about their daily lives. This is what makes the sudden shift in tone in episode six all the more hard-hitting, as the mood built and established early on, is flipped entirely around, ramping up the sense of unease even more, and making the events felt upon Rakka all the more impactful as a result. Without the first-half’s build up, the latter part of the series would not nearly be as effective.
The show also exhibits a plethora of symbolism as well, with perhaps the heavy use of crows being the most prolific example of such. Acting as a direct parallel to the Haibane, the crows in this world are said to carry important things, as they are the only creatures capable of flying over the walls and into the outside world. However, the crows also possess an inherent danger about themselves too, due to the colour of their wings, which in turn factors into the narrative as we learn that a Haibane who comes into contact with the walls will be surely punished. The crows can be seen as a metaphorical representation of “the truth” of the world, due to their ability of flight and their freedom, which is interesting to think about when we consider the most of the Haibane’s general disdain for the creatures. In episode two, Kanna remarks that she “hates crows” which could be taken at face value as in a couple more episodes we see her fighting against them as they keep pulling out all of the trash from the furnace, creating a mess, but also as a statement of her fear of the unknown as the crows can be seen as holding the “truth” about the world. Most of the Haibane in the series seem perfectly complacent about their role in the world and do very little in actually finding their true purpose, with the exception of Rakka, whose opening dream sees her embracing a crow into her arms, and therefore embracing the idea that she is not afraid of seeking the unknown, as she does do in the show. But the crows also act as a means of acceptance for Rakka in the latter half of the series, as one aids her in her quest for self-discovery, which is used to provide the viewer with hints about how Rakka originally ended up in this world, and what the crow in her dream was attempting to accomplish. As such, the crows embody the idea of self-acceptance and forgiveness and help to develop Rakka’s character in the seventh and eighth episode in creative and interesting ways.
What really ties the show altogether and gives the series emotional weight are indeed the wonderful cast of characters, all of which manage to be insanely lovable. Each occupant of Old Home has great chemistry, and you really feel as if these characters truly do like one another, with plenty of wit and banter thrown between them, all of which is adorably charming. There are also plenty of cute moments between the cast too which made me develop a big dumb smile on my face, such as when Kana wakes Rakka up early in the morning by pulling on her halo, as Rakka flails her arms up and down; a moment that always made me laugh, and there are plenty more of this in the show, giving it a real sense of character and likability. While some of the members of Old Home get some level of screen time and development, such as the aforementioned Kana and Nemu, some of the cast are completely neglected, such as Hikari who doesn’t really add much to the plot, or Kuu, who, while certainly playing a larger role, is used more so as a means to kick-start the drama in the second half. The crux of the narrative and its emotional weight relies on the relationship between Rakka and Reki and each of their respective inner turmoils and character arcs.
To begin with, their friendship is one that feels completely genuine, as Reki seems to sincerely care about the well-being of Rakka, as she constantly looks after her. After learning about Reki’s own past, and the hardships she had to endure, does the viewer understand her desire to be there for Rakka, as a fellow Haibane did for her when she was younger. As such, when the roles are reversed, and Rakka has to help Reki, does it take on a greater sense of sincerity and emotional engagement. Reki’s journey of self-acceptance and learning to finally forgive herself for her past mistakes is easily my favourite element of the entire show and consistently had me engaged throughout. I believe the reason as to why her arc and struggles are as effective as they are being because she is just simply an extremely likeable person. Her earnest love for the other Haibane, her kindness, are all things that help the viewer feel sympathetic towards her character and lends itself naturally to give her more emotional weight. Rakka, likewise, is a strong protagonist for a series such as this. Like the viewer, Rakka understands nothing about this world, and therefore we experience the world through her eyes. Everything Rakka learns, we learn. Everything she experiences, we experience. This is what helps drive the emotive insecurities of her character in the latter half of the show even more, as the viewer shares in the pain and sense of alienation she feels as being apart of this world. Rakka’s character arc is all about learning to, like Reki, come to grips with her sin, and learning to forgive herself for what she did in her previous life. Both characters are extremely strong and are able to hold the show together by themselves, emitting boatloads of heart at the same time.
While watching the series, however, it becomes apparent that the show was made on a pretty tight budget! The show often looks really rough around the edges, and plenty of times the character designs were completely off model or simply looked ugly in some scenes, despite how good the designs actually are for the show. In plenty of the accompanying artwork pieces, the character designs themselves look damn beautiful! Even in the few sequences in which the animation gets more fluid, such as in episode four when Kanna and Rakka are riding on a bike to get to work on time, or episode seven when Reki is walking with all of the children from Old Home, the art often takes a hit as a result, and looks bizarre. However, that’s not to say that the show is without merit in the visual department. As I’ve already expressed, the water-colour paint aesthetic used does a good job at moulding each locale and is one that I personally love. Moreover, there were a few scenes that were beautifully crafted. Take for example the scene in the first episode in which Rakka grows her wings. It’s a disturbing, visceral sequence, as the wings penetrate and pierce through her back, and has some unique shots too, such as the one where the wings, concealed in darkness, protrude outwards. Mixed with the music, the scene is perhaps one of the most unique and memorable in the entire show, as well as perhaps the medium at large. Speaking of music, Haibane Renmei boasts one of my all-time beloved soundtracks and is nothing short of what I would consider beautiful. Each track wonderfully enhances the scenes that they’re utilised in and adds onto the show’s overall sense of ambiguity and mystery. Free Bird may perhaps be my favourite piece of music from any anime ever; it’s truly a wonderfully memorising piece of art.
To conclude, Haibane Renmei is a beautiful show and one I have come to love upon re-watching. While certainly, I had enjoyed the show after my first viewing last year, it was only until now was I truly able to appreciate Haibane and was completely engaged with the entire work, even almost tearing up at the show’s cathartic ending scene. Haibane Renmei is a stunning example of what anime is capable of, and a true testament that you can create something so wonderful with such a seemingly simple concept and idea. Attempting to communicate my thoughts and newly found love for this show is something I find hard to properly articulate, as Haibane Renmei evokes such raw and genuine emotions in me. It’s truly a show with a lot to unpack and discover, and I barely even scratched the surface level of what the show deals with as well as the plethora of other themes the anime dabbles in too. Haibane Renmei is a series I give the highest of recommendations to and I believe is the epitome of drama, representing universal themes in a mature and interesting manner. Life is neither pure white nor pure black, but a beautiful charcoal grey.
Being on every "recommended anime" picture list originating from 4chan or reddit, a lot of people say to watch this anime even though its not for everyone and evidently, not for me.
The first three episodes were cool and I thought they were the introduction, but it turns out HALF of the series is the introduction. I was super hyped starting this show after hearing about it and having it relate to Serial Experiments Lain (worked on by the same guy but not necessarily in a major way IIRC) but it was a major letdown that the story had a great setting without any movement
with the characters.
It's got that "early 2000's" feel. Concept art is similar to SEL in style (just look them both up) This and the music kept me going.
The music is so good, I've listened to it for weeks after I finished the show. Blue Flow is eerily nostalgic for me and brings warm feelings with the other background music doing the same.
Characters aren't really touched upon other than Reki and Rakka who are the main focus of the show. Often times the characters seem flat and I couldn't care less what happens to them because I don't know enough about them even if they aren't the main focus of the show.
The last two episodes made it worth it, but its not worth dragging through the rest of them, trust me, I have done this. Stop at episode 4 if you don't like it. The show is essentially a framework for your own interpretation; they give you the mold to the show, you have to come up with everything else, like what do the festive nut colors represent other than the two explained? or why does the wall do what it does? or how did the regular people get there? The show never touches upon this because its too focused on its characters, and by characters I mean Reki and Rakka and NO ONE ELSE.
I'm probably gonna get torn a new one for this review, but its as honest as I could get and sure, its been awhile but I wrote this without looking anything up to refresh myself. Again, this isn't for everyone. I expected a fantasy show and got a slice of life with characters who have wings instead.
(This is a spoiler-free review adapted for this site)
[Synopsis]: After dreaming of falling through the sky, Rakka (Hirohashi, Ryou) awakens inside a large cocoon from which she is soon birthed. Once emerged, she meets several winged beings adorned with halos called Haibane who welcome her to their abode: Old Home. Rakka’s own wings grow soon after and she joins the Haibane in their daily routines and lifestyle however she wonders about the nature of the Haibane and at the distant wall that blocks off and surrounds their town of Glie from which none of them are allowed to venture near or beyond.
Haibane Renmei has a
fairly small cast of characters, mostly consisting of the resident Haibane of Old Home and the townspeople of Glie and of them Rakka and Reki are by far the most important within the narrative with the exception of perhaps the mysterious ‘Communicator’.
The majority of the Haibane are friendly to Rakka and each have their own personalities and vocations however beyond that they are mostly flat characters and are given an appropriate amount of attention in accordance with this. The townspeople are similarly underdeveloped simply because they don’t serve any great purpose and none are particularly memorable except for perhaps the store clerk from which the Haibane buy their clothes.
Rakka, the newborn Haibane and the protagonist of the show, is cheerful and friendly and quickly warms up to her fellow Haibane and much of the story is centered upon her drama and her adjustment to her new lifestyle. While she is happy living with her friends and the people of Glie, she is also inquisitive and in this way often ends up voicing many of the viewer’s questions pertaining to the wall that surrounds the town and the enigmatic Toga people. Because of this and her ignorance of the world she serves well as both a means to introduce the world and as an investigative force.
Reki, Rakka’s closest friend and fellow Haibane, is older than her by a few years and has lived in Old Home for some time – she is familiar with the routine of everything and watches after the young Haibane called the ‘Young Feathers’. While her vocation as a Haibane is to look after the children, she shows a similar kind of affection towards Rakka and cares for her when she falls ill. As she is the second oldest Haibane living in Old Home, she is reliable and helpful however she has her own share of demons and her past makes up the rest of the show that doesn’t immediately concern Rakka herself.
The art does a good job of visually executing Haibane Renmei’s beautiful town and countryside setting and matches its aesthetics well with each other to form a consistent portrayal of the world and characters. The character designs are simple but different enough from each other that they are each distinct in their subdued approach; they fit well within the environment of the show and even with such fantastical traits as wings and halos they feel at home. The animation was no great triumph though it did not feel like it needed to be and worked well at the technical level it was implemented at with the occasional scene sporting higher frame-rates that looked good. I would not list the art and the character designs as an actively positive influence on my perception of the show however they worked well for what they needed to do and I have no negative comments concerning the art or animation which were consistent. Some scenes had particularly good execution such as the growth of Rakka’s wings.
Haibane Renmei’s story starts off as a bit of a slow burn as it takes time to introduce the viewer to each of the Haibane and the few townsfolk of note while also situating Rakka within the context of her newfound identity. There is nothing exceptional about this approach however I think it is important that this route was used in that it allows the viewer to slowly establish their own opinion of what the Haibane are and what the implications of the world are as they are unveiled. This kind of thinking is I think the greatest fruit that Haibane Renmei can bear – the show, by way of its fantastic and mysterious premise and setting, raises a great many questions concerning both the characters and the world they live in however chooses to avoid answering most of them.
One’s enjoyment of the show will most likely hinge on whether or not they believe that the show worked well in it’s open-endedness or if it should have instead outright explained itself. Those of the latter persuasion may find that the show felt under-investigated however it is from this same vagueness and mystery where the benefit of interpretation comes into play – by leaving many of its questions and circumstances shrouded in mystery it forces the viewer, at some level, to fabricate their own implications and meanings behind certain exchanges and happenings within the world and between the characters. This will be the greatest differing perspective between each viewer and so those who enjoy critically thinking about the significance of things within their shows will probably be attracted to the narrative style of Hanbane Renmei.
The story itself is good enough however most of the characters were uninteresting beyond their basic traits and the events that transpire are infrequent and rarely of great consequence. I feel the real triumph of the show is in its extraordinarily compelling world. The narrative concerns itself most primarily with the dramas of Rakka and Reki however in its exploration of those characters crafts an incredible world around them which I ultimately found more interesting and enjoyable than any of the characters. The nature of the Haibane is fascinating as well as the walls that surround Glie and the seldom mentioned Toga who can venture out beyond the wall but do not communicate what they know with the town’s inhabitants or the Haibane. What lies beyond the wall, what the Haibane are, and why everything is the way it is are all questions both Rakka and the viewer dearly want answered as their mysterious presentation is incredibly appealing and, in my opinion, the strongest part of the Haibane Renmei.
The story avoids the eeriness of Abe Yoshitoshi’s other famously adapted work: Serial Experiments Lain however features its fair share of darkness within the slice of life framework of the Haibane lifestyle. Additionally, without the directing influence of Nakamura Ryuutarou, the exploration of the characters and the pacing of the story are fare more straightforward in comparison to Lain even while being shrouded in mystery. I think that Haibane Renmei is probably the more digestible of Abe’s adapted works.
Alongside the world setting, I would say that the music of Haibane Renmei is the second strongest element of the show. While hardly any of the scenes lend themselves explicitly to a music-centric presentation and most of the soundtrack is comprised of ‘background music,’ I think the music is a powerful element within the show. I found it was somewhat reminiscent of Otani Kou’s later work in Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita however with a bit more of a flare for the dramatic and the melancholy. While the music rarely takes center-stage within the show, its success in establishing the tone in the initial parts of the show as well as its felicitous presence in juxtaposition to the characters and the world is hard to ignore and is an exemplary implantation of advantageous background music.
[Final Thoughts and Rating]:
I liked the show to the degree that I did almost entirely because of the world and the way in which it was skillfully presented and so by nature of the show opting not to answer some of the key questions in regards to those things, I felt the show fell short for me despite the elements that I enjoyed. I don’t think that this was a failure on the part of the creators of the show but rather that I am the potential byproduct of the approach they decided to use when addressing the show. It is a dangerous notion to leave a good deal of information up in the air and unspoken for because, for those that become sufficiently attached to those things, the show then fails to capitalize on what they found appealing and becomes ultimately less enjoyable without ever doing anything explicitly wrong.
I gave Haibane Renmei a 6 because, while I found some aspects of the show incredibly interesting and compelling, the other areas of the show weren’t able to compensate for the lack of explanation that the end of the show was begging for. The story of Rakka and Reki is good and I don’t think that it falls short by itself however, after being presented with so many alluring concepts and ideas, to see those fizzle out while their story fails to absolutely blow me away is where the show takes the hits necessary to bring it down to a 6 for me. It was enjoyable and certainly worth the watch however I can’t quite bring myself to call it ‘good’ as the parts of the show that had the potential to be especially satisfying in their clarification were non-present and left to interpretation.
I would recommend Haibane Renmei to anyone interesting in shows with good world building – the setting is not overly complicated or even that fantastical however the way it presents itself in minimalist quality very quickly poses interesting questions that advance the level of world building past what it might normally exhibit. The initial parts of the show are done in a slice of life style and the latter parts exhibit good drama and interesting events and so I would recommend the show for both of those reasons to those interested in those story elements.
Note. I watched Haibane Renmei as part of a tiny anime watching "club" with my real life friends. Someone chooses an anime every month. Everyone watches it and does a review. May was this. I watched the last 4 episodes (10-13) in one sitting, and found myself getting genuinely angry with how the series was turning out, since I liked episodes 1-9 so much. So, after angrily pacing around my living room stewing about how much the series reminded me of things in my own life, I wrote this.I'm very into stylistic writing for things that are, well, MEANT to be stylistic. I should
probably be embarrassed about this. The tone here is meant to be condescending and sound pretentious, but I think overall my feelings are conveyed about this show, despite it being wrapped up in layers of snotty, pretentious style. It's mostly venting. I wonder if anyone else feels this way about this poor show that didn't deserve this.
Hello, class. I'll be your professor this semester. Please open the syllabus to the first page, and let's begin.
Where did we come from? Why are we here? What's after this?
Now that we've opened our syllabuses, let's begin covering some topics for our class. Welcome to Intro to Philosophy 101.
Haibane Renmei is a raw, dreamlike introspection into the theory of existentialism. The perusal of what makes a person a person. What makes us, well us? How do other people perceive us? Do other people see my values? My morals? My wills?
Wait. I've heard this before.
Haibane Renmei is a show based more around evoking feelings, memories, thoughts, familiarity. The Romantic. The Gothic. The juxtaposition of realities and thoughts.
Wait. I've heard this before.
Haibane Renmei asks the question: have you ever said something you knew would cut someone directly to the bone, on purpose? Have you ever felt you weren't good enough for your own (heavily skewed, unrealistic) goals? Have you ever been unable to let things go?
Wait. I've heard this before.
Haibane Renmei is foundations of philosophy, simmering just beneath the surface. It's dulcet music. It's messy, just like real life.
You know, I remember the paper you turned in last semester, Yoshitoshi ABe. Plagiarizing is punishable by expulsion, even if it was your own paper. I remember Serial Experiments Lain, you're not going to fool me.
Haibane Renmei does very little for me. I've already seen Lain. But that doesn't explain all of why I don't care.
I have to explain a concept first.
Have you ever judged someone for not having the knowledge you gained yesterday, today? Have you ever lived through something, done something, gained something, learned something, and looked down upon someone who hasn't lived it, hasn't done it, hasn't gained it, hasn't learned it?
It's a pretty shitty thing to do.
I do it a lot.
I'd describe myself as a pretty condescending person though.
Haibane Renmei does very little for me because while the climax of the story is focussed on the only characters who got more than basic (though sensible) archetypes for their personality, it's something I've already done.
Reki's struggle with her own inner turmoil is very fiercely human. Rakka's too.
Perhaps I am too cynical. It meant very little to me to see my own problems from years past played out on screen. Maybe it's because I have done all of these things. Maybe it's because I still feel hurt at things I have done in the past, things I have said, things I have lost, things I can't piece back together- things would cast me in a terrible light in the eyes of people I care about, people I love, people I set on pedestals, people I've lost, people I want to think about me; or maybe I'd even cast myself in a darker light in my own eyes.
Haibane Renmei mostly evoked feelings of annoyance.
"Yeah, me too, Reki." "Yeah, I've been a dick to people I love too, over something I thought was more important but hindsight is 20/20 what a dumb thing to do." "Maybe I shouldn't strive to live up to other's standards of me that are incorrect and make me uncomfortable." "Maybe I should get a giant magnifying pair of glasses to see past my own fucking nose."
Perhaps I'm too cynical for a show like this. Perhaps I am too wise, too knowledgeable, too vastly smart for a show to throw the largest, most heard, asked, scribbled, questioned, pondered, meditated, thought, unanswered questions in philosophy at me and not have me roll my eyes. I've already lived this. I'm judging you.
I already graduated from this school of thought. This is why I'm the professor of this course.
Haibane Renmei is a show that focuses on guilt, friendship, loss, and depression. The characters are well-structured archetypes, but does nothing past their archetypes. They are never fleshed out. Characters are presented only to drive the plot around Rakka and Reki. They are given beautiful, crisp wings and glowing halos because ABe thought it would look cool. This show is style over substance.
The major points at play are steeped in sensibility and grasp at the edges of real feelings, real personality, but it says nothing about it. Philosophy is only theory, but reality is really here, and really real. Life is messy and raw, but this feels like a 1st draft, not something that should be the final product. It does nothing new with its meditation on philosophy, or existentialism, or thoughts about perception of oneself. This show is heavy-handed with what themes it does convey (what is my perception of myself? what is others perceptions of me? what's after this? why am I here?) but not unpleasant.
The show is wrapped up in its own pretensions. It is very pretty, but it's not worth holding up to the light.
My pretentious review of a pretentious show will save you 13 episodes.
But I'm probably being unfair. I've already done this. If you had shown me this when I was younger, dumber, not as critical and harsh, I would have liked it. This show for me is old hat, and very unfairly so. This is an extremely biased review. I didn't like it because ?????.
Watch Angel Beats! if you want a more fast-paced, dumbed down, but coherent version of this. Watch Lain if you want something that truly has a hairs breadth of its themes regarding self and identity.
Storytelling is a labor of love, regardless of what you aim to accomplish with the story. To tell a story that conveys conventional entertainment (through elements like plot, action, and drama) is tough. To tell a story that conveys meaning (through elements like symbolism, motif, tone, and theme) is tough in a whole different way. And to tell a story that conveys both of those things in a deft, skillful manner is the mental equivalent of giving birth: A long, unspeakably painful process. But at the end, you've created something of value and sent it headfirst into the sunlight of this world. Brief, deceptively simple,
original, and thought-provoking, Haibane Renmei is such a story.
Haibane Renmei begins with a scene of strange beauty. A young girl wearing a white robe falls headfirst through an azure sky. A crow appears near her, gently grabs her robe with its clawed feet, and, with genuine compassion, attempts to stop her from falling. This little bird cannot, of course, break her fall. The girl smiles wistfully at the crow and shakes her head. “You can't,” she says. “But...thank you.”
The girl, we later learn, is a Haibane—a humanoid who is birthed live from a huge cocoon. Haibanes possess wings and halos whose purpose is unknown. The Haibanes live in a small town called Glie, which is surrounded on all sides by massive walls. To even go near the walls is strictly forbidden. Haibane have no memories of their past identities, and are given a name based on the dream that they had while sleeping in their cocoons. The aforementioned girl is named “Rakka” (eng. “falling”) by the group of five female Haibanes who help her hatch from her cocoon. These five then help Rakka learn the ropes of day-to-day life in the town.
At the halfway point of the episode count, the plot makes a transition to darker, more character-focused drama, and it's at this point that the show really hits its stride. This series possesses a key component for dramatic validity that most others simply do not have: Balance. I sympathize heavily with the common complaint that drama is sometimes “overdone” or “forced,” but I found that in Haibane Renmei, the opposite is true. The show's emotional content is often quiet and understated, and it is all the more powerful because of its subtlety and the suddenness with which it can develop out of seemingly normal situations.
The characters (or, at least, the two main characters) are fleshed out remarkably well despite the time constraints of a thirteen episode series. The first, Rakka, is a sort of empty vessel; she's born into the world without much of an identity. However, she is naturally curious, and she takes in everything around her and makes it a part of herself. It would have been all too easy to make her into a braindead, one-note, always-smiling-always-happy type, but in a display of very sensible character writing, she instead grows into someone who is influenced by both the positives and the negatives of what she sees in Glie. She is hopeful to the core, but possesses doubts and insecurities which threaten to overcome that hopefulness as the series progresses. Nothing bounces off of her. She is a living character, responding in the truest of fashions to everything that's thrown her way.
The other main character is the perpetually smoking Reki. One of the oldest living Haibane, she is a cynical but caring individual who helps take care of the children and newborn Haibane. Reki hides a troubled past underneath an unmoving exterior of wry humor and grit. An extremely well-written character, she is also a powerful symbol, and one of the main vehicles for conveying meaning within the series. She is Rakka's darker counterpart, and many of the most compelling scenes in the show are a result of Rakka's wide-eyed optimism facing off against Reki's wizened voice of harsh realism.
Thematically, Haibane Renmei makes several comments on human sin and redemption. Where the series shines on this front is, once again, the understated way in which it delivers powerful and mature ideas. There aren't any Evangelion-esque scenes where the characters appear to be having a bad acid trip while a weird voice-over shouts philosophical questions. Instead, in the tradition of literature, ideas are conveyed through symbols and recurring themes. It's surprising just how rich with symbolism Haibane Renmei truly is; from the titular gray wings of the Haibane to the walls which surround the city of Glie, it seems like everything is more than it appears. The amount of thought that went into designing this world must have been staggering. And yet, at the same time, the thematic content of the series is easily accessible. This show doesn't ask that you be an analyst to understand what it's about. It only asks that you pay attention.
Haibane Renmei's soundtrack is a superb demonstration of how an orchestra can navigate the entire spectrum of human emotion. Sometimes it's boisterous and whimsical. Sometimes it's chilling. Sometimes it's unutterably sad. The music here has enough range to perfectly complement whatever is happening onscreen. An upbeat, string-driven instrumental opening and a quiet, vocally haunting ending are perfect bookends for each episode.
There is one area where the series falters. Whatever else it might be, when it comes to visuals, Haibane Renmei is no masterpiece. There are some good elements here: The backgrounds are lovely, and the character designs are a breath of fresh air. In recent years artists within the anime industry seem to enjoy depicting women as overly sexualized blobs of skin with massive soul-searching eyes, so it's nice to see an all-female cast that is rendered as a little more realistic looking. It sounds strange to note that the Haibanes, with the full halo and wing treatment, actually look more like humans than most modern characters, but sadly, it's true. However, while the designs themselves are good, the execution is...a little spotty. Character art is often a bit blocky. Characters tend to have poorly defined lines, especially around the hands/arms. This is particularly noticeable in scenes that show them from a distance. Animation is often a little stiff; granted, there isn't a lot of action, and this hardly detracts from the show overall. I'm not going to go on and on, but suffice to say the art in general just looks a little rough. I debated taking a point off of the overall score due to these flaws in artistic execution, but in the end I asked myself: Would the series really be any better if it had sharper visuals? And the answer, I believe, is a resounding “no.” The strength of the show lies with the story it weaves, and no degree of special effects magic would make it any more compelling than it already is.
At times uplifting, at times haunting, and always beautifully understated, Haibane Renmei is a superb example of the “complete package” of fiction: In addition to being an extremely entertaining emotional roller coaster full of memorable characters, it's also a collection of powerful and intelligent ideas that are conveyed elegantly to the viewer. Don't be fooled by its brevity or its seeming simplicity—there's far more to this one than meets the eye.
I find Haibane Renmei very weak and flawed, both as an anime and a work of ‘art’. There’s a fantastical, mysterious drama that wants to be told somewhere in there, but it kind of falls flat on its face due its lackluster storytelling, flat characters, and general lack of ambition. Make no mistake, Haibane Renmei has both a strong start and an excellent premise. It’s just a shame that it’s a story that doesn’t really have anything meaningful to say.
The first episode immediately hooks the viewer with a strong start, an intriguing premise, and a fascinating world to be discovered. Haibane Renmei has a seemingly
endless ocean of potential to be discovered. Who are these characters? Why are they here? What is this world? There are many questions about the nature of Haibane Renmei right from the start. Too bad these questions are pushed to the side for the sake of ambiguity and hollow ‘depth’. The first half of Haibane Renmei consists of Rakka finding a job in the town near Old Home, the area of residence where she and her fellow Haibane live. You could say it’s a metaphorical journey of her finding her place in both the world and life. You could also say it’s a lifeless waste of time(Kind of like the show itself)where nothing is really accomplished. Why explore the world and characters when you can lazily write your story and then say, “It’s supposed to accomplish nothing, because it’s symbolism!” It’s a very weak first half that doesn’t do anything important, and hurts the story even more when the laughable excuse for drama is shoehorned in in the second half.
Sadly, the character department doesn’t fare much better. Other than Reki and Rakka, the two characters that actually do anything in the show, pretty much all the characters are completely flat. I honestly can’t remember any of the characters names besides Reki, Rakka, and Kuu. Maybe it’s just me. Or maybe it’s the fact that the show wastes so much time on pointless symbolism and languid progression that it barely explores the characters or the setting, leaving the entire ocean of potential completely untapped. What’s even more pitiful is the aforementioned drama of the second half. Why the hell should I care about Rakka finding a bird’s skeleton in a well? Why should I care if a character's day of flight comes when all I remember is their name? You can’t expect someone to care about a character they don’t even know. Do you feel sad when you hear about a person who died in an accident on the news? You probably do. But it fades away after a bit of time, doesn’t it? Feeling sorry for a stranger just isn’t that easy. The same logic can be applied to Haibane Renmei. It falls completely apart.
From a production standpoint, Haibane Renmei actually fares quite well. Although the same can’t be said about their personalities, each character has a distinct design and appearance, courtesy of Yoshitoshi ABe. The background artwork is detailed and pretty, only made better by the art style. The art is washed in a soft, watercolor-esque style that gives it a very ethereal quality. It may not excel technically, but it works fine for the slow nature of the show. The soundtrack is mostly forgettable, including harmonious piano and string music that complement the show decently. It’s competent, but nothing more.
In the end, I can’t really recommend Haibane Renmei to anyone. It forsakes satisfying, fulfilling entertainment all for hollow ambiguity and symbolism. Being subtle can lead to art being imaginative and thought-provoking, and can promote discussion long after it has lost its novelty. It’s a shame that Haibane Renmei is too concerned with being ‘deep’ than it is with much of anything else. Why the general public celebrates this travesty escapes me.
(Read as: A lot of people)Everyone here hates SAO and others that I liked and loves Haibane Renmei, so I figured I'd be "That guy," because I really don't understand what's so great about it.
Basically, the Haibane Renmei are people with angelic appearances, and the story focuses on one who can't remember a thing about herself; she dreams of falling from the sky and wakes up in a cocoon where she's greeted by the Haibane Renmei, and is given a background of where she is and how everything works there.
The story doesn't have a bad idea. Why are they there? Just who are the Haibane
Renmei? How do people end up in these cocoons? Unfortunately, questions like that aren't really directly addressed. Everything is inferred, based on key points in the show. Either that, or it's just blatantly stated something along the lines of "Nobody knows why." So many things about where they are, why, and so on are just left unanswered. I'll admit, I do like when things are left to the imagination, but the entirety of the show shouldn't be.
The characters aren't terrible. However, I feel like try really try to make irrelevant characters look important, and it takes time away from giving much needed background on the important characters. I will admit a lot of characters are dynamic, and play vital roles in the plot, but they could've been done better.
The artwork, frankly, is probably the least visually appealing I've seen. It doesn't look smooth, and the details on things are insignificant. The music falls in t same category as the art, I really wanted to skip the op every episode but I couldn't bring myself to do it solely for moral reasons. The background music wasn't bad though, however, it wasn't the best.
Now, for the enjoyment level... Even those who love this anime will tell you, IT CAN BE VERY BORING. If I didn't force myself to finish everything I started, I would've dropped it. There is just about zero plot progression until episode ~8, and it feels like a chore to finish. I do understand what they're trying to accomplish with it, I did get the parts that are supposed to be beautiful and moving, but it wasn't saving face for the rest of the show. I didn't hate it, but I'll definitely not rewatch it.
I'd recommend this to someone who wants to feel like they're watching one of those books they give you in high school that everyone talks about, so you start reading and then spend 2 hours on a chapter because you just give up. I'm sure there's worse anime out there, but there's certainly better. Sorry to everyone who watches this and prides it religiously, but I just can't.
Sorry to kill your day if you love this one, and I'd certainly recommend it to some, but it really isn't for most. Thanks for reading, see ya~
Have you ever wondered to yourself what the meaning of your name is, or why it was given to you? If you could change it, would you?
Haibane Renmei was a comforting, touching slice of life and mysterious tale that sprouted into something truly magnificent and thought-provoking towards its conclusion. Regarded highly for the originality put into it, suspenseful and gripping moments, and unhurried, mysterious nature of Haibane Renmei was a thrill to experience. Be warned though: if you're the type of person who likes action, plot-driven narratives, and any type of fan service, Haibane Renmei is NOT an anime you'd enjoy. It's a slow paced,
character-driven, psychological and coming-of-age tale that will need your full attention on to truly understand the beauty and work that was put into this anime. Viewers may be discouraged into seeing the cover of the anime at first, and think this show will be religious. But fear not, fellow atheists! While there is themes similar to religion; such as redemption, salvation, and sins, don't be fooled by the appearance of the cover girl and the other Haibane, as there is no true religious themes, and the halo and angel wings only served as painting an aesthetic appearance of the show, as mentioned by another reviewer, is the words by the man Yoshitoshi ABe himself.
The narrative that Haibane Renmei crafts into its story truly enhanced the enjoyment of witnessing it for the first watch. The story may seem simple and straightforward to some, and those people who thought that wouldn't be wrong. For the first few episodes, Haibane Renmei stays true to the slice of life and mystery genre, building up the world and the environment that Rakka, the protagonist of the story, is 'born' into. She is given the name 'Rakka' based on the dream she had before being 'born', as is the case with how all the other Haibane (the angel-like humanoids) obtain their names. Along with the rest of the Haibane, she learns the value of what it means to be a Haibane, and goes to work at several jobs that the Haibane do in order to be accepted and have meaning to their lives within society. We find out that humans and Haibane co-exist with each other, and are both living within the sacred walls that no one is allowed to leave or climb over. The narrative sets up a perplexing, set subtle atmosphere that will only continue to grow as the series progresses, utilizing many themes and symbolic elements that drive the story forward.
Like mentioned in the first paragraph, Haibane Renmei evolved into something more than just a typical slice of life as the series progressed. Noticeable, yet sometimes hard to spot themes popped up that made me truly appreciate the work put into this anime. Some, but not all include: Purpose; why the Haibane are there and how Reki (another important and very significant character) and Rakka's roles play a huge part of the successful narrative. Significance, how the Haibane adapt to society and their respectful communities. Fulfillment, achieving one's true salvation and recognition in the world and what it means to live. Friendship and trust; always holding onto the people closes to you and never abandoning them. And redemption, making up from your past sins and learning the significance of forgiveness and gratitude. These words played the basis of understand the narrative for Haibane Renmei and truly made me appreciate the work put into this amazing coming-of-age story.
The characters of Haibane Renmei truly was the most compelling aspect for me, and are the best examples on how characters can make the narrative of the story become a whole and enrich the story with their problems and past experiences. While the 2 main characters, Reki and Rakka, are obviously the most significant and important, the supporting cast truly shined with helping Rakka adapt to the world behind the walls, and served to help Rakka develop her character and provide great side-stories for the other Haibane's jobs and life. Kuu, Kana, Nenmu, and Hikari were all very enjoyable to watch, which is rare to find in anime these days with liking almost all the supporting cast. Reki, my favorite character of the anime, is the most complex and dynamic out of the cast, and her story later on in the anime is what I believe to be the TRUE mystery and narrative that makes Haibane Renmei a phenomenal story. Her character has a lot of significant symbolism that I found which truly made me appreciate her later on. The final episode with her specifically was very impactful and left a huge impression on how I viewed Haibane Renmei all together. Fantastic character. Rakka is the character everyone can relate and root for, she is the stories main protagonist. The one who wants to truly understand and find out what it means to be Haibane and questions her significance in the world. The characters develop friendships, hardships, and moments that made them very enjoyable to watch.
The artwork was made by the creator Yoshitoshi ABe, who is also the original character designer for shows like Texhnolyze, Serial Experiments Lain, and NHK. Like those shows, the artwork in Haibane Renmei is detailed and soft at times, but not flashy or colorful in any way, as the artwork is not suppose to be the aspect you focus on the most. Regardless, it still managed to paint an ominous and mysterious effect on the anime and has it's own very unique style to it. The soundtracks were very appropriate and well choreographed as well, using melody piano tunes to strengthen the mood. 'Refrain Of Memory' was probably my favorite soundtrack of the show. The opening and ending themes were also very nice to listen to, and is one of the rare cases like Shinsekai yori were I did not skip the ending theme once.
Overall; with the genius narrative, compelling environment and characters, riveting themes and symbolism used, along with the detailed artwork and great sound track, Haibane Renmei was an experience that I had the pleasure of sitting through. I would recommend Haibane Renmei to anyone who likes a compelling, rich story with plenty of touching themes and great characters to follow. If what I said in my review interests you in any way, you will not be disappointed in any way.
Haibane Renmei has been one of the only series that has made me cry long after I've finished it. The nostalgic touch in HR rivals that in Azumanga, while they're in completely different dimensions. When I listen to the OP Free Bird I feel as if I'm reminded of a passed away relative, almost like there's a hole in my heart. Haibane Renmei while not exceptionally depressing or tragic definitely had my emotions on a string the whole way through. It's dramatic, it's romantic, it's tragic. Everything in HR had me wanting more and more as if drunk on the enigmatic character development stunning setting
(and animation). The characters in Haibane Renmei had me feeling as if I was best friends with them, in fact they really did become my best friends while I was watching it almost like we were sharing our problems and getting over our sadness. The characters aren't the only complex element to HR, however, and the themes are still clouded to me. Haibane Renmei challenges the metaphorical ranking in Neon Genesis Evangelion. I have only seen Haibane Renmei once and I look forward to re-watching it, one of my most valuable DVD possessions.