I don’t know what finally possessed me to watch this show, it’s been laying around my house for over a year now, but once I did, I couldn’t stop until I watched the whole thing in a day. Which, I believe is a first for me.
Final Series Score: 12/12 Perfect
Pros: unique world lends an air of mystery to the story, believable characters that you care about, animation is excellent and helps establish the proper atmosphere
Cons: will make you wish for more and sadly there is nothing else to expand this universe
Then the ending
Haibane Renmei is about a girl, Rakka, who wakes up from a dream and finds herself in a world that is definitely different then it should be. The first tip off is that everyone around her bed has wings coming out their backs and halos on head. Next, she is informed that she is now one of the Haibane with only a day needed for her own wings to sprout and only a couple of days until her halo is fixed above her head (it’s alittle wobbly at first). The final thing that really tells her that she’s somewhere else is that a large wall surrounds the human city and the countryside around it and no one, but a few traders, are allowed out or in. After she accepts the strange world that she lives in (it definitely isn’t heaven), she will have to figure out her place in this society.
This show reminds me a bit of Kino’s Journey and Kaiba, not because it’s an intellectual anime but because it’s unique. There really isn’t anything out there like it, which is a good thing but also a bad thing since I want more and can’t find it. The show also reminds me of Yokohama Shopping Trip (Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou) because the show doesn’t bother to completely explain the world that the show takes place in. Also, the show reminds me of AIR because the show doesn’t go in the direction that it first appears to be going.
If I was trying to convince someone to watch this show, I really don’t have to go on since any show that reminds the viewer of Kino’s Journey, Kaiba, Yokahama Shopping Trip and AIR deserves to be watched.
One of the things that I want to mention about this show after watching is something that really separates anime from American shows. That being religion, spirituality, and religious buildings show up a lot more in anime. And while I, like most Americans, believe you don’t talk about religion or politics, I have to in this case because this anime is an example of religion showing up in anime. After starting with a nice slice-of-life feeling, suddenly the concept of sin and it’s effects on the person becomes one of the central elements to this show. It starts when Rakka’s feathers start to turn black fromthe standard light charcoal color. (I think that the fact that the wings aren’t supposed to be white is symbolic as well, though I can’t figure out the symbolism.) Rakka learns from Reki that the black wings mean that she’s become sin-bound like Reki is. Up to this point we haven’t any notion that anything is wrong with Reki because she has been using medicine to artificially dye her wings the right color. And while Reki just tries to hide from her past, Rakka finds out that to get rid of the effects of being sin-bound she needs, essentially, someone to forgive her since she is told that a person can’t forgive themselves. In Rakka’s case, she has someone from her old life that somehow has also made the trip to this new place with her. This person allows Rakka to be forgiven and her wings go back to being normal. As a practicing Catholic, the idea that you cannot absolve yourself of your own sins resonates with me; but I guess that should be expected from someone who likes to go to confession every couple of months because I like the weightless feeling I feel when I walk out of the confessional.
On the other hand, I don’t want the previous paragraph to make it sound like this show is some sort of religious show. It’s not at all, it’s kinda like how when watching Kamichu and it doesn’t feel weird when Yurie says that she’s become a god overnight.
The other thing that I want to mention is that I noticed while marathoning this show was some trick of time-bending was being employed so that more then 24 minutes worth of material fit into the 24 minute episode. I think that I’ve mentioned why this is a good thing before but if not, I believe one of true marks of a great show is that it either makes time fly by quickly or it somehow packs more material into a episode then should be physically possibly and thus the episode feels longer then it really is.
So if your wanting to watch a peaceful, yet emotion-filled anime that’s unique and beautifully drawn – look no further then Haibane Renmei.