Sunday, May 27, 2012

Haibane Renmei

Studio: Radix 
Year: 2002
# of Episodes: 13

"A dream of falling from the sky...and then birth. Rakka is born from a large cocoon into the Old Home, greeted by a group of females with small wings on their backs and shining halos above their heads. Soon Rakka’s own wings grow, a halo is placed on her head and she is told that she must work in the nearby town of Grie. She soon realizes that the town and the entire world they live in are confined behind the Wall, a tall, impenetrable wall that none except the mysterious Toga are allowed to exit."

I put off this series for a long while, perhaps much longer than I should have, even though the name came up every so often. So I finally sat down one day and marathon-ed it. What can I say, it left me a little melancholic but also a little hopeful at the same time. 

To me, Haibane Renmei is a fairytale with a touch a Edgar Allan Poe, the tone of the series is calm and serene, but also mysterious and dark at key points. The beginning episodes give us a glimpse into what life is like for the Haibanes in the little town,  nothing dramatic happens, but the mundane events are calming and even entertaining. As the story progresses, the plots evolves around two characters and their inner struggle to understand and to come to terms with one's own existence.


The story is driven by emotion and symbolism rather than plot per se. So even though many questions can be asked, there is never a definite answer. The exact nature of the Haibanes, who qualifies to be a Haibane, who are the Togas, as well as what's beyond wall is never explicitly stated. But that is not to say the series is flawed through its ambiguity, at least to me, what's implied is enough to satisfy any need for answer. Quite the contrary, I think too much transparency will only disrupt the magic feel of the series, it's a story that needs to be felt, not merely said.  

I don't want to spoil too much, but Haibane Renmei has a most unique approach to the subject of existence, death and reincarnation, especially within the realm of anime. It's a story that really drew me in, made me wonder and left me feeling a little warm on the inside. Accompanied by beautiful soundtrack, it's a memorable series perfect in its own way.  

Story: 8.5/10
Character: 8/10
Animation: 7.5/10
Music: 9/10
Directing/Style: 9/10
Enjoyment: 9/10
Overall: 8.5/10

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