First aired on the 9th of October and finishing on the 18th of December with 13 episodes. It was originally a series of comics started in 1998 by Yoshitoshi ABe, but the anime quickly overtook those and they have never been finished. The anime was also written by ABe though, so at least he was able to finish the story.
Haibane Renmei is a show about the introduction of Rakka, the girl in the picture here, into her new home with all the other Haibane. Haibane are people who are born with wings from large cocoons, knowing that they do not come from the world they are now in, but not knowing anything about where they have come from. Not much is actually explained about the Haibane themselves until towards the end of the show, and even then a good portion of it is simply left to the audiences imagination.
Once again, as this is a 13 episode series there is no need to worry about fillers. However, this is a show that likes to take its time, slowly showing the audience the answers to the questions that are presented in the first few episodes of the show. Given the fact that the main subject matter isn't really a situation the characters are in but more of a look at the meaning behind life, death, and depression the fact that they took everything slowly and decently well paced is a good thing. If you are looking for a show with action and excitement then you should definitely look elsewhere.
Hikari, Kana, Kuu, Nemu, Reki, and Rakka.
The characters in Haibane Renmei are all well rounded, with their own idiosyncrasies that make them who they are. Rakka is the main character but is in a way more of a unknowing guide for the audience through the world that the show presents. She is the one who asks the questions that the viewer would also like to know. While this is still what her character is like, it may get a little bit annoying after awhile to have someone on screen voicing your questions.
Reki is the character who is in charge of helping new Haibane get used to their life. She is sort of a motherly figure, but there is a bit of a strangeness about her that is revealed later on in the show.
As for the other characters, other than having an episode to themselves while showing Rakka around the town, after about the seventh episode or so they slowly start becoming less and less... influential to the story. They are still there so it's not like we are suddenly down several people but it does become slightly obvious near the final two episodes that Rakka and Reki are really the stars of the show.
Yes, they are wearing wing warmers.
To the shows credit I think that they really didn't want to make this a highly detailed, visually stimulating experience. With the point of the show being to, in a way, present its vision of what the point of living, dying, and even sin is then I think they made the right choice. Everything is nice and mellow, its all very calming. I think the only problem is that, if you are looking for it, there are one or two items that go missing after a closeup. Aside from that, nothing extremely spectacular and mind blowing, but in this case that is a good thing.
The music was done by Kow Otani who also did music for the animes Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Shakugan no Shana, and also the video game Shadow of the Colossus. However, much like the animation, the music isn't designed to be in stuck in your head. Its purpose is to add to the scenes which it does beautifully. The only song that will probably stick with you would be the ending theme.
SUB VS. DUB
As this was made in 2002 and was then dubbed and released on DVD here in 2003 the dub isn't stellar. The sub is much better, and given that this is a show that wants you to think, having bad lip syncing and underwhelming voice acting really takes away from that.
Haibane Renmei is a show I would say to give a watch if you are in the mood for something really deep to sink your mind into. However this is not a show for kids as it does have a few scenes that are something closer to something Baccano! would have. A problem that the show does run into though is that it fails to answer some questions about its world. Nothing big enough to ruin it but enough questions are left unanswered that it may be annoying to some. Aside from that it's a show that is definitely worth a watch.
Pro's: Interesting world, Good characters, Wonderful questions asked
Con's: Leaves characters behind at times, Fails to answer a few questions
At this time you can find Haibane Renmei on Hulu in sub format or on Youtube in dubbed form. The series was also re-released by Funimation in 2010 to DVD.
Shows or movies you might enjoy if you like Haibane Renmei: Mushi-shi, Sixth Sense, The Village, They Might Be Giants (again, the movie, not the band)
NEXT WEEKS REVIEW: