Haibane renmei (2002– )
Perhaps, the best creation of Yoshitoshi Abe.
14 February 2018
--Additional information-- Haibane Renmei (Charcoal Feather Federation) is a 13-episode anime series based on the work of Yoshitoshi Abe (Serial Experiments Lain, NieA Under 7). It began as an original doujinshi comic series, The Haibanes of Old Home, but this was quickly superseded by the anime and was never completed. The anime series was broadcast by Animax on its respective networks around the world, including its English networks in Southeast Asia under the French title Ailes Grises (Grey Wings).

--Synopsis-- A girl with no name falls from the sky and finds herself in a very mysterious land, where nobody remembers of his or her previous life. In this land, angel-like beings, ash wings, have formed a society and live in harmony with the people of the town, helping them out.

Later on, the girl gets a name--Rakka--grows a pair of wings and receives her own halo. Rakka is now an ash wing too.

While the new place seems to be like heaven for Rakka, she soon finds out that everything is not as easy as it might seem. Why did Rakka become an ash wing, and what is the mystery behind her new home?

--Story-line-- As it has been stated before, Haibane Renmei is based on a doujinshi of the king of abstractness and implication, Yoshitoshi ABe. Just like in Serial Experiments Lain, Haibane Renmei is a show full of mysteries that will drag you in its world full of questions. And by questions I mean a great deal of questions: there will be time, when you might think that you finally have the answer, but the series will only give you more questions. On top of that, another thing worth mentioning is the fact that this series has a very slow-pacing, which might make the wait for the answers a total nightmare. However, this nightmare will end when you collect the first puzzle piece. The most enjoyable part about Haibane Renmei is, indeed, the fact that you are rewarded for your patience.

With that being said, Haibane Renmei's highly mature and well-developed story-line can only be appreciated by adults. For those who are looking for a more traditional approach in anime, I would highly recommend to avoid Haibane Renmei. But if it does not scare you, let us continue.

--Art-- The art and animation are very well done, mostly. It is an open secret that Haibane Renmei is an anime from 2002. And it means that there will be no 'wow' moments whatsoever. However, at the same time, the series still manages to amaze the viewer with the attention it pays to every small detail, starting from character designs and ending with stunning backgrounds.

--Music/Voice acting-- The OST for Haibane Renmei was composed by the acknowledged maestro of music Kow Otani. Even if that name does not ring the bell, Outani Kou is a Japanese music composer, who is best known for creating the soundtracks for the Heisei Gamera trilogy, Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, and Shadow of the Colossus, and for many anime series too. What he wrote for Haibane Renmei is nearly impossible to describe using words. The genius of music is able to make you not only relax, but also make you feel nervous. It is difficult to admit, but without his contribution to this series, Haibane Renmei would never have been that amazing. As for the voice acting, this series is marvelous in both English and Japanese. It is quite a challenge to find English female voice actresses with unique voices. Haibane Renmei, however, has simply an amazing English dub that is very difficult to find.

--Characters-- There are two protagonists in this series. While Reki does not get as much screen-time as Rakka, she still has a very important role in this series that will be fully discovered in the final episode. Anyways, the viewer discovers the world of Haibane Renmei via Rakka. She explores the unknown land, meets many people-- including fellow haibane-- and tries to find the answer on the main questions of this series. She is a very easy-going person that is always ready to help. Reki is the second protagonist of the series. She is like a mother to the young haibane and also an extremely important person to the story-line.

Surprisingly, supporting characters, also receive enough screen time. The supporting cast is quite huge, but the viewer can equally enjoy stories of every character and that is really amazing. For a 13 episode anime, Haibane Renmei does manage to show the viewer enough character development for all characters, which is quite rare to see in other series.

--Enjoyment/criticism-- I have seen this anime more than 4 times already and it has never been boring. While this anime will get more appreciation among adults, you can still watch it. However, you will have to be very patient, as well, as you will have to be very attentive and always ready to think and analyze. And believe me, you will have to think a lot. Haibane Renmei will not give you all the answers, in most cases, you will have to analyze many situations. Indeed, it might be tedious sometimes. However, as the series progresses, you will only understand more about Haibane Renmei and it will not be boring anymore; you will like it, I promise you.

--Overall-- All in all, Haibane Renmei is one of these rare gems you will never find again. This is the best work of Abe Yoshitoshi that all SoL fans will surely appreciate. Even if you are not one, you will not feel bored watching this series, because when the drama kicks in, Haibane Renmei will take you on a journey to a faraway place that has many secrets for you to discover. This is the journey that you will never forget.

--Grade-- Overall (dub): 10 Overall (sub): 10 Story: 10 Animation: 10 Art: 9 Music: 10 Voice acting: 10 Enjoyment: 10
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