Haibane renmei (2002– )
What is Haibane Renmei trying to be vaguely hinting at?
7 February 2020
Note: this is from a video review, look for links on my profile page.

Haibane Renmei is an incomplete, limited world, and so are its characters. This is not due to any deficient omission, but merely symbolic of the outside world. Stairs can represent an elevation of a mental state, halos solely an indicator of a norm and disruption thereof. The darkness is a device used as a horror trope, but unlike most such media this series recounts an internal sort of dread, a psychological possibility, an unknown within the universe, an existential uncertainty that could plague the mind.

Light, the sole localized potency, easily extinguished like life, also has a limited cover. Wings are a vestige of an obscure past, like fragments from within a dream. Why must they only utilize forsaken objects? Is there a radiance that could overpower the innermost gloom? Could a door open the path out of a nightmare? What lay beyond a sleeping consciousness? What is art but interior warfare? How is a dream expressed through a scream? What is it that we forget, how do we reflect upon that midnight stream, why does reason retain it not?

This mechanical world also has an upside, though, one where light takes the role darkness had inside a room, one where space is boundless (except for abstract limits of such symbolic darkness), one which is a norm, despite the margins of possibility, but is communicating with crows a standard? Is flight liberating, what lay beyond? Does it shelter us from ourselves? What do social bonds imply in the grand scheme of things? Does this melody keep track of erstwhile seconds?

This story harbours darkness along with natural casualness, it glides to the future like time's inevitable arrow; how does life become one second and then the next? Could a fortress have a sunny disposition? Do we have any sway over the inexorable momentum? What psychological processes are rekindled while in a state of sleep?

Myths are symbolic of an abstract need, a usually cathartic release of fantasy, a hyperbolic bridge between subjective understanding and the possible. In this series they may remain ununderstandable, but that is not the narrative's purpose, despite that it is too a testing ground of what may be likely and not so. How personal is an archetype, or could it merely be the result of an illusion? What makes an object representative of a series of inter-linked connections? Could anime, from Latin for 'soul', have the ultimate potential for such figurative art? Wings may be seen as explicitly religious, but here specifically they are but vestigial props, something that works only in the imagination as in the 'day of flight'. How different are conventional humans from the haibane? Why do they seem to pity them through charity? Perhaps because they are neither 'superior' beings, nor part of the majority within the town. How does, though, anyone come into existence? A plant that forms a cocoon is this story's premise, but how did they figure out any optimal methods before they had their traditions? A cycle of mythologized lives take this form, but most of the abstract notions, like 'coming to life' apply generally. The universe itself tumbled out of chaos, and seems destined to fizzle out in a similar manner. So, why does the mind attempt to confer symbols to randomness?

Why does, rain for example, seem to indicate a negative atmosphere? When does a melancholic green turn into a demonic frolic? Is the world naturally dark, with the sun so easily blocked? What really separates life from death? How is a psyche able to handle a sudden halt in the subjective narrative? Are catecholamines involved? The anime's narrative could be regarded as specific to it, but it could also be abstracted to a sort of archetype. There are many unexplained things, like what is beyond the village, but the characters do not mostly attempt to tackle such issues unless in a desperate situation, kind of like how most of life operates, with potential, far-away problems given less priority than immediate ones. But what nestles in the darkness of one's mind? Is everyone truly an individual, and is the alternative a sociological illusion?

This story, ultimately, is a mostly quiet attempt at emulating the essence of what existence could be about underneath. It is an alley that nature takes to form, coincidentally, a path sustaining that which is random, yet constitutes a thread illuminating everlasting, omnipresent darkness. It is about that case in a million that, while infinitesimal, is still imaginatively logical. It is a question, not an answer; realistic, but immersed in fantasy. It is about the cycle of life and death, and a combination too. It projects fleeting feelings onto a purported, snowy reality, creates storms of electrical sight, paints a landscape, and sends them away with a thought.
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