Haibane renmei (TV Mini-Series 2002– ) Poster

(2002– )

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Oh my...
csi_yellowknife24 September 2003
Sick of stereotypical anime? No need for big robots, big chests, lots of yelling and immature humor? Check out Haibane Renmei. In my opinion, it's in a class by itself.

HR begins with a young girl 'hatching' from a cocoon, unable to remember her name, her life, or anything else. She is greeted by 5 other females (looking to be between 10 and 25) who have wings and a halo. She is given a name, based on her dream in the cocoon (Rakka, which means "falling), as are the others. Soon she grows wings and is given a halo as well. The winged creatures are called "Haibane."

The first 5 or so episodes are intentionally slow going, as we are given a view of Rakka's adjustment to life as a Haibane. However, as slow going as they are, the episodes are very engaging. By episode 6, Rakka suffers a major loss, as she spends the rest of the series dealing with the loss and trying to answer the question: What are the Haibane?

This series was created by the same person who created Serial Experiments: Lain. Rakka even looks a little like Lain. However, HR is a bit more straight-forward than Lain. It is an especally quiet series, the use of classical and baroque music add to the feel of the show. We're told a little about the Haibane, the rules they must follow, and the world they live in.

The animation is intentionally not very flashy, however it is detailed and quite immaculate. We get the feeling that the Haibane live in a quaint little town which hasn't changed much over the years. The show is much the same in its feel of timelessness. It could take place now, 100 years ago, or even 100 years from now.

In short, this is a show to show off to non-anime fans who have stereotyped all of it as either Pokemon or porn. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a trend...
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10/10 from a bitter atheist
sophiavladimirovna13 August 2010
Let me start by explaining that I am not a religion hater, but I have had several bad childhood experiences involving threats of Hell and general hatred. So, when I saw this anime described as a 'Christian fairytale', I sighed and decided to forget about it...And yet, half a year later, I realised just how wrong I was.

It is difficult to pin a genre on Haibane Renmei - it begins in almost Kafkaesque fashion, with a young girl falling through the air. Then a group of angel-like creatures, the Haibane, find a cocoon growing in the basement of their sprawling old-fashioned residence, with the girl inside. She hatches into a world surrounded by walls, populated by Haibane and humans, and run by a race of untouchable masked beings. She grows her wings, receives the name Rakka ("fall"), ponders her origin, befriends endearing but mysterious Reki, and, in her first winter, suffers a sad loss. Thus begins her journey, and the viewer's, to understand those recesses of our minds we are sometimes afraid to know.

Haibane Renmei's success lies in its depiction of human emotions. There are no guns, explosions, annoying voices and large breasts here. The viewer is simply invited to clear their mind and watch as the lives of the Haibane unfold against a backdrop of a town pleasantly embedded in the past but holding its own secrets. The joy of friendship; the pain and guilt of losing a loved one; the quest towards finding one's identity are the predominant themes of Haibane Renmei.

Another great success is the openness for interpretation. Although the story can be seen as religious, it never preaches, never attempts to convert, and ensures that 'sin', 'heaven', and 'salvation' remain only particular words chosen to describe universal concepts. Certain questions pertaining to beliefs are intentionally left unanswered. What lies beyond the walls? Where do the Haibane eventually fly to? And, most importantly, what are the Haibane and what is their purpose?

Although the first few episodes seem innocent enough, Haibane Renmei quickly becomes deep, dark, and sometimes filled with nightmarish imagery and symbolism. There is also a subtle, but definitely present theme of suicide and self-injury (both physical and psychological) that is more disturbing than most 'horror' anime. Add to that the slow storyline, and lovers of light entertainment will certainly not find much in Haibane Renmei, unless of course they are willing to look.

So, my advice to potential viewers: approach this beautiful series with an open mind, and a willingness to do some soul-searching. At times, Haibane Renmei does leave one feeling like a soul trapped in an endless painted tunnel. But be willing to see the light at the end of this tunnel, that is what Haibane Renmei urges the viewer. Be it faith in a higher power, be it faith in humanity, be it faith in a specific person or be it faith in oneself, the light never truly fades.
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The best animated film I've seen
howard.schumann30 May 2005
The best-kept secret in the world of Japanese animation is Tomokazu Tokoro's Haibane Renmei, a thought provoking and very moving 13-part 2002 TV series that is part fantasy, part coming-of-age story, and part religious allegory. Haibane is a creation of Yoshitoshi ABe who designed the characters for Serial Experiments Lain and inspired the science fiction series NieA_7. The story is very simple, yet it is full of understated poetry and rich meaning that can be enjoyed by people of all ages (but may be too dark for children under the age of ten).

The story is inspired by Haruki Murakami's novel Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World in which a man suddenly appears without memory of a previous life in a strange village surrounded by a high wall and ends up working in the library, replacing another who simply disappears. Set in a village called Glie, angel-like people with wings and halos called Haibane or "charcoal feathers" live alongside humans in the town, also surrounded by impenetrable walls. The laws are made by a council called the Haibane Renmie who decreed that the Haibane cannot own anything new, cannot go outside the wall and are forbidden to even touch it. Only the Toga, mysterious masked men who provide for and protect the Haibane, can leave the town.

The Haibane live in an abandoned building called Old Home and have no memory of a previous life, only a vague recollection of a dream they had inside the cocoon in which they were hatched fully-grown. Others live in the Waste Factory and are said to be "rowdy". Every so often, without warning, one of the Haibane disappears beyond the wall to an uncertain destination. This is the "day of flight" that is the fate of all Haibane except those that are "sin-bound" and must remain in darkness. As the series begins, a girl dreams of falling and, when she emerges from her giant cocoon, is named "Rakka" for falling. The early episodes deal with Rakka's arrival and adjustment to life as a Haibane.

Rakka's best friend is Reki who takes care of the younger children and is very protective of Rakka, caring for her when her wings emerge. Reki's name means "stones" because in her dream she was walking on a path of stones. Rakka goes with each of the Haibane to their jobs to see where she would best fit in. Other characters include Nemu who works at the library, Kuu, a boyish-looking girl who is the youngest of the group, Kana, also a tomboy, and Hikari who works at a bakery. Halfway through the series, Rakka must deal with an unexpected loss of a member of the group who has taken flight. Rakka's wings begin to turn black and both she and Reki are haunted by incomplete memories of their cocoon dreams and recollections of committing harm to others.

As the plot slowly unravels, both Reki and Rakka must overcome their feelings of inadequacy before they can move on and the atmosphere often becomes heavy and foreboding. Timeless questions are raised and left for us to ponder, yet the story has the simplicity of a children's book with a sense of mystery and awe about our place in the universe. Is this an allegory of our own after-life or is it about our waking life where no one knows for certain where they have come from and where they are going? Although the story line about sin and salvation strike a more conventional note, to the credit of the authors, they have emphasized personal responsibility and the need for us to take charge of our own lives. Haibane Renmie has just the right combination of magic and realism, and the visuals are beautiful to experience. With a lovely musical score, characters you can identify with, and a story that builds to a moving conclusion, Haibane Renmie is the best animated film I have seen.
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Twinsen6115 July 2005
Haibane Renmei is one of the most beautiful, original and meaningful animes. A young girl is born from a cocoon in an old building inhabited by Haibane, angel-like beings, without knowing anything about the world she has just entered and about her past. Very soon she learns that she is a Haibane herself, makes new friends and starts to explore the surroundings. She also gets a name: Rakka. In the first episodes we follow her as she gets to know the other Haibane and some nice people in a nearby town.

It all looks quite peaceful, relaxing and a bit childish but as Rakka learns more about herself we begin to understand there are quite a few similarities between our life and that of the Haibane and a significantly darker and deeper tone kicks in. The whole series begins to reveal itself as a metaphor without losing in the process a driving force that has nothing to do with sterile intellectual analogies. The creator, Abe Yoshitoshi, has a message to tell but he does it with such artistic talent, emotional intensity and subtlety that you can fall in love with the series even if you notice its flaws. Haibane Renmei is for the child in every one of us who is still charmed by a wonderful Christmas tree even if he has reasons to believe there is no Santa.
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smirre445 November 2003
After watching Haibane Renmei early this year, I thought it was a bit different than Yoshitoshi Abes other works, (like Lain, which is a bit of a puzzler). This series (Haibane Renmei) has an air of sadness to it, but also moments of happiness and joy, and doesn't mess around to much with your head.

I really enjoyed it and would watch it several more times, enjoying it as much as the first. The ending had me virtually in tears, it really was perfect. If you're gonna purchase any anime on DVD in the future, this one should be next on your list. No doubt about that. This one makes the top of my favourite list without problems.
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A perfect mirror for the human soul...
Egon_Freeman16 November 2006
"Haibane Renmei" is on my Top5 'Best Anime Ever' list. It got there instantly, and remains even though I'm continuously filling my DVD shelf with new titles as they come out. And it's been there for some time. Why? Hm... let's talk about that for a moment.

First of, it's a journey. Don't be unprepared, this isn't something You watch as a Sunday Timewaster. In short - it's deep, entertaining and full of... well, me. And you. And everyone else.

At first, some may think it's about the main character and the events that unfold in regard to her. Then, it quickly becomes a psychological tale about a community, centered around Charcoal and Feathers Federation. But soon afterwards you lose track of things and just watch...

This anime becomes your mirror. I know - it may sound almost impossible, but that's the way it is. It has its own storyline and characters, granted, but it really talks about human emotions, the way we react to those emotions and events, and finally - how, and why we interact with each other. I won't say more.

It's not just a ride, it's a journey deep into yourself, into that dark room psychologists and psychiatrists always tell you to open. This title slams the door open and drags whatever's inside - out. By definition, this journey must be made alone...

... and it must be made, even if only to know - why.
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a different point of view
ken-ohki8322 May 2004
What I see in the show, is the great, great, GREAT animation and artwork of Yoshitoshi ABe. its not to show off what anime really is to people surrounded by Pokémon or dragonballZ...but to show off how well ABe can build characters and towns and an entire world with so many differences that it would astound the minds of "hit" movie watchers.

Its not mass marketed for everyone. I would relate it to movies like SLC punk, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Chungking Express, and Requiem for a Dream. They all try and challenge you to see the deep meanings behind the screen.

Music. Music can make or break a movie, and if it makes it, it either builds it up, or points it in a direction you didn't see before. The music in Haibane Renmei made it and it built up big time. The music gives it a deep RPG feeling, without the tedious and repetitive battles.

final opinion: not everyone will want to watch it, but having it in your collection is the anime version of having a 1830's bottle of wine in your wine cellar.
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Beautiful... Breathtaking
deimos47ca19 January 2005
"I really enjoyed it and would watch it several more times, enjoying it as much as the first. The ending had me virtually in tears, it really was perfect. If you're gonna purchase any anime on DVD in the future, this one should be next on your list. No doubt about that. This one makes the top of my favourite list without problems"

I would like to add to this user's comment, that although perhaps he/she was "virtually" in tears, by the pile of tissues laying beside me i can attest that there wasn't anything "virtual" about my tears. However, although there is a sad depressing side to the later half of the anime, it swings through the whole gamut of emotions. As another poster noted, this anime does require a calm attitude and patience to let it all sink in and notice many subtle clues about the characters. So if you've read this far, stop wasting time and go watch it.. in fact I think I'll go see it again (#3rd time).

If you like this anime... go see "Jacob's Ladder".
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I suddenly realized why Haibane is great
novaj523 November 2007
While skimming through the series again, I just realized what makes Haibane Renmei such a great work.

Haibane Renmei doesn't tell you the answer. It lets you question, ponder and contemplate about it.

"Starting an important question in life and letting it maintain in you."

... that is why Haibane Renmei is a great work. There is no meaning nor need for an answer. The answer would only become a mere piece of knowledge if you simply tell someone. It is something you should go through all the experiences and realize for yourself. Having the question and keeping it will be the starting point which evokes you to find the 'real' answer.

* p.s. * There is a type of a question -somewhat a strange oxymoron-isque question- Buddhists throw at someone when the question of 'truth' is sought after. The way to go through this question is just to keep questioning it in the head ALL the time, even when you're asleep. Suddenly, all the dots will be connected and the answer will just pop up in the blink of an eye, like 'ah, that's so obvious...!' The basis theory behind it is on the assumption that you already know everything, it's just that you haven't 'realized' it yet. Haibane Renmei makes you do that.
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Meaningful and deep
alexlehmann426 May 2008
Haibane Renmei I usually don't like TV-series. I also don't really like anime, except for the films of Miyazaki. But Haibane Renmei is hard to classify as a standard anime. There's no flying limbs, nor any immature humor and attempts at getting you to look up girls skirts. Men who look like women and have stupid hair are also wonderfully absent. I might seem a bit biased here, but this is my impression of anime, and I've seen quite a bit randomly or through friends. On the surface Haibane Renmei seems like a fairly simple drama. This is because it's the impression the series tries to give us. On the first couple of episodes, there is an underlying uncertainty and darkness. As the series progresses in its 13 episode span, it becomes deeper and more thought provoking. It never spells out things clearly to the audience, and never answers all our questions. It remains wonderfully subtle, and after I finished watching it I thought about the series and its themes for several days.

The series is set in a small town surrounded by high walls. In the city, together with human people live angelic like creatures called the Haibane, who are not allowed to leave the city. As the series starts, we see the birth of a new Haibane, Rakka, who is named after the dream she had while being born. Like all Haibane, she cannot remember her past or where she comes from. The series spends most its time exploring her living with her new Haibane friends. We are also introduced to them as the series starts. One problem with series is that they have very shallow characters, but not Haibane Renmei. The characters here feel painfully real and sincere. The series also explores several of the supporting characters, giving them all an amount of depth. This is also connected to the wonderful character design, and immediately as we see the visually we can assume what kind of characters they are. But the designs are not overdone, and they all reveal in time a certain amount of layers and depth.

The animation isn't as high quality as some other popular anime, however, the backgrounds look beautiful and show great detail and artistry. The music also needs mention, using wonderful strings and soft acoustic guitars, as well as some beautiful piano work. Haibane Renmei spends a surprising amount of time layering and building its themes and symbolism. It takes situations that are common to us, but puts it into a slightly supernatural setting. And although all the main characters have wings and halos, they always seem extremely grounded and realistic. The series go through several moods and emotions, but always make it heartfelt. When the characters are happy, we feel happy, and when they are sad, we feel sad. But it avoids becoming melodramatic nor over the top. Some of the series saddest parts will truly sting your heart, unless you're made of stone.

For a series that takes such a serious tone, Haibane Renmei gracefully avoids such series greatest clichés. The symbolism is subtle and layered, but never seems overdone. There are truly intense moments, but the series also takes several moments to sit back and let the audience reflect, showing wonderful imagery of the landscape with beautiful music in the background. The themes are universal, but I'll not list them, in fear of spoiling the series for people who hasn't seen it. Make sure not to read too much about the story and what happens, and rather let the series unfold without knowing what might happen.

Haibane Renmei is probably one of the finest audio-visual experiences I've had. Not many have seen it, which is sad, as it's so universal and could be enjoyed by so many people. I would recommend it to anyone, it could even work for ten year old kids and older. Although it's layered, it's never overtly complicated. Although it never answers many of our questions, it still isn't surreal and hard to penetrate. If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend you go out and get it as soon as possible.
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Perhaps, the best creation of Yoshitoshi Abe.
Throkell14 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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Somewhere between heaven and earth
bakaohki28 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers

One of the most beautiful anime I've ever seen: Haibane Renmei tells the story of a weird afterlife, where angels (the Haibanes) and ordinary people coexist in a small town surrounded by a huge wall, meant to protect them from the outside. Some elements are taken from Christian mythology, but mainly this is an extraordinary and original tale: in this place the Haibanes loose their very personal memories and they're given a chance to loose the remnants of their sins (like in the purgatory). Some are without a sin, others carry a burden from their previous existence: burdens from a present day society, where loneliness and desperation are deep within the people. Abe's suggestive loaded oil (?) paintings pop up here and there and the background music is perfect, what else can we wish for?
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The last genuinely "great" anime of the 1996-2002 Era of Great Anime
darkdayforanime25 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This series was one I stumbled upon fairly late in the day.... Not until well into 2003 before I decided to see any of it. I was stupid not to have followed it from Day One.

With the 2003 run of anime being so banal (and with 2004 being several magnitudes worse) I was forced to look back on shows I'd missed, and found an anime I now rank as one of my favourites.... Actually, a show I rank as one of my all-time favourites, anime or not.

It isn't some explosive action-fest, or some great triumph of animation work and cg. What it is is a series made simply, with sympathetic characters in a strange yet familiar setting. When they go through pain and angst, you actually _feel_ for them. They are not ciphers to plot. In fact, there is very little plot to Haibane Renmei, so everything relies on the character interaction. The world of Limbo is going to elicit a lot of emotions from those who have arrived there in order to be judged worthy of moving on to Heaven (or wherever it is the Haibane go upon their Day of Flight). Even the loss of those Haibane who have moved on is keenly felt (the collapse of Rakka's state of mind after the disappearance of Kuu) and the ending, even if some people feel it wasn't quite up to the rest of the series, leaves this reviewer quite haunted. Reki was my favourite character from the show, and her relationship, and eventual redemption, with Rakka was quite powerful for me.

For some, this may seem a dozy exercise in drama. For some who are munching on ritalin, that is. Haibane Renmei is a labour of love for its creators, and I've done my damnest to spread it round to even those who don't watch anime.
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A Masterpiece of the slice of life genre
callum_parsons27 July 2013
This anime is a slice of life, a genre which has since been over thrown with titles about school students drinking tea or tragedy. Not only that but this is a supernatural slice of life a sub genre which really doesn't interest me as a whole. The idea within Haibane Renmei is that similar to angels being re birthed into a world confined within the walls which surround the town that has volunteered to look after them. The protagonist of this series is perhaps the one most interested in the walls and after tragedy within the town she is more determined then ever to see. The anime delivers a bunch of different feelings to the viewer such as Joy, Melancholy and Relaxation, It is a beautifully animated anime which even that is out shined by its magnificent music choice, It is a simple story of sorrow and friendship and is an anime which I will not be forgetting any time soon, The only, perhaps, fault I have with this anime is the animation style of the characters, but since it was animated in 2002, I think we can let that one slide.
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The Most Beautiful Anime Ever
senseihEnRY14 June 2012
Haibane Renmei is an anime series based on Yoshitoshi ABe's (Serial Experiment Lain) doujin with the same name. Haibane Renmei tell us a story about a girl that wake up from a dream as an angle-like creature. She doesn't have any memories from her past so she need to accept that now, she's part of the Haibanes (Grey Wings) humans with grey wings and halo.

At first you might think this as a light hearted anime as the main character, Rakka (a name given to her) try to settle in the new town where she live now. Guided by the other Haibane and the Haibane Renmei (Haibane Federation), Rakka try to live her new identity as good as possible. But then the direction of the series begin to change. Haibane Renmei change from a simple slice of life anime to a complex psychological drama that questions one's value and purpose. Themes like sin, despair, sacrifice, death, and even suicide are illustrated beautifully either explicit or implicit in the story. Every characters are built with depth and it's hard not too love them. It took quite a thinking to explore the hidden message or the meaning for every symbol in the story but it sure is one of the best story in anime history.

Unfortunately, the animation of this anime is not the best. Inconsistent character design, lack of detail, and lazy animation are the main issues of this anime. From 13 episodes of this anime, maybe only half of them that have really good animation. But i love the atmosphere of the world of Haibane Renmei, although the world is peaceful and full with kind people, there are mystery and gritty darkness hidden in every corner.

The music by Ko Otani is amazing. Mostly, Haibane Renmei's scores are sad and depressing, but it's beautiful and it really fit with the tone of the story. The voice actress are amazing, Ryo Hirohashi as Rakka and Junko Noda as Reki are extremely good at bringing their characters to live.

Haibane Renmei may have a slow pace and the story might not fit for everyone but if you can capture the beauty inside, there is no doubt that this is the most beautiful anime ever.
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A beautiful and emotional series
Tweekums5 December 2010
Ever since I saw a trailer for this anime I wanted to see it so when I spotted the DVD boxed set for sale at a decent price I snapped it up; I'm glad I did as I enjoyed every moment even if I was reduced to tears by the end. The animation is excellent and the music by Kou Ootani is equally good. Like all series what matters most is the characters and how their story is told; here the story is relatively simple but a joy to watch and the characters are people you enjoy spending time with.

The story follows the life of a girl who one day dreams of falling then awakens to find herself emerging from a cocoon. She has no memories and is given the name Rakka by the people who find her. These aren't ordinary people however, they are Haibane: angel-like with wings and halos. Soon Rakka is given a halo too and sprouts wings. Rakka lives with a group of Haibane but is particularly friendly with Reki who acts like a big sister to her. Over the course of the series she learns many things about Haibane life but not all of her questions are answered and by the end of the series the viewer will be left wondering about many things.

If you are looking for a series full of laughs or action then this probably isn't the series for you but if you want something different that instead of answering every question leaves you thinking then give this a go. The characters were excellent and I was really interested in their world that is as mysterious to the viewer as it is to Rakka.

These comments are based on watching the series in Japanese with English subtitles.
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An extraordinary, beautiful and moving anime
lyrast8 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I watched the interesting and arresting anime, Haibane Renmei. This fascinating 13 part series concerns some sweet angelic characters called Haibane. The heroine is a young newly born {or hatched} Haibane named Rakka. They all live with some humans in a strange town called Glie cut off from the rest of the world by a sinister and impassable Wall. Significant characters include Kuu, an early mentor of Rakka ,and the strange, yet endearingly compassionate Reki who has a mysterious personal history.

The anime starts in a very leisurely fashion allowing the characters and relationships to develop naturally. As the story progresses through the first six episodes, the emotional ambiance becomes less sweet and more solemn and moving. We become aware of a very skillful use of symbols and dream imagery and a gentle sensitivity not unalloyed with a certain melancholy.

But by the eighth episode the atmosphere becomes dramatically darker, more emotional, moving and intense—a quality which continues through out the rest of the anime. Yet these episodes clearly relate to, build upon, and develop from the gentler, sweeter early sections. We are always aware of a developing coherent story line and logical character growth. We find ourselves relating to these strange beings and sharing their fears, frustrations, and sorrows.

On a personal level, I think one of the reasons I like Haibane Rinmei so much is that I am strongly drawn to allegory and fantasy and both feature strongly and contribute to the impact of this series. I was impressed with the use of dream and nightmare imagery—which at times is quite frightening and disturbing, especially in the second section of the anime. These dream sequences are integral to the plot and the themes in this remarkable work. And these themes are profound, involving the exploration of guilt, redemption and spiritual solidarity.

The characters are wonderfully engaging and sympathetic though it isn't easy going on an emotional level. But the ending is one of the most moving I have ever seen in an anime.

I loved it but I suspect it isn't for all tastes.
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What is Haibane Renmei trying to be vaguely hinting at?
Quirky_analysis7 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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A really well done angelic type of anime
Irishchatter3 May 2019
I never expected this slow pacing anime about angel girls that good but boy, Charcoal Feathers Federation prove me that! Actually it is a very interesting name to call an anime that because as a non Japanese speaker, I would probably forget the title lol. I really liked the English Dub actresses on this and I'm even glad that the animators didn't make all the girls look fake in the usual ways but I'm so glad they took a step back from that. Rather than be focused less on the looks, instead they focused on the personality wise of the girl characters.

Definitely give this anime a watch if you ran out of anime Ideas on what to watch, this way you'll discover a hidden underrated gem !
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Good...but not at all as good as I wanted it to be.
saymonja-148-3633308 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I wanted to LOVE this anime. I had huge hopes for it, having come across it in so many "top anime" lists written by people that weren't 14 year old boys (or those with the same mentality). I watched the first two episodes and was completely taken in by the atmosphere, the gorgeous animation that created the perfect ambiance; the process of Rakka's "birth" and transformation, the mystique surrounding the wall and the outside world. There was an exciting yet mellow sense of nostalgia with a touch of darkness and mystery. And that was pretty much it. There was hardly any plot, hardly any character development, and the moralizing was pretty run-of-the-mill "be good and you will become enlightened". I stopped caring pretty quickly. What a waste of such gorgeousness! I really thought this was going to be like a warm and fuzzy yet captivating anime blanket that I could hide in, when I tired of boy wizards and over-wrought sci-fi, or male-centered, fan servicing high school dramas. But this was majorly disappointing to me. Perhaps I brought my film-snob attitude with me to the world of anime, as the last great hope--that you can have action/adventure or sci-fi and fantasy that are beautiful, well made and actually thought provoking. Having plowed through almost every critically acclaimed film I could find from around the world, I found anime and thought, wow! Character development? Engaging stories? Social satire? Different cultural philosophies? Sign me up! And while I've found some that delivered, I've started to become a bit disappointed. I was waiting to watch Haibane Renmei for a while, as if holding out for the right time to savor this mysterious realm, all to myself. But it never quite delivers what I'm looking for. And I'm not saying I think there is something wrong in enjoying this anime; it just didn't hold my interest, didn't engage me, and I eventually stopped caring about the characters, as the air of foreboding mystery sort of dissipated altogether. Oh well, back to the internets to find something else.
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arolust6 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
First let me point out I am not a fan of slice of life anime, in fact I try my best to avoid it, but seeing how this anime was rated so highly on myanimelist, and IMDb I had to at least try it.

Up front, this anime has so many opportunities to become something great, but it just passed by those to continue its rather dull story. So, if you are an avid anime watcher and want to know what will happen next abandon all good ideas and use the worst one that you think could happen.

It has an interesting setting and ideas, but thats it. You can liberality take away the wings, and halos and you could still have the exact same story without any problems. Im tempted to say there was no real plot, but there was some plot, it was just light and kinda fluffy.

My biggest issue with this series is how much I wanted something more. After I watched five episodes I couldn't take it anymore and started skipping a minute ahead over and over and over and over, only to find that most of every episode felt like pointless filler and the characters acted/were no different in episode 10 then they were in episode 3. Zero character development.

That said, not the worst anime I have seen, but seriously does not deserve its high praise. I can only conclude that this anime is niche and is only really watched by those who specifically like the genre.
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