Plot: A town surrounded by walls that cannot be passed. Beings with white wings being born from giant cocoons with no memory of who they were before they emerged from their cocoon. Named for the dreams that they have while inside of the cocoon. Destined to one day leave the confines of the walls surrounding their city on an occasion called the Day of Flight. Some bound to sin that makes their wings a charcoal black, there to remain until they are forgiven of their sins. This is the story of the Haibane.
Reasons for Rating: I had heard of this anime before and it’s never gotten anything but good word-of-mouth from what I’ve seen so I was really excited to watch it. I wasn’t disappointed as this is a beautiful anime with a great story, wonderful and original plot, great scenery and awesome characters.
I don’t want to give too much away about this series, so I’ll try to be brief. A new Haibane is born from a recently sprouted cocoon. She is named Rakka for ‘Falling’ after revealing that her dream was of falling through the sky. The series follows her and her new friends in a place where many Haibane live called the Old Home. While much of the series is rather light-hearted following Rakka as she learns to be a Haibane and find her place in the community, the rest of the series gets slightly dark once one of the characters realizes it is their Day of Flight. It’s made even darker when one of the characters becomes sin-bound.
I guess one ‘bad’ aspect about this series may be that it’s a little confusing. Much of the story is left up to interpretation, but I’ve heard the most commonly accepted theory of this show is that the Haibane are actually spirits, perhaps ‘reborn’ spirits, that are trapped in purgatory for one reason or another. (TBH though, this doesn’t entirely make sense as the town is also populated by regular people who aren’t Haibane.) Their Day of Flight is actually them going off to heaven. Those who are sin-bound are said to be spirits of those who have committed suicide in their past life (Which does make sense to the characters who have it once you realize their cocoon dreams.) They have great difficulty obtaining their Day of Flight, and if they’re not forgiven before their Day of Flight comes they either stay in Purgatory forever with no chance of leaving or they go off to hell, I couldn’t really interpret that well. They actually say that the person loses their wings and halos and are forced to live away from the society within the town, but that can still be interpreted as hell, but we never see it, so.
Also, slight detail, but I love the holiday that they made up for the new year. That seems like such a fun tradition.
Art: The art and animation are wonderful and the scenery is beautiful. It’s very unique while not being too far in your face with stylization, and everything is animated and colored in such a way that seems really genuine and real. The character design is also the writer, Yoshitoshi ABe, and you may recognize his style from other anime such as Serial Experiments Lain and Welcome to the NHK.
Music: The music is gentle and great with both the OP and the ED being fitting and beautiful to listen to. The ED sounds like a gentle lullaby.
Voice acting: Japanese Version – The voice acting was wonderful. Everyone was very fitting in their roles, they acted wonderfully and I can’t think of anyone who needed a different voice actor.
Bottomline: I really did love this anime. It was a refreshing change of pace from what I’ve been watching, and I can’t think of anything that I’d change about it. I fully recommend it.
Additional Information and Notes:
This anime was based on a doujinshi, but the interesting thing is that unlike most shows where the manga inspires and then builds upon the anime, the exact opposite is true here. The doujinshi started, the anime came quickly thereafter and the manga never concluded while the anime did.
The writer of the anime is Yoshitoshi ABe, and yes the B is capitalized. It’s meant to be a throwback to his old pen name which was AB. He was also the author of the original doujinshi, so it’s really just the series shifting from one medium to another instead of being a downright adaptation.
The director of this series is Tomokazu Tokoro, who is also known for directing Hellsing Ultimate and NieA 7….He also did some work on White Album…..well, that’s a target for another day.
Habane Renmei was produced by Radix and is currently licensed in the US by Funimation.
Recommended Audience: While there’s nothing inherently objectionable in this series, some of the tones are really dark, especially when we get to the middle, and the story may be a bit heavy for younger viewers to understand. 10+