Haibane Renmei

Title:Haibane Renmei
Ashwing League
Charcoal Feathers Federation
Keywords: , , , , , , , , , ,
Notables: HANBA Tomoe
MURAI Kazusa
NODA Junko
OOKI Tamio
Original Concept - ABE Yoshitoshi
R1 License - FUNimation
SUZUKI Chihiro
TOKORO Tomokazu
A girl dreams of falling from the sky and a black-winged bird trying to prevent this. She awakens inside an enormous translucent cocoon. From outside the cocoon she can hear the excited chatter of young women preparing for her "arrival". When she emerges, these girls name her "Rakka" (falling) because of her dream. And so a strange new life begins for this new-born Haibane (Grey Wings) together with her new friends, living in their house named "Old Home", in the city of Guri that is surrounded by a huge wall...

[TV series, 2002, 13 episodes, 23 min, based on the doujinshi Old Home no Haibane-tachi]
Characters in the image (front to back): Reki, Kana, Kuu, Nemu, and Hikari.
1:15min Series Opening - YouTube Video
3:30min Promotional Video - YouTube Video
Episode Details 
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 9 8 8 9 10 10 Ggultra2764 [series:488#1552]
A powerful series with enough symbolism on concepts of spirituality to allow anyone to come up with their own interpretations on the world that Haibane Renmei is set in and the characters who inhabit it.

Based on a doujinshi written by Serial Experiments Lain character designer Yoshitoshi Abe, Haibane Renmei follows the lives of the five Haibane living at Old Home living their lives while in the town of Glie. Like Lain, this show runs at a slow pace giving you plenty of time to be introduced to the characters and getting to understand the world in which they inhabit. The show is seen entirely through Rakka's eyes as she tries adjusting herself to her new life.

The show has a natural feel to it. Despite the religious elements found in the series, the characters treat everything that occurs around them as a part of living normally day by day despite the differences they have with the townspeople of Glie. Rakka learns to adjust to living at Old Home and tries coming to terms with later developments in the series that test her resolve connecting her to the Haibane that she first met, Reki. The bond which the two develop over time is credible and is the main one to observe throughout the series since the two girls share similar situations.

Haibane Renmei's symbolism lies in its themes of religion presented through the different aspects of being a Haibane and the world in which they inhabit. Such symbolism is key to understanding how these kids possibly became Haibane in the first place and what would eventually await them beyond the walls of the town of Gale. Details for this information are vague, but can also be obvious depending on how you interpret the themes. At the very least, the symbolism isn't bombarded all over the place like Lain was so Haibane Renmei will be an easier watch in the hunt for weeding out the show's themes.

The artwork for Haibane Renmei had vast settings and scenery to take in filled with vibrant colors and a great amount of visual detail to take in. Character designs are similar to Lain in terms of facial features and clothing details since Yoshitoshi Abe designed them, so they are pleasing enough to the eyes. The show's music features some powerful and haunting musical pieces that flow well with the themes and events that take place in the series.

Overall, Haibane Renmei is a great series which mixes together religious symbolism and a natural environment in which the characters interact with each other throughout their trials and hardships.

Last updated Friday, June 13 2008. Created Friday, June 13 2008.
Buy 9 9 10 9 10 10 Dreamer [series:488#2279]
Wow!! Wow!! If you ever watch an anime, you MUST watch this one at all cost! Be warned however, if you get easily offended about religion, with a slight twist, then this is not for you. But if it doesn't bother you, then take a day off from work, grab a bag (or 2) of popcorn and have a Haibane Renmei marathon! If you pay close attention to the story line, you might notice that it has a lot of deeply religious and moral connotation. I mean, to the point where it makes you literally sit and think about it for a moment and at the same time, begin a mental philosophical debate about the meaning of life.

The whole plot is executed nearly perfect. You don't have your typical action scenes and senseless violence but instead, you get the stories of 5 Haibane and how they interact, understand and come to terms with their existence (or the lack thereof). The neatest thing about this plot is how you, as the viewer will have to inject your own reasonings and understandings of humanity and spirituality into the story, either per episode or as a whole... as evident from the other reviews written here. And in doing such, all of a sudden Haibane Renmei is no longer just an anime, but a deeper story telling about the very emotional subjects that our world was shaped upon.

A very powerful and thought-provoking series. One of my fav of all times.

Last updated Monday, February 18 2008. Created Monday, February 18 2008.
Buy 7 8 9 8 9 8 Anonymous #1969 [series:488#1969]
This is a good series. Although the author denies it, I feel strong influence of concept of Purgatory in Roman Catholicism, especially the part where you need help from other humans to gain salvation. I am surprised by US rating of 13+. I think this could pass as 10+.

Last updated Sunday, May 22 2005. Created Sunday, May 22 2005.
Buy 10 8 9 9 10 10 AstroNerdBoy [series:488#436]

Haibane Renmei is a beautiful anime on so many levels. Not only is the art very beautiful and the music very beautiful (hauntingly so at times), but the story is beautifully written. It is anime titles like this that make me glad I started watching anime at all.

This series is a story of life and death. The writers have woven a tale, centering around the Haibane Reki and Rakka, in which the subject is given a rather unique look. Since only children and very young teens seem to become Haibane, the life and death issues seem to me more compelling. The older children and teens have issues to work through though only Rakka and Reki's issue's are explored in any depth. There is the obvious symbolism in the series, and while this can be troublesome in the wrong writer's hands, the symbolism flows with the story and isn't so in your face as to be obnoxious (which is how the symbolism in Serial Experiments Lain came off to me, which was also done by the creator of Haibane Renmei). That is good because the symbolism in the story is really important.

Normally I complain about a lack of solid answers in anime titles. This is because I feel things need to be explored and when writers fail to do so, it annoys me. However for Haibane Renmei, I find I have no such complaints. Why? Because the symbolism combined with certain hints given along the way provide enough of a vehicle for me to understand without fully knowing (if that makes sense). For example, I have a strong understanding of who the Haibane really are. How they arive at the walled area of land (complete with a town filled with humans) is a mystery, yet being given an answer would harm the series. Same thing for what is outside the walls or what really happens to Haibane when the come to the Day of Leaving the Nest (or Day of Flight as Geneon translates it). There is no frustration at not knowing because the writers gave me enough to make my own conclusions in some areas (where required) and full answers in other areas (also where required). I find this rarely to be the case in most anime titles, thus I complain about them and their lack of answers. I tip my hat to the writers again on this achievement.

Good characters always help an anime title and this is no exception. Identifying with the Haibane who inhabit the Old Home is key and most folks will be able to do so, especially with Rakka or Reki. I came to care about Rakka and Reki and as such, found myself very moved by the time the series came to an end. Again, the writing shines to make these characters what they are, thus adding to the beauty of the series as a whole.

Bottom line: I found Haibane Renmei to be a beautiful and touching journey exploring issues of life and death. As one of the best-written series I've ever seen, it is a testiment in how to create a very good, well rounded story.

Last updated Sunday, March 13 2005. Created Tuesday, March 08 2005.

Buy 9 8 10 9 10 10 Devil Doll [series:488#752]
[Score: 95% = Buy+, one of my Top 3 Anime series and my favourite Silent Drama; episode reviews. Other recommended Silent Drama animes: Uta Kata, Asatte no Houkou, Aishiteru Ze Baby, Binbou Shimai Monogatari, Piano, Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto]
  • Drama: High (everything makes sense if you look at the little details)
  • Comedy: None (and I mean it! Depression being the subject of the story)
  • Action: None (there's suspense at times but this is a story for the brain)
  • SciFi: Med (no technology, but a different world and strong religious/metaphysical elements)
  • Ecchi: None (meaning zero)
This series may be depressing at times, and it might well be for acquired taste - but it is my taste for sure. Haibane Renmei is definitely what I expect a touching story to be like, and writing the episode reviews made me read through some stuff that even increased the value of this series for me.

First of all, this is a "silent" story: No action, no violence, no nudity, just plain old storytelling. I have watched Mimi wo Sumaseba prior to these Greywings (no, I don't call them "Angels"), and the style of narration seems quite similar to me, both focussing on a small number of main characters and the development of their relations (while their settings could hardly be more different!). If you like the main characters, you like the series as well. I did like Rakka as well as Reki from the first episode on; and this episode offered a promise to me that was fulfilled by the series.
As in Serial Experiments Lain, I appreciate the slow speed of development. This series here has just enough content for its 13 episodes: We get an opening, four episodes to set up all the characters, and then the true storyline begins (and the narration speed increases from this moment on). So they made the most important thing right: They offered a valid development of both story and the relation of the two main characters.
One thing I like about this series is the way they credibly inserted humourous scenes every now and then despite the whole story is so serious, and even gloomy at times. But when you take a closer look at these funny scenes and understand what they are telling about the characters these scenes suddenly aren't so funny any more...
And what's best here, the offer me a real ending - well done, folks! Oh, how I wish I could say that about Lain....

I like this 'unspectacular' music very much (Ailes Grises (OP), Fading, Mori No Kodou Kabe No Syougeki, Tsuki To Aoi Kage), and I like ABe's style of drawing characters, but I have problems with the minimalistic animation: Sure Haibane Renmei isn't an action movie, but there is enough movement to be shown which would have asked for more incremental image frames.

As for the many rants of other reviewers: Yes, the author mixed up European and Japanese culture. But when you decode the symbolism you'll find that he intentionally mixed up European and Japanese religion as well, so that's fine with me. And the fundamental questions that arise from this story are independent enough from any culture.
On the other hand, this strange mixture of medieval town with assorted technology (they have motors, electricity, even music players with headsets - but on the other side: No (self-made) books, no newspapers, no type of communication device at all!) has its own charm, and you will have to find out what these restrictions mean to the inhabitants.

Overall this series is one of my greatest discoveries for a long time. It doesn't have the impressive power of Silent Mobius or Shin Seiki Evangelion (except for the final episode that can run over you like a train), but it doesn't give me anything particular to complain - and which other series could I say that about? (Not Lain, unfortunately...)
And if you want to understand what you just have seen then I suggest you to have visit at the 'Sekai no Hajimari' site listed below and visit the Old Home Board there. The people there (including a Japanese teacher) are translating the whole series again from scatch (Japanese with Kanji and Roumaji to English), and we have written hundreds of threads interpreting individual scenes and speculating "over the wall".
Based on this invaluable information source we spent three months to translate the whole series to German; I added a link below where you can find the result.

Last updated Monday, June 20 2011. Created Saturday, September 13 2003.
Buy 10 8 10 10 9 8 Milo [series:488#916]
I truly enjoyed this series for all the strong messages on love and compassion. Some viewers might be driven away due to the somewhat slow beginning, which focuses on showing more about the world of Haibane Renmei and the different characters. However, that's one of the aspects I really enjoyed about it, perhaps because I've been so burnt out on shallow action animes and overdone angsty shoujo animes. That's not to say there's a good deal of angst in this series, but it's surprisingly not annoying.
The artwork is simply superb, with nicely rendered backgrounds. What it lacks in splendor it makes up in realism that tends to stay true to it's color. Also noticeably, the characters aren't exactly flashy which give them a more down to earth feel which I believe this anime tries to communicate.
The characters also are unique in their own ways as they develop along the series. Reki is perhaps one of the most developed in the series as you find out later when you learn more about her past. Rakka was also a good character who seems to represent people who search for their answers to the reason of their own existence, again, which is one of the big points in the story of the series.
I was at a panel where ABe answered questions on Haibane Renmei and he explains the mix-and-match aspects of the Haibane. First off, even though he borrows from the traditional image of angels from Christianity, the haibane aren't really angels. According to ABe, they are just humans with wings and halo. Also, the mixture between Christianity and Shintoism (I think that's the religion it's basing part of itself on, if not, someone please correct me) was ABe's personal showing of his own mixed feelings on his beliefs on the world and everything in general, much like how Rakka acts in the world of Haibane Renmei. Also, ABe mentioned that he doesn't call them "angels" but refers to them as the haibane because he doesn't want to suggest himself over to Christianity but since haibane can't be translated directly we would still just be calling them angels (rant rant).
Also, if one is confused by the "setting" seeing as how it's somewhat European and all, ask yourself this, "This is a series from Japan so why would they bother deviating from the norm?" Just a simple question to throw at you.
Oh and yes, the music, it was simply amazing. I truly enjoyed the use of acoustic instruments in all the pieces giving it a more calm and peaceful feel to the overall series and at the same time they would help drive the scenes so the emotions could really be felt. Personally I think we need more symphonic pieces, and that's not to say I don't enjoy other forms of music (starts blasting his Juno Reactor CD).
Overall, it may not have a truly original plot, but the fact that it's moved by the emotion and that you'd feel compelled to keep watching is what it's good points are. It's more of a series that explores human emotions more than anything, but not the negative ones. We definetely see kindness and compassion and those good qualities that help define us as being human. It's definetely an acquired taste and requires a more mature and understanding mind to truly appreciate it's beautiful and involving story.

Last updated Friday, August 22 2003. Created Saturday, August 16 2003.
Buy 10 8 10 9 10 10 Baz [series:488#738]
Very touching story overall, the first several episodes simply setup the characters and the world around them which is warm enviroment. You begin to care and feel compassion towards the characters. Later in the series without giving anything away it's more exploring things such as relationships and loss, if your a bit more of a mature viewer age/emotionally wise your probably going to end up crying at some point. If you do like this series good luck finding the original doujinshi... not easy is a understatement. If you do not find this series to your liking try something else by ABe Yoshitoshi http://web.ffn.ne.jp/~ab/ (all the anime he has been involved in is radically different series to series) try Texhnolyze(disturbing and dark) or Niea: Under 7 (comedy fun)

Last updated Sunday, June 08 2003. Created Wednesday, June 04 2003.
Buy 10 9 9 9 9 Anonymous #707 [series:488#707]
While this may not, by far, be the best series ever. it is one of the most creative and utterly ingenious Ive seen for awhile. It makes sense though when you consider who made it. This anime may take some time, but with it they made a whole new world both interesting and completely, compelling real. This is a very well done series. If you arent looking for knife fights and/or zombies and/or girls with huge chests..this is one to look at. Trust me, you'll be rewarded by a strange and enjoyable experience.
Part of what I like about this is the quasi religious nature of a bunch of people being reborn with wings and halos. which seems a strange mix of eastern and western, but it works in that we accept it--as the characters do as what is. It never really is explained why they are there or where they came from, as I thought early on it would be, but it instead it gives us a story of a lost little girl going through a strange growing experience. I guess artsy IS a good term to describe this, but not "acquired taste" no no, more like--taste REquired.

Last updated Monday, May 19 2003. Created Monday, May 19 2003.
Watch 7 7 6 7 6 Ileenka [series:488#669]
i have read many wonderful reviews about this anime, that's why i went to BUY it. i kind of regretted it because i find it depressing. especially the story drags on, and Rakka...her antics were kind of irritating in the middle when Kuu went missing and also when she found out she's a cursed haibane. the background for the animation was not very good. i have seen better. the scenery was not particularly beautiful. i can only say the character that underwent true change was Reki and not Rakka who is the main character. i enjoyed watching the show because i enjoy watching Reki. she's totally cool!

Last updated Thursday, May 15 2003. Created Thursday, May 15 2003.
Rent 9 7 7 7 7 7 Sesen Kelader [series:488#471]
It's not because this series is slow-path so that I coudl't give it a nice ranking, or I'd not given a high score for .hack//sign.
Similar to his previous work, the anime tries to develop main character's personalities gradually, with surreal/philosophical-like approach---did I say "-like?" This kind of method generates extreme results: either good or bad. In my opinion, Haibane Renmei is not a well-developed series. The characters' personalities are not well-complete at the end.
The theme, I think, is more about revelation and rebirth. Somehow a human, for unknown reasons, loses all previous memory and becomes a Haibane. Then after certain accomplishment, the person is reborn and left the nest. In a way it's like a physical birth expressed in a town-scale scene. Haibane has Hai wings, which I guess is a symbol for "remain-human." Since gray is either angel- or devil-color. The director seems to combine Christian and traditional Japanese religion together in thie anime. Yet some part of the "hybrid" is not well-done.
What's not appreciated by me is the background setting. It's certainly European style, yet the language is Japanese and East Asia style, such as the characters' "true name." There should had been more research if the anime is planned to use European style background. Most important, after I finished watching, I could not receive a feeling I've always received when finishing watching a good anime or movie or reading a good book. Haibane has not yet released enough power to give me resonance.

Last updated Thursday, April 17 2003. Created Thursday, April 17 2003.
Buy 10 8 10 8 10 Mark Clifton [series:488#126]
This is truely a wonderful series. When I first watched it I was like, what the heck is this. But as I went deep into the story, it truely become one of the best anime series I have ever seen. From the same creator that brought Serial Experiments Lain and NeiA_7; this anime surpases them both as a true work of art. However, like both of his works, they have slow beginings, so you should watch the entire series before you pass judgement. It's not very long either, just like the other two, it is only 13 episodes long. When Pioneer releases it in North America, just buy it!

Last updated Thursday, January 16 2003. Created Thursday, January 16 2003.

Other Sites
Haibane Renmei http://www.pldc.co.jp/rondorobe/anime/haibane/index.html
Pioneer LDC Official Site (Japanese)
John's Haibane-Renmei Shrine http://www.animeprojects.com/haibanerenmei/
Sekai no Hajimari http://cff.ssw.net/
An excellent Haibane Renmei fan site, especially about the symbolism used in the story
The Official Haibane Renmei site http://www.haibanerenmei.com
Devil Doll's Haibanology (German) http://www.yagaf.de/projekte/hr_dd/
A complete translation of the Haibane Renmei series to German, including tons of analysis and interpretations, mostly taken from the Old Home Forum of Sekai no Hajimari. (Using Babelfish to read this in English produces reasonable results, I've been told...)

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