It has been noted to me that there's a lot of misinformation in my writeup, but it seems mostly like vocabulary. If someone wants to do another w/u here, go ahead, I'll have mine deleted. Copy all of my stuff you want.
Haibane Renmei is an anime largely created by Yoshitoshi ABe, famous for Serial Experiments Lain. The focus of the story is on Rakka, the newest of the Haibane--a race of 'angelic' creatures which are born from large cocoons in an abandoned building. The style and tone of the series are brighter than Lain from the beginning, but I have yet to see past the fourth episode.
The Haibane are a race of 'angelic' creatures--basically, just human beings with wings and halos that hatch from eggs--that live in an abandoned building on the outskirts of a city. A large wall encompasses both the city and the surrounding area, keeping the world out and the townspeople and Haibane in. The exception is traders, who can only trade indirectly through the Communicator, one of a number of enigmatic priests who do not speak and mostly hang out in the temple. It is assumed that these masked, silent creeps have some protective role in relationship to the Haibane. The Haibane, by the way, are supposedly normal people who have somehow become Haibane as young people, and the outside world has forgotten them, much as they have forgotten their own past.
The series begins with Rakka's dream. It's a falling dream, and there is a crow. This is supposed to be very significant, I'm certain. Damn my insensitivity... Then she wakes up in a large liquid-filled cocoon (sans wings and halo, but wearing a nice white robe, you perverts) and breaks out of it. She wakes up in a room with the oldest (teenage) of the Haibane, and one of them Reki introduces her to Haibane-ality. She (Rakka) then grows wings. This is the highlight of the whole series. Sorry, folks, it's true.
The next few episodes introduce the town, the temple, and Haibane life in general. The Haibane are not allowed to have money, but instead write down their purchases (As well as the work they do, I believe) in a booklet they are given soon after 'birth', called the Haibane Renmei, for which the series is named. This is more than likely a bad pun on brocolli or some shit. (Just kidding! It actually means "Charcoal Feather Federation", or so the animefu review claims.) The Haibane also may only use things used by others first, in a general sense--the building they live in (Old Home) is broken down and abandoned, they can only shop at a thrift store, and can only have used things (clothing, bikes, mopeds... ). In general, the first four episodes are not very exciting.
Judging from the synopses on Amazon.com and Haibanerenmei.com, it looks like the series gets more exciting, and generally becomes somewhat Lain-like, to the point of being 13 episodes long. I will give more info as soon as I have more.
Note: jasonm tells me that Haibane Renmei, or "Charcoal Feather Federation", is used to refer to both the notebooks and the people who back them. I can't make much sense of it in my head, but that's how it is. I believe this is largely obscured by not knowing Japanese. (Dammit, English is ruining my life.)
In the words of the Duke, "Generally, I like it." I will have to see the next 9 episodes to pass judgement, but I enjoy the tone and style of the series. The music is good and accompanies the story well, but is not crazy good like some anime. Again, I am in grave need of seeing some more of the series. (I've now seen the rest of the series. Status quo.)
If you're mostly into crazy wild action-packed can of kick you in the face like Lain or... whatever, this might not be the anime for you. So far, it's pretty soft and fluffy, as anime goes, except for the wing-growing scene and the ending.
I can't help noticing that the pscyhosocial setup of the series is much like Lain and Niea_7. The main character is a young girl (who even kind of looks like Lain herself) who is tossed into an unfamiliar world where she is distanced from her peers and has general identity issues. The priesthood, and in particular the communicator, are psychologically similar to both the Knights and the representatives of the Tachibana General Corporation. I'm not saying that I think Rakka will turn out to be a computer program. I'm also not saying I think it's bad that there are a half-dozen such series in the mainstream.
Rakka's arrival into the Haibane world coincides approximately with puberty. I think this is an obvious, intended metaphor; she has entered a new world, where no one knows her, and she has forgotten who she was before. I believe there is a strong sense in which society conspires to make this happen in the real world, whether intentionally or not, with the result that a much greater number of children have social problems and identity problems than in the past. (Um, don't hold me to that. It's just a hypothesis.) This and similar messages are being sent by more than just this series--see Lain, FLCL, Donnie Darko... The general idea is common.
Volumes 1-3 (Episodes 1-10) are available in the U.S. already, with the fourth available in February '04 (at least on Amazon). The DVDs sell for $20-$40, depending on packaging and volume. I own volume one, purchased at Some Mall as a Christmas gift by my sensitive and caring sister and parents.
- Haibane Renmei, official site: http://www.haibanerenmei.com
- Amazon.com, Volume 1: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/stores/detail/-/dvd/B00009WNVF/glance/104-3434299-4434313#product-details
- Animefu review, volume 1 - http://www.animefu.com/index.pl?node_id=12509
- Thanks to Starrynight and jasonm for various infos.
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of whoever it's a trademark of. Damned if I know. Damned if I even care.