Sunday, October 7, 2012

Anime Review: Haibane Renmei

Some people think that when you see one anime you've pretty much seen them all. It's all about either Giant Robots, Samurai, or Magical Girls (and maybe a Giant Robot Samurai Magical Girl), and while those can be, many people seem to forget that anime isn't really a genre, but rather just a style of animation. Thus, when a person thinks that anime has nothing new or unique to offer, they are probably ignorant of series like the one we are talking about today: Haibane Renmei. What is the series about? Well, that's actually kind of hard to say.

Halo: "Fuck you gravity."
She is called Rakka, which means "to fall." She is named after the dream she had while in the cocoon, where she was falling from a great height. This is because she has can't remember anything from before she hatched out of her cocoon, not even her own name, the only thing she remembers is her dream. She is a Haibane, which means "Charcoal Feathers" named after the small light grey wings that all Haibane have. In an abandon school called "Old Home," Rakka lives with other Haibane on the outskirts of a town she doesn't not recognize and surrounded by a wall that she can never pass beyond. Rakka must learn what it means to be a Haibane, all the customs and traditions that she must uphold, and find her place in this small confined little world. But what is beyond the wall? What is actually preventing people from leaving? And what exactly is a Haibane?
Seriously people, stop crowding the picture.
Haibane Renmei is a very interesting series. It is far more focused on the characters that inhabit the world than any kind of danger or conflict. In fact, the first half of the series has a very calm and relaxing atmosphere, resembling more of a "Slice-of-life" series than anything involving the supernatural. This does help develop the characters as most of the first few episodes have a clear focus on one of the other Haibane Rakka lives with. From the motherly Reki to the tomboyish Kanna, each of the members of the main cast got their time to develop their character, and allowed the audience to connect with them. This really helps the series as the latter half is centered around conflicts both between and within the characters, rather than some external antagonist. When things got serious I was involved because I was so attached to the characters that I didn't want to see them in such danger. It's even worse when the danger comes from themselves.

I think she is signing that she wants two onions.
There is hardly anything I can say that is particularly bad about the series. The voice acting does sometimes end up rather dry, but that was probably intentional as it is suppose to more or less reflect normal people going about their normal lives. Other than that, the series probably won't garner much attention from people who don't have the patience to enjoy something that is more slow paced than say an action series. It takes it's sweet time to get to any of the major questions about the world, but that time is spent on the minor details and characters that inhabit the world. However, that doesn't mean that all the explanations are done in rapid succession. Instead, the revelations are done rather well in convincing dialog between characters, and not in large exposition dumps towards the end. Giving us everything we need to know without slowing the story one bit.

Haibane Renmei is one of those series that don't come around that often, mainly because how the hell do you market a series about angels that just kind of hang around like normal people. The only people I can't see enjoying this series are those who really don't like to think or need some sort of explosion or nudity every 5 minutes to be amused. A must watch for anyone who likes character driven drama.

Until next time.

-Crescent, She's an angel who's beautiful and smokes... Does that mean she is a Smokin' Hot Angel?

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