Wednesday, December 27, 2000

Haibane Renmei review

hat a divine series this is - in every aspect of the word. I finished watching Haibane Renmei I began enthusiastically recommending it to my friends. When one asked "So what makes it good?", funny thing was, I couldn't really answer it. There's almost no conflict or action in the series. There's no traditional good guys VS bad guys, no spellbinding magic, no science fiction - not a trace of computers, aliens or mecha. There are fantasy elements, but they're kept to such a small, human level that you can't really call this series a fantasy in the traditional sense. So what is Haibane Renmei?

It tells the story of a group of angel-like beings called Haibane. They're born from cocoons, grow wings, given halos, and have no memories of their past other than the dream each has in the cocoon. They all live in a protected city called Glie, where nobody is allowed to go beyond the walls. The Haibane are watched over and protected by a group called the Haibane Renmei. Haibane must each work to support themselves, and do their best to be a "good Haibane". It tells the story of one such Haibane - Rakka - coming into the world, and learning how to live in it. The supporting cast of Old Home (where they live) is equally essential. Towards the finale, much of the focus shifts from Rakka to Reki - one of the elder Haibane, who is a mother figure to those in Old Home. Then there's Kuu, Kana, Hikari, and Nemu whom all have very different, but likable personalities.

Haibane Renmei moves at life's pace. Slow and deliberately it moves through its stages - dealing with many humanistic themes along the way. Moving through seasons and emotions with dignity and grace. It would be very easy for fans of traditional anime to consider this series "boring", as it's certainly not exciting in any traditional sense. You really have to be in a certain mood to appreciate Haibane Renmei's charm.

Yoshitoshi ABe (Original Story, Character Designs) said when he began Haibane Renmei that he had no set idea where he was going with it all, creating the story in the moment. In this light, Haibane Renmei becomes like a stream of conscious meditation on life. He also said that while Haibane Renmei has a religious feel, it is not about any particular religion. It is really a type of spiritual and emotional journey. There are anime series that that are very much allegorical. Haibane Renmei works more like CS Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia in that it deals more in allusions than strict allegory. This means its more open to personal interpretations - and all the better because of it.

In a way, this series reminds me of the anime equivalent of Yasujiro Ozu's films. Ozu is a director who focused on regular people in everyday life confronting life's small, but meaningful moments. His films, like Haibane Renmei, rarely have any big emotion or big drama. It's all about calm reflection as we move through life. The viewer is never forced into the story or the characters. Rather, we're given time to relate these characters to our own life. Their moments of sorrow and pain, as well as joy and triumph has been our own. Their search for meaning has been our own. It's through this very human level that we're able to connect with the Haibane and share in their emotions. This makes moments like Rakka's monologue inside Kuu's room profoundly moving.

The animation is superb. It's easy to miss in such a quiet setting, but almost every frame reveals subtleties of the Haibane's world. They use a wealth of Earth hues - wonderful greens and browns - that provide a very warm and inviting tone. The animation itself is beautifully fluid as well. But it's probably the town itself that's best rendered. The world of Glie is so well conceived and drawn, giving a real sense of a heartwarming environment. The skies, for example, are almost always drawn like beautiful paintings - often reflecting the seasons. Beyond the animation, the direction and cinematography is superb as well. The ease at which the viewer can get lost in this beautiful world is astounding. ABe mentioned that previous to working on anime he was a Japanese style artist, and his works show it. I think more than anyone currently working in anime, ABe understands what a visually powerful medium anime can be. The music is equally as accomplished; consisting of mostly simple, elegant orchestral pieces. The infusion of music in the series is adeptly applied as well - entering at all the right times and evoking all the right moods.

If there are flaws in the series, they are almost too insignificant to mention. The voice acting is not the best (sub or dub), but the cringe worthy moments are kept to a minimum. The finale perhaps comes too suddenly, making it perhaps less dramatic than it should have been. I also felt some of the characters could've been better developed, and a bit more history and background given about them. I especially wish they would've slowly developed Reki's history, instead of saving it for the end. But all of these are minor grievances, and really not worth even subtracting a single star for.

I've seen Haibane Renmei three times, and each time I'm extremely saddened by the end. Not because the story is sad, but because theirs is a world I'd never want to leave. This series has a great, meditative "zen" like quality, and for those in the right frame of mind, you will become thoroughly engrossed in both the lives of its characters and the world in which they exist. You'll smile at their joys and triumphs, and you'll cry at their losses and sorrows. In the end you will be left with a wonderful feeling akin to a spiritual cleansing. The result is nothing short of divine.



Anonymous said...

I will be your frequent visitor, that's for sure. pain relief Read a useful article about tramadol tramadol

oakleyses said...

michael kors, nike roshe, michael kors pas cher, nike free pas cher, polo ralph lauren, nike blazer, sac burberry, air jordan, hollister, longchamp, nike trainers, nike roshe run, vanessa bruno, vans pas cher, north face, timberland, louis vuitton, longchamp, sac longchamp, oakley pas cher, ray ban sunglasses, hollister, michael kors, ray ban pas cher, polo lacoste, nike huarache, barbour, new balance pas cher, sac louis vuitton, sac hermes, nike roshe run, vans shoes, sac guess, mulberry, nike free, mac cosmetics, abercrombie and fitch, lululemon, louboutin, air max, air force, louis vuitton uk, hogan outlet, converse pas cher, north face, nike tn, ralph lauren, hollister, sac louis vuitton, nike air max

oakleyses said...

hollister clothing store, north face outlet, valentino shoes, air max, soccer jerseys, lululemon outlet, abercrombie and fitch, uggs outlet, moncler, moncler, nfl jerseys, jimmy choo outlet, new balance shoes, celine handbags, giuseppe zanotti, rolex watches, chi flat iron, ugg pas cher, mont blanc, herve leger, canada goose jackets, wedding dresses, canada goose, canada goose, moncler, bottega veneta, canada goose uk, babyliss pro, mcm handbags, baseball bats, ghd, ferragamo shoes, ugg australia, soccer shoes, canada goose, p90x, birkin bag, canada goose outlet, ugg boots, instyler, ugg, beats by dre, ugg boots, asics running shoes, north face jackets, iphone 6 cases, moncler outlet, reebok outlet, marc jacobs, insanity workout

oakleyses said...

tiffany and co, polo ralph lauren outlet, louboutin shoes, louis vuitton outlet, louboutin outlet, kate spade handbags, air max, michael kors outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, louis vuitton outlet stores, nike shoes, louboutin, michael kors outlet, oakley sunglasses cheap, longchamp handbags, chanel handbags, kate spade outlet, michael kors outlet, true religion jeans, oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton, coach factory outlet, michael kors outlet, nike free, christian louboutin shoes, prada outlet, michael kors outlet, burberry outlet, tiffany and co, coach purses, burberry outlet, true religion jeans, ray ban sunglasses, prada handbags, michael kors outlet, coach outlet store online, louis vuitton handbags, tory burch outlet, air max, gucci outlet, jordan shoes, longchamp outlet, louis vuitton outlet, coach outlet, ray ban sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, longchamp handbags