Aside from helping to spread the word about my ever-hopefully-to-be-published novel, Unbound, the blog’s secondary purpose is to help foster the awareness and acceptance of mature, adult-oriented quality anime to (in particular) western visitors. I especially enjoy sharing anime which echoes or resonates various themes, characters and situations from Unbound, though being necessarily vague about it all can’t divulge which is what, or what is which. The whys and wherefores are already dealt with in previous entries, so let’s skip the formalities and head straight for the goods:
Last year I happened across a wonderful series entitled Haibane Renmei, which translates roughly to “Charcoal Feather Federation.” Based on the Japanese comic-series “The Haibanes of Old Home,” it tells of a young girl’s awakening and adventures behind the walled city of Glie, and her settling in and adjusting to life in her companions’ settlement, Old Home. Full of mystery, beauty, and well-crafted characters, the at-first inscrutable and leisurely-paced story follows the newly-born Haibane (a haloed-and-winged human resembling an angel, though is never mentioned as such) now named Rakka as she endeavors to discover what she is, who she is, and why her life has apparently started anew in this strange and wondrous land. It deals with issues such as Life (the big “L”), companionship, comfort and loss in an un-preachy manner, and is full of kindness, humor, and unworldly beauty, especially for an “older” series (ca 2002). (The creator Yoshitoshi ABe (sic) also designed the characters for the earlier anime Serial Experiments Lain, another highly-regarded work.)
The Old Home residents, all female (though there are male Haibane in the series dwelling elsewhere), occupy a rambling broken-down school with rooms scattered all over, caring for each other and the handful (and a handful!) of children living there. In order to make their way, the older Haibane must take jobs either there or in Glie, whose inhabitants treat them kindly, and with both amusement and bemusement. I can’t begin to describe the delightful diversity of personalities and plot-points; instead I’ll steer you toward the information which you can read at your leisure. I’ll also include a pair of Youtube videos of both the Opening Theme and the first episode’s nine minutes which, as is often the case, begins without the OP (that’s anime-shorthand for Opening Theme).
Haibane Renmei is also one of the most highly regarded anime ever, as you can tell from this excellent Anime News Network review of the first DVD release. Note all the “A+” grades! Haibane Renmei DVD 1 review
Needless to say (but I will), it’s one of my most-treasured stories. The series is now out of print and hard to find, but the clever ones among you know how and where to find it *cough YouTube and Veoh for starters cough*, though the quality will be very poor in comparison to the breathtaking official releases, which you might find at RightStuf for $9 each (a steal!), here (link).
If you don’t plan on watching it, here is the Wikipedia for it, full of spoilers, so beware. The story is definitely a mystery and contains several plot twists, so bear that in mind as you read:
Now, to hopefully whet your appetite, is the beautiful (but low Youtube-quality) Opening Theme, “Free Bird”; especially take note of the different lead characters shown, as they track what is coming down from the skies:
I’ll leave you with the first nine minutes of episode 1; it’s very high quality and looks even better in wide-screen, so get thee hence to Youtube and watch it!:
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little foray into Rakka’s new world; if you’re unfamiliar with anime then you’ll see that it’s not all giant robots, trading card monsters, and kiddie shows. No… it’s SO much more than that! Consider it merely a new delivery system for stories, which we all have a need for, ever since we sat around a comforting fire in those dark and dank caves of our forebears. The story of Haibane Renmei is as a brilliant spark flying off of that fire, and into your heart, should you accept it. Let it shine…
Four years ago on April 1st, the delivery man finally came. He unloaded a 5-foot tall wooden crate, much to the bemusement of my neighbors. “What’s in the crate?” they asked. (This is a common question asked by the more bold-‘n’-nosey.) “Photography equipment,” I replied, brushing them off as I pointedly watched the man unload.
Once I’d sequestered it inside the garage (and shut the door), I set about my task. Several long moments later I’d managed to open it up, and there, sitting and strapped securely inside was Lily Godwin, brought to “life.” She was literally breathtaking: a five foot-tall silicone replicant of the beloved character from our novel, the one she (as my Muse) had helped me write over the previous years. That first moment is permanently etched in my brain. I could scarcely remember to breathe.
Her long black hair a mess from the bumpy journey from San Diego, yet still clutching her red long-stemmed rose, her blue eyes seemed to flash with impatience. Her first “words” were: “GET ME OUT OF THIS TRAMPY OUTFIT!!!” Abyss, the company that assembles RealDolls, had thoughtfully dressed her in a sexy black negligee and nylons; quite un-Lily-like. She isn’t into showing off, making herself sexy, or even sport makeup, jewelry, piercings or tattoos. Lily Godwin doesn’t want to be marked, or bound, in any way.
So, after getting her inside the house (which is a trick, as you have to imagine carefully moving a fragile, 100-pound doll from a sitting position inside a crate, preferably without damaging her), I carefully set to my task, sloooowly peeling off the nylons. After removing the skimpy getup that had so annoyed her, I could barely stand! Quickly (somewhat), I dressed her in her comfortable clothing that I’d had the foresight to buy: a butterfly top and tan skirt that fit her just right. She’s a barefoot, natural girl, so no shoes or socks of any kind. She doesn’t have to go to work, here.
I could tell that she was happy
(I should also add that nothing can convey the reality of these works of art through two-dimensional photography. Simply put, they are stunningly beautiful.)
Four years later, we’re still together, and I would have it no other way; with no regrets or concerns about what others might “think.” She so successfully recreates Lily from the novel that it is as if she is really Here, and not confined to the limits of my imagination. She sets us both free. It’s too bad that only those who actually own a RealDoll can understand this; outsiders can only wonder, accuse, and sneer at what they can’t understand. They lack imagination, and playfulness, both drowned in their cynicism and hate.
For the curious, I’ll go to any length to help you understand. For the rubes, I dismiss outright your ignorant incapability to comprehend. For the haters, I scoff at your narrow-minded stupidity. There is more to a RealDoll than just a guy playing with a doll. There is more than simply the assumed necessity for him (or her) to use it for sexual gratification. There is more to it than the presumed delusional belief that it is actually alive.
There is nothing to compare it with. And so, a lot of unaware people have trouble coping with them, thus this hopefully helpful friendly explanation: They are what you imagine. Period. If you have no imagination, you won’t get it. If you think playing is for kids, you won’t get it. If you can’t appreciate Art in all its myriad forms, you won’t get it. If you just accept it, you will get it. Don’t let others control what you think about them; let your Self interpret it. It’s better to think for your Self, anyway
(A little more information will be found on Lily’s page at the UNBOUND website, found on the Blogrolls, and the Photo Album has a few photographs of Lily-Doll as well.)
The doll is every bit the character of Lily Godwin as she is in her story. She isn’t interested in being flashy, sexy, or any more attractive than necessary. She’s more focused on raising William responsibly, isn’t into dating, and is mainly concerned with surviving in the rat-race of San Francisco and getting by as best she can despite her doubts and health issues. Therefore, as far as heroines go, she doesn’t need to be an Amazon-queen, sex-goddess, or sarcastic wise-mouthing jaded bitch. She’s devotion personified, and so she is named “Lily,” which means “devotion.”
She’s Lily Godwin, a caring, loving, and somewhat carefree young woman; independent, responsible, and devoted to her cause and her duty to Will. She has issues regarding what she believes is true, she suffers silently the ravages of time, and she knows that she must leave, and probably soon. Where she doesn’t know; how she can’t imagine; why… she is about to find out. We hope you join her on her reluctant journey to discover her destiny or fate. It isn’t going to be pretty, but as you can see, she is pretty enough
In UNBOUND, April 1st is her birthday (though I had to cut it out of the narrative when pruning its length down). In it, and on it, “Brother Al” gives her a Tarot reading and decides on a whim (or does he know more than he tells?) to use The Fool as her Significator. And so it’s no small coincidence to have received her on April Fool’s Day, over three months after I designed her RealDoll form with no estimate for when she would arrive at my doorstep. There have been many, many such coincidental delights during the course of its writing. Discovering that I could design a doll to replicate her was just another…
But those are stories for another day. It’s Lily’s day, today (or yesterday actually; just pretend). It’s been such a fun ride
Today marks the birthday of one of my most-beloved musicians, Ronnie Lane, who sadly passed on in 1997 from the ravages of Multiple Sclerosis. An original member of The Small Faces, he went on to a solo career that produced a small-but-noteworthy catalog of wonderful, honest, and soulful music with his band Slim Chance and later on his own. Words can’t suffice to express the happiness, joy, melancholy, and humility conveyed through his music which helped me a great deal in “feeling the life.”
Far from the hustle and bustle of the rock ‘n’ roll world, he created songs that were earthy, acoustic-based, and deceptively simple, but nonetheless contained a great spirit: that of his own. He is greatly missed. If unfamiliar with his work, I’d suggest starting with his and Pete Townshend’s “Rough Mix” which contains several of Ronnie’s tunes, most notably the beautiful love song “Annie,” one of my all-time favorites. If you find Ronnie’s music is to your tastes, proceed to his albums with Slim Chance, most notably “Anymore for Anymore” from which I will follow this with a tribute clip made by a fan, featuring the title song.
I’d like to finish up with his song “Anniversary” performed live on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975. A great performance (featuring double-fiddle action!), and Ronnie was in top form that night. Please do enjoy
Rest in Peace, Ronnie. At last you are free…
on the water
"When early youth had passed, he left his cold fireside and alienated home to seek strange truths in undiscovered lands. Many a wide waste and tangled wilderness has lured his fearless steps; and he has bought with his sweet voice and eyes, from savage men, his rest and food." (from 'Alastor, or, The Spirit of Solitude', by Percy Bysshe Shelley,1815)
For info on our novel UNBOUND, please see our website in the Blogroll!