Ξ April 12th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Fine Arts Indeed, The Anime Annals |
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…