Haibane Renmei: COG. 1 (Mania.com)

Review Date: Friday, March 07, 2003
Release Date: Saturday, December 21, 2002

What They Say

The Review!

As it was the only choice, we listened to the Japanese dialogue. The show is presented in a PCM audio format. While I would have liked to have Dolby stereo, the show content doesn?t seem to demand it, and it didn?t bother me while I was watching it. I really liked the music in the show, very mellow and soothing.


The series is presented in a letterbox 16:9 format, which made me happy. The video transfer looked very nice and crisp despite my, less than stellar, equipment for watching region 2 DVD?s.


The cover features a picture of Rakka standing with her new wings and her halo being supported up by a folded piece of wire. The series title and volume number are very low key and only take up a small area in the lower right. The back of the box has several pictures from the first episode and a description of the series. Features and extras are noted on the bottom. The DVD case is clear and the reverse side of the cover features a green and white trace of the same picture of Rakka from the cover. There is a 12 page booklet included that has a short look at the Doujinshi made Yoshitoshi ABe that Haibane Renmei is based on. There is also a map of the city, a character profile of Rakka, an overview of the Haibane culture, and an interview with director Tomokazu Tokoro.


Even though there was no subtitle track in English, the entire menu is in English. The menu system is simple, with another drawing of Rakka on top with all the options on the bottom.


I was surprised by the extras included with this volume. There is a very large art gallery with character, prop and location drawings, some of the items used in the show, and a drawing of the city. There are three extra video?s one is the text less opening, a preview for the second episode, and the other a short TV ad. The first press of this volume had several extra goodies. There is a postcard sized drawing of Rakka sitting on a roof, and a collectible card with a picture of Hikari, complete with a glow in the dark Halo. Also included was a bonus CD for the PC. On this CD is a 3D character program, and the character data for all the main characters of the show. You are able to manipulate the characters and watch them dance. Having never seen an extra like this I found myself having a lot of fun with moving the characters around.

CONTENT (Please note that the content portions of a review may include spoilers)

This first episode begins what looks to be a very promising 13 episode series. We are introduced to the residents of Old Home, an old school and dormitory. The residents of Old Home are creatures known as Haibane. The Haibane are creatures with ash colored wings and are given a halo as a sign of membership into the Haibane Renmei (Ash Wing Federation). None of the Haibane have any memories of who or what they are. The only memory they have is of the dream they had in their cocoon.

The episode is used to introduce us to Rakka, a newborn Haibane. Haibane are born in cocoon?s and when Rakka hatches from her cocoon we see her wake up in a guest room of the dormitory where we are briefly introduced to the other residents of Old Home. She is given the name Rakka (which means descend) after telling the group about the dream she had in the cocoon where she was falling from the sky. Rakka is given her halo, which does not seem to take hold right away, and is told that she will grow her wings that night..

Reki, one of the oldest residents, stays behind to care for Rakka as she grows her wings. During the scene we see Rakka asking questions about what she is and what has happened to her. While no real answers are given, it helps to give a little look at the world we have been taken into. After painfully growing her wings, Reki and Rakka continue to converse while Reki cleans the blood out of her new wings.

It?s hard to tell where this series is going to go just based on one episode. The show had various mood swings, from the painful scene in which Rakka grows her wings, to the humorous scene of Rakka?s halo having a static effect with her hair. I found the show very easy and enjoyable to watch. Even with just one episode it seemed to suck me into this world, that while fantasy, does not seem strange. I don?t think I?d recommend importing the DVD?s unless you really want the first press extra?s that are coming with all the DVD?s, especially since the show has already been licensed in the USA and there are no English subtitles.

Japanese Language,Art Gallery,Text less opening,TV Advertisement

Review Equipment
Pioneer DVD-ROM Drive, Sony Wega KV20FS100, Monster S-Video

Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: All
Region: 2 - Japan
Released By: Geneon Entertainment, Japan
MSRP: 2,300
Running time: 23
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Haibane Renmei