Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: A
- 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
Haibane Renmei: COG. 1
March 07, 2003
Release Date: December 21, 2002
Haibane Renmei: COG. 1
What They Say
© Geneon Entertainment, Japan
In the town of Guri, there is a group of people living among the humans that have gray wings and halos and call themselves haibane. They are neither human nor angel. Nobody knows who they are or where they came from except that they are born from cocoons. They live in the town protected by the wall and the Haibane Renmei. This is their story.The Review!
What more than I can say except that this show is beautiful? When I first watched this show, the medium was a decent-quality video file. Even then, I thought that it was simply gorgeous. However, after seeing the DVD, I was blown away. Shiny things looked shiny, dust floated up, and I finally understood why Rakka was worried about Reki?s hand. Plus, it?s anamorphic widescreen, a format that I?m growing to love for TV series even though I don?t own a widescreen TV.
Not only are the visuals impressive, but the sound is pretty impressive. There?s nothing fancy here. There?s just beautiful music composed by Ohtani Kou who is well known for composing the music for series such as Gundam Wing, Outlaw Star, and You?re Under Arrest. The music is gentle and airy almost as if the town of Guri exists in a dream world floating in the clouds. As far as sound quality, everything sounds okay. Nothing muffled, nothing too soft, nothing weird sounding.
Simplicity is wonderful. The cover is a simple drawing of Rakka standing in front of the balcony doors looking over her shoulder. In the bottom right corner are the series logo and volume number. The back contains screenshots as well as various phrases and general production credits. The reverse of the cover is a line drawing of the same drawing of Rakka on the front only it?s more sketchy and on an aqua background. The keep case is a pretty clear Amaray that almost looks to be a very pale blue. The disc itself is silk-screened with the image of all the girls in the guest room of Old Home from the first Old Home no Haibane-tachi doujinshi.
There are an equal amount of on-disc and physical extras to accompany this release. The standard text-free opening is included on the disc. However, the first episode does not have an opening, which I found to be interesting. There is also a very short 15-second TV commercial advertising the show. There isn?t much to it though. Separated from the episode is the next episode preview, which really isn?t a preview at all. Also included on the disc is a production art gallery, which is plentiful. There are several drawings of all the characters that appear in the first episode as well as items used in the first episode and the layout of Old Home. Physical extras include a large card with a full-color drawing of Rakka sitting on a roof, a ?Glowing Character Card? featuring Hikari with a glow-in-the-dark halo, and a special bonus CD containing 3D data of the haibane of Old Home in their summer clothes and some desktop wallpaper.
The menu is pretty barebones although there are a lot of selections on the main menu. The background is an image of Rakka lying on her side with her knees tucked up to her chest. It?s the same image that was used on the promotional phone card included with the preview DVD. There aren?t really any sub menus. When you select an option, the menu changes to seem like another menu popped up at the top of the screen. To return from the pseudo pop-up menu, you must press left. Chapter selection is unique to me. There are two options. The regular chapter selection has an avant-partA-partB-ending setup. However, there?s a second option that contains more chapter stops so you can easily skip the wing-growing section with two button presses. But that?s only if you choose the second chapter selection option.
Haibane Renmei is a 13-episode series that focuses on a group of haibane that live in an abandoned building called Old Home and they?re day-to-day life. This volume contains only the first episode of the series, which really isn?t enough for someone to really get a taste of the show. However, it?s enough for anyone to fall in love with any of the characters. Their personalities begin to sparkle from the beginning when they go see the cocoon. Reki is serious yet gentle, the perfect mother figure. Kuu is the average kid, full of energy and excitement. Hikari is somewhat mature, but she has a somewhat silly side. Kana is purely tomboyish to the point that she looks almost like a guy. Nemu comes across as quiet and mature when she?s fully awake. Then there?s Rakka. She?s the girl who?s in the cocoon that everyone?s waiting to hatch out.
After her cocoon is hatched, she?s taken to the guest room where everyone comes in excited to see her. They all introduce themselves and talk about their dreams since their names are derived from the dreams they had before they hatched. Kuu (sky) dreamed of floating in the sky, Hikari (light) dreamed of light shining on her head, Nemu (sleep) was asleep in her dream, and Kana (fish) dreamed of swimming with the fish. Since she had a dream of falling from the sky, she is called Rakka (fall) and is given a fresh, hot halo that refuses to stick. To remedy this, they attach it to her head using a paper band and some wire. Soon after, she grows her wings. This scene is painful to see, painful to hear and just painfully bloody. All haibane go through this process to gain their wings, but they soon forget just like Rakka does the next morning as she admires her beautiful gray wings.
Haibane Renmei is a touching story and this volume is only the tip of the iceberg. The only thing this episode does is introduce the characters and the general storyline. Hardly anything is explained and it leaves the viewer wanting more or totally confused. This series is not for everyone. Yoshitoshi ABe, who also created serial experiments lain and NieA_7, created it. The weirdness factor isn?t as high as with lain, but it leans more towards NieA_7 with the background of the story being about life in a society where abnormal people are living in a normal society where they are more or less tolerated rather that stared at like freaks.
The animation is beautiful, the story is beautiful, and the music is beautiful which makes Haibane Renmei a wonderful series in a tidy 13-episode package. I really can't wait for the R1 release at all!
Japanese Language,Text-free Opening,15 second TV commercial,Next episode preview,Concept art gallery,Character card,Color liner notes booklet,First pressing includes CD-ROM featuring 3D data of summer clothes and a ?Glowing Character Card?