Haibane Renmei Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Haibane Renmei

Haibane Renmei Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     October 24, 2003
Release Date: October 28, 2003


Haibane Renmei Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Rakka works with Nemu at the library to find her place in life and renews her curiosity about the outside world. Kuu, a younger Haibane who is normally bright and cheerful, helps Rakka to find her place in the Old Home, but then becomes subdued and her halo begins to fade! Rakka’s worries become a desperate search when Kuu goes missing- is this related to the “Day of Flight”? Overwhelmed with sadness, Rakka is further shocked by a revelation about Reki’s past!

The Review!
Now past the basic introductions, the storyline moves in discovering more of the world that we see through the eyes of Rakka, both its beauty and its danger.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series features a solid stereo mix that makes good use of directionality for the dialogue throughout it. This series, so far, is very dialogue heavy as well as using a lot of small quiet incidental music to fill out scenes. The tracks here replicate that faithfully and without any technical issues.

Video:
Originally airing back in 2002, Haibane Renmei is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and encoded for anamorphic playback. The resulting transfer is a very solid piece that really brings to life the amount of detail in the show as well as the subtle and beautifully shaded backgrounds. The transfer looks beautiful throughout the majority of it, free of cross coloration and aliasing. There are a few areas throughout the episodes where things pan left and right though and you almost feel like it had a slightly slow “render” of sorts, causing a slight rolling in the animation. It’s very subtle and hard to notice for the most part. Beyond this, this was a very clean look transfer.

Packaging:
The clear keepcases continue and allows some really nicely done packaging. Using the same artwork as the third Japanese DVD release, the cover sports an angled manga style look at Rakka and Kuu together in Kuu’s room. The back cover pushes the green shade more by mixing it in with the halo that’s the central image here. There are a few shots from the show itself throughout as well as a brief episode summary. The discs technical features are nice and clearly listed (including mentioning anamorphic). Episode numbers and titles are also listed in addition to the basic production credits for both crews. Volume numbering is unfortunately completely absent. The reverse side of the cover, which is not the same as a reversible cover, uses the green again and uses it with a white pencil sketch of part of the front cover. The insert has another shot of the front cover and opens to several panes of really nice illustration work from the show.

Menu:
The menus throughout are solid simple pieces that build upon the quiet nature of the show, using things such as the halo as a centerpiece and the little circle with wings symbol as the cursor throughout. The menus are laid out nicely and are easy to navigate. Access times are nice and fast and submenus load very quickly and without issue.

Extras:
The extras are fairly similar to the first volume as we get the episode previews included here as well as the textless ending sequence. Rounding it out is a couple of the Japanese TV commercials and a forty-four page long art gallery showcasing items and characters from these episodes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While the first volume of the series proved to be interesting in its basic layout and the progression of the storyline, as slow as it is, there was something that’s just lacking in making us really excited about subsequent volumes. Often the problem with the start of a series is the ability to bring the concept of the world you’re trying to display through clearly if it’s quite different from the norm. Haibane Renmei is definitely a unique world in itself even with as much of it looking like it does.

With the basic characters and premise introduced, this volume moves things forward with bringing us more of this world through Rakka’s eyes as she continues to learn about it, both it’s wondrous and amazing moments and the very real dangers that are there. While still looking for her place to fit in, she’s gone to work with Nemu in the library in town by helping catalog books, send them to the binders for repairs and other aspects of a library life. Many books come through into this world and they’re an endless source of fascination for a small group of people. Rakka fits in nicely here since it allows her time to be productive while trying to learn as well.

Rakka also makes out well by interacting with Sumika, the official human librarian who is almost due with her pregnancy. Keeping some regular contact with the humans and not just sitting in the manor all day helps bring new perspectives to her life. Sumika’s an interesting person for the most part and is nicely playful with the Haibane she employs in the library. Watching her get Nemu to read one of the storytelling moments to the children was particularly amusing. But the crux of this episode focuses on the origins of the world as Nemu and Rakka talk about from various books in the library. While there is no formal “here’s how it began”, they have the makings of it in one book and use it to foment their own theories based on what their minds creatively come up with. It says a lot in how each of them bring something different to the exercise.

This is a nice little prelude to the remaining two episodes that brings a change to the lives of those in the house. A good part of it is spent with Rakka going through the various empty rooms in the three buildings as she looks for a place to call her own. She can’t live with Reiki forever and is trying her best to get on her own two feet again. Through this, she ends up spending some time with Kuu and learning about her and her life as a Haibane. As it turns out, she’s gotten a fair bit of grief over her size since she arrived and how she was always trying to be like those older than her. Kuu gets fleshed out nicely here, but it’s easy to see it as massive foreshadowing that something really bad is going to happen to her.

So as we learn about what’s outside the walls a little bit as well as a nearby forest that nobody is allowed to go into, never mind the revelation that Haibane can leave in the form of the “Day of Flight”, an experience that some find transcendent by Rakka sees only as losing her friends, the darker nature of the world comes into the picture. With it all coming under the guise of a dark rainstorm and other elements to accentuate it, there’s not much suspense in the actual act but more interest simply in the act itself.

With only three episodes here, things definitely feel a bit shorter and the disc plays very quickly. Perhaps it’s a change in storytelling, but I found that to be more preferable than the first volume with its four episodes as that disc felt like it was dragging along at one point late into it. The stories here are interesting but I still have the lingering fear of NieA_7 in getting a story that sets up various elements but doesn’t go anywhere. Often times it’s the journey that’s the best part, but I’m still unsure as to whether that will serve this series well at this point.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending,TV Commercials,Art Gallery,Episode Previews

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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