Haibane Renmei Vol. #3 - Mania.com

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  • 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. #3

By Chris Beveridge     December 09, 2003
Release Date: December 16, 2003

Haibane Renmei Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
Falling deeper and deeper into sadness, Rakka discovers the connection between her and the mysterious birds and seeks to touch the forbidden walls of the town. Unfortunately, she soon falls ill with a deadly fever. While nursing Rakka, a pensive Reki reflects upon her own troubled past and pays a visit to the Communicator, who warns her that she doesn't have much time left as a Haibane...

The Review!
As Rakka continues to deal with the loss of Kuu, she finds herself making all sorts of discoveries about herself and some of her friends.

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.

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. The rolling “rendering” problem that was lightly visible on the earlier volumes appears to be gone with this one..

Haibane’s cover art continues to be one of the big draws out of a number of recent series and this one is no exception. With the secondary cast members of Hikari and Kana together on the bike, the image is very eye-catching with the style of illustration used and the color scheme. The greens used in the sky coloring are just a huge draw for me. 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 up to a full piece spread done in brows of the members of Old Home visiting the town for their shopping.

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.

The only carryover from the previous volume for the extras is the placement of the next episode previews here. Newly included though is a three minute promotional video for the series. This is an interesting piece since it takes mostly material just from the first episode and builds up the general plot, but also mixes in material I can only guess comes from the fourth volume of the US release or has material that was made specifically for it. There’s nothing spoilerish though. A “new program” commercial spot is included that runs about sixteen seconds and is used as a teaser from before the show began airing. And rounding things out is a new production art gallery that has forty pieces of conceptual design artwork contained in it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Haibane Renemi moves past the halfway mark and into the meatier side of the series, the show is finally becoming more interesting. I still don’t really expect all that much of a full story to be told here, as the show is very much just a set of character pieces with Rakka being the central one. While I do enjoy these types of shows, something about Haibane Renmei just hasn’t sat too terribly well with me, as if we’re continually missing some key bits that would make elements click better.

With Rakka continuing to be the focus, the early parts of the three episodes here deals heavily with both her loss of Kuu and the change in her wings. She’s becoming more withdrawn into herself over both ordeals that have happened so close together, enough to really concern Reki who sees parts of her own past coming to light in Rakka. The bond between these two definitely becomes stronger because of it, though it’s more visible through Reki as she sees the history possibly repeating. But even with as much support and care as Rakka gets from Reki, Rakka continues her downward internal mental spiral.

Something that’s been tugging at the back of her mind becomes more obvious to her now though, since she’s become less focused on the here and now. After racing out of the town due to feeling harassed by one of the local girls, she finds herself out in the open fields where the wind generators are, staring down at the Western Woods. The tug is stronger now, and she finds that she’s really being called there, called by something she feels is a friend from her past life, one that she has to do something for. This series of events eventually leads Rakka to dealing with the Communicator and those who work with him.

The Renmei continue to be one of the most fascinating elements as well as the most confounding, since I know we won’t get much detail on them. I love their designs and the air of mystery to their job, from the way they communicate to the mask designs. With Rakka in the Western Woods, she ends up dealing with both the Renmei regulars as well as the Communicator as she deals with her birthing dream and what it all means. Though there feels like there are revelations here, it doesn’t come across as being all too important based on the events she had gone through before and then in comparison to what she’s about to face after a separate incident within the Woods.

One of the more interesting aspects of these episodes is that we get some rather good flashback time with Reki and we see her first days with the Haibane, including how she gets her name and the Haibane who had taken her under her wing. There’s a good number of small revelations through the flashbacks that show why she’s so adept at handling Rakka’s issues and why it means so much to her. Reki’s probably the most interesting of all the Haibane, but prior to this episode that wasn’t saying much since most of them come across as fairly two dimensional. The time on this volume with her helps elevate her slightly above Rakka.

The production quality of the show, notably in episode eight, gets a little shoddy at times but mostly in the CG work. A lot of what’s shown in this episode just looks poorly mixed into the final animation. Some of that was apparent earlier in the series, but it just stood out a lot more in this episode as well, such as the wind generators and their movements. The remaining two episodes fare better, but they each have a moment or two of just bad animation with the CG. The rest of the production though continues to be gorgeous, with the varying greens and browns being so well chosen that when a color we’re not used to in the show comes up, such as an actually vibrant blue water sequence, it’s almost jarring.

In Summary:
It took the halfway point in the series to finally start feeling some sort of connection with one or two of the characters, so it’s a mixed bag in that at least it happened but it’s too bad it didn’t happen earlier. This volume provides much interesting material for Rakka and Reki as well as the world of the Haibane in general and sets the stage nicely for the upcoming end chapter where certain elements now seem to be telegraphed rather loudly. Haibane Renmei continues to be an interesting exercise in style with some character substance, but not one that’s really grabbed us from the start.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Next Episode Previews,Promotional Video,Commercial Spot,Art Gallery

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 Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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