Haibane Renmei Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • 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 Kim Wolstenholme     September 12, 2005
Release Date: September 12, 2005


Haibane Renmei Vol. #3
© MVM Entertainment


What They Say
As winter approaches, Rakka is still depressed as she struggles getting over the loss of Kuu. Falling 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 life as a Haibane…

Episodes comprise:

8. The Bird
9. Well / Rebirth / Riddle
10. Kuramori / Haibane of the Abandoned Factory / Rakka’s Job

The Review!
The slow pace of Haibane Renmei continues, with the third volume proving to be just as absorbing as previous volumes. The focus is still firmly with Rakka and Reki as Rakka finally comes to terms with her present and past lives, and Reki gets some unexpected news.

Audio:

There are a choice of two audio tracks, Japanese 2.0 and English 2.0. I watched the show in its entirety in Japanese and noticed no problems. The dialogue comes across crisp and clear from the centre speakers, while the left and right front speakers are used occasionally for sound effects and music. I also spot checked the English track and noticed no problems with this option either.

Video:

Haibane Renmei is presented in its original aspect ration of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for widescreen TVs. The picture quality is what you would expect for a newish show and I noticed no major problems with the picture quality.

Packaging:

No packaging was available as only a review disk was supplied.

Menu:

The menu starts with the Haibane Renmei logo with feathers flying across the screen, this then segues into a static picture of the Old Home seen from the outside. The title music plays over the menu and the options are to the left of the screen. Sub menus are silent but each menu option can be accessed quickly. Overall, it’s not a particularly exciting menu, but it’s perfectly functional.

Extras:

The first extra here is a Promotional Trailer for the series, this is quite long and conveys the pace and atmosphere of the series very well, this is partnered with A New Program Commercial that is basically just a very short teaser trailer. The Art Gallery showcases 40 character and environment designs, but as with the previous disks each picture has to be selected manually. The episode previews for episodes 9, 10 and 11 are next and the extras are rounded off with trailers for Paranoia Agent and FullMetal Alchemist.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)

In the second disk of Haibane Renmei Rakka had experienced the loss of her new friend Kuu as Kuu’s Day of Flight arrived. Faced with an immense loss so soon into her new life, Rakka became disheartened and withdrawn from the other Haibane at the Old Home. In the end it was eagle-eyed Reki who noticed that something was wrong with Rakka, and tried to help her come to terms with her current situation. Rakka’s depression seemed to manifest itself as black lesions on her wings - a condition that marks Rakka out as a ‘Sin Bound’ Haibane. Reki has given Rakka some medicine to help with this, but in the meantime Rakka keeps her wings hidden from the others.

Summer has come to an end in Glie, winter is fast approaching and the Haibane at the Old Home are making preparations for the season ahead. One of the tasks that has to be done is making sure that the Young Feathers have suitable clothing and Reki and Rakka take the children to the second hand shop for a fitting of their new winter coats. While Reki is making alterations to the coats, Rakka chooses some new winter clothing, but ends up running out of the shop in a panic when a citizen of Glie shows an interest in her.

Out in the town Rakka soon convinces herself that the crows want her to follow them, and she ends up following a single crow into the Western Woods – an area of Glie that the Haibane are forbidden from entering. The crow leads Rakka to a well with several other crows next to it, and spying something at the bottom of the well Rakka starts to climb down. Unfortunately the old iron rungs that lead down to the bottom of the well can’t support her weight and they break, Rakka falls to the bottom of the well and knocks herself out when she lands. In this comatose state Rakka remembers her cocoon dream, and the crow that featured in this dream. When she awakens she sees the skeleton of a crow, and out of sympathy for the animal, she starts to dig a burial hole and also starts to remember bits and pieces about her past life. While Rakka is remembering things from her past life in the middle of the Western Woods the other Haibane start searching for her.

Whilst Rakka is down in the well, the first snow of winter starts, and Rakka realises she has no means of getting out of the well. After a while Rakka is actually found by two Toga who help her out of the well, but then leave her to fend for herself in the forest. Not knowing which way to go Rakka eventually finds herself at the wall that surrounds Glie and, thinking she hears Kuu, actually touches the wall. Just then the Communicator finds Rakka and offers to lead her out of the woods. During their walk back Rakka start to talk to the Communicator about her dream and the fears she has about being ‘sin-bound’. Eventually the Communicator leads Rakka out of the woods, telling her that she should return his staff that she has been using throughout their walk. Although Rakka is now in familiar surroundings she is still in grave danger as she falls ill almost as soon as she meets Reki outside the woods – a dire consequence of touching the wall.

The final episode on this disk concentrates on Reki, especially her birth from her cocoon and the relationship she had with the woman who helped and supported her when her wings developed the same black spots that Rakka has. Reki was born before her cocoon was discovered and spent her first night as a Haibane alone and in pain. She is found by Nemu and Kuramori and while she forms a friendship with Kuramori from the start, it takes a while before she befriends Nemu. Kuramori is very protective of Reki, probably due to her entry into the world of the Haibane, and when Reki’s wings show signs of her being ‘sin bound’ she tries everything to help, in much the same way the Reki is now helping Rakka. From this episode the parallels between Reki and Rakka are clear, although Rakka did not have to spend her first night alone, she is going through many of the same experiences that Reki did upon arriving in Glie. Reki’s experiences allow her to help Rakka to the best of her abilities, and it is her knowledge that results in Rakka recovering from the fever she developed after touching the wall.

Because of her past, Reki is more willing than the other Haibane to question the rules that the Haibane live by, even to the point of questioning things that the Communicator has done. It is during an exchange of words with the Communicator that Reki learns that she might not have much time left in Glie – is her Day of Flight approaching, something that is not supposed to happen to Haibane who were / are ‘sin bound’?

The third disk continues the arc that started in the previous disk, which was Rakka’s changing attitude to the world of the Haibane. In these 3 episodes Rakka continues to question the world around her, but also realises that her old life might be having a bearing on her new life as a Haibane. Her recollections about the world she left behind, while sketchy at best, help her to overcome her current situation as she finally realises that even though Kuu has gone, she has not been left alone and friendless. At the end of these 3 episodes, it’s nice to have the old Rakka back – the girl who was cheerfully optimistic about her new life, although her cheerfulness is slightly tempered by the depression she has managed to overcome.

Finally at the end of this disk Rakka finally finds her place as a Haibane, when the Communicator assigns her a job at the Haibane Renmei temple. This also partially answers one of the questions I had at the beginning of the series when I wondered what the halos the girls are given are made off.

While Rakka is still the main focus for the series, we get an episode almost entirely devoted to Reki, who is probably one of my favourite characters is the series. Reki’s life as a Haibane has not been easy right from the start but she has seemingly managed to overcome the things that have happened to her, at least to a certain extent. This has made her both strong and vulnerable as she thinks that she will still be left after her friends have their Day of Flight. Kuramori has become Reki’s role model and Reki has, in effect, taken the place of Kuramori and provides help and support to the other girls in the Old Home when needed.

So far the only slight misgiving I have about the series is the fact that some of the other Haibane in the Old Home are slightly sidelined. While there are episodes that revolve around Nemu, Hikari and Kana they do not really have much impact in the series overall. However, Reki and Rakka themselves are quite complex characters and deserve the time devoted to them. With this being a short series, I’m sure it wouldn’t have had the same appeal if all the characters were explored and probably would have felt disjointed and rushed. By concentrating on two main characters ABe has maintained a languid pace that enhances, rather than distracts from, the story being told.

In summary-
Words really can’t express how much I am enjoying this series. It’s totally intriguing and the viewer can read as much or as little into the events that are portrayed as they want to. This is a series that you can rewatch endless times and still be impressed by the animation, characters and setting. While the series is enjoyable the first time round, it’s only on subsequent viewings that you realise just where it’s heading and what it could be all about. Religious allegories abound about this series, and they do add some weight to the events we see unfolding as the series progresses.

Haibane Renmei is a prime example the sort of anime that can create new anime fans as it transcends the preconceptions that some people have about anime. If you haven’t already done so, go out and buy Haibane Renmei now, you really won’t regret it.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Promotional Trailer,New Program Commercial,Episode Previews

Review Equipment
Panasonic 42” Plasma, Arcam 88+ Prog Scan DVD Player, Kef Egg 7.1 Speaker system with a Ruark log sub. Denon 3802 amplifier.

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