Haibane Renmei Vol. #4 - 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. #4

By Kim Wolstenholme     January 27, 2006
Release Date: January 09, 2006


Haibane Renmei Vol. #4
© MVM Entertainment


What They Say
Amidst the Passing of the Year Festival, Reki begins to distance herself from everyone and prepares to face the bitter darkness that will soon engulf her, resigned to her fate as a cursed and unforgiven Haibane.

With little time remaining, Rakka painstakingly attempts to set into motion a course of redemption that may provide salvation and help Reki achieve her “Day of Flight”. Can Reki be saved after all, especially when she doesn’t even want to save herself?

Episodes comprise:

11. Parting / Darkness of the Heart / Irreplaceable Thing
12. Bell Nuts / Passing of the Year Festival / Reconciliation
13. Reki’s World / Prayer / Epilogue

The Review!
The final disk of Haibane Renmei arrives at long last, but what does fate have in store for Reki and Rakka?

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 best extra on the final disk is an interview with the creators of Haibane Renmei, Yoshitoshi ABe and Yasuyuki Ueda. This is an 11-minute interview with some interesting questions asked (although these are displayed on screen rather than asked directly by a third party). I did notice that the volume level seems to take a bit of a dip during this interview so be ready to turn the volume up. The Special Ending is an extended ending sequence that showcases Reki’s paintings to a new track called ‘Love Will Light the Way’, a really nice soothing song. Once again we have another Line Art Gallery with 40 sketches, and a Script Cover Gallery. This is quite sweet as it shows the front of the scripts that have been drawn on by the voice actresses and production staff. Finally there are trailers for Ikki Tousen and Kiddy Grade.

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

Believe it or not the third volume of Haibane Renmei arrived in September last year, and finally after a long four month wait MVM finally release the very last volume of this engaging series. Usually I don’t like waiting for the next disk of a series to arrive as the anticipation to get the next disk usually makes the wait seem much worse than it actually is. In addition there is always the potential to forget elements of the series so sometimes it feels difficult to slot back into the world that the characters inhabit. Not so with Haibane Renmei, for as soon as I popped the disk in the player and heard the familiar strains of the opening theme I was instantly transported back to Glie and it somehow felt that the last 4 months had flown by.

It’s actually quite fitting that MVM waited until January to release the final volume, as the episodes on this disk work around the Passing of the Year festival, which as the name suggests celebrates the end of one year and the beginning of the next. It is also the middle of winter in Glie, and while they might get slightly more snow than us in Blighty it somehow seems more fitting to be watching these episodes at the beginning of a new year.

The series so far has really focused on Rakka, as she acclimatised to her new life as a Haibane, in these last three episodes the focus changes from Rakka to Reki, but the overall series continuity is kept as we see events unfolding from Rakka’s viewpoint. Rakka now has her job at the Haibane Renmei temple, clearing the light leaves from the tablets that are found within the city’s walls. While doing her job one day she thinks she hears Kuu, and finds herself in front of a tablet that seems to depict Kuu’s name in a strange script. Taking her new knowledge to the Communicator he informs her that Haibane actually have two names, the one they are given when they emerge from their cocoon and their ‘true’ name. The Communicator also tells Rakka that Reki does not have much time left in the world of Haibane, saying that if she does not attain her Day of Flight she will lose her halo and wings and will have to live out the rest of her days separated from the Haibane. On hearing this Rakka is determined to help Reki attain her Day of Flight, even though it will mean loosing one of her closest friends in Glie.

With her new goal in mind, Rakka starts to find out more about Reki, and in particular the rift that has developed between Haibane in the Old Home and the Abandoned Factory. Reki was once friends with the Haibane at the Abandoned Factory in particular Hyohko who helped her try to escape from Glie by climbing the wall. Unfortunately Hyohko got hurt when trying the climb the wall, and Reki has never been able to forgive herself for putting her friend in such danger. It is this event that led to the rift that has built up between the two Haibane communities, although some of the Haibane at the Old Factory believe that bygones should be bygones.

Knowing that her time in Glie is coming to an end, one way or another, Reki takes the opportunity offered by the Passing of the Year festival to say her final goodbyes to her former friends at the Abandoned Factory. The townsfolk of Glie have a quaint little custom at this yearly festival of giving people they know Bell Nuts, each nut is a different colour, and each colour has a meaning so the recipient doesn’t need to be told what each nut represents. It’s a wonderful idea and this whole segment is really cute, as you’ve got the Haibane going round giving their friends Bell Nuts without a word being spoken. Reki actually gives her Bell Nut to Hyohko a full week before the actual festival not knowing whether she will still be around. This actually allows the Haibane at the Abandoned Factory time to respond to Reki’s message, and with Rakka’s help, the two communities are finally reconciled.

The final episode on this disk is probably the most affecting emotionally as we watch Reki struggle with her demons and her over-riding need for forgiveness, although she herself doesn’t totally acknowledge this. Reki has convinced herself that being a ‘good Haibane’ throughout her time in Glie would earn her the forgiveness she so desires. With her time running out she is angry that this forgiveness hasn’t been bestowed on her and she angrily lashes out at Rakka and pushes her away as Reki saw Rakka as being her last chance to attain salvation. Reki’s focus on attaining forgiveness has, in the end, clouded her feelings but will she realise that in the end it’s not necessarily forgiveness she needs?

The ending of Haibane Renmei is wonderfully bittersweet, with one character attaining something she strived so hard for, and the other left behind, although with the experience to help her overcome future obstacles. There’s really no other way this series could have ended, and it is a very accomplished ending for a series that initially didn’t really have any overall story worked out. While watching Haibane I was constantly struck on the differences between this and ABe’s previous work on Niea_7 and Lain. Haibane somehow occupies the middle ground between these two series with its beautiful pastoral colours and relaxed pace, contrasting nicely with the zany humour of Niea_7 and the foreboding atmosphere of Lain.

After the first disk of Haibane I was filled with questions about the characters, the environment and the potential significance of seemingly inconsequential things, with the series finally finished I found that most of these questions were left unanswered. Usually this would leave me feeling somehow unfulfilled by the story and questioning the decisions made by the creator, but not this time. The story was so open at the beginning that it could have taken any direction, it just so happens that ABe decided to go down the route of redemption / forgiveness which somehow seems fitting seeing as the main characters were girls with beautiful charcoal grey wings.

In summary-

MVM certainly do have a diverse catalogue of titles, and for this I’m glad, as otherwise we might never have seen Haibane Renmei in the UK. As far as I’m concerned this 13 episode series is a little piece of anime perfection, and while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, surely no one can deny the charm that this series possesses. Haibane Renmei has been the series that I’ve pushed on people at work, so far with a 100% success rate, which illustrates how much people can identify with the world that ABe has created.

The bittersweet ending perfectly matches the tone of the entire show, and while people may bemoan the lack of a second series, I for one, do not, and not because I’ve not enjoyed the show. While I’d love to find out more about the Haibane, I just feel that the setting is such an enigma that a second series would spoil the whole concept and the wonderful atmosphere that the series created. So instead of bemoaning the lack of a second series I’d recommend you go back and watch the series from the beginning again, as it will still seem just as fresh as it did the first time round.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Special Ending,Interview with the Creators,Script Cover Gallery

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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