“Charcoal” Activated

October 6th, 2014 in Anime, General Reviews, Haibane Renmei by

Haibane Renmei

This is a strange series, as you really are left in the dark for most of it. We are telling a story that has no real purpose as to why we are telling it, but it needs to be told. I’ll explain as we go along.

Haibane Renmei” (“Une fille qui a des ailes grises” and/or/either/both, “A girl who has grey wings”) has us look at angeloids in a different way. I mean, no one ever says the word “angel”, but they have wings and a halo, but if we took away those two features, they are no different than you or I. There are male ones as well, but the whole mythology behind it seems confused.

OK, I watched it, as it was On Demand and I needed something to see while I did the ironing, and it was there. It’s a show with a lot of promise, but it stagnates to the point where we are just going through the motions.

We are in the city of Glie. Although the time feels modern, there is still something kind of backwards about the town, as I don’t recall ever seeing a TV set, for example. And there is a huge stone wall that surrounds the town and environs. It appears that no one ever leaves the town, and certainly the haibanes can’t at all.

Into this mix drops Rakka (far right). She remembers having a dream about falling, but awakens in a room, reborn as a haibane. She is given a halo (which she has to learn how to wear) and later grows her wings in a very painful and bloody evolution. She also learns about the other haibanes and what it means to be one. The major players are, left to right:

Kamu, nine years as a haibane
Reki, seven years
Kana, three years
Hikari, four years
Kuu, two years

There are others as well, mostly younger children, but these six have our interest. There is also another group of haibane living in another part of town. And they get to live in abandoned or derelict buildings.

The rules regarding the haibanes are rather strict and unforgiving, with the penalties almost draconian.

All Haibane must work at jobs in Glie.
Haibane may not own anything new.
Haibane may not use money.
Haibane are forbidden to touch the wall that circles Glie
Haibane should never even approach the wall that circles Glie.

These rules are strictly enforced by the Haibane Renmei (“Charcoal Feather Federation”), an organization which oversees the lives of the Haibane. And you can’t even speak to them; you need someone who is ‘approved’ to do the talking. They also wear these elaborate robe-and-mask outfits that camouflage who and what they are. It gives off a rather menacing aura.

So are they angels? Well, not really. They are all here to atone for some sin in a previous life, but if they cannot remember their dream, they are going to have a hard time trying to repent for it and be eligible for the Day of Flight. That is when a haibane is freed from whatever they did, grows working wings, flies over the wall and never returns. What is beyond the wall? We do not know. Do we find out? Does it really matter?

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  • James C

    After watching Yoshitoshi ABe’s other series, Serial Experiments Lain, I have been meaning to watch Haibane Renmei. It does sound interesting though. By the way, where did you stream the series?

    -James