Haibane Renmei is an anime about a group of female angels living in a small commune, who’s origins and purpose are a mystery even to themselves. Angels appear to be born within the commune’s buildings through spontaneously appearing cocoons, and the series centers around Rekka, a girl who just burst from her cocoon to her new life as an angel.
The angels live fairly quiet and mundane lives, working in the nearby village where they seem to be held in some regard, but are mostly treated as normal people. (Except a bit nicer.) The area is surrounded by a tall wall which neither the angels nor the villagers are allowed to cross, there are certain rules and traditions the angels must follow – such as not being allowed to accept money – and there are some elder priest-like figures who seem to be at the top of the hierarchy, being the only ones allowed to communicate with the outside world and being the main keepers of ye olde traditions.
Through the initial episodes I couldn’t help but think that it would make for an interesting roleplaying setting, and it also seemed like one of the few fantasy worlds which I could actually want to live in as it all seemed very cozy at the start, with no looming antagonists nor apocalyptic prophecies. But eventually, as with much anime, it takes a couple of plunges into long-winded incomprehension, with lengthy scenes about things you don’t really understand and which never really gets explained, making it a sub-par viewing experience and making their angel world seem a lot less appealing.
It currently ranks at #24 at AnimeNfo’s list of top 200 anime, which I feel is a higher spot than it really deserves. While it’s not a bad series, there are many other anime series and films out there which are better – probably as many as 24. I do appreciate the general setting though, and the fact that the series was without any external antagonists, instead focusing on personal semi-spiritual and psychological battles that the characters must deal with.
One of the things the series often seems to be hailed for is its’ overall aesthetics, which includes its music. It does have some beautiful pieces, and hearing the soundtrack actually inspired me to eventually see the actual series (as it also did with a friend of mine). Particularly enjoyable and memorable is the opening instrumental piece to the series, and the visuals to go with it are fine as well. But for this week I’ve chosen to feature an alternate version of the show’s opening, featured on the second soundtrack to the series which is entitled Out Of Tracks, which is an odd name for a soundtrack. This version is less grandiose than the original, but is no less enjoyable.