Kern’s Collections: Haibane Renmei

Hello everyone, it’s Kernook here. Welcome to “Kern’s Collections” a series dedicated to brief glimpses of media and why you might enjoy them.

Primarily this series will focus on anime related content. These aren’t full reviews. I’d rather offer a brief glimpse into a piece of media. I’ll offer a few thoughts, and perhaps a bit of introspection.

Video Production

This is the finished video regarding this blog post, if you’d like to watch a video instead of reading. It is written, and read aloud by me.

I’m Kernook, or “Kern” for short. I’m part of “The Demented Ferrets”. You can watch the video on YouTube as well. I hope you enjoy the content.

Today I’d like to talk about Haibane Renmei, a rather short and sweet anime that’s only thirteen episodes long. It is an anime that is gentle in its implied cruelty. Due to the nature of the characters and their struggles, there’s a depth in this series that you may find hard to locate elsewhere.

These lost souls, with wings and halos are known as charcoal feathers. You’ll notice they don’t actually have white feathers, but grey or charcoal colored ones. This world they inhabit is almost a purgatory. Living alongside humanity they cannot have the finest of things, and the names given to them hold special significance. One that they most hold aloft over all else. It’s their one key to eternal peace.

They are born into the world from cocoons, knowing little of where they came from and a foggy dream to light their way in this newfound life, if you could really call it that. Bound by a strict set of rules that they must abide, they await the day they’re called to skies, to what might be the heavens.

Haibane Renmei is just as much about grief as it is about joy. Sorrow and regret live alongside happiness and catharsis. These charcoal feathers have but one real goal. They must come to terms with themselves, their circumstances, and what they must ultimately leave behind.

There are certainly slight biblical representations in the series. You’ll find small nods to the concept of god, faith and scripture. The idea of an afterlife, and a place waiting for these charcoal feathers high in heavens. Although these themes are left vague, it is no question that these undertones exist. There is such a thing as being “sin-bound” in the series, and the Haibane that become “sin-bound” often suffer great personal struggles because of it.

I find myself at odd with the series more often than not, when I’m watching it. I often wonder at the conclusions the series comes to. I can only wonder if these ideologies can truly stand in the world upon which the main story is built. As poetic as those narrative decisions are, as gritty as they can sometimes be, they are at least acceptable.

This, I believe that this is the entire ethos of the series. It is what drives the plot forward, even thought it has very little in the way of action. There are so few moments that feel directly urgent to the characters, and I feel that is the point. This is about overcoming something larger than any foe.

It’s about acceptance in a situation where such a thing is very hard to come by.

Haibane Renmei is not a series for everyone. It might seem soft and angelic, but the first time those same angelic wings spring out in a bloody mess, you’ll learn otherwise.

I can only praise this series for everything that it is, and forgive it for the many things it is not. I wish that I could say that you must watch it, but frankly I can’t say that. I hesitate to do so, because this is not an anime for the average viewer.

You won’t have amazing fights. It’s hardly in the genera of cute girls doing cute things, and really it isn’t a slice of life. It isn’t horror by nature and it’s not a healing anime either. It does not fall into any of the common tropes as anime fans understand them today. To classify it at all, diminishes it. At least, that’s what I believe.

What I will tell you is this.

Haibane Renmei sits proudly on my shelf. I regard the series very highly. I think that it is probably one of the most poetic anime I have ever seen.

I have watched many series that deal with the general themes presented here, but never in a way quite like this. The ending didn’t leave me overjoyed, but it didn’t spiral me into sadness either. It was, in a word, fitting.

If you want to watch Haibane Renmei, it can be found on the Funimation website.

For the right sort of viewer, it would likely be seen as a master piece. However, I’d bet that the sort of viewer I’m talking about is few and far between. You’re not to get all of the answers in a series like this. Even the mere question of… “What really is, a Haibane?” Will be left vague and without a solid answer.

Sure there are things you can extrapolate, given their appearances. Still, that answer is not at all set in stone. So, that’s where I’ll leave it. If you choose to watch the series or not, it’s up to you.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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2 thoughts on “Kern’s Collections: Haibane Renmei

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