All Rakka remembers before emerging from her cocoon is the sensation of falling. Confused, she is welcomed into this new world as one of the Haibane, a group of youth with small gray wings and bright halos. Together, they live in the Old Home on the outskirts of Grie, a quiet town where wingless, halo-less people live.
There are many rules governing the world of Haibane Renmei: the most important one being that Haibane cannot go near or touch the massive walls that surround the town. Only beings known as Toga may come and go as they please.
Although her daily life is quiet, there is much Rakka and the other Haibane do not know, or are not allowed to know. Rakka will work through her own doubts and questions as she figures out what she is doing in this world, while working towards the goal of each Haibane: to get beyond the walls on their Day of Flight. But this is not a light task: failure means being branded as one who is Sin-bound. – My Anime List
Based on 21 review scores:
The show’s main “flaw”, if you want to call it that, is the lack of action. Well, “action” in the sense that neither of the cast has much need for stunt doubles. There is a gentleness to this series, the likes of which I haven’t seen all that often. The show is seemingly content with focusing solely on drama, heavy on the people interaction. Those who come into this show expecting a lot of BANG BANG, or even a KABOOM, will probably find themselves slightly disappointed. This isn’t Inuyasha, and certainly not Cowboy Bebop. If I were to draw parallells, I’d say it’s more like Yokohama Shopping trip log or Fruits Basket without the comedy. There is a curious quietness about the show, not to mention a reflective one. Also, a lot of the question this show asks, is pretty much left up to the viewer to figure out. It might get a little bit too angsty for some, especially near the middle, but the characters and their trials are very heartfelt and, despite their small elements of divinity, very real.
The Anime Review
There are very few shows as special as Haibane Renmei in the world. This is a work that I wish would break beyond the barriers of the animation world because it is touching and personal, far beyond the average. It may not work for those who want anime to fulfill their every stereotype, but for me, this was a blessing…one that can make you believe that angels with tiny wings might just fly.
Rock Lobster JWT
The main reason I enjoy this show is that it resonates With Christianity. It explores redemption and forgiveness. In a way, the town is similar to the Catholic concept of purgatory, where souls go to be purified of their sins before entering Heaven. I think every anime fan, Christian or not, should watch this.
This will probably not be to everyone’s taste. Most animes can be enjoyed as light entertainment even if, as is sometimes the case, they have a deeper meaning. This one is not very “light”. It is a subtle, intricately crafted story that raises questions and refuses to spell out the answers. Still, the many fan sites scattered around the Web are evidence of the number of people who have been deeply moved by it.
I see no reason why not to recommend Haibane Renmei. Not only does it keep delivering after it gets really started, I also didn’t cry as much at a final episode apart from Noein. This definitely is a memorable series, and it couldn’t have been a better way to close off my attempt to catch up with the 13-episode series.
Anime News Network
Haibane Renmei never does explain anywhere near all of its mysteries, with new developments being thrown out even in the final scenes. While that could be a point of annoyance for some viewers, the way the scenes at the end refer back to the scenes at the very beginning show that the series has told a complete, stand-alone story, and to go any further would be to force a different approach than the magic that is shown here. Knowing what is beyond the walls, what the nature of the walls is, and why everything works the way it does is ultimately not as important as seeing lovable characters satisfyingly complete their long and sometimes trying journeys while others carry on in their absence. At that the series has few equals.
An instant contender for “top five” favorite anime for me, of all time. It has dethroned Escaflowne as my favorite “fantasy” anime series.
All in all, Haibane Renmei is almost a masterpiece and, by far, Abe Yoshitoshi‘s best anime up to now. The quiet plot will soothe and relax you, the drama will make you sympathize with the suffering of Rakka and her fellow haibane, the music will take you on a journey to a faraway place, and the ending will leave you warm and cozy as though you were tucked in by a beloved person late at night. Thoroughly and utterly enjoyable from the first glimpse of Rakka falling until the final look over the small valley where humans and haibane live together.
Sophie’s Japan Blog
Clocking in at just 12 episodes, Haibane Renmei is one series you won’t quickly forget. It’s beautiful in its simplicity but cannot be faulted for its art and engaging themes.
If you’re one to appreciate compelling characters and a lot of food for thought (plus points if you liked Serial Experiments Lain and Niea_7), you’ll surely love Haibane Renmei. I for one find it to be Yoshitoshi Abe’s best anime series to date.
Haibane Renmei may not have lived up to my original inflated expectations, but I still walked away from Haibane Renmei with a stronger mind and soul than I had initially. The series even managed to answer my deeper philosophical questions pertaining to the nature of salvation. It’s true that the story can be confusing at times and you may leave the series with more questions than answers, but overall I see Haibane Renmei as a valuable journey for your soul that teaches you that sometimes God cannot save you until you let yourself or someone else be your savior…
No matter how you look at it, Haibane Renmei is a rare treat the likes of which we anime fans don’t come across very often. It’s not the most exciting show—and it’s definitely not for everyone—but those who enjoy great storytelling, complex characters, and a unique, yet mysterious setting should definitely watch this. Add in a beautiful relationship between the two main characters, and even yuri fans have a reason to take notice of this delightful gem.
In short, this is a show to show off to non-anime fans who have stereotyped all of it as either Pokemon or porn. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a trend…
Overall, Haibane Renmei is a wonderful anime. Come for the thought-provoking existentialist themes, stay for the beautiful story.
Bottom line, I recommend this show to everyone, not necessarily as something entertaining, as much as different and poetic. If you can see past the clichés you are so used to, you can really see it for the jewel it is.
My Anime List
At times depressing and at times gently uplifting and feather-soft, Haibane Renmei is unparalleled in beauty, and I wouldn’t hesitate to call it my favorite anime of all time.
Haibane Renmei is really a series that every anime fan should watch, not necessarily because everyone will like it, but because it is such a unique and important series that everyone should at least give a chance. The series asks a lot of questions but does not answer them, leaving that up to the viewer. Again, if you really prefer to have all the details of fantasy worlds explained, then this series may frustrate you. Otherwise, enjoy a series that is very atypical and very moving.
Anime UK News
If you are getting a bit worn out by the usual anime releases you see, Haibane Renmei might make for a nice change of tone for you.
`Haibane-Renmei` joins luminaries such as `Magnetic Rose` from `Otomo Katsushiro`s Memories`, `Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade` and `Grave of the Fireflies` as anime with real emotional potency; look beneath the surface and you`ll discover a meaningful and deep-rooted story. The show relies on the under-appreciated art of viewer interpretation as a different breed of thinking man`s anime, and its use of careful character mannerisms, facial expressions and relationship interaction for conveyance of its messages isn`t going to be to everyone`s tastes. Perhaps in the past its greatest foe was the proclivity towards volumising anime, where a wait of months between the publishing of the serial for the DVD market could see viewers lose interest in a story which takes its own sweet time to be told. This boxset nullifies that, allowing a viewer to soak up uninterrupted a series that, despite its faults, does deserve a certain level of appreciation.
An interesting experiment so far, but the jury’s out an whether it will be successful in the end.
The Haibane, what the girls with grey wings are called, live in a place that is interesting and mysterious. It’s thought-provoking because you wonder if the girls were alive on Earth before they emerged from cocoons, and what the larger purpose of their lives and work is. It might be dull and slow-paced and not super magical, and the girls are sort of generically cute and unremarkable, but writing them that way ultimately makes them seem more like real people. However, I kind of doubt that a 13 episode series can fully answer all the questions raised by the initial episodes, and this might be a case where reading the manga is necessary to obtain a complete understanding of the story.