Posted by psgels on 8 August 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews


Last year, in November, I made myself a little list of worthwhile-looking 13-episode series, as a means of systematically catching up to the ones that I hadn’t seen yet at that point. I’ve been gradually working down that list for the past year, as some of you might have already noticed. Some series turned out too bad to continue (Aquarian Age and Gun Frontier, for example, and Kokoro Library was just too boring), but there also were some true gems among these anime. And I’m glad to say that today, I finally managed to finish the list! There’s a reason why I chose Haibane Renmei to go last, as I’ve heard nothing but positive reviews and raves from it.

And boy, does it deliver! Haibane Renmei truly is one of the best slice-of-life series I have ever seen! It first takes four episodes of building up, introducing its unique setting and its characters, and then it waltzes the viewer down with one of the most amazing storylines, perfectly fitted for 13 episodes.

The thing is, that I’m having a lot of trouble finding anything bad to say about this series. Most series have obvious flaws, like dragging on too much, spending little time on their settings, making no sense, but Haibane seems to have done everything right. The only thing you should note is that you need to get through the first four episodes, which are nice to watch, but nowhere near as emotional as the rest of the series.

The character-designs look realistic and down-to-earth, just like the rest of the series. You won’t see any blue-haired moe-bait Konatas here. One of the biggest things to note, though, is that the soundtrack is a masterpiece. It comes from Kou Outani, the same guy who did soundtracks for among others Ayakashi Ayashi, Popolocrois Monogatari 1998 and Deltora Quest, and this may be one of his best works yet.

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.

20 Responses

  1. daRAT says:

    That IS one of the best series around! I would love to see a OVA set a few years later though. sorta like dessert after a great meal :)

    All that series out of really short manga, but when you get a good staff it all fits together.

  2. Atrophis says:

    My favourite anime series, full stop. You are right, there really isn’t anything bad about it. I cried so damn much watching it, but i loved every minute :)

  3. Matrim says:

    Only 94/100? ;)

    Anyway, I like Haibane Renmei so much that it is probably the only anime I am actually reluctant to watch simply because the final episodes are so emotionally charged.

  4. waffo says:

    Are the six points lost because of the animation in that one episode? I also love Haibane Renmei’s soundtrack. Great by itself.

  5. roastedpekingduck says:

    Man, psgels, you’re just blazing through a string of good anime. :D Now and Then, Here and There is my all time favorite, and Haibane Renmei is in my top 10. Factoring in the other great series you’re watching this season, surely you’re having a great time. :) I myself feel a bit spoiled after watching a whole bunch of awesome shows, the summer/spring season included. I forced myself to watch the current episodes of Devil May Cry to remember what mediocrity felt like and how good good series were, since I haven’t experience mediocrity in so long.

  6. Chris says:

    You sure are picking some GREAT series to marathon! Haibane Renmei, I saw it when I was a little depressed in life and it really spoke to me with it’s overall message of the importance of life. I really loved the subtle darkness of the show and the final episode is just amazing and touching. The series sure did start out with a bang, but the rest of the series was very laid back and refreshing. I’m glad you enjoyed it too.

  7. Chris says:

    Aw you forgot Ko Otani’s best work yet, the soundtrack for the video game Shadow of the Colossus, now that soundtrack was a masterpiece!

    I agree he’s done some great work, and Haibane Renmei was one of his stronger soundtracks.

  8. tg says:

    It’s one of the best anime series that I’ve watched right up there with Fantastic Children, Noein, and Mahou Shoujo Alice Tai.

    Absolutely love Haibane. ^__^

  9. Solaris says:

    i have always tried to write down a good review for Heibane Renmei. But i never suceeded in writing it. I mean, i like this serie very much and it’s on the top 10 best series of ever, but as soon as i start writing i just feel i am not doing it right, im’m feeling that i miss something to say or that i did wrote too much of pointless details. At the very least i can only say i like it so much! Why? I’d write an essay to explain it. I’d write another essay to explain, to myself before else, every little thing that you see in the anime but the story didn’t explain you. In the italian animeclick forum a user wrote pages and pages of text triyng to “understand” what this anime means. It came also out that this anime should represent the purgatory life of those soul who died in pain. You can come out with many different theories, trying to tie up all the hints the clever director throws at you and never explains. You imagine things while you watch Heibane and let you fantasy fly beyond the strange walls that enclose Heibane’s world, you try to figure who are the heibane, the people who come from outside, you try to imagine … and it’s you with your immagination that fil up heibane’s world with your personal touch. It’s like Rorschach Test. They show you a weird figure and you can see a whole world in it. In Heibane you see a fragment of a world and you imagine all the rest. That’s why everybody this anime! Everyone fill it with his own emotions and expectations. And so i hope there would never be another serie of this, as another serie could simply break the magic!

  10. james27 says:

    A great review for this show. I have to add in my shout for how magical and awesome this anime is. I’ve bought this DVD set and it should be a must have for any anime fan. Perhaps we should write and ask for further work in this world, although this one be very hard to top.

    Keep up the good work.

  11. Petrouchka says:

    How could I not see this review? It was the one I was looking forward to the most… As your blog is the one I read the most often, I was really curious to know what you would think about Haibane. Well, I totally agree with your review ^^ I don’t feel the series needs anything more, I’m even fine with the tons of questions left unanswered, because it just wouldn’t have made the same impact on me if we had been told everything about the Haibane and their world. I can’t honestly find any flaw in the whole show, no annoying character, no pointless scene, nothing.

    Okay, that being said… Now I *really* need to watch Noein and Mahou Shoujotai.

  12. Oya says:

    It’s really is a great anime.
    Thanks for blogging this, I saw it on your blog and decided to watch it.
    I would be a waste if I never watch it.
    After watching it for some time and now that I read this blog again, i felt so sad again about the series.

  13. Kalandra says:

    Before I write my opinion, I have to say that for a long time, I consider Haibane Renmei as one of the finest anime ever made.

    Its one of those open to interpretation shows but this one actually has meaning behind it, not just some shows that tries to cryptic about nothing.

    That said, after some time watching it and thinking about it, I feel like the anime was stretched slightly too long. The thing people like most about this anime was the last episode, which packs a powerful message of self sacrifice and self redemption.

    However I feel that one powerful episode made me forgot that previous 12 episodes was kinda a drag. I know many people would disagree with me, but try watching the anime again. You would definitely feel the anime was very slow. Was 12 slow episodes worth watching just for that 1 powerful one?

    I would have gave it 10/10 score back then. Now it would be like 9/10. That said, I still like it alot. I just felt like the series is no longer perfect.

  14. Dave says:

    I just finished watching this series three times back to back. I finished it and was so sad that there weren’t a hundred more episodes, but upon watching for a third time i realized that more than thirteen would be milking it. So, I watched it twice more and was satisfied, but still I want more. I’m feverishly looking for anything that might come in contact with the grace and emotion that is displayed in this series, hence how I found this blog. BTW, I’m a twenty year old guy who really can’t relate to much in an all female cast(for lack of better term) but I found Haibane Renmei enthralling.

  15. specracer says:

    I know this is really late of me but, I was reading someone’s review of the show and they had a interesting point. They said that they felt that the show was a story told in 2nd person perspective with Rakka as the observer and Reki as the lead.

    If you think of the show that way the later focus on Reki feels a lot more natural.

  16. Firechick says:

    I finally finished this anime this morning and I agree. This series is INDEED powerful, beautiful, touching, and one of the best slice-of-life anime ever! This is definitely going on my top 20! Now if only someone would save this series and re-release it on DVD since all the other ones are out of print! Unfortunately, I didn’t cry at the end, but the whole series left me warm and satisfied inside. I need to recommend this to some of my friends!!

  17. kun says:

    Quick comment on popolocrois music: they borrow heavily from Mozart, so you bet that they are awesome.

  18. Z.N. Singer says:

    I’ve almost finished my own review on this one…and if asked to name the most flawless, perfect anime I know, it would be this one. It just doesn’t get any better…Sola, Gazing at the Half Moon, parts of Kemono no Souja Erin – and this, for ‘pulled the most tears out of me.’ Sola will forever have a special place in my heart – it was the first anime of it’s caliber I ever completed.

  19. Will says:

    “It first takes four episodes of building up, introducing its unique setting and its characters, and then it waltzes the viewer down with one of the most amazing storylines, perfectly fitted for 13 episodes.”

    I have to agree on this line. Peoples complain about the slow pace in the first episodes. I always tell them that it is for the best though.

  20. Bulletmagnet says:

    Haibane Renmei has forever claimed a special place in my heart. This was not the first series I started watching, but it was the first series I finished, and it’s the reason there was a second, and…
    and the end result is this: anidb.net/perl-bin/animedb.pl?show=mylist&do.filter=1&uid=181567

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  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:47 AM)
    I remember that same guy, during end of eva, pausing it over and over during that scene where asuka dies with all of those fast moving clips too.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:39 AM)
    I remember catching it also when I was young with a friend and we looked back on a fanservice scene with shinji and rei and he mentioned “You know if you think about it that scene is damn disturbing when you think she’s a clone of/modelled after you know who…”
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:36 AM)
    Before Eva, when I was 11 or so my image of a mech anime was Nadesico…then it was eva and then I was like…Whoah…whoah God halp! =O
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:34 AM)
    I suppose credit where I feel it due, the angel designs are excellent and I remember getting the shock of my life when shinji’s eva went nuts and then there was a bit with Bardiel infect Toji’s unit. I remember at least Masatos boyfriend being a likeable character.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:31 AM)
    I don’t think anyone was prepared for Eva, whether they liked the show or not, at 11 I can remember being horrified by end of eva and the series original ending as well as having my first moment of “Feck…theres a first…an anime that did something that scrambled my mind, I actually feel kind of thick now, this show is smarter than I am”.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:27 AM)
    It really wouldn’t have been that hard to put a satisfying ending to the original series, wrap up the threads nicely and put a pretty ribbon on the package to finish it off. But Anno and friends took a risk and went against the tide and end up becoming the trope-namer for the Gainax Endings. That took balls and made things unexpected and fresh, cuz god knows that ,good guys win the day ‘is tired and boring.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:26 AM)
    Requiem for a dream. I remember the guy who recommended that film saying to me “Even someone such as yourself who finds it hard to find/has high standards an emotionally investing film will get something out of requiem for a dream”
  • Bam
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:17 AM)
    @Emma: leaving a bad taste is pretty much the point of Eva, just as getting bummed out by Requiem For a Dream is the naturally intended effect. I don’t mind that you don’t enjoy Eva all that much Emma, l actually appreciate it over dishonest admiration. Just keep in mind that Eva deserves it’s special place in anime.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 01:32 AM)
    But Eva just left a bad taste in my mouth as a whole, I understand that Bam you are very passinette about it and thats fine, I wasn’t aiming to provoke. I just feel that its frustrating that like alot of certain anime, that I am not allowed to dislike it or have reason to.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 01:32 AM)
    If anything at least I found Ikuhara’s symbolism while obvious at least in utena and straightforward was at least visually interesting to look at.
    I love every David Lynch film and again I thought Lain was exceptional.

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