Haibane Renmei
Volume 4 - Day of Flight

Starring (voice): Ryou Hirohashi and Junko Noda
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: PG
Available 23 January 2006

Rakka is a Haibane, an angelic like creature, who has fallen from the sky into a walled town where the humans coexist with the Haibane. Bereft of her memory Rakka wonders just who are the Haibane, where did she come from and just what is going to happen?...

Haibane Renmei: Day of Flight is the fourth and last disc in the series, covering episodes eleven to thirteen, all with their usual long and confusing titles.

In episode eleven, Parting, Darkness in the Heart, Irreplaceable Thing, Rakka travels into town where she hears some disturbing things about her friend Reki. Reki's day of flight has not yet come and if it does not happen she will remain in the darkness forever. If Rakka cannot help her she will loose her wings and will have to move away from the Haibane and humans to die alone. Rakka has only till the end of winter to help her friend, but it's not always easy to save someone who does not want to save themselves.

Another slice of ethereal anime for those who like to take their time with the story, with only two more episodes to go I'm no nearer to working out what's going on. That doesn't stop this being one of the more beautiful anime series that I have seen.

In Bell Nuts, Passing of the Year, Reconciliation, the Haibane must go to the market to buy some bell nuts which they need for their passing of the year ceremony. Reki gives bell nuts to two of the Haibane who she had hurt many years ago; she becomes increasingly isolated making it difficult for Rakka to help her, seemingly intent on embracing the coming darkness. Rakka goes to the dude with the toilet seat face and discovers that all Haibane have two names Rakka's present name means To Fall, but she discovers that her true name is Involved Nut (well I could have told her that from watching the show). Rakka is given a box containing Reki's true name - and no, it isn't Clinically Depressed Nut, but it should have been.

Well, one episode to go and still the light of understanding fails to shine its rays on me. I get the whole idea of the redemption of sin and that forgiveness comes from others and not yourself. Maybe, having grown up in a predominantly Christian country, I'm missing a lot of Zen references here and imposing my own cultural view point, though I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't have made the Haibane look so much like angels for purely artistic reasons.

So we at last come to the last in the series with a fervent hope that someone will stand up and explain the whole thing. In Reki's World, Prayer, Epilogue, Reki finally leaves the town to follow her destiny into the darkness as an unforgiven Haibane, followed by Rakka. Reki shows her dream room to Rakka (looks more like a nightmare to me) and things take a decidedly downward turn for the girl's relationship. But of course things work out just fine, except for me, I still have no idea after watching the series just who the Haibane are, or really what the hell is going on.

When we turn to the generous extras on this disc we find an extremely interesting interview with the creator and producer of the show where the interviewer asks many interesting questions except WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT ABOUT. Ah well, maybe in the end I liked it for the same reason that I like Lost, always interesting without spoon feeding you the answers.

This remains a beautiful, thoughtful and engaging series; ok, there are some very strange characters in there, especially the dude with the toilet seat on his face. It's well worth adding to any self respecting anime collection.

Charles Packer

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