Haibane Renmei And Me

I’ll be continuously out of town from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, so I scheduled a number of short posts instead. They are probably rawer than what I normally write, but all for the better, I guess.

Eight Holy Weeks ago, I was in Baguio with my family. I had never traveled so far in my life (the bus trip took around eight hours long, and homeward was even longer due to traffic), and upon settling down in my hotel room I wanted nothing but to laze around, taking advantage of cable TV.

(Fun fact: My household never had cable TV, and never will. I might have outgrown the need for it already.)

I flipped channels to that vaunted new anime channel called Animax. It was pretty good back in those times–anime was aired in subtitles, and shows like GTO and Zeta Gundam were part of the channel’s lineup. To my surprise, there was a Holy Thursday special going on–some show about girls with wings called Ailes Grises. That’s just Haibane Renmei in French. I don’t know why Animax plays around with the titles of shows–they even turned Tsubasa into “Chronicles of the Wings”.

I watched a bit with my brother. It was a very quiet show, even if one pivotal scene in the first episode made me cringe. But it was like a soothing drink to relieve me of my weariness. Soon after, my parents called from their room, telling us to get ready for visiting churches.

It was way dark when we returned. All the time I wanted to return to my hotel room and continue watching the show. When I tuned back in, shit was getting real, though I had missed the lead-in episode. What I thought was a fairly peaceful anime had started going places. I was 14, and it hit too close to home.

My brother turned in around 11 pm. I kept watching. And watching. 3 am went by and my heart was racing–I watched the RahXephon movie raw in WOWOW to cool down. I can’t really say the exact reason that kept me glued to the show. Was it because cute girls with wings struck a chord with me? They don’t really look angelic, but have this simple charm. Or that it had a strong emotional undercurrent that swept me away like a tide? It’s been a long time, but all I know is that all those years of passively watching anime weren’t enough to prepare me for Haibane Renmei.

Why am I remembering this? I daresay that my accidental run-in with Haibane Renmei colored my perception of anime forever. It was a turning point before I knew it.

I hope to revisit this little gem sometime this year. Because I owe it that much.

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7 Responses to Haibane Renmei And Me

  1. Joojoobees says:

    Yes. Haibane Renmei is my favorite show. I saw it under different circumstances, but it made a huge impression on me. I bought the first disc used, and really enjoyed the relaxed vibe. I looked around for the second disc, thinking I would get more of the same — like a pleasant place I could escape to, since I wasn’t thrilled with where things were going IRL.

    So when I watched the second disc, it was like being sucker punched. Not only did it profoundly affect me, I was expecting pleasant chats over tea, or something. Oh noes! The crows are in the trash again. But instead, the whole pea soup thing really hit me, and, although I was shaken, I had to see more.

    I’ve watched the series several times since then (I actually thought I lost my DVDs of the series, for about a year because I did one of those “I won’t lose it if I put this in a special place” moves). I find it compelling every time I watch it.

    • schneider says:

      I’m glad the second disc didn’t disillusion you, or anything. I really dig stories with major turning points like this, so it’s never a letdown for me. Thanks for sharing!

  2. ToastCrust says:

    My equivalent for this is probably Serial Experiments Lain, which I watched after some vague recommendations back when I was 14.

    Perhaps it didn’t affect me precisely that way, but it clicked with this switch in my brain, and turned on a real interest and affinity with philosophy. I watched it several times, trying to grasp at the straws it provided.

    I had always liked computers, and by that point I spent a lot of my time on the internet, so a lot of the things clicked with and engrossed me.

    Following that, I systematically tracked down anything I could find that had Ryutaro, Chiaki, or ABe in the staff, which eventually led me to Kino no Tabi, and then Haibane Renmei, and many after that.

    Obviously, since I looked for it, I already knew what I was probably getting into when I popped the first disc of Haibane Renmei in.

  3. Canne says:

    I remember I picked this anime DVD just because the cover looked beautiful and it seemed serious. It was a quiet experience watching the show and I realized that it was a masterpiece even before I saw have the series.

    • ToastCrust says:

      You should check out more of ABe’s works then! He’s one of my favourite artists. His water paints are overall just superb.

  4. TheBigN says:

    It was definitely a turning point in terms of how I regarded anime several years back. It was the very first time I had a clue that anime could be that “deep”, among other things.

  5. Pingback: That Summer Just Became My Summer | Continuing World

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