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.