Haibane Renmi is a show the begins with unrelenting intrigue that grows richer with each episode. Assuming the show cares to answer these mysteries however is a waste of time.
Neither Abrahamic nor Buddhist and not particularly religious either is a strange position to put young women reborn as angels but the Haibane make perfect sense. These women, and men are vehicles for intense, personal spritual quests which move at a glacial pace of conversations, seperation and things left unsaid.
This is the ideal imagining of the Neo-liberal subject, alone and adrift. Yet at the same it is is one of the greatest imaginings of post capitalism, of the liberated personal triumph. There are no evils, it is beyond good and evil with the only apex, the depth of all life and salvation found in the brief but paramount connection you make with other people.
What the show captures in a way most art cannot match is the depth of the world moving, never stopping to ask questions, never offering the right moment to ask a nervous question. Everyone is honest but deeply involved in their own journey. No one is selfish, bad or intolerable, they’re just moving somewhere else but you want them to stay. Not selfishly, not angrily but simply to stay to keep every memory, every moment and every little thing from the void of forgetting, obscurity as time and the world move on.
Haibane Renmei never pauses to focus on anything other than the characters. Never is an enviornment,a room or a dirt road by some trees in focus. Yet their presence is unrelenting.
There are places that are at once dusty, run down but inhabited. A troop of young women born out of eggs, with tiny rudimentary wings and shaky halos are born in a run down old school in the outskirts of a walled town. The world is at once aged like an apocalypse has rolled though, but there is no despair, no tragedy lingering.
Neither are there any heroic journeys, quests or gratifying confrontations the genre is so popular for. In stark contrast to everything that’s been drawn or written by its peers Haibane is one of the greatest examinations of living in the real world.
Thrust into the company and freedom of young people with no past they can remember or be haunted by, our small group of leads are the perfect heroines for the modern age – profoundly alone.
Despite the dull colours and dust of it’s world, there is no sadness there is only the depth and longing that comes in a life where everyone lives on their own page. In fact there isn’t much lonlieness either. They’ve got friends, they’ve got work, they’ve got a whole system set up for these women and men with wings.
The show is set in a town with walls and soon enough it becomes apparent that these women will cross these walls – but not together. The truth of being on your own seeps through every scene but never is there discouragement, I wouldn’t even call it unhappy.
The great moment of triumph, the climax where charcters and art themselves mix with each other is the moment where they bravely reach out to each other.
Birth, puberty, life, death and rebirth come together to become something truly and equally worth celebrating. To accept death, uncertainty, fear, the distance between people is the shining path to heaven.
This show is intriguing, pensive, philosophical but never concerned about the many questions it raises, it only looks at what really matters in the end.