Haibane Renmei Volume 4 : Day of Flight

Image of DVD cover (50k jpg)

Released by: Madman Entertainment.
Region: Four.
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (anamorphic)
Disc 1:

Here it all comes to a head for Reki. Rakka, grateful for all the help Reki gave her as she struggled over Kuu's loss, resolves to try and help Reki in turn. Her investigation into what happened reveals a lot about Reki including her attempt to climb the Wall which ended with a deathly ill Haibane and her punishment at the hands of the Communicator. We also find out about the shared history that Nemu and Reki share with Kuramori who was the Haibane that welcomed them both in Glie.

This revealation caps off in episode twelve as the festival of the new year takes place. Various parties begin resolving long standing issues but Reki still balances on a knife edge, not quite able to forgive herself for the things she has done and believing she deserves to be forgotten & unforgiven. This culminates in the final episode where Rakka, who has been helped by the Communicator, finally understands Reki's motives. Reki herself learns the entirity of the coccoon dream that has been haunting her and now that she fully understands deems herself unfit for salvation. She goes to prepare for her fate which looks to be a much darker one than even the Communicator could predict...

To say much more would be to rob you of perhaps one of the most perfect and bittersweet endings to a series I have seen. Reki's plight and her motives manage to cause you to re-evaluate a lot of what you have seen in the series over it's entire run. Indeed expressions and comments she has made over the series as a whole get cast in an entirely new light, it is worth watching the series again just to understand and see all these hints. It ends in an extremely fitting way for the series as Rakka now has to cope with Reki's choice and it marks the first anime I have seen that genuinely moved me to tears - in both English and Japanese dubs. Kudos to the animation staff involved here for pulling that off. Especially given that the other notorious tear jerker anime, 'Grave of the Fireflies', simply didn't move me to the same level as this one.

Perhaps what is most beautiful about this dreamlike and slightly surreal series is the carefully built layer of vagueness in it. While satisfying answers are given and the story does indeed resolve itself precisely as it needs to there is an awful lot left unexplained and open to interpretation. It becomes a cypher that each viewer can personalise and take to heart in their own way. Are the succesful Haibane reincarnating or have they gone to some form of heaven? That is something for the viewer to decide on as well as the mystery of exactly who and what the Haibane Renmei are.

While I do rank one or two anime higher than this series, 'Boogiepop Phantom' being one, this is a very favoured anime in my collection. I am very pleased that I listened to the comments and reviews on how great the series was. For those who get gentle and slower paced character based drama this will reward you in spades. Well worth having in your collection.

Thank you Yoshitoshi ABe and others for such a wonderful series.

Philip R. Banks
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