Haibane Renmei

A girl, perhaps junior high age, dreams of falling head first from the sky. A crow tries to save her by catching the hem of the white tunic she is wearing.

Awaking she finds she is floating in water or some sort of fluid, but can breath nonetheless, she breaks through the soft walls of the chamber full of fluid, and is greeted by children and other girls, some a little older, some about her own age, but all of them have halos floating above their heads as in post-Renaissance depictions of angels or saints, and all have small grey-feathered wings sprouting from their backs.

She is greeted as a newborn 'haibane', issued a halo, which for a while refuses to float properly above her head, and after telling her dream given the name Rakka, 'falling'. An older haibane, Reki, cares for her during the painful process of sprouting wings.

A story of discovery, friendship and redemption, beautifully animated.

Viewers familiar with the work of Haruki Murakami may find echoes of his works in the story: the importance of a bird, amnesia in a walled city where winter comes early, a dangerous woods within the walls, a sojourn at the bottom of a well.

If there is any real disappointment, it is only that the story is so short. Though American viewers who have yet to develop the Japanese patience for slowly unfolding plots may find the story far too slow.

Unfortunately the one parental warning on this one is a major spoiler. Readers of the review who wouldn't mind having the ending completely ruined to vet the series for viewing by their children may read the usual parental warning here.

Ratings (out of 5, 1 being worst, 5 being best)

Plot 4.4
Voice-Acting (original)4.5

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