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charcoal feathers: a review of haibane renmei
People generally label Haibane Renmei as one of the best slice-of-life anime ever made, but that's selling it short. Sure, there's not much physical action, and much of the series is devoted to the day-to-day life of the title characters: mysterious winged men and women called Haibane who work odd jobs in the walled town of Glie. There are happy moments and sad moments, mysteries that are never fully explained and a cast of likable characters who are all more flawed than they appear at first glance.

Where Haibane Renmei differs from its slice-of-life brethren is that there is pain. Granted, there are elements of loneliness and transience in many such works, from the graduation at the end of Azumanga Daioh to the post-apocalyptic finale of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. But in Haibane Renmei, the pain is raw, and real. Wings protrude from backs in bloodstained moments of birth. Fears lurk behind the eyes of those you least expect. At around the halfway point the happiness and light fades away and the show dives deep, dredging up the insecurities of its two main characters with a firm hand. Executed poorly, the shift in tone might have sunk the show, but instead the switch elevates the show to an even higher level without any pretension.

At times, Haibane Renmei is calming and bittersweet. At other times it is heart-wrenching and profound. Sometimes it can even be all four at the same time. With its slow pace and inscrutable atmosphere, the show probably isn't for everybody. But even though it is difficult to find these days, you should seek it out and watch it through at least once, just in case it's for you. It's among the best anime ever made, and there is absolutely nothing quite like it.
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A Slow-Paced But Wonderful Anime
Haibane Renmei is a very good anime. It has not much in the way of action and it is character driven, but it is moving. The music is beautiful and the characters are realistic in their intentions.

It is about Rakka, a girl who is born as a Haibane (a winged humanoid) in the town of Glie. She has no memories of her past life, nor do the other Haibane. Glie is surrounded by a wall, and neither the humans nor the Haibane are allowed to leave the town. The anime is mostly about Rakka and her life as a Haibane, but at the same time she tries to understand what exactly Haibane are, and why no one can exit Glie.

It may sound boring, and it might be for those who prefer action and fighting scenes. It has a lot of talking, that's for sure, but it's all worth it. I can't expand because that would be giving out spoilers, but you can get the general idea, can't you?

The anime is very touching, and it will make you cry.

I recommend this series to those people who want something philosophical and slow-paced.
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