Haibane Renmei Volume 2 : Wings of Sorrow

Image of DVD cover (59k jpg)

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

Volume Two picks up from volume one of the series and finishes introducing us to the world the Haibane find themselves in before then begining to get into the meat of what the series is about. Rakka, aided by Kuu and Reki especially, continues to settle in - now feeling comfortable enough she begins searching for work as is required of all the Haibane. (Even the afterlife requires you to work as well, ah well.)

On top of that she finds the room she wants to move into, vacating the guest room she has been staying in thus far. Just as she thinks she has a handle on everything one of the Haibane makes a few cryptic and ominious comments before disappearing entirely from the Old Home. Although everyone is a little shocked by this both Rakka and Reki find it especially hard for quite different reasons. With these events Rakka learns that the Haibane have a limited amount of time in Glie during with they must prepare themselves for their 'Day of Flight' when they leave Glie entirely.

Rakka doesn't understand this at all and only knows that a friend is now gone, she begins sinking into a sloth of despond that affects her wings - causing black spots to break out. While cutting the feathers short provides temporary relief the spots keep coming and Rakka, embarrased about this and already distraught, considers more drastic solutions to the spots. Here Reki steps in with a revealation of her own, that she too was once afflicted with discoloured wings and knows a few solutions to the problem. She explains the wings changing colour are indicative of being 'sin-bound' or consumed by something left undone about their past life which is recurring for them in this world.

As the brief summary shows the plot has kicked in with the major arc of the story becoming clear - that Haibane each have some issue about their life that they haven't dealth with. It is preventing them from being ready for the next stage and their time in Glie needs to be spent working their way through these issues. Sooner or later the Haibane must face the challenge of the 'Day of Flight' when the West Woods will call to them. Here the focus of the show is firmly on Rakka and her trying to deal with her issue. We also get a goodly amount of revealation about Reki and why she feels such a bond to Rakka. The pace has quickened nicely now that the mechanics of the world are out of the way. This isn't to say that the other characters become redundant or that we don't learn more about Glie. Far from it but the emphasis is very definitely on Rakka here.

Technically we have very fine discs. Again with just a 2.0 audio track for both languages the audio isn't a technical tour de force but it well matches the needs of the series. Animation quality still varies a little with some shots not handling perspective well especially on moving objects but again it really doesn't detract from the series. Crisp clean transfer encoding means we get to see this widescreen formated show as we should.

All in all this is a nice building of the story and tension over the first volume. My biggest issue is with the sparcity of the discs. At a scant three episodes per disc it is a little rough when you consider that other series like, say, RahXephon could pack five high quality episodes on a single disc. It seems it should have been possible to pack this series cleanly on three discs without compromising on image quality or extras.

This is the make or break volume for viewers though. If the trials Rakka faces here don't interest you then go no further - the series is more of the same and evidently won't be to your tastes. But for those who have found it interesting this takes us into properly exploring these characters and giving us solid hints as to what Glie is and why the Haibane are there. In it's gentle and quiet fashion we are drawn further into the mysteries but never told too much. Just enough to let us interpret and begin to understand where the series wants to take us.

Philip R. Banks
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