Haibane Renmei - an openended masterpiece
Perhaps this is what it means to be bound by sin. To spin in the same circle, looking for where the sin lies, and at some point losing sight of the way out.
It is hard to find a way to describe this anime in a sentence, but a philosophical riddle on the nature of sin is as good a description as any. To tell you the truth I am a little bit intimidated with writing about this anime because I love it so very much and fear I will not do it justice. But ultimately I must.
What makes this anime so special, you might ask. I would answer that the mysteries that the series reveals and lets you answer yourself is the best thing about the series.
It is made by the same people who made Serial Experiments Lain and yet while Lain was just aptly described as a mindfuck, by a lot of people. Haibane Renmei is much more straightforward, yet nevertheless as deep, if not more so.
The story starts simple, for the first half of the series the viewers follow a newborn Haibane - an angelic-like person born in a town surrounded by walls. You shouldn't be scared off though, while there are religious themes, religion has nothing to do with series and the angel-like appearance is mostly aesthetic choice.
Talking about the aesthetics, while the anime is not the best looking one, the choices in art are very striking and the show itself is very beautiful.
The story itself is very peculiar and so the art follows that as well. One of the best scenes in the series happens at the bottom of a well and yet it is strikingly beautiful.
Yet the art is not that important, the story is the crowning achievement of the series. We follow the newborn Haibane Rakka and with her, we discover more and more questions that are up to us to answer. Who are the Haibane? Why can't they leave the town? Why can't they remember anything? While the show answers some questions to a degree, most of them are up to us to find an answer. So if that is not something you like, it is not a show for you.
But if you like to leave the book open, then you should like this anime.
I won't tell you what happens in the second half, I just want to tell you that the last episode and the conclusion to the previous drama is probably the best episode ever animated. There have not been any other media that moved me so deeply as that. I often just run a clip of the last episode of the monologue that happens in it, to make myself feel better and it does help.
To describe this anime in one sentence I would say. It is strikingly beautiful show that explores deep themes and leaves you to answer the questions posed. A masterpiece.