The Trouble with Haibane Renmei

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Now that we’ve got Christmas mostly behind us, I figure I may as well mention one of the issues I kept running over in my mind until now. With how much I enjoyed Haibane Renmei when I watched it earlier this year, I decided that it’d make a great gift for several people I know.

I can’t think of too many movies or shows that might be more appropriate to give this time of year. Aside from the amazing, though subdued, visuals and audio of the anime, it’s also a fairly innocent series. The latter is a bit complicated though, because despite the initial innocence of the series, it does deal with complex issues of family and friendship, support, guilt, and so on. Even though I feel like the series is ultimately uplifting and positive, I wonder about the possible implications one could see in receiving Haibane Renmei as a gift.

Spoiler tag for safety…

Even though I discussed previously why I think that Haibane are not suicides, many or most people who’ve watched the anime seem to come to the opposite conclusion. If Haibane are suicides, or at least the sin-bound main characters are, then can I even continue to claim that the series has this innocence that makes it suitable for watching by virtually anyone? Does even that get subverted?

This isn’t a dilemma that can be solved by thinking, and I ultimately ended up wagering that the positive aspects of the anime outweighed the negative implications — But I don’t know if I would make the decision the same way again. Anyone else considered buying Haibane Renmei as a gift and felt like they were treading the same line?

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