Old Home Bulletin Board

I’ve been meaning to mention that if anyone really wants to get into in-depth Haibane Renmei discussion, the Old Home Bulletin Board is still the best place for it. I’ve linked a few times before but figured it deserves a mention of its own. It isn’t the most vibrant arena around but it has a lot of loyal regulars. If you’re new to HR then finish watching and then go check out OHBB asap!

I do have a gripe; lately they have required that you must be a registered user and logged in to even view the posts. This level of security strikes me as obstructionist; the usual convention for web fora is to require registration to post, but anyone can read. I hope they reconsider. I hope it wasn’t due to some issue with their hosting; if so then I for one would be happy to help then out.

new perspectives on Glie

Pete sent me this link some time ago, but I haven’t had time until now to really browse in some detail – Chris Fritz has been blogging his journey through Haibane Renmei, and it’s a treat to re-discover the series via his eyes. In his commentary on the final episode, Chris muses on the big picture of what Glie represents:

I have wondered for a while if the world of the haibane, the town within walls, may represent either a place between death and what comes after death, or a state of consciousness, such as being in a coma.

The strength of Haibane-Renmei is its ability to create a complete world with no need to explain why the world is as it is. The viewer learns how things work alongside Rakka, but no deeper explanation is given.

It’s definitely true that almost everyone who writes about HR ends up at the same question of what the world means, and seeks to explain everything, usually within the context of an afterlife. I was intrigued by Chris’ musing about it being an alternate state of consciousness, however, which is the first time anyone to my knowledge has suggested that Glie is not an existence beyond death, but rather an intermediate existence between life and death.

If we are to posit that Glie is halfway, then why not keep going, and look for analogy to life itself? In fact that’s what Andrew Pernick does in his “Radical Interpretation” where he posits that Glie is really symbolic of our present world itself – or rather, that the town of Guri represents the land of the living, and the walls the boundary between life and death:

The walls separate Guri, the land of the living, from that which is outside, that which is beyond. Early in the series, Kana explains that if one were to leave Guri and return, “no one would recognize you.” To move beyond the walls is to die; to come from beyond the walls alive, either as a Haibane in a cocoon or to be born to a human mother, is to be reincarnated as a different living being, one that cannot be recognized as the former living self. The Toga and the Renmei cannot speak because they are both metaphors – they cannot speak because the dead cannot speak; you would not be allowed to speak to them because they would not hear you. The Day of Flight, therefore, is a death with one’s life lesson learned or one’s life task accomplished.

Andrew delves into the analogy much more deeply than this, so it is worth reading his essay in full. This is indeed a radical departure from the concensus interpretation, and really opens up new avenues of interpretation. For example, under this interpretation, what can we learn from Rakka’s journey inside the walls?

I think a rewatch is in order with this perspective in mind…

One more thought occurs to me; Glie is an anagram for Lige, defined as “the act of telling a lie.” This is probably a coincidence, though…


Mark has an anime meme that I think I’ll give a go:

• What anime are you watching now?

I am watching Samurai Champloo and Fate: Stay Night. The latter I’ve had on my hard disk for almost a year but only got motivated to start watching it when I saw that other otaku had started giving it a shot. I’ve only finished disc 1 of Champloo but I am already on episode 20 of FSN.

• What is your favourite time to watch?

In the evening, when I am waiting for Baby Otaku to finally stop fighting sleep, and sometimes during the day when I’m feeding her a naptime bottle.

• And your favourite place?

On the floor in front of my sofa (it’s comfy to lean against) watching on my television. I am either watching a DVD from Netflix or using AVI files on a USB stick attached to my DVD player.

• Who is your favourite auteur?

Easily Makoto Shinkai. Easily. I have my eye set on this but can’t really afford it right now. Patience is a virtue…

• Your favourite OST?

If we are limiting this to anime, then the only one I’ve been moved to buy so far is the Haibane Renmei soundtrack. It’s amazingly moving and ethereal.

• What is the most difficult anime you’ve ever watched?

Grave of the Fireflies. It almost killed my interest in anime forever (not to mention turning my wife away from anime completely, until Sugar came along).

• What was the first anime you remember watching?

Does Robotech count? if not, then Akira, like everyone else.

• Do you have a comfort show that you re-watch?

If I owned Samurai Jack, that would be my preferred one. I like rewatching Sugar: Snow Fairy with my daughter.

• What is the most erotic anime you’ve watched?

My answer will probably make some of you laugh, but I’d have to say Ranma 1/2. I’m just not into the fan-service titles and largely avoid them. I described earlier what types of anime interest me.

• Which classic should you have watched?

Probably Evangelion. I also should have finished Noir.

• Which series did you never want to end?

Ranma! which is good, because it never did 🙂 Seriously, though, I pretty much always want a series I am enjoying to never end. Though the two series I think I wanted most to continue indefinitely were Samurai Jack and Kino’s Journey.

• What is your most overrated anime?

I tried very hard to like a tale of ef, but I just couldn’t get into it. I have yet to find a single person who’s seen it who hasn’t loved it, so I am clearly in the extreme minority here.

• Which character could you have an affair with?
• Who is your favourite character?
• Which character do you most dislike?

In one sense, the answer to all three of these questions could be Reki from Haibane Renmei. However, in the interest of being more accurate, I’d say tsunderes in general for the first question, mahou shoujos in general for the second, and heroes who fail themselves for the third. This also means that I could just as easily answer Nayuta from Shingu instead of Reki for all three, actually…

• Which character do you identify with most?

That’s a better question than the previous three. I think in some sense, absent the physical prowess or skill, I identify with Samurai Jack and Ranma, which is why those series resonated so well with me. It’s the (male) hero who strives to do the right thing, and in so doing characterizes what it means to be a man, who appeals to me.

• Which anime changed your life?

Probably Robotech came closest, by almost making me fail out of my first semester of exams in college (finals week is a bad time to get addicted to anything, let alone a 50+ episode epic series). Haibane Renmei was the impetus for me starting this blog, which has also been a great thing for me.

Well, that was fun, and gave me an excuse to link some old posts for fun, too. I am unsure of the usual protocol for internet memes, but I am going to risk a faux pas and “tag” Nick, Astro, and Pete for the animeme next.

live-action Bebop

Just saw this at AICN:

IF Magazine has learned that producer Erwin Stoff is developing an adaptation of one of America’s favorite anime series…. Cowboy Bebop.

“I’m developing COWBOY BEBOP for Fox, but doing it as a live-action film, so I’m working on that at the moment,” Stoff tells iF. “I’m really excited to be working on it, and it’s in the really early stages. We just signed it the other day.”

“I have such an enormous admiration for its creators, that our first and foremost concern is going to be a real degree of faithfulness to the tone of the movie, to the mix of genres, and so on and so forth,” he says. “When I met with them in Japan, one of the first things that I brought up was the experience that we had on A SCANNER DARKLY, and how hard we worked to remain faithful to Philip K. Dick, and that was our big concern here.”

America’s favorite anime series? I thought that was DragonBall Z… which also is getting the live action treatment, as I noted before. Of course there’s also that live-action Robotech coming up, too.

I’ll get really excited when they start casting for live-action Haibane Renmei. Others may be waiting for live-action Najica Blitz Tactics. To each his own…

Just curious, though. Suppose they were to do a live-action Haibane. Who’d you want to see playing Reki and Rakka?

the beginning of anime

My very first foray into anime was Robotech, and it hooked me so badly during spring finals week of my freshman year of college that I spent virtually all of my time between final exams in the TV room at the dorm with my stash of VHS tapes. Apart from watching Akira and Ghost in the Shell sometime afterwards (neither of which I remember particularly well), my next exposure to anime was Grave of the Fireflies, which left a bad impression, to say the least. It wasn’t until just two years ago that Steven got me addicted to Haibane Renmei, which as you may have noticed left something of an impression on me. Since then, my anime strategy has been a predilection for series that are, in Nick’s words, “emotionally tiring” (like Dennou Coil), or epic in scope (like Twelve Kingdoms or Escaflowne). I also enjoy series which have a unique take on technology (Last Exile), or adopt a philosophic and surreal bent (Kino’s Journey, Mushishi) . I also am drawn to certain styles of anime, where the story is of course important but also the manner in which the story is told (Samurai Jack, The Place Promised). Above all, I like a series that has interesting characters, who are human, flawed, and honorable, who charm me and make me care what happens next, even if I sort of already know the answer (Ranma, Shingu, The Cat Returns, The Girl Who Leapt). Of course, I am also heavily into the kawaii scene (Sugar Snow Fairy, Totoro), primarily because of my daughters. This list barely scratches the surface of what I have seen, and the list of what I want to see next is even longer still.

I am partly responding here to Steven’s “end of anime” post in which he laments the lack of interesting material to be excited about – I think that the point where any one of us runs out of anime is when we exhaust the pool of what we like. There are very few truly original series out there, so everything in some sense is an echo of what comes before. Limit ourselves to our safe pond, and over time it is certain to dry up. And yet, inspiration to try something new often strikes from unlikely places. Take Ranma as an example – I’d tried it once, and recoiled due to excessive ecchi. It was solely due to Steven’s enthusiasm for it that got me to give it another shot, and now I am hooked, while ironically Steven’s interest has sagged (season 5, btw, has been superb, easily equal to the high points of seasons 2 and 3). Ranma is new ground for me in anime, with plenty of casual ecchi and fan service, a focus on martial arts, and a love dodecahedron as the primary plot driver. And yet, I have fallen for it in a sense, because over time you get to know the characters, even if they don’t grow that much, who they are is plenty enough. I am sure there are plenty of frontiers (relatively) for me to explore yet, not just on my watch list but also things like Evangelion, Haruhi, Ah My Goddess, Mahoromatic, etc. which all represent a significant departure from my usual fare, even more so than Ranma.

All I am really trying to say is that anime is vast. Even if the industry were to die tomorrow from evil fansubbers or a withering of imaginative energy or displacement by Korean animation studios, there’s already a corpus of work that spans decades for me to work through, and I am limited only by my taste (stop snickering). I fully understand why Steven is at the end of anime, but for me, it’s just the beginning. And I owe that to him.

As an aside, if anyone has discs of series that I’ve mentioned above that they’d like to sell, let me know. I am especially interested in buying Ranma or Kino.

Dennou Coil 1

I got a little bored with Sayonara Zetsubu Sensei, so I watched the first episode of Denmo Coil, and was wowed. I love it. It’s like a wierd mix of Totoro, Serial Experiments Lain, and Haibane Renmei. What a fun show! The OP was also particularly good. I can see this one holding my interest.

And I need to get me one of these phones when they come out:

denmo coil 1

Glie topology

Don highlights a thread at the Old Home Bulletin Board that attempts to map the town of Glie. The basic data are estimated walking speeds and times of travel. It’s a pretty laborious task, but I think that the end result (while surely consistent with the data) is just not a good fit with the essence and basic symbolism of Haibane Renmei.

The main issue is that the Wall clearly must be circular. I have been exploring the circle symbolism in my ongoing series of posts on the topic; that the Wall could be anything other than a circle would break the integral symmetry in a fundamental way.

Any attempt to map Glie simply must begin with the basic assumption that the Wall is a circle, and that the town is near the center. I don’t doubt that reasonable estimates can be attained, but I also note that Glie is not a three-dimensional universe – Glie is fundamentally a two-dimensional plane. Steven has also noted that time itself doesn’t seem to be truly linear, in Glie it is always what time it needs to be. The spacetime topology of Glie may not be continous enough to map!

UPDATE: Shamus has a nice screencap that shows the apparent curvature of the wall from the inside is much tighter than it would appear from the outside. More evidence that Glie is strange, topologically speaking.