Haibane Renmei (灰羽連盟 translated by the author as Charcoal Feather Federation) is a set of original dojinshi written and illustrated by Yoshitoshi ABe. It is also the name of an Anime
series based on those books. Both series follow a young girl named Rakka
, a newly arrived Haibane
(an angelic-looking being), and other characters in the city of Glie (guri), a walled city with one entrance where no one is allowed to leave.
The music for the series is by Japanese composer Kow Otani
The series starts out with two parallel scenes. One contains the image of a girl falling from the sky, cradling a crow; it tries to stop her fall, but cannot. The other consists of a group of Haibane finding a large cocoon growing in a storage room. When the cocoon breaks open, the teenage girl inside is brought to the guest room, where she is cared for by several Haibane, mostly one named Reki
. All the girl can remember is her dream of falling. As Haibane are traditionally named based on their dreams within the cocoon, she is named Rakka ("falling"). Shortly after arriving, the Haibane present Rakka with a halo, and Reki helps Rakka go through the painful ordeal of having wings grow from her back.
As time progresses, Rakka learns her way around the Old Home, one of two places in the city where Haibane live. She learns about the town, in which the people are friendly and generous to the Haibane, but in which Haibane must work and are subject to restrictive rules with harsh penalties. Foremost of these is to not touch or even approach the wall that surrounds the town. These rules are enforced by the Haibane Renmei
, who oversee the lives of the Haibane.
Rakka begins to bond with her friends, especially Reki and another Haibane named Kuu
, and begins to search for a job. However, during this time, Kuu grows distanced. One day, Kuu disappears in the western forest near the wall. Rakka becomes distraught when she learns that Kuu has passed over the wall and will never return, as this is the eventual fate of all Haibane who are not tied down by guilt.
Rakka becomes depressed, and notices her wings turning black. Despite Rakka's desperate attempts to curb and conceal it by cutting her feathers, Reki discovers this and shows Rakka how to hide and treat the spots. Rakka learns that she is "sin-bound", caught up in guilt for past deeds. Reki reveals that she was born with this condition, with black wings and a dark dream she could not fully remember, and has been hiding it ever since. Depressed and confused about her condition, Rakka later runs off in despair, then is led into the western woods by crows. There she finds a well, climbs to the bottom, sees her full dream, and buries a dead crow found at the bottom of the well. Somehow she knows it was a person who loved her in her past life, who then became a bird to pass over the wall and let her know she was not alone. Finding closure and forgiveness for her sins, her guilt is relieved and her wings turn gray again. However, she also learns that Reki's time is running out, and Rakka turns her focus towards helping her friend find her way.
Rakka works to get another group of Haibane from the other side of the city to forgive Reki for a long past transgression in which she tried to pass over the wall which resulted in her friend being nearly killed and severely punished for damaging it. However, Reki is resigned to her fate; she refuses to trust anyone for fear of betrayal, and will not ask for or accept help. Her dream is revealed to her as a gift from the Haibane Renmei, but its destructive nature only serves to drive her into a self-loathing frenzy. As Rakka tries to shake her out of it, Reki reveals to Rakka that she never really cared for her, and was just taking care of her as a final effort to save herself.
Rakka leaves her, crushed, but finds and reads Reki's diary. From it, and from the forgotten memories it reveals, Rakka discovers that Reki spent so long performing good deeds for forgiveness that it has become her identity, even if she cannot see it. Realising that Reki truly did care and wanted someone to trust, Rakka's belief in Reki is restored, and she returns to save her friend from the dark fate of a sin-bound.
- From Wikipedia