1. Technical/Production Questions
    1. General Questions
      1. What is Haibane Renmei?
      2. How many episodes are there?
      3. When was it aired?
      4. When was it released on DVD?
      5. Is it available outside Japan?
      6. Why do you spell some things different than the DVD?
    2. Who made the show?
      1. Who is yoshitoshi ABe?
      2. Who is Yasuyuki Ueda?
      3. Who is Tomokazu Tokoro?
      4. Who is Kou Ootani?
      5. Who is Akira Takada?
      6. Who is Shinji Katahira?
      7. Who are Heart of Air?
    3. Who are the Voice Actresses and Actors?
      1. Who is Hikari's voice?
      2. Who is Hyouko's voice?
      3. Who is Kana's voice?
      4. Who is Kuramori's voice?
      5. Who is Kuu's voice?
      6. Who is Midori's voice?
      7. Who is Nemu's voice?
      8. Who is Rakka's voice?
      9. Who is Reki's voice?
      10. Who is Washi's voice?
      11. Who did the English voices?
    4. Who did the animation?
  2. Merchandise Questions
    1. What is doujinshi?
    2. Where can I buy the Haibane doujinshi?
    3. What else is there?
  3. Other Questions
    1. What is the city's name?
    2. What does Cog stand for?
  4. Story Question
    1. Non-spoiler questions
      1. Are Kana and Kuu female?
      2. Why the Christian imagery?
      3. How long was the production period?
    2. Spoiler questions

1. Technical/Production Questions

1.1. General Questions

1.1.1. What is Haibane Renmei?

Haibane Renmei is an anime series about a group of not-quite-human people called haibane living in a human city. Born from cocoons, they do not remember their past. Growing wings and given a halo, they are not allowed to leave the city. They are watched over by an order called the Haibane Renmei.

1.1.2. How many episodes are there?

Thirteen half-hour episodes.

1.1.3. When was it aired?

It aired in Japan from October 9th, 2002, to December 18th, 2002. It has not yet aired in the US.
It had an unusual release schedule. The first five episodes were shown every other week. The rest were shown weekly in pairs. I'm not sure why, but the main rumor I've heard is that the station was off the air for maintenance during those first few weeks, and they compressed the rest of the release to make up for the missed broadcasts.
It has not yet appeared on the air outside Japan to my knowledge.

1.1.4. When was it released on DVD?

The Japanese DVDs were released from January through May, 2003.
The US releases started in August 2003, and continued throughl February 2004.
The Australian (R4) releases started in October 2003, and continued throughl April 2004.
The European release started in April 2005 and will probably end in October 2005.

1.1.5. Is it available outside Japan?

Yes. Geneon Entertainment has fully released the series in the US.  However, Geneon has stopped distributing DVDs.  Distribution for some of their titles has been taken over by Funimation, but so far Haibane Renmei is not one of them.  Unfortunately, this means that unless you get lucky and find a store with back stock, you'll have to find the DVDs used.
The series has also been fully released in Australia (R4) by Madman.
It is being released in Europe, in a PAL format (R2) by MVM.

1.1.6 Why do you spell some things different than the DVD?

Japanese uses a syllabary and ideographs, not an alphabet. There is not a single way to map Japanese characters into the Roman alphabet. The two main systems used are the modified-Hepburn and the Kunrei system, but both have variants. I personally prefer the modified-Hepburn.
For specifics, Tooga is a more direct rendition of the kana used than Toga. Pioneer probably uses Toga because it will get an English-only speaker closer to the correct pronunciation than Tooga.
Hyouko and Hyohko are minor variations of the same thing. I don't know why they decided to use the h variant instead of the (in my experience) more typical u.
I've also chosen to leave Washi (Pioneer's Communicator) untranslated. Although a title rather than a name, I prefer it for consistency's sake.


1.2. Who made the show?

1.2.1. Who is yoshitoshi ABe?

ABe is the creator of this story. He wrote the screenplay, and the whole thing is based on some doujinshi he did. The art is in his style, based on his doujinshi, but he did not officially get credited for anything on the art side this time.
He is also known for his work on NieA_7, a comic/dramatic series about a poor cram-school student and the alien roommate she can't get rid of. This story was based on one of his joke doujinshi.
In the US he is probably best known for his work on Serial Experiments: Lain. His first major anime credit, he did the character designs after the story creator saw his work and thought his style would be perfect for the story.

His name is capitalized that way because he wants it that way. When he was younger, he would post his artwork on the internet under the handle "AB". Capitalizing it that way is a reminder for him.

1.2.2. Who is Yasuyuki Ueda?

He was the producer, and the one who really pushed the project from the start. He was the one who managed to convince Pioneer to start production on it based only on ABe's originaly doujinshi. He's worked as producer on all of the projects ABe has been involved with.

1.2.3. Who is Tomokazu Tokoro?

He was the director. He's worked with ABe before as Chief Director on NieA_7. I really don't know much else about him, although I have found his name listed in credits for Ah, My Goddess (key animation) and the video game Valis (as production designer).

1.2.4. Who is Kou Ootani?

Kou Ootani composed the music. He's mostly known for his work on various monster movies, including things like Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. He's also worked on a number of other anime, including Outlaw Star and the You're Under Arrest OVA.

1.2.5. Who is Akira Takada?

He did the character design for the anime itself. I haven't found any information on him yet.

1.2.6. Who is Shinji Katahira?

He is the art director for Haibane Renmei. He's worked on a number of anime in the past, including AD Police and Hellsing (both of those as art director).

1.2.7. Who are Heart of Air?

The performed the end theme of the show, as well as the image songs. They've also worked on Z.O.E. Dolores and have a number of their own albums out.
Heart of Air is made up of Nanase Hikaru and Itou Masumi, the latter of whom also worked as part of Oranges and Lemons on the Azumanga Daioh soundtracks.


1.3. Who are the Voice Actresses and Actors?

1.3.1. Who is Hikari's voice?

Hikari was performed by Fumiko Orikasa. She's appeared in a number of roles, including Boogiepop Phantom, You're Under Arrest, Vandred, RahXephon, Chobits, Stratos 4, She, the Ultimate Weapon (where she played the female lead, Chise), GTO, Figure 17 and NieA_7.
Definitely a veteran seiyuu, and it shows in her performance.

1.3.2. Who is Hyouko's voice?

Hyouko was performed by Suzuki Chihiro. He's been in a number of roles, but I've only been able to find most of them on a Japanese language site. He has performed the role of Noboru in Voice of a Distant Star, and was the voice of Arima Souichirou in His and Her Circumstances (where he also sung the ending theme, "Yume no Naka he").

1.3.3. Who is Kana's voice?

Kana was performed by Miyajima Eri..
She's appeared in other anime, including Kero Kero Chime, Sol Bianca and Wild Arms.

1.3.4. Who is Kuramori's voice?

Kuramori is performed by Hisakawa Aya.
A veteran seiyuu with a really long history for such a short role. She's appeared in a large number of anime, including Azumanga Daioh (as Nyamo), Ah, My Goddess (Skuld), Alien 9, Card Captor Sakura (as Kerberos), Fruits Basket (Yuki Souma), Gunsmith Cats, Juuni Kokki (Youko), Noir (Chloe), Puni Puni Poemi, RahXephon, and Sailor Moon (Mercury). And this is nowhere near a complete list.

1.3.5. Who is Kuu's voice?

Kuu was performed by Yajima Akiko.
She's appeared in a number of anime roles, including Battle Athletes (as Anna), Risky Safety, Nadesico, Princess 9, Ah My Goddess the movie, Berserk (as Rickert), Fushigi Yuugi, Gundam Wing (Relena Peacecraft), Hime-chan's Ribbon, Sailor Moon, and Utena.
Another veteran for an important role, she does an excellent job.

1.3.6. Who is Midori's voice?

Midori was performed by Mizuno Manabi. She's voice drama, game and anime roles, including Todoroki Rin in Mahoromatic and Katou Juri in Serial Experiments Lain. She's also recorded a number of solo CDs.

1.3.7. Who is Nemu's voice?

Nemu was performed by Murai Kazusa.
She's appeared in Magic User's Club (as Sawanoguchi Saki), Boys Be, Steel Angel Kurumi, Tokimeki Memorial 2, and Devilman Lady.

1.3.8. Who is Rakka's voice?

Rakka was performed by Hirohashi Ryo. This seems to be her first role, in which case she did an impressive job. She's even got a decent scream.

1.3.9. Who is Reki's voice?

Reki was performed by Noda Junko.
She's appeared in Love Hina (as Mitsune), Tokyo Mew Mew (as Zakuro), Last Exile (as Dio), Tokimeki Memorial 2 (as Hinamoto Hikari), His and Her Circumstances, Boys Be, GTO, and Sentimental Journey.
Another fairly veteran actress for an important role. She did an excellent job.

1.3.10. Who is Washi's voice?

Washi was performed by Ooki Tamio. He's had a large number of roles, including Vampire Hunter, AD Police, Berserk (as the King of Midland), Gunbuster (as Captain Tashiro), and Ghost in the Shell (as Aramaki).

1.3.11. Who did the English voices?

For a comprehensive background on the English cast and crew, check out the Haibane Renmei page on Crystal Acids.


1.4. Who did the animation?

The studio is called RADIX. I don't have much information on them yet, but this is the same studio that did the animation for the Read or Die OVA, which was rumored to be the biggest budget OVA ever.


2. Merchandise Questions

2.1. What is doujinshi?

Doujinshi are just like manga. Well, almost. They're essentially manga which have been made without the involvement of a large company, generally by a single person.

2.2. Where can I buy the Haibane doujinshi?

If you live outside of Japan, your options are limited. Japanese auction sites can be a good start if you can read Japanese, but a lot of sellers there won't ship internationally. You can use a proxy service, like Celga, but they can get expensive if you're after individual doujinshi.

2.3. What else is there?

Other than the CDs and the DVDs, not much. There is a promotional poster for the series sometimes available on the auction sites. There are also three wallscrolls, a keychain, two figures, some t-shirts and a few garage kits.
Note that there are only three official wallscrolls.  There are at least two other images being used on bootleg wallscrolls.  If it doesn't have Great Eastern's logo on the bottom right corner, it's bootleg.


3. Other Questions

3.1. Is the city's name Guri or Glie?

The characters say Guri, and that's how the katakana transliterates. However, the R2 DVDs include some booklets full of information about the show (the Haibane Hakusho). In the first one they name the city in English as Glie. I'm going with Glie for now.
-- A reader, Niklas, has commented that the name may be related to the French word, gris.  Also used in the Frensh subtitle (grises), it means gray, and would romanize to Guri.

3.2 What does Cog stand for?

I don't think it stands for anything. Cog is simply another word for gear.


4. Story Questions

4.1. Non-spoiler questions

4.1.1. Are Kana and Kuu female?

Yes, but these two seem to get mistaken for boys fairly often. Kuu even gets called a boy by the cafe owner, the guy she works for.

4.1.2. Why the Christian imagery?

According to ABe at Anime Expo 2003, it's use was purely aesthetic.

4.1.3. How long was the production period?

Approximately six months from when it was approved to the final episode airing. ABe said at Anime Expo 2003 that he was even threatened with the final episode being a clip-show if he couldn't get the script done on time.







4.2. Spoiler Questions

Note that this section is going to be mostly my opinion.

4.2.1. Why do you use different phrases in some places than the DVDs?

The main phrase difference is Day of Flight vs Day of Leaving the Nest. The word used in the original is sudachi, or sudachi no hi. This is, literally, "leaving the nest", or "The Day of Leaving the Nest". Pioneer chose to do a less direct translation, partly to help the dub fit the video.

4.2.2. What are the haibane?

They're people who have left something unfinished in their former lives. After being hatched from their cocoons, they are given another chance.
I think they're also representations of the seven deadly sins. See my full explanation here.

4.2.3. What is Glie?

Glie is kind of a melding of several different things. The main components are Limbo and Purgatory, although the city has a more Eastern shading I haven't really tracked down yet, probably the Tibetan Buddhism's concept of Bardo, the second in specific. See my more detailed explanation here.

4.2.4. Are all the haibane suicides?

No. Reki is the only one who clearly killed herself in her former life. Although all the haibane names used in the show could be interpreted as some kind of suicide, there are far too many indications that this is not the case for me to agree with this theory.
For starters, Reki is the only one born with black wings. She is set apart from the other haibane from the very first, and this continues throughout the show. She's also the only one who displays any actual self-destructive behavior, her smoking. She also views the town very differently than the other haibane, who are rather happy there.
Remember that in the Judeo-Christian tradition suicide is a major sin. This is why Reki was born with black wings. The other haibane were not. Rakka is kind of a special case, but I still don't think she was a suicide, at least not in the same way Reki was. Reki threw herself in front of a train, but judging by Rakka's reactions in the show, she more likely died from self-neglect. Whatever was troubling her in her former life, she probably did much as in the show; ran away and acted without thinking about her own safety. To compare it with Reki's actions, Rakka probably did something on the order of stepping out in front of a bus because she wasn't watching where she was going.
The suicide theory also doesn't explain the younger kids. They are set apart from the older haibane in a couple ways; they go to school rather than work, and their names tend to be about what they want to be rather than about things from their cocoon dreams. They are explained much better by Glie being Limbo, the destination for the souls of unbaptized children.

4.2.5. What happens when haibane leave the nest?

There's really no telling. Depending on which religious traditions you favor, the two most likely explanations are either that they enter heaven or that they are reincarnated.

4.2.6. What are the Haibane Renmei?

Judging by episode 11, the Haibane Renmei are the haibane who weren't able to overcome their trails, and therefore weren't able to leave the city.

4.2.7. What are the influences on Haibane Renmei?

Well, you'd really have to ask ABe about that. However, there are two I've seen presented as major influences by people, listed below. Was "Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" an influence on Haibane Renmei?

It's possible. I've read the book, and there are some similarities. The "Hard Boiled Wonderland" section really has nothing at all to do with Haibane Renmei, but the other half, "The End of the World", does have a setting similar to Haibane Renmei. There's a city people aren't allowed to leave, a wall, a river, a library and a clock tower. Everyone has to work, but they're named after their jobs rather than their dreams. In fact, they rather specifically don't have dreams, which leads in to my point here, which is that Haibane Renmei uses many of the same symbols in completely different ways. They're almost completely opposite in theme. There may be an influence there, but if so ABe saw something and completely reinterpreted it to suit himself.
At Anime Expo 2003 he did confirm that this book was an influence on Haibane Renmei, and he recommends it to everyone. Was the Tibetan Book of the Dead an influence on Haibane Renmei?

I've had this pointed out to me as a likely influence, but unfortunately haven't had time to read it and find out yet.
ABe has said in an interview that he's never read the book himself. This makes it specifically a very unlikely influence. However, he probably has been influenced by Buddhism, most likely the Zen variant. Was "Wandafaru Raifu" an influence on Haibane Renmei?

ABe has not cited this particular film, but in questions during his panel at Anime Expo 2003 he did cite director Kore'eda as one of his biggest influences.

Copyright 2003 - wraith@ssw.net
Images Copyright Pioneer and/or yoshitoshi ABe unless otherwise noted