Yuri Anime: Haibane Renmei Anime (Polish/German)

January 19th, 2009

I am so very pleased to welcome a new guest reviewer today! Winterbraid has graciously agreed to review some of Yuri (and Yuri-ish) anime that has been released in Poland. Let’s not waste any time and get right to today’s review!

This is rather old “news” by now, but I`m still going to write about it – because… well, I think it’s worth it. Haibane Renmei (Haibane Renmei: Stowarzyszenie szaropiórych, 灰羽連盟) one of the few truly memorable series I have seen. Basically it has all the powers of Serial Experiments Lain *plus* a story that doesn’t require from viewers the ability to think in five dimensions. ^-^; Also, while Reki doesn’t ride a motorbike, she *does* ride a scooter – and though she and Rakka cannot be – in my opinion – considered a couple by any means, I would say the portrayed relationship of the two is deeper, and more genuine, than it is the case for many of the “couples” that are pretty much canon by now (or were intended as couples in the first place). ^-^

All 13 episodes fit on two DVDs, in two boxes. (Which together cost less than a single box of Murder Princess. lol) The first thing discerning this release from the rows of other boxes on a shelf is… the art. Every anime linked in any way to the name “Yoshitoshi ABe” is notable not only for the scarcity of heterosexual pairings, but also for character designs and artwork… that can`t be mistaken for anything else. …In fact, I’d place these among the most desktop-friendly anime.
^-^ Thus we’ve got the cover, which basically screamed familiar to me from kilometers’ distance to the shelf (that was actually my first contact with the series), and….

Yay, postcards!!! There is one in each box, and while the selection of artwork may not have been the absolute best from all available, the truth is that the average of ABe’s work would be a soaring high for many other artists. (At least I feel this way. Lack of sharp lines is something that appeals to my soul deeply.) ^-^ And the two postcards I received with Haibane Renmei will surely remain my treasure… well, also there is a booklet in the second box with some more excellent artwork and brief descriptions of the major characters, but… nothing beats a good postcard for me. ^-^

Haibane was published in Poland by a different company than the one that does Murder Princess and El Cazador de la Bruja; as far as I know, some of the crew have been “in business” ever since the now-ancient times of the Kawaii magazine, and then its spiritual successor, the late Mangazyn – for a long time probably some of the most important centres of Polish fandom. (Ah… the nostalgia…) And the experience does show, mostly in the translation, which is more consistent and perhaps better overall compared to the other releases mentioned above, although that’s a subjective matter. While there are some typos, slight timing issues and occasional missing lines, the language is… good – just normal, everyday language of normal, educated people, that might not make you go “ooh!”, but also doesn`t make you go “yuck” – so that’s a plus. And it does fit the story, which *is* about presumably educated, perfectly normal people… with wings and halos… uh. ^-^;

Well, anyway. I simply like the localization, and I like it even more for one additional reason. I think most people familiar with Yuri (and generally, romance in manga & anime) are also familiar with the “suki vs. Suki!”, or “like vs. love”, problem – the blessing of speculative fandom and the nightmare of translators everywhere. (I’m not a language expert and perhaps I`m exaggerating things, but it’s hard for me to think of any other linguistic nuance that has entire dialogue, plot arcs, and even entire *stories* written around it.) ^-^; I find it rather amusing that, of all people, many *scanlation groups* seem to be desperately clinging to the “I like” version, even when the context would logically leave “I love” as the only choice…. Haibane Renmei has, if I`m correct, one instance of “suki”, used by Rakka and directed towards Reki. The English word for “like” would clearly make no sense in that particular scene – and much less the Polish equivalent. Polish being a complex language, the translating person could easily have gone for some clever construction that would place itself somewhere inbetween; however, they used the Polish equivalent of “love” instead. I’d say that was a rather remarkable decision; with my limited knowledge (supported by a couple of dictionaries), I feel that the Polish word for “love” carries even more gravity than the English “love”…. There are basically two meanings of the word when referring to a person; the first meaning is reserved for God and one’s relatives – either by blood or by law, as through the act of adoption; while there used to be a concept of “sisterly love” and “brotherly love” between individuals unrelated by blood, such use of the word is pretty much obsolete today and replaced by the Polish equivalent of the term “friendship”, which is in fact a *very* strong word in modern Polish. Then there`s the other meaning, which may or may not imply physical intimacy and/or the two falling under a broad definition of a “couple”, but…

…Let’s just say it is not a word used when addressing a friend. Not even a close one. Yeah. ^-^;

Uh, I guess I got carried away “a bit”. ^-^; As for myself, I think “Haibane Renmei” being released on my local market was a most wonderful thing; and while Reki and Rakka may not be a couple, they certainly make a more than prospective pairing. ^-^

(An off-topic fact: for some reason, this anime always comes to mind when I’m listening to “Ministry Of Lost Souls” by Dream Theater. ^-^;)

Erica here again. Thank you Winterbraid for such a delightful, passionate – and erudite – review of the Polish release of Haibane Renmei! I couldn’t agree with you more about Reki and Rakka. And the art. Although, not about Dream Theater. But still, two out of three. lol

I’m particularly thankful for this review, because obviously my only experience with anime is with the Japanese or the American releases. If any of my readers in other countries want to review their versions of Yuri anime releases, please contact me. We *don’t* all get the same things. For instance…the US box set of Haibane came with pencil boards, not postcards. And speaking for myself, the issue of language simply fascinates me – so this was an exceptionally interesting review for me.

So thanks again to Winterbraid (and you’re welcome for the line about Percival) – we all look forward to many more reviews from you!

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5 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Man, i didn’t think that I would see a review of anything beside english here. However, i do not agree that it’s Yurish. It’s overinterpretating.

  2. I frequently review series that haven’t come out in English yet, so both Japanese and English are common here. I’m glad to be able to add other countries to the mix.

    Your opinion is yours, of coure, but many people – myself included, see the relationship between the two protagonists as something deeper than friendship, if not outright love. It’s an intense emotional connection.

  3. Winterbraid says:

    @Anonymous:
    Actually, I agree with you; that`s why I said I don`t view Rakka and Reki as a couple. Therefore, it is not Yuri in strict sense (whatever that means). But that doesn`t change the fact – the way their relationship is depicted – it wouldn`t strike me as strange or surprising if they *were* a couple. ^-^ Also, there`s no such word as “overinterpretation” in my dictionary. ^-^
    @Erica Friedman:
    Hehe, so you`ve heard the song? Yeah, my reception of music has always been rather unusual… ^-^;

  4. Eric P. says:

    Great review of Haibane Renmei, Winterbraid, you pointed out almost all its good qualities. The Polish release of this sounds interesting; as much as I like my box set, I looked at the German/French releases of this title and they definitely looked fancier in comparison.

    When I first watched this series I never thought of Rakka and Reki as a couple either. After joining the YML and reading different viewpoints about it, they made the idea of it sound possible, if nothing else. Every time I watch it I could go both ways on the interpretation. But it doesn’t matter if it’s Yuri or not because I’ve yet to watch any series that tops this title. I can only dream at this point that Funimation may pick this series up so it doesn’t get lost in oblivion here, granted they’re still rescuing some of Geneon’s lesser titles.

  5. Katherine says:

    Great review! It’s interesting to read the perspective of fans from different countries. The part about the translation to Polish was especially interesting. ^^

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