[Philosophical Fall 2017] Like Haibane Renmei? Watch This!

Is there an afterlife? What happens at the end of the road? These are questions that have troubled philosophers since the dawn of mankind, and Haibane Renmei offers no real answers. Developed by Radix, this strange anime blends slice of life, mystery, and drama to create a one-of-a-kind experience that deals with spirituality and mortality. Serving as an example of how to properly establish a fantastical world, Haibane Renmei is a slow-paced character study that continues to stand the test of time. Great philosophical anime are hard to come by; yet this Fall, we have been blessed with two series that fit the bill.

Our two featured anime today are Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou and Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World - The Animated Series. Since neither deal with the afterlife, they might seem like odd recommendations for fans of Haibane Renmei. That might be true, but we are here to prove that Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou and Kino no Tabi are not only two of the better shows of the season, but they share many similarities with Haibane Renmei. Time to do some soul-searching with three shows that are not afraid to ask the difficult questions.

About Haibane Renmei

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: Oct 10, 2002 – Dec 19, 2002

Based on Yoshitoshi Abe’s short doujinshi series entitled Old Home no Haibane-tachi, Haibane Renmei centers around a young girl named Rakka who is reborn in the strange village of Old Home. With no memories of her past life, Rakka learns that she is now a Haibane, a non-human with a halo and wings. Accompanied by a few other girls of a similar age, Rakka struggles to accept her new life when strange incidents start to occur. Haibane Renmei is a relatively slow-paced anime, as the focus is primarily on Rakka’s day-to-day life. The entire cast is allocated time to develop, as the viewers slowly become accustomed to the village of Old Home. While there is a sense of darkness lurking beneath the surface, the lethargic pacing makes Haibane Renmei a rather relaxing experience.

Liked Haibane Renmei? Then watch Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou (Girls' Last Tour)

  • Episodes: 10+
  • Aired: Oct 6, 2017 – Ongoing

Chiko and Yuuri are determined to always look at the positive side of things. Surprisingly, that mentality extends to the end of the world, as the two girls find themselves alone in a post-apocalyptic environment. Young and full of life, the two friends set out on an aimless journey across the empty world as they struggle to find food and fuel for their motorbike. Based on Tsukumizu’s ongoing manga, Girls’ Last Tour is not your typical post-apocalyptic anime, as the characters are not out to save the world. Chiko and Yuuri’s main goal is to discover a way to live despite their harsh circumstances. It is one of the most uplifting series of the year, as the lovable characters discuss a series of interesting topics as they travel across the country.

Three Major Similarities Haibane Renmei and Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou

1. The Plot Is Not The Point

While Girls' Last Tour and Haibane Renmei have decent enough storylines, with a handful of mysteries waiting to be uncovered, they do not drive the narrative. The focus is squarely on the characters and their internal struggle, and the plot is never allowed to overshadow the cast. The episodes are relatively slow-moving, although you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would describe them as dull. Chiko and Yuuri are multi-layered and profound characters who possess quite a few relatable traits. Despite the setting and medium, they act like normal people. Haibane Renmei does the same thing, as the Haibane are ordinary children who are trying to find meaning in their own lives. In both cases, the setting might be fantastical, but the cast is grounded in reality.

2. The Art Style

At first glance, Haibane Renmei and Girls' Last Tour seem to have completely different art styles, especially when it comes to the design of the characters. Chiko and Yuuri can be described as moe, while Haibane Renmei's cast is drawn in a more traditional way. On the other hand, these two anime exhibit awe-inspiring animation that perfectly contradicts the type of story being told. Despite the otherworldly storyline, Haibane Renmei's aesthetic is influenced by European medieval architecture, which helps to bring these angels down to Earth. Girls' Last Tour's cutesy art style is rare in a post-apocalyptic setting, and it helps set the positive tone of the series. At the very least, Haibane Renmei and Girls' Last Tour possess unique art styles that set them apart from their contemporaries.

3. Pacing

Once in a while, it is great to sit down and watch an anime that doesn’t feel like it is rushing towards a finishing line. As quite a few series struggle to condense multiple volumes into 13 episodes, their pacing tends to be rather frantic. Girls' Last Tour is not that type of series. To be clear, slow-paced does not mean that nothing happens, as the characters are consistently discovering new things about themselves. The episodes are allowed to breathe, as Chiku and Yuuri sit down for awhile to discuss what the meaning of life and death. Like Haibane Renmei, their discussions are not preachy or designed to offer any answers, as they are more about the mindset of the girls rather than the philosophical questions.

Liked Haibane Renmei? Then watch Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World – The Animated Series (Kino's Journey -the Beautiful World- the Animated Series)

  • Episodes: 10+
  • Aired: Oct 6, 2017 – Ongoing

Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World - The Animated Series is hardly an unknown property. Based on Keiichi Sigsawa and Kouhaku Kuroboshi's long-running novel series, Kino no Tabi was already adapted into a series and a string of movies. It is a premise that continues to attract audiences, as the content tackles a handful of genuinely challenging philosophical and social questions. Kino is a nomad, as she travels from country to country, spending only three days in each. Accompanied by a talking motorcycle named Hermes, she experiences the best and worst of humanity. While violence and corruption are nearly always present, there is beauty and wisdom to be found in each society. Kino is not out to save or change the world, as she is merely a traveler who wants to witness the natural imperfections of humankind.

Three Major Similarities Haibane Renmei and Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World – The Animated Series

1. Surrogate Protagonist

Personality-wise, Kino and Rakka are not particularly similar. The former is definitely more confident and outspoken, while the latter changes more as the story progresses. Yet, they serve the same purpose. The different countries visited by Kino are the true stars of the show, so it only makes sense to have a protagonist that is rather quiet and non-opinionated. Like Kino, we are meant to witness these countries in their natural state. The main character serves as a surrogate for the audience, and she tries to avoid getting involved in the politics of a country. Rakka is the same way, especially during the first half of Haibane Renmei, as she slowly learns how Old Home works.

2. Finding The Humor In Tragedy

Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World and Haibane Renmei are by no means comedies. The characters tend to have tragic backstories, and there is a sense of dread that pervades most of the episodes. Yet, both series know how to cut the tension with an enjoyable quick gag that does not feel out of place. While the overall tone is not as positive as Girls' Last Tour, Kino no Tabi has a handful of hilarious moments spread throughout the narrative. Hermes and Kino can be genuinely amusing, as the former has a dry sense of humor. Death and violence play a huge role in Kino no Tabi, but that does not automatically translate into a somber experience. Like Haibane Renmei, Kino's Journey shows that humor can be found in normal everyday situations.

3. Slice of Life

Haibane Renmei dedicates a fair amount of time to establish the day-to-day lives of the Haibane. They go to work, cook food, and try to find ways to pass the time. Sure, the tension does ramp up as the series progresses, but the majority of the anime prioritizes its slice of life content. Since a new country is introduced per episode, Kino no Tabi's pacing is quicker and more to the point. Still, the focus is on showing a typical day in these places. The stories might seem strange – like a fight to the death in a colosseum – but they are an everyday occurrence for that civilization. While Kino's Journey offers more action that Haibane Renmei or Girls' Last Tour, the slice-of-life elements are rarely disregarded.

Final Thoughts

Haibane Renmei, Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou, and Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World – The Animated Series dare the viewer to think. They bring up topics like death, politics, and murder without offering a clear answer. In terms of animation, they are visually pleasing and often gorgeous. For those who love to explore new worlds with relatable characters, we recommend trying out Girls' Last Tour and Kino no Tabi. We hope you enjoyed reading this article and please let us know if you’ve seen either one of these series. Don’t forget to check Honey’s Anime for more articles offering great recommendations!

Shoujo-Shuumatsu-Ryokou-dvd-225x350 [Philosophical Fall 2017] Like Haibane Renmei? Watch This!


Author: Mark Sammut

Born and raised on a small island in the Mediterranean, my life goal is to experience as many different ways of life as possible. Since time and money are in short supply, anime and film provide the best opportunity to experience far away cultures and worlds. When I'm not watching the latest episode of Gintama, or wondering what series to watch next, you can find me in the corner of the closest coffee shop; writing away on my aging laptop.

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