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Haibane and the End of the World


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Red Recluse



Joined: 07 Nov 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 9:31 pm Reply with quote
I recently finished Haruki Murakami's "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World", the book of which partially inspired ABe's Haibane Renmei. I just wanted to see how many others had both read Murakami's book and had seen Haibane; and for those that had, what was your take on it?
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abunai
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 6:52 am Reply with quote
I've read some stuff by Haruki Murakami, but not this one. But fear not: I've ordered it from the Royal Library, and it will be in my hands tomorrow.

I'll get back to this thread once I've read it. You won't have to wait long - I'm a speed reader.

-abunai
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Red Recluse



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 11:55 pm Reply with quote
Fantastic! It's starting to look like we may be alone on this thread, though....
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bnewhall



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 11:57 am Reply with quote
Is it available in English?
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abunai
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 12:54 pm Reply with quote
Yes it is - in fact, to speed things up, I've ordered the English version (I read considerably faster in English than in any other language - I can't claim to be a speed reader in Japanese).

Unfortunately, it seems as if the Royal Library (or rather, the lender who currently has it) is dragging its feet. The book has yet to arrive. Murakami's book on the Tokyo subway gas attacks is waiting for me at the branch office, however.

- abunai
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bnewhall



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 2:42 pm Reply with quote
Cool! I've added it to my list of books to buy. Thanks!

I'm very curious to see the work that partly inspired Haibane Renmei.
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abunai
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 3:18 pm Reply with quote
bnewhall wrote:
Cool! I've added it to my list of books to buy. Thanks!

I'm very curious to see the work that partly inspired Haibane Renmei.

If it did. The extent to which it inspired Haibane Renmei is one of the things we're going to be discussing, once we're all up to speed.

- abunai
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Red Recluse



Joined: 07 Nov 2004
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 12:57 am Reply with quote
Well, it started when I stumbled upon this here-
http://en.wikipedia.org/​wiki/​Haibane_Renmei
-where it mentions an interview of ABe in Animerica (I haven't read the interview myself).
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Cloe
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 1:04 am Reply with quote
I went to an extremely interesting academic lecture with Marc Hairston where he discussed Haibane Renmei about a year and a half ago; I know he discussed "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World," but I don't remember the exact parallels he drew between the two works... Anime cry Blast you, inept memory!
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dormcat
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 2:01 am Reply with quote
Cloe wrote:
I went to an extremely interesting academic lecture with Marc Hairston where he discussed Haibane Renmei about a year and a half ago

He was in U Texas. Did he pay a visit to Minnesota or have moved there (or, instead, you went to Texas for his lecture)? Really want to listen to his lecture, but I don't think I'll have the chance... Anime cry
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Cloe
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 2:18 am Reply with quote
dormcat wrote:
Did he pay a visit to Minnesota or have moved there (or, instead, you went to Texas for his lecture)? Really want to listen to his lecture, but I don't think I'll have the chance... Anime cry


He travelled to Minnesota. He comes up every year for Anime Detour and MCAD's Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits workshop, and he's good friends with Frenchy Lunning, who lives in St. Paul (and is one of my favorite people in the entire world!) He's a great speaker. I've listened to four of his lectures now, and he's always informative and enthusiastic. As far as I know, he's still at UT in Dallas. I owe a lot to him, actually. He's the reason I first heard about Utena and Nausicaa, two of my all-time favorite heroines.
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bnewhall



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 12:13 pm Reply with quote
ABe stated in an interview on one of the Haibane Renmei DVDs (if I recall correctly) that he wanted to make something with the same feel as that novel. So, clearly, it was an inspiration. The question is, how much of one?
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Malroth



Joined: 12 Mar 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 12:22 pm Reply with quote
Well I guess you'll just have to come to this year's Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits Wink I'd be really surprised if Mark didn't come..his lectures are really interesting.

By the way, Cloe, any word on when the book that Frenchy mentioned last year at/about SGMS is coming out? I haven't heard anything...


Last edited by Malroth on Sun Mar 06, 2005 3:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Cloe
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 2:51 pm Reply with quote
Malroth wrote:
...any word on when the book that Frenchie mentioned last year at/about SGMS is coming out? I haven't heard anything...


It's still being worked on. I'm doing illustrations for it, and I haven't heard anything about a deadline yet... Frenchy's an incredibly busy person, though, so I could see this thing rolling into next year. I'll ask her about it when we next meet.

Marc comes up every year; there's no way he won't be here next September. Wink
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abunai
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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2005 7:49 am Reply with quote
Ah, the Danish Royal Library finally got around to delivering Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Apparently, the previous loaner had failed to return the book on time. Anyway, I got it the other day, and finally found time to read it last night. The following is my (spoiler-ridden) first take on the book (hereafter HBW), and comparison with Haibane Renmei (hereafter HR).

WARNING! All that follows must be considered spoiler material. I have not used spoiler tags, to avoid producing a solid block of text. If you read this, it will spoil both the novel and the anime. So do it at your own risk!

1. Structure of the narrative(s)

HBW consists of a dual narrative.

On the one hand, there is a regular, almost Chandler-esque narrative, in the usual formal narrative first person past tense, wherein the protagonist is a sort of human cryptography engine. He's an educated fellow, with a penchant for reading Camus, Stendhal and Turgenev. The chapter headings for the chapters of this narrative are usually triple: Chapter 1, for instance, is "Elevator, Silence, Overweight".

The other narrative is told in the present tense, and takes place in a strange walled city, wherein the citizens are separated from their shadows (and, it transpires, from their memories). The protagonist of this narrative is apparently scouting the town, attempting to understand it. The chapter headings of the second narrative are simplistic: "Woods", "Hole".

The two narratives alternate throughout. As the story progresses, elements of both the narratives begin to intrude into each other, and it slowly becomes obvious that the narratives are two aspects of the same story - and that the protagonist is the same person.

In contrast to HBW's slightly ornate narrative structure, HR has a very straightforward one-track narrative, with only a few flashbacks (all but the final of which are portrayed in a fairly conventional manner). There are shifting protagonists, as the focus of the narrative shifts from Rakka to Reki and back again.

2. Themes of the narrative(s)

HBW is all about identity. The protagonist repeatedly makes allusions to Stendhal's Le Rouge et le Noir and to Camus' L'Étranger. Both of these tales deal with identity, in one form or another.

Julien Sorel, the protagonist (and both the hero and the villain) of Stendhal's Le Rouge et le Noir, is a man very much in search of his own self. He passes through his life searching for its meaning, and comes to a sticky end.

Meursault, the protagonist of Camus' L'Étranger, tells a tale of his being unjustly accused of murder. This is genuinely immaterial to the story, which is a cleverly constructed narrative intended to cause the superficial reader to find Meursault innocent of actual wrongdoing. The more incisive reader, however, will soon realise that all the facts being presented are presented by Meursault himself, and the narrative thus is tainted by deception.

It can hardly be coincidental that Murakami makes such extensive reference to these two works - obviously, he is making a point about identity and memory. He is trying to show how the protagonist's memory and identity are in a state of flux progressing towards ultimate oblivion (a parallel with Julien Sorel's death on the guillotine is evident). Along the way, he raises the interesting question of how significant a rôle memory plays in identity.

The theme of memory is also strongly presented in HR, where the haibane are born into the world of the walled town bereft of the memories of their past existence. Only a single dream remains - a dream which, as the story unfolds, is revealed to be a key to the unhappy demise of each haibane in the former existence. Dealing with that memory appears to be the point of the haibane's rebirth in the town.

Thus, HBW and HR share the common theme of "memory", but the theme of "identity" is unique to HBW. Conversely, the theme of "redemption" or "regret" is not a factor of HBW's narratives, whereas it plays the central part in HR's tale.

3. The physical trappings

One-half of HBW and all of HR take place within similar walled towns, with a number of common features.

The walled town of HBW is a construct of the subconscious of the protagonist. In one sense, it is unreal, existing only in his mind. In another sense, it is the central reality of his existence.

The walled town of HR, on the other hand, appears to be "real" to all intents and purposes. It can't be ruled out that all of the world of the haibane is a figment of the imagination of either Rakka or Reki - but it seems improbable.

A number of common "physical" features exist - including, it could be argued, HR's touga, who fulfill part of the same rôle as the mysterious Gatekeeper of HBW. It is clear that, as ABe himself has remarked, the walled town of HBW served as an inspiration for the geography of the walled town of HR.

Nevertheless, all geographical similarities aside, the sense and import of the two towns are radically different. ABe's purpose with the town of the HR narrative is a different one than Murakami's purpose with the walled town of HBW. The former is a stage for a sort of morality play, whereas the latter is an internal manifestation of the protagonist's identity.

One minor but significant element that occurs in both HR and in HBW is that of a hole in the ground, as a symbol of a watershed, of change in personal identity.

In HBW, as the protagonist's world/memory begins to crumble, a manifestation of this takes place in the form of a group of men digging a hole in the ground, inside the walled town that exists only in the subconscious of the protagonist. The hole is symbolically filled with snow, thus seemingly vanishing again.

In HR, Rakka spends a period of time at the bottom of a well-like hole, where she undergoes a personal change that proves significant in her understanding of herself.

Unlike the physical similarities of the two towns, this symbolic use of a hole as a sort of pseudo-womb, at once bringing oblivion and rebirth, is probably the strongest thematic similarity between the two stories.

4. Conclusion

While it is clear that ABe has derived a great deal of inspiration from Murakami's novel, and has openly borrowed several important features (much as Murakami openly borrows from Stendhal, Camus, and Turgenev, among others), the overall impression is that the similarities between HR and HBW are superficial. Both stories are clearly the work of genius, but they are dealing with entirely different points. Murakami is trying to define identity as a function of memory, whereas ABe is trying to explore the theme of hope and hopelessness as factors in personal redemption.

Of course, both tales are much deeper than this initial and highly superficial discussion.

-abunai
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