The first disc New Feathers came with the box, and a good set of liner notes (about 14 pages worth). I referred to those fairly heavily when writing The World of Haibane Renmei.
The extras on this disc include the creditless opening as well as, for the purists, the Japanese opening. This basically confirms that all that was changed was the credit overlays .
There is also a nice art gallery of production sketches, although the first image is more of a rogues gallery . 🙂
I do quite like this one of poor Rakka dealing with the holder and her static affected hair.
I’m tempted to turn that into a user pic for LiveJournal. There are 30 pages in this gallery ranging from characters to artefacts such as the bicycle and Kana’s pocket watch.
One aspect of the Australian release that I do not like is moving the episode previews out of the main flow into the extras. This annoys me, and sometimes makes it hard to work out where one episode ends and the next one begins.
One amusing aspect is that Madman used to  label their trailers “Propaganda”, and had a menu approach to those as well so you could choose which ones to watch. I always appreciated the honesty of that.
The second disc, Wings of Sorrow, has the creditless ending, the Japanese TV commercials for the DVD releases, and another art gallery.
As far as the art gallery went I quite liked this one of Kuu’s Frogs.
Free Bird has a promotional trailer starting with a CGI rotation of the Halo mould before mostly referencing Cocoon – Dream of Falling from the Sky – Old Home. It has some scenes that I don’t think made the final cut, but does spoil End of Summer – Rain – Loss somewhat. This is an interesting piece of footage, poetic in many ways, but doesn’t quite fit the final tone of the show in others.
Then there’s the New Program Commercial which advertised the original broadcast at some abysmally early hour of the morning, but I suppose this is what VCRs and Tivos are for.
There is another art gallery, largely with the winter clothing. This includes more of the disturbing back shots designed to model both the wings and the slits for the animators. Most of the major characters get one shot like this per ensemble, and they get creepier the more often you see them.
The episode previews round out the extras on Free Bird.
Day of Flight has a good set of extras. There is a special ending featuring the song Love will Light The Way scrolling over a series of Reki’s paintings ranging from the loving landscapes of Old Home and the portrait of Kuramori to some of the nightmarish images of Reki’s cocoon dream. I really like this one, although having a creditless version as well would have been even better. It ends with a painting that I’m fairly sure was Rakka’s cocoon.
This disc has two galleries, a line art gallery like the earlier discs, and a script cover gallery. For the latter it looks like ABe doodled artworks on the scripts for some of the staff and the lead actresses. Some are quite funny, but I love how the one for Junko Noda (Reki’s voice actress) catches the spirit of the character so perfectly.
Then there’s the amusing Hane Haeterun . I think that this is a parody of series of ads with the tagline “Got Milk?” using “Got Wings?” instead.
Possibly the best extra though is the interview with the creator yoshitoshi ABe, and the director yasuyuki ueda .
ABe apparently wanted to become a traditional Japanese style painter, but the materials were so expensive that he ended up doing anime work on the side to pay for it.
ABe’s discussion on the different pressures of designing characters for a team (Serial Experiments Lain) versus being the sole creator (Haibane Renmei) is quite interesting.
The story was created as it went along: zero conceptual planning. As for the story itself it is a very personal story for ABe, but transformed into fiction to make it more meaningful to others.
Another interesting point was fondness of both ueda and ABe for both comedy and drama. I think this is where Rakka’s static hair comes from in the middle of a serious story: a practical joke from practical jokers.
Finally although the show is about religion in many respects it is not about any religion, it was more ABe working through his thoughts free of any particular theology.
I think this is the first time I actually sat and watched the entire interview, and I would recommend it as something to watch after completing the series at least once.
Overall there is a substantial set of extras on the Haibane Renmei discs, and they generally add to the appreciation of the show.
Day 1 – Cocoon – Dream of Falling from the Sky – Old Home
Day 2 – Town and Wall – Toga – Haibane Renmei
Day 3 – The World of Haibane Renmei
Day 4 – Temple – Communicator – Pancakes
Day 5 – Trash Day – Clock Tower – Birds Flying Over the Walls
Day 6 – Gender and Haibane Renmei
Day 7 – Library – Abandoned Factory – The Beginning of the World
Day 8 – End of Summer – Rain – Loss
Day 9 – Dub vs Sub?
Day 10 – Scar – Illness – Arrival of Winter
Day 11 – The Bird
Day 12 – The Sound of Charcoal Feathers
Day 13 – Well – Rebirth – Riddle
Day 14 – Kuramori – Haibane of Abandoned Factory – Rakka’s Job
Day 15 – Who Were They Before They Were Haibane?
Day 16 – Parting – Darkness in the Heart – Irreplaceable Thing
Day 17 – Bell Nuts – Passing of the Year Festival – Reconciliation
Day 18 – The Extra Bits
Day 19 – Reki’s World – Prayer – Epilogue
Day 20 – Looking Back At Haibane Renmei
 Unlike the original Sakura Wars OAVs where I suspect that the opening animation was substantially reworked in the AD Vision release. I like the reworking as it happens, but it may explain why I haven’t been able to find that version anywhere on YouTube.
 Sometime after Haibane Renmei the “Lets insult the buyers of legitimate DVDs” movement took hold and now there’s an insulting advert first, and you have to skip through them to find out what’s there.
- Twenty Days of Haibane Renmei – Day 16: Parting – Darkness in the Heart – Irreplaceable Thing (piratesobg.wordpress.com)
- Twenty Days of Haibane Renmei – Day 17: Bell Nuts – Passing of the Year Festival – Reconciliation (piratesobg.wordpress.com)