HAIBANE RENMEI!! This first episode is just an introduction, but Haibane Renmei looks to be my favorite show this season. The characters, style, music, and what I've seen so far of the plot combine to be just a great anime to watch.
Haibane tells the story of a group of girls who live in an isolated place called "old home", presumably because they have wings and halos, making them kind of stand out in normal society. The older girls are all apparently born from a cocoon-type structure, having traveled there through some sort of dream, different for each girl. The anime starts out with the arrival of a new girl, her cocoon having grown big enough that it's ready to open, finally. The other girls are all excited, and finally it does burst, with some help from the girl inside, who will come to be named Rakka. All of the girls are named after things in their dream, and since Rakka was falling endlessly through the sky, they named her with characters meaning "fall down". Anyway, they take Rakka to a room, give her a freshly-forged halo (it's still hot, and it doesn't quite want to stick right), and wait for her wings to sprout. They do later that day, a very painful occasion, but Reki, who seems to be the eldest or girl in charge, stays with her and combs the blood out until they are a nice grey (hai-iro) color. Apparently no one knows what the Haibane (or greywings?), as they call themselves, are, and they don't remember anything about their past life, except a vague rememberance that there was one. No one remembers them as they were before either. It's a great set-up for what hopefully will be an enjoyable story about Rakka as she adjusts to her new life as a Haibane.
I've never read the doujinshi this anime was apparently based on, but if it was executed as well as this first episode of the anime, I can imagine why it would be so popular. I simply can't wait for next week's episode, and it's almost a week away! ;_;
Just as a little note, I translated Haibane Renmei as "Greywing League" since it's obvious from the first episode that the hai is for grey, and bane means wing. Since they made them into a word in Japanese, I thought "greywing" worked just as well. Then someone told me that uh, the official English name is "Charcoal Feathers Federation"... Right. Well I'll put that up there too, for people's information. ;)