End of Summer. Rain. Loss.
There’s a graveyard on the way to the council’s temple. Is this a graveyard for humans, or for haibane who never left?
This DVD release’s episode previews being in the extra materials section has been the best thing for me. Episodes are much less predictable before seeing them, as I have no episode preview to build expectations from at the end of an episode. The previews themselves are short, but keeping them out of view rather than at the end of an episode makes for a better experience for me. Some series, such as Piano, add worthwhile dialogue during the episode preview, but I may have to consider in the future skipping the episode preview where the dialogue isn’t worth hearing to see if the improved experience works for other series as well.
Kuu’s “day of flight” brings about questions about the halos the haibane wear. When Rakka is given a halo, she’s told it’s to guide her. Kuu’s halo began to lose its glow now and then. She left in a grow of light, and her halo remained, unglowing. What happens if a halo loses its glow and a haibane doesn’t leave? Where does a haibane go after leaving? If Kuu has left the town’s protective walls, is she outside the walls, or did she reach the end of her life? If the later, then why was she reborn as a haibane to begin with? Was it to complete something left incomplete in her former life?
Reki gives a comment about everyone eventually leaving her. Haibane come and go, and a new cocoon appears connected with a day of flight. When the new cocoons stopped appearing, the days of flight ceased. With the birth of Rakka, another day of flight has come to pass. Perhaps Kuu finally has reached her dream of flying.
It’s shown that Kuu knows what’s coming, as she gives her coat to Rakka—while also passing on knowledge of what winter is like within the walls—and she makes sure to prepare for her leaving. She tells Rakka that it’s because of her that she’s finally able to leave, even if she doesn’t say it in so many words. Kuu’s final acts showed her maturity, such as cleaning the kitchen for Reki. And by recommending Rakka move into the room Rakka was born in, she’s created an extra, lasting memory of her for Rakka.
Early on, Reki asked Rakka if there was anything with her in her dream while in the cocoon. Rakka is unable to remember the bird, although it appears in later dreams. There’s no mention of any such “companion” in the dreams of the others, so it’s unknown if Kuu was also guided by the birds. Rakka has an understanding of the birds, even if it’s just a feeling, or an omen.
I figured either Rakka or Kuu would achieve flight by the final episode. It would have to be Rakka, as she’s the main character of the series. This is her story we’re watching. With Kuu’s day of flight shortly before the midway point of the series, this gives another six episodes to prepare Rakka. Either she’ll prepare for a life in Old Town for some time longer, or she’ll prepare for her own day of flight. But, can her day of flight arrive without another cocoon, without another hatchling, appearing first?
Using the bell worked nicely for this episode. It was well prepared. I’d already forgotten about Kana getting the tools to fix up the clock, probably due to the following episode’s focus on events in the library.
At first, Kana doesn’t believe in the day of flight. She considers it a myth. She was around when Kuu was born, as she comments to Kuu about how Kuu’s cocoon wasn’t as big as Rakka’s. If Kuu’s cocoon appeared a few years prior (according to Reki), wouldn’t there have been a day of flight for one of the haibane within the months following Kuu hatching from the cocoon? It could be that one of the Old Factory haibane left at that time, and Kana could have been the one born most recently before Kuu. This would keep her from having been around long enough to have seen many other haibane “disappear”.
Looking back on the subtitles, Reki says there was “a period of several years”; if this is at least four years, then what age was Kuu when she was born?
The light into the clouds is called a myth by Kana, but Reki knows what it means. Is there any documentation, are there any writings about this sort of thing? Or is all this knowledge passed on from one haibane to another? One would think this is exactly the kind of information you’d want to keep track of, perhaps one copy in the library, another kept safely in Old Home. It could cover everything from cocoon hatching to halo giving to wing crowning to daily life for a haibane to the day of flight.
Back to Reki’s comment on everyone leaving her, is this simply a general comment on all who have left, or does it relate directly with her running away with Hyohko when she was younger? This also brings into question why Reki and Nemu have been around as long as they have, but Kuu left after only a few years. Kuu looked to be having such a good time, being a few years older than the Young Feathers, but still younger than those around her. Old enough to take on responsibilities, and go around on her own, and work jobs, but young enough to still be a child and have fun.
Was it ever made clear whether Kuu had a specific set job, or if she just helped out at random places? When a haibane leaves, does the council send a messenger to the establishment where the haibane worked, and tell them, “Oh, by the way, Kuu’s left us. Sorry for the short notice and all, but you’ll need to hire a replacement”?
Returning to the halo, it’s said to be a guiding item. When Kuu left, her halo stayed behind. What makes a halo glow? Can a halo glow for anyone, or only for the one it’s originally placed above? For that matter, what happens if a halo is placed over a human? Can the halo be removed once set over ones head, or does it become a part of the wearer until their day of flight?
With Kuu gone, it’s up to Hikari and Kana to convince me which should be my favorite character now. Neither can replace Kuu, of course, but an episode is always for fun when it has good scenes involving your favorite character.
Perhaps Kuu will appear again in the final episode, to greet Rakka on Rakka’s day of flight.
The walls near the forest are said to be extra powerful. The haibane are not allowed near the gate where the Toga come through for trade. Is this true for the humans as well, or are the haibane specifically given extra restrictions on approaching the wall?
Early on, Kuu wanted to be grown up like those around her. Even when Rakka learned about the Toga, Kuu retained her childhood innocence, calling out a thank you when she shouldn’t be speaking out. No mind over rules and best practices, she was expressing her gratitude. By watching Rakka learn and adapt to being a haibane, Kuu was able to see herself. After all, she and Rakka had the same kind of dream, and Rakka treated her equally, not as a child. Was the last sugar cube to the cat a farewell? And she made sure to say goodbye to the person she got the sugar cubes from. How long did she know she’d be leaving? She seemed to say to Rakka that it was only that day when the “cup” in mind mind was “full”.
And why did that sugar cube man call Kuu a boy in the last episode? (I’m going by the subtitles and dub here, as I haven’t carefully listened to his Japanese dialogue to see what he says there.)
Is the beam of light the glow of Kuu’s halo bursting out, one final flash of light, before the halo becomes useless? With a series as short as Haibane-Renmei, it feels as if there hasn’t been enough time, as if Kuu should have appeared more, should have been seen doing more things, imparting more wisdom on Rakka, having fun more.
Kuu may never see her friends again. They may never see her again, even if they find their way outside of the walls. She may still live on, but to the haibane, she is gone.
My lasting memory of Kuu will be her scene in the library, where she’s acting a part from the story before the kids, but is snapped out of it hearing her name mentioned, and she quickly appears to help out as a substitute teacher. Still a child, but she’s mature at the same time. Filled with wonder, but also ready to help out. That’s what made Kuu such a great character.