Well. Rebirth. Riddle.
By now all my early theories of the reason behind the haibane and the halos have been forgotten on my part, and this episode cements that.
The toga are the only ones who would know if Kuu exists outside the town walls, but they cannot speak. They are still ready and willing to help Rakka from the well. And the communicator will freely speak with Rakka and help her come to terms with what she’s been going through. If anything, he sounded interested to hear of her revelations.
If the wall protects the haibane, then what happens upon touching the wall? Were the sounds of Kuu’s voice a reflection of Rakka’s thoughts made by the wall or by whatever is on the other side of the wall? And what has touching the wall done to Rakka? Is this because of the wall, or because of what’s on the other side of the wall?
Considering Reki sees Rakka as she herself once was, and then watching her reactions to what has happened to Rakka, seeing her knowledge of things Rakka has experienced, and Hikari’s and Rakka’s insistences of why Reki knows about these things (the fever, the medical dye), it’s not out of place to assume Reki herself touched the wall after Kuramori left.
For Rakka to have been born a normal haibane, but then she became sinbound, it may be because of her depression over the loss of Kuu, specifically in her belief that she is alone, undeserving of kindness from others. As a human, she felt she didn’t deserve to be alive, and she left behind someone who cared for her. By realizing her sin, she was able to accept that she did something she wishes she could atone for. By recognizing her sin, she has atoned the best she possibly can. The only way she can.
Reki’s sin must be something major for her to have been sinbound to begin with. Rakka’s salvation began when she recalled the missing pieces from her dream. For Reki, it’s been seven years, and there are still holes in her dream, forgotten meanings, an unknown purpose for her.
If a person wants to leave the world more than anything, and something happens to end her life, is she reborn as a haibane? If this were the case, would all haibane be sinbound to begin with? I can’t imagine someone with Hikari’s personality being in such a position, and it wouldn’t explain why there are so many young feathers.
The communicator suggested Kuu’s being ready to leave, as determined by the walls, whereas Rakka is not yet ready. What constitutes as ready? Does being self-sufficient make up part of it? Or does it depend on ones mind, coming to terms with a part of oneself that one tends to push into the back of the mind rather than confront? Interactions with Rakka may have led to Kuu coming to accept being herself, rather than trying to be someone she isn’t. To realize this would be putting herself face-to-face with a part of herself she wasn’t earlier ready for, the part where she tells herself she’s still a child, and while she may mature, she needs to take time growing up, and enjoy being who she is, the way she is. With Rakka facing her feelings of unjust treatment by being treated in such a friendly manner while feeling she should be alone, gone, what secrets might the other haibane hold in the back of their minds?
The toga in the well tried to speak with Rakka by sign language. Are the toga under the impression this is a language all the haibane know?
For that matter, the first time I saw the communicator in an early episode, the covering over his wings made me wonder if he really had wings, or if they were just for appearance. The communicator has no halo over his head, although Hyohko is able to achieve the same with a hat over his halo, and the communicator does wear a hood.
Back to the toga, they stopped abruptly when Rakka said Kuu’s name. It was their lantern Rakka followed which led her to the wall. Why were the toga in town so late? Why were they out in the forest so late? Where do they stay in town if they stay overnight? Why were they outdoors, and how did they find Rakka? Why did they lead Rakka to Kuu’s voice when it meant leading her to that dangerous wall?
Up until now, Hikari’s had the least parts of any of the haibane as a character in the series. Her character was expanded on just a little, as she expressed concern over the things Rakka knows which she herself and others do not know. Nemu knows, though, as evidenced by her escorting the questioning Hikari out of the room. Could Hikari’s inquiries lead her to questioning her own existence as a haibane, her own reasons for being a resident of Old Home and for working at the bakery each day?
Watching this episode in Japanese (after having first watched in English, as I’m doing for each episode in this series), I’ve found that I have strong connections with the English voices, but no connection to the Japanese voices. If Hikari is off-screen while talking, I don’t realize it’s her voice I’m hearing. And Rakka’s Japanese voice holds no recognition for me. The English voices I’m very familiar with.
Looking at a series such as Petite Princess Yucie or Princess Tutu, both of which I watched episodes in Japanese then English, I quickly established a strong recognition of both languages of voice. I’m left to wonder if the same would be true for Haibane-Renmei, had I watched the episodes in Japanese before English for each episode. I also wonder if this marks the first series I can 100% enjoy in English. (Petite Princess Yucie misses this position because of Fredrick’s dub voice, and Princess Tutu because of an outtake left in an episode.)
Another side-effect of watching an episode in English, then writing up a commentary, followed by watching it in Japanese (followed by any added commentary I left out), is that I’ve not picked up the subtitle’s capitalization. I write haibane rather than Haibane, toga rather than Toga, and sinbound rather than Sin-Bound. Even after seeing how the subtitles represent these words, I had already become comfortable enough the way I had used them to continue. Watching episodes in English first really does have a number of impacts on things for me, things I’d never have considered possible before.
Too heavy on the images this time around? I’ll lighten the load next time.