This is a episode commentary. It is intended for someone who has seen this episode, and will contain episode spoilers.

Haibane-Renmei: Episode 10 Commentary

Kuramori. Haibane of the Abandoned Factory. Rakka's Job

Reki’s birth recalls her words when Rakka was due to be born. She didn’t want Rakka to be born in such a messy place as she herself was. As was Reki’s job, given by Kuramori, Reki was there to greet Rakka. She was there to prepare Rakka as best she could for the coming of her wings, and the related fever.

Kuramori on the ground.

After seeing Kuramori’s return from the forest, my original thinking that Reki had touched the wall turned toward thoughts of Kuramori being the one. The communicator’s words, on the other hand, suggest Hyohko was the one who touched the wall. Reki would have taken the medicine to him, and watched over him.

The communicator also talked about what happens to a haibane unprepared for the time of the day of flight. Did Kuramori reach her day of flight, or was she unprepared? What happened to Kuramori?

Another thing the communicator says is that his words about Kuu going ahead to be an inspiration for the other haibane to follow, that these words are a reflection of what is in Reki’s mind. He also speaks of Nemu’s burden waiting to see the arrival of Reki’s day of flight. How is he able to read into the minds of the haibane? Is it through the halos in some way? He also told Rakka that Kuu’s laughter was simply the wall repeating what was deep in Rakka’s mind. What is the purpose of the communicator telling Reki what she believes about Kuu’s day of flight? Does he plan to effect Reki’s day of flight, to allow it to come for her before it’s too late? How much may the council meddle in the affairs of the haibane?

Rakka puts on a robe.

Within the wall, Rakka has to wear a special robe. My first thought is its similarity to a radiation suit, but there is no guard for Rakka’s face. The robe may be so she does not touch any part of the inside of the wall, or else she’ll fall ill again. She’s able to touch the temple wall going downstairs, but six robes are kept for those going within the town wall itself.

Why is touching the wall a punishable offense? Wouldn’t the following fever be enough of a deterrent? Did Rakka get off easy when she was given cleaning duty? Reki must have thought back to the punishment she and Hyohko received. The punishment wouldn’t have worked the same for Rakka, however, so what kind of punishment did Reki imagine? And as a side thought, what happens if a human touches the wall? Nothing?

The halo worn over a haibane’s head is made from materials, light leaves, within the wall. This explains the glow of the halo. What happens to a haibane who doesn’t wear a halo? What if a haibane without a halo touches the wall?

Two messages are given to Rakka by the communicator as he leaves her to her new job. First, she must not remove the robe. This must be to keep her from touching the wall with her bare skin. The other is to not be frightened by anything which happens around her. Rakka questions if something is living within the wall, but my guess is the communicator is speaking in reference to the wall’s ability to channel ones thoughts. If the wall reflects Rakka’s thoughts, if the wall echos voices, Rakka could easily be mislead over what she’s hearing. The communicator said the robe would protect Rakka from these things.

The communicator, facing Reki.

The communicator tells Reki that a bird has forgiven Rakka’s sin. This suggests that it’s an outside force which leaves one sinbound, and also the same outside force which forgives ones sin (or not). How does this work with the riddle of the “Circle of Sin”? Where did the communicator hear the riddle to begin with? From a past haibane? From a past communicator? Read in a book? I figure by now that he has to be human, regardless of what appears to be wings at his back, or else he’d be rather overdue for his day of flight.

Midori tells Reki to quit smoking. Hyohko had said the same. This brings into question both why she started smoking, and why both Hyohko and Midori are concerned over it. If Midori has feelings for Hyohko, it could be that his concerns are her concerns, even if his concerns are over the one he had feelings for, the one who may very well have run away with him, and watched over him after he touched the wall.

Kuramori holds Reki.

Rounding out Reki’s position as caretaker for the new haibane, and her efforts to help Rakka through being sinbound, is the where Reki had done the same. Reki being sinbound isn’t touched upon during the scenes of her as a child, with the exceptions of Nemu’s reaction to Reki’s wings, and Kuramori placing the coat over Reki’s wings while in town. The communicator speaks of Reki being envious. Reki was there for Rakka, she knows what Rakka has been going through. But there’s something different. Rakka isn’t Reki. They’re two different people. They act differently and react differently, even if they’ve had the same experiences over losing someone and with being sinbound.

One recurring weakness in English dubbing is voices for kids. I’ve accepted the voices for the young feathers. They’re not all that bad, really. But what was with younger Nemu’s dub voice? Even younger Reki’s voice sounded a bit off, but Nemu’s just sounded plain weird.

7 Responses to “Haibane-Renmei: Episode 10 Commentary”

  1. Michael Brazier Says:

    “The communicator tells Reki that a bird has forgiven Rakka’s sin. This suggests that it’s an outside force which leaves one sinbound, and also the same outside force which forgives ones sin (or not).”

    No, no. Becoming sin-bound is something one does to oneself. We saw how it works with Rakka, back in ep. 7 and 8: her grief at Kuu’s flight led her to withdraw from the others, brooding over the loss led her to despair (at which point the dark spots appeared on her wings) and then her despair fed on itself (and the dark spots spread) until she was nearly suicidal — and then the crows intervened. One needs help from outside to escape the condition, but no outside influence is required to enter it.

    This does raise the question of how Reki could be sin-bound from the moment her wings emerged. It might have been pre-natal, something Reki did as a human; but I prefer the idea that it was hatching alone, in a room full of junk (and sopping wet!) and then suffering a mysterious fever and the pain of crowning wings, that made Reki despair for her lot. Hence the importance in her mind that Rakka not be alone when she hatched, and that she understand what was about to happen; and hence her pleasure that Rakka’s wings, when they first emerged, had no black on them, but were an unspotted grey.

  2. Chris Says:

    That’s definitely a solid view of being sinbound. I’ll have to think it over. I’m glad you addressed Reki’s views within scope of the view, as well.

    I’ll be putting together a post detailing my own views of why Rakka became sinbound (as part of a series of after-episode 13 posts), and it’ll be quite different from what you’ve presented.

  3. Author Says:

    In my less serious moods I think that the Kami may just be a kidder who makes anyone taking an excessive liking to other haibane sprout black feathers or worse, just to keep things on track. If so, Midori is screwed.

  4. Chris Says:

    “and then the crows intervened. One needs help from outside to escape the condition, but no outside influence is required to enter it.”

    I’ve been thinking about this part of Michael’s comment off and on today. Why did the crows intervene? Is it because of the crow in the well? If so, doesn’t this make it a happy coincidence that there was a crow following Rakka to Glie (seen in her dream, for however once wants to interpret it) and therefore crows led her to the well? And that this event happened to cure her of the sinbound status?

    I like Michael’s explanation, but I’m coming up with more questions than answers the more I think about it. This is not a bad thing, and I don’t promise to come up with anything better once I get a post written up compiling my collected views.

  5. Author Says:

    I have no explanation for crows leading Rakka to the well. It obviously wasn’t a coincidence. Maybe the reincarnated crow made friends with others, and then one thing led to another. It is all rather flimsy though.

    It was not a coincidence that the crow followed Rakka to Glie. The conventional explanation is, it’s an entity who cared for Rakka. As we see, her problem was that she developed a psychosis of loneliness (and most likely jumped off a building); dealing with that is the nature of her second chance in Glie. Therefore, the crow is her teacher, parent, sibling, or a dog — someone who was unable to reach her while she was alive and heal her. The nature of the exception that allowed the crow to enter Glie is a curious thing. In particular if that someone dided too (now you see it’s easier to assume a dog).

  6. Author Says:

    BTW, it’s possible to assume crows being remotely controlled, from a dream on the living side. It meshes neatly with crows’ limited capabilities (e.g. Kami certainly would not grant anyone an unobstructed interaction power with the haibane, or else this sort of makes mockery of the memory loss/filtering). If crows can assume that [some of the] other crows are sentient too, they may be able to work out a communication protocol.

  7. Chris Says:

    Thinking about that crow from the dream just brings even more questions for me =P If it’s someone (human or animal) Rakka knew as a human, did they die with her, as you suggest may have been, Author? Could they have died later on, and their regret over losing Rakka resulted them being in her dream (even if there was a large span of time between the deaths of the two)?

    Can if be that the crow doesn’t represent someone Rakka knew, but rather is carrying over the feelings of someone she knew who is still alive out there? That one would fit in with the belief that crows carry over things left behind on the other side of the wall.