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

Haibane-Renmei: Episode 13 Commentary

Reki's World. Prayer. Epilogue

I have wondered for a while if the world of the haibane, the town within walls, may represent either a place between death and what comes after death, or a state of consciousness, such as being in a coma.

Reki's human self.

The younger Reki can represent either situation. She is the human Reki once was, but to what end? Either she is the Reki at the time she died, run over on the tracks, or she represents Reki at the time she fell into a coma from the accident. The day of flight can symbolize the awakening from the coma, or the failure of flight, the end of ones life, without waking. The outfits Rakka wears when born from her cocoon and the outfit the human Reki wears do resemble what one might wear in a hospital.

Reki's sin spreads quickly across her wings.

Being sinbound for Rakka was linked with someone from her past life. If Rakka was in an accident, and was left in a coma in a hospital, the bird would represent someone watching over her, someone calling out for her return. It’s this person whose message was able to free Rakka for an eventual return. (This fails to explain the bird’s death, however.)

On the other hand, Reki it seems has no one back home. No one to be there for her, no one to call her back. And yet, Rakka, someone she met within the walls, is able to become her salvation.

Young Hyohko watches over young Reki.

I haven’t figured out Hyohko with hiding his wings and halo yet, but it’s related in some way to the event with Reki and the wall. Up through that event, he at times wore his halo high, and he always showed his wings with no regret. As he watches the lights of the flight, his halo and wings are present again. Visually hiding his identity as a haibane is directly related to Reki. Just as when I look at the box artwork for this series and my mind has trouble seeing where the background ends and a character begins, I feel as if I’m not seeing something that’s plainly obvious to others, as if I’m trying so hard to visualize the outlines that I fail to comprehend the image as a whole. I’m going to settle on this: After Kuramori left, and Hyohko failed to get Reki to the other side of the wall, Hyohko came to shun the concept of being a haibane. He still lived in Old Factory, and he still worked a job, still using the papers from his notebook as currency, and still watched over the young feathers. He did not shun his responsibilities as a haibane. He shunned the concept of being a haibane. He cannot remove his wings, and the halo became a part of him. He can, however, take on the appearance of an ordinary human. The only flaw I’m seeing in this is that the people within the walls are bound by the walls the same as the haibane are, although it’s never revealed if the humans are affected by touching the wall the same as the haibane are.

The events Reki and Rakka endure in the end greatly portray the power of the walls, and bring into greater question what the wall is, how it came to be, and what the existence of the haibane means.

The communicator keeps his back to Reki  as she's taken away.

What exists outside the wall? Perhaps only the toga know, and they’re not talking. What does the communicator know? And where do the men who took Reki away after the wall event fit in to all this? Do they work for the council? For the town?

Reki is certain she’ll meet with Rakka again. What is on the other side of being a haibane? Is it waking from a coma in a hospital? Or is it meeting on the other side of life? Will they remember their time as a haibane after waking in a hospital bed? Will they remember their lives either as human or as haibane waking up after life?

Reki's friends watch her day of flight.

Reaching this final episode of Haibane-Renmei, the thing that took me off guard the most was the revelation that Haibane-Renmei is Reki’s story. It took all 13 episodes to realize Rakka is a second-person perspective to Reki’s tale, and a catalyst to Reki’s change, both planned and at the same time unplanned by Reki.

The strength of Haibane-Renmei is its ability to create a complete world with no need to explain why the world is as it is. The viewer learns how things work alongside Rakka, but no deeper explanation is given. The viewer is left to ponder, to wonder, to hope for the residence of Old Home and Old Factory, to hope they find peace in this life, and in the next, and to hope they will be together again, even if just for a short visit.

Reki and Rakka speak in Reki's art room.

This probably is a shorter post than it should be after the final episode of Reki’s story as seen through Rakka’s eyes, but I don’t intend for it to be my final post on the series. There’s something the writer in me must do before I can close this story in my mind.

One Response to “Haibane-Renmei: Episode 13 Commentary”

  1. Chris Says:

    And a note to Author: Yes, I wrote this way back before you mentioned the series being about Reki =P I actually watched the series probably over two weeks, and my thoughts have matured a lot since then. I’m working on a series of posts to follow this now that episode 13’s commentary is finally up.