i know what you mean!

haibane Renmei

Posted on: October 13, 2005

Just finished rewatching this series immediately after having watched it the first time around.  I liked it before i got it and i liked it the first time i watched it and i like it now.  Thanks to google, i was able to connect to fans and compare my ideas.  Here are just a few things i want to write about this series:

From within the walls they say that the “sins” in this series are related to catholic sense of sins, Rakka and Reki being reborn with sin because they committed suicide in previous lives.  The evidence given were pretty valid as to how those people came to such conclusion: Reki dreamt of being run over by a train and Rakka dreamt of falling down the well.  Also, both girls had wishes of being able to disappear in their previous lives.  However this theory leaves a few holes that i could not reconcile, namely that Rakka was reborn sinfree at first.  Reki observed that she saw it herself when she cleanned Rakka’s wings on her first day after birth, and the wings were ashgray as should have been.  Plus, the redemptions that came for both of them did not really make a coherent “closure” to their sins.

What I have come up with is this.  We should move a way from the Christian theme and see the sins as sins against society.  Reki left her previous world in a nightmare and entered Guri with that baggage.  She shut herself off when the train supposedly ran her over in her previous world so she came to Guri already isolated, hence her black wings.  Rakka left her previous world obsessed that she was alone, but realized as she fell into Guri that she wasn’t alone, that someone was with her, but at that point, it was too late.  Hence, Rakka entered Guri not yet sin-bound.  She was confused and disoriented, but she could reach out to the love and care that all her new friends were offering her.  She opened her heart to Reki’s kindness, she understood Kana’s weird ways of making people feel better, she appreciated Nemu’s capabilities, she accepted Kuu’s guidance.  It was only after Kuu’s disappearance that her wings began to turn black.  I don’t think this is a coincidence.  The black wings are therefore, in my opinion, not linked to her sin of suicide, but to her sin of shutting everyone off.  Rakka was essentially turning into Reki, shutting everyone out and became absorbed with her own sadness, confusion, and angst.
For seven years, Reki said, she sought in vain for salvation – on her own.  It was always bets made to herself, struggles kept to herself, and a facade to keep others at distance.  We can see the same dramatic changes that took place in Rakka after Kuu left.  She shut herself up in her room, she talked to people with her door between them, she said “it’s nothing” when people showed their concerns, she ran away from kindnesses shown by the thriftstore owner, the stranger who picked her up on the road.  Most of all, she showed very selfish concerns after Kuu left.  She was angry that she could no longer see Kuu as oppose to seeing clearly with a calm heart what  Kuu’s day of Flight was all about.
In my opinion, this is why Rakka became sin-bound – she could no longer connect to her society.  The world of Guri was set up for people to connect to each other, no one exist as a complete island.  The Haibane are born to use things people no longer use and they must work to earn their living, but the people are born to provide food and employment for Haibane.  The Communicators seemed cut off from the rest of the town, but they are in charge of every single aspect of a Haibane’s existence, from birth to flight, and they are essential to the lives of all Haibane’s; at the same time, these communicators are the keepers of the walls, which dictates the lives of everyone in Guri.   The Communicators are also the only ones who can communicate with the Toga, who are essential to Guri’s existence.   The Toga, whom no one can talk to nor touch, who cannot talk to nor touch anyone in Guri, and yet they are the ones who provide the economic and cultural backbone of Guri.  They bring in goods from the worlds beyond the walls to trade with the townspeople.

Rakka’s sin was forgiven after she fell down the well and realized that her selfishness has caused pains to people around her, starting with the bird.  She recognized that when she was caugh up in her own thoughts, she ignored the kindnesses, loves, and sacrifices that people made on her behalf.  This explains the sequence following Rakka’s recovery after she got out of the well:  she kept on making observations about Reki’s always being there to help her throughout her “illness,”  she showed belated appreciation to the man who gave her the boots, and also the man who gave her the peas soup.
As for Reki, she asked why Rakka was forgiven but not her, yet she was unable to see what Rakka saw until episode 13.  Before that, the Communicator had tried in vain to point out hints to her.  He told her of Kuu’s motives for her Flight: she was concerned for others.  He told her Nemu’s motives for not taking her Flight:  she was concerened for Reki.  We saw how Reki messed up every time some one showed concerns for her: she and Factory Haibane’s ended up snubbing each other, they accused her of being selfish;  Kuramori loved her and Reki destroyed herself with that love after Kuramori left as any Haibane needs to.  Even when Reki said goodbye and tried to make amends during the Passing Of the Year night, she was not able to correctly appreciate the relationship others have had with her:  she told Rakka that the yellow fireworks was just an “i have been stupid” message.  She didn’t see that they were reaching out to her, because if she saw the true meaning, she wouldn’t have returned to her room and tried to disappear.

Reki was freed from her sin in the end when she realized that she needed help, and finally asked for help from Reki, who gladly ran to her aid.  So simple.   Her name, which was meant to be “run over” broke, and gave her “Reki” as in “stepping stone.”  When Rakka earned her true name, it means “connect” and “nut”, because she shut herself off from the world at first, but then grew and made many connections with people.   When Reki earns her true name, it’s that of a stepping stone which guides Haibane’s to their Flight.  Both names have to do with people around them.

about the riddle:
One who recognizes their sins has no sin.
then i ask you: are you a sinner ?
i am.
which means you recognized your sin, and therefore have no sin.  I ask you again: are you sinner?
The  Circle of Sin comes because you can never find the anwer to it on your own.  The Communicator tells Rakka that Reki had shut herself in this circle for the last 7 years, that’s why she is stuck.  It’s true, Reki has been searching for salvation all on her own, as she told Rakka in episode 13, all her angst and disappointment came from this search.

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October 2005
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