Haibane Renmei Episode 3: Life Lessons and The Temple

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Episode three introduces more of the town of Glie as Rakka further adjusts to life as a Haibane – the world seems rather closed and insular, thanks to the omnipresent wall that surrounds the town, but Glie remains lively and active. The previous episode introduced a key element of the world, that only a select few (known collectively as the Toga) can enter and leave Glie through the gates; they cannot communicate verbally with anyone, only allowed to speak through sign language with the Haibane Renmei’s representative, the Communicator. This individual, like the Toga, covers his face with an unusual mask; why he cannot reveal his face to others remains a mystery, but he effectively runs the Haibane Renmei as the council elder. He makes a formal appearance here, but before that, we see how Reki reacts to what appears to be a particularly bad recurring dream – Rakka quickly befriended Reki, and the two become confidants in Glie, but Reki hesitates in expressing her own doubts. That the dream recurs shows she may have some unfulfilled desire nagging at her subconscious – from the beginning, dreams have a rather profound significance to the series, as each Haibane receives their unique name from the memory they had immediately prior to waking within the somewhat decrepit housing complex. The Haibane all have a connection, that of some previous life that they forgot upon entering Glie; I mentioned rebirth in my blog post covering the previous episode, and it bears repeating here. The world of Haibane Renmei is one of melancholy and longing – no one knows what previous lives they led, with only a faint memory to guide them along, and Glie represents a sort of purgatorial existence as they transition from an earlier world to this one.


Reki’s recollection of her dream may remind the audience that she didn’t initially exist as a Glie inhabitant – something constantly reminds her of her old existence, and she is anxious to discover why that dream recurs so frequently. Each Haibane has only that memory of their previous lives to go on for clues, and it appears Reki’s particular example repeats constantly because it wants to remind her of something tragic or otherwise important that she is on the cusp of remembering. Rakka’s presence is an assuring one – Reki doesn’t live in isolation, as she has numerous other Haibane that would help her resolve any outstanding issues that she has yet to address. Her room looks fairly cluttered and isolated, away from everyone else’s; Rakka casually mentions that the building has uninhabited areas, and Reki’s room may be fairly far away from those of other Haibane (if the scene gives any indication). The room contains numerous boxes, as if Reki hardly ever organized anything properly, and the adjacent hallway has little light; this makes the area feel rather lonesome and uninhabited, possibly reflecting Reki’s own reluctance to seek out company. Rakka, however, offers a nice respite – she sincerely worries for Reki, and wishes for her to have a comfortable time in Glie.


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The following scene at the Haibane Renmei temple presents the Renmei council as rather religious in tone – visiting Haibane can only communicate through special bells suspended on their wings, which represent “yes” and “no” answers, while the Communicator speaks freely. Reki may seem him as a stubborn man, but the Communicator conveys an aura of respectability and dignity – he represents them within the town, as well as speaks directly with the Toga, so he commands quite a bit of authority in Glie. That he prohibits any speech in the temple may seem unusual, but it’s all part of the ritualized atmosphere of the place – very little is explicitly explained within the society of Haibane Renmei, but this temple gives the impression of a rather lengthy history of the Haibane that formulated a ritualistic, semi-religious significance. The Haibane observe the rules of the temple, as they help the Haibane considerably in their daily lives – the Communicator is a well-respected man, even if he is a little obstinate in his behavior. His gift of the diary to Rakka assures her ability to work in the town – since the Haibane do not accept formal currency, they work on a barter system where the other townsfolk recognize their contributions by allowing them to take second-hand items and food in exchange for services rendered. As such, the Haibane Renmei itself is quite important; the group represents the Haibane, and works constantly to assure they continue to work in the city.


The Communicators imposes upon Rakka the importance of being a role model for the younger Haibane – this relates directly to Reki’s situation, as she is one of the older figures in the Haibane residence that the Young Feathers respect. The scene with the carrots illustrates this; both Rakka and Reki must adhere to positive behavior if they want to be seen as respectable, and eating supposedly bitter carrots (on the promise of pancakes) affords them the chance to present themselves as kind figures who have the Young Feathers’ safety and interests at heart. Reki, in particular, has this lesson spelled out for her – one of the other Haibane notes that she may be an older Haibane, but she is not entirely mature. Carrots may seem inconsequential, but they impart a crucial lesson – life may not be entirely fun, but accepting that is important. Reki’s dream can be viewed through this lens; she suffers from a recurring image of something (what it is, exactly, is not made clear yet), but she definitely has some unresolved issues that need to be addressed. A lot of the show goes unexplained – the exact nature of the Toga, for example, as they may have caused some transgression in life that prohibits them from living within the town proper. In fact, the outside environment remains elusive; Glie seems to be a transitory existence, situated in a purgatory-style world where only a select few would be allowed outside. How the Haibane arrived in Glie is only hinted at – they’re “reborn” in massive cocoons that overtake entire rooms, and their respective dreams suggest an “outer world” they originally inhabited before they transitioned to Glie. With this theme of dreams, Reki may be remembering a vision of her past life, which only exists in the form of memories or recollections – the entire show may very well resonate with the theme of the past, as it relates to the present, as well as the concept of transgression. Later episodes will expound upon the nature of the wall – Haibane are forbidden from going near it, and the casual mentions of flight in this episode will receive greater emphasis in the future. For now, however, the lingering thought of life on the outside only can be hinted at through the Toga – through them, the town can thrive, and the Haibane receive things second-hand via the trade conducted by the Toga. At the same time, the series emphasizes family and connectivity – Rakka and Reki both have the benefit of an extended network of Haibane who support them, and the town provides for them whenever possible. Reki’s reluctance to speak with others about her dreams may stem from a hesitance to be honest with herself; she doesn’t wish to bother others with her problems, even if they sincerely wish to help. However, she cherishes her time with Rakka and the others – this is proof enough that the Haibane would extend a hand to anyone in need of help.

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