Haibane Renmei Episodes 1-3 Notes

May 21st, 2014.

(Screenshot album for episodes 1-3)

Episode 1:

Haibane Renmei episode 1 anime notes - Rakka falling from the sky


Clutching a raven to her heart, and not a dove. Her heart is cold, she says. The music playing as the girl fell reminded me of the Alicia’s song from Mai-HiME.

Interesting how the halo seems to wobble as the girl walks, carrying stuff. Also nice “panning”.

Sad being born amidst junk? But isn’t that how births go? Is this a euphemism for the world?

You must make your own way into the world, claw it out!


First, a note on art. Recently when I watch shows and they “scroll” the screen, meaning how they pan the “camera” across a static background, it feels quite awkward and not fluid. Here, it’s not the case. It makes sense though, considering just how many such static backgrounds there are. Animation is actually pretty sparse, and we mostly have static images. It helps then that they are drawn well and don’t look like big lumps of nothing (Shakugan no Shana and Nanoha, for instance, also from the same era).

The theme of this episode is pretty darn clear, it’s about birth and perhaps rebirth. The dreams are all about being in an “in-between state”, of crossing over – of swimming, of falling, of floating – of going somewhere. And yes, sleeping fits as well. The imagery in this episode and the language had been quite focused on birth as well. The cocoon is a womb, and “we want the place she comes into the world to be clean”, though as the cocoon burst, and especially as the wings had come out – birth is a messy thing, messy and painful, and you have to get through it, you have to be born. And no one asks for your opinion on the matter.

In fact, they go “If you can’t crack the shell on your own, you won’t make it in life.” – A lot of what is done in the show is done as per custom, but from whence did the custom originate? They look somewhat like angels, but a lot of it is due to the halo, which even wobbles – but what is the nature of the halo, and why do they wear it? That’s definitely something that had to come from somewhere. For now, they are repeating customs, but customs often have a reason to come to be, is it because they lost their place in the world, and their old world, so it’s something for them to cling to, a set of rituals?

“Not black, not white, but beautiful charcoal grey.” – Putting aside that the wings seemed much larger when they sprouted from Rakka’s back, this is an important line. When Rakka fell in the “dream” I thought how interesting it was that she was approached by a raven, rather than a dove. One could say that these girls are between doves and ravens, that they are between angels and fallen angels? This place feels like a purgatory. A place for waiting, a place not exactly for second chances, but a place to be.

I wonder about humans, are there normal humans around? Are there those who cross between the village and the rest of the world? Since the Haibane can’t leave, they can’t tell if it’s the same world, and perhaps it is, but no one had spread knowledge of their existence. “Same world”? Not just theirs, but supposedly ours. For now, there are many questions, and a few answers.

The first episode had been one of birth, so now it’s time to see where our first steps take us.

I also can’t shake off the thought that the ED speaking of memory, and wishing to not remember is so very fitting. Also, such a good ED.

Episode 2:

Haibane Renmei episode 2 anime notes - the power of tradition


OP – the first 30 seconds of it totally didn’t feel like an OP, and one could easily suspect most of it of not being one.

Rakka looking like an actress in a low-budget school production.

Yup, as I thought, here’s a boy! Even if only girls greeted Rakka. But now, we hadn’t seen any true adults yet.

“We don’t know who started it, but that’s the custom (for naming” – Yup, customs, because that’s how it’s done.

“A name for the future” – Yup, some are named based on their past, and some based on their future. Some based on what they are given, and some based on what they chose. Children versus elders.

“Humans are letting us live here.” – But they’re not supposed to leave. Also, another custom – “We’re supposed to use things humans no longer do.” Does that mean their lives are things humans no longer use either? What does it say of this town? Are the halos used to identify them at a glance?

Yup, “thrift store”, they even spell it out – only used clothes, things people discarded.

A notebook, instead of money, like checks? Now I wonder how they get them, and what if they run out, and stuff. Hm, a feather, does it identify her, or what else could it be used for? Then again, just like paper money, it stands for something else, but what does it stand for here? Who covers it? And if they “pay” anyway, why only one cloth for each girl? Unless it’s like coupons for the poor, and they’re essentially being given charity?

I wonder at food, do they also have to eat things others threw away? :P I see, so essentially they pass IOUs. This seems needlessly complex – so they work for one person, he jots on a note how much he owes them, then they use it to pay, and then that person goes to the original person. It’s essentially how money works, but unless the Haibane Renmei allows people to trade notes for money there, and stuff like that, it just complicates life. Money works for its “universality”. Then again, if the people can just use the notes directly to pay for stuff they buy, then it’s essentially just barter using tokens.

No one is allowed to leave, hm.

Talk about rituals – the humans can’t speak with the Toga, and the Toga will not use their voice in the town. I didn’t want to say so earlier, but it feels like they took some inspiration from Jewish Ghettos in Europe – marking the Jews, and only the Jews are allowed to handle money, etc. The Haibane are required for the town to survive, for the trade with the Toga – not having anything new allows them to make sure they don’t cheat? And others can observe the dealings anyway.

A town surrounded by a wall. I’m reminded of novels such as The Giver and others.


Erm, I sort of went into during-episode notes above, didn’t I? Still, the crow, the winged-staff of the Haibane Renmei translator… this show is bloody called Haibane Renmei, so the organization is definitely going to be important.

How did they get electricity and innovations into the town? How come the outside world doesn’t care about what happens there? Haibane are only allowed to have things humans no longer have use for – that may also apply to this whole town, as if they’re lepers, or outcasts, which would explain why the Toga will not come close or speak to them.

And within this place of outcasts, the Haibane are sort of outcasts as well. They are needed, but they also live on the hosts’ sufferance, a sort of give and take, and all of it weird. There’s a lot going on around here, and all of it based on customs and rituals, as befits closed communities, as befits mysteries, and dark undercurrents. Truly feels like The Giver and some other novels I remember with an invisible wall around a town, let alone the sci-fi series from the 70s(?) that got a new version a couple of years back.

Found the book at least, Marlen Hashofer’s The Wall, from 1963. I think I may have come across some short stories as well dealing with this.

Something is afoot, and I’m not sure we’ll learn the truth. It’s about atmosphere thus far, and Reki sure gives off the air of someone tired of life, or clinging to the past, even as she is a Haibane – someone without a past, who is only allowed to use things that are nothing but past.

Episode 3:

Haibane Renmei episode 3 anime notes - The crows

Is Reki like an older sister, or like a sort of grumpy or depressed aunt? Hm.

“The same dream again” – Clinging to one’s past, but it’s a dream, always fleeting. A dream where she was alone, a feeling she appears to be unable, or unwilling, to shake off, even as she’s surrounded by others.

Graveyards are almost always built at the edge of towns and cities. You can mark a city’s growth by seeing where the graveyards located within it are, and when each was constructed. A city almost always ends up enveloping its graveyards. And interesting, people liken the Haibane Renmei temple to the graveyard – is it because both are holy, or because both are sort of forbidden or even “unclean”?

BTW, the almost 8-bit music on the route to the temple sure was… interesting.

“The Communicator is the only one who can speak.” – How fitting. This place has the only adult Haibane we’ve seen thus far, do they all go there? Hm. We still know next to nothing. Hm, only the Communication can speak, this includes the girls.

Reki definitely mother/older-sister mode with the kids.

“If you really believe in it, you could fly one day. That’s what I believe in!” – Yeah, talk about cyclical :P Kuu is on the borderline between an older feather and a young feather. Though even the “older” ones here are but young adults, barely.

“What is trash to us, is food for the crows.” – And thus, the Haibane are the crows of the humans, between heaven and earth, between carrion-eaters and humans. Not black, not white, but grey.

Now they flat out speak, of how Kuu is like the crows, just wanting to be friends and get sweets from others, and doesn’t look scary. So, the crow in the dream, did it want to become a person, and thus gave Rakka her wings? Did it want her heart, or merely her love? Hm.

Haibane working in the oldest bakery, should it close, will they be able to move on to the next one, or speaking of tradition, is it the one they always worked at? But see, the places the Haibane work are liable to close, for they are old and dilapidated, and then they can be blamed for bringing it to ruin. Like vultures. But the vultures don’t cause the battles then they pick meat off of, they’re just there as it happens. I wonder how they’re treated. Then again, the town needs them in order to communicate with the Toga.

Oooh, nice, taking the old custom and doing something new with it – taking the Halo pan and coming up with a doughnuts mold!

And it’s Rakka, the newest one around, who is the most outraged at the object of tradition being used in a mundane manner. To her it’s all new, but she also wants to find an anchor, to make one.

So Reki had been a Young Feather, she grew up here for quite some time, in this world.


Haibane Renmei episode 1 anime notes - Rakka's birth is painful

Episode 3 had certainly been one about tradition, and living in the modern world. Episode 2 wasn’t so much about taking steps in the world as it’s been about gazing at it wonderingly. Episode 3 showed the characters actually taking steps within the world, and interacting with it. Trying to negotiate their place – between those with no care for tradition, and those who are its living embodiment, between humans, and their place as talking crows.

Growing up in the world, being part of it, or in the case of Reki, being apart from it. They are never allowed to simply mingle.

This is an interesting show thus far. Not for plot, because none had been raised thus far. The characters aren’t there yet, and there’s very little characterization, what is there is mostly of Reki’s. Our “protagonist” is one that is new to the world and doesn’t understand it, and even if she does, she’s afraid to act on it, so we explore things together.

Themes of rebirth, of alienation – we all enter the world, and we must all find our place in it. Where will it go from now? No idea, yet.

Return to the Haibane Renmei Episodic Notes page.

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