Episode 3 of Haibane Renmei completes Rakka’s recognition as a Charcoal Feather and begins her search for a place in her new world.

The episode begins with Rakka looking for Reki’s “new” room as breakfast is being served. This reinforces just how old, and decrepit, Old Home really is before she finds signs of moving at a door. A cry and a crash just before she knocks has her entering a study with a covered easel.

Reki is gasping on the floor of her bedroom, having fallen out of bed. Reki makes light of the issue, the mess, and of her status as an artist. There is a third room, but Reki keeps Rakka out of it with an excuse about that room being really messy.

When I first saw this episode this incident didn’t seem that important. There are hints there that all is not well with Reki, but the focus is so firmly on Rakka that it mostly slid by me. Now I see that this incident is the first signal of the looming importance of Reki’s art.

After Rakka leaves, Reki comments about the “same dream again” and sighs.

Rakka and Hikari are walking to the Temple, and there is some amusing interplay along the way. Hikari seems to be guilty over something to do with Rakka’s halo, that running gag of static electricity from the halo, and the ring in which the halo was made.

On arrival at the Temple Hikari turns out to have forgotten all the rules, especially the one that says that the Haibane cannot speak in the Temple and must signal with bells that are added to their wings.

The Communicator [1] summons Hikari and Rakka to the garden. Rakka’s first attempt to answer a question “yes” by shaking the bells on her right wing only is somewhat embarrassing. Admonished by the Communicator she gets it right after that.

Rakka receives her book from the Charcoal Feather Foundation and leaves the Temple. Hikari heads to the bakery where she works. Rakka returns to Old Home to the sight of some Young Feathers fleeing lunch being chased by Reki.

It turns out that looking after the Young Feathers is Reki’s job, and this is a moment for a brief infodump about the limited places that Haibane can work at. It turns out that the Young Feathers are objecting to being served carrots which they describe as bitter [2].

The housemother hands Reki a plate to be an example and she then passes straight onto Rakka to do it instead.

This effort doesn’t work so the House Mother sets cleared plates as a requirement for getting pancakes as a snack. The plates are cleared immediately, and the house mother makes the obvious carrot and stick joke [3].

Rakka and Kuu head out on a winding trip through Glie to get to Hikari’s bakery. The discussion along the way is primarily about establishing a bond of friendship between Kuu and Hikari, with a secondary encounter with some crows. Kuu sees the crows as somewhat mistreated where Kana sees them as scavengers.

In the bakery Hikari is finally busted when a new large donut shaped mould is revealed, one that is about the same size as their halos. It turns out that Rakka’s mould got used in the bakery before being used for her halo. This is a nice touch, but it does make you feel a little sorry for Rakka with her hair constantly jumping up as a result.

Back at Old Home it turns out that the whole carrot and pancakes incident was about the house mother teaching Reki a lesson. Her pensive look for a second makes it clear that something struck home.

Rakka is washing her halo as Hikari apologises. Another incident of Rakka’s hair jumping up ends the episode.

Thankfully we are now past the excessive infodumps, and what is left is coming in smaller doses.

This is an interesting episode in terms of how it is structured and what the episode sets up. First is the transition from introducing Rakka to a series of A Day in the Limelight episodes for the supporting characters. These are reasonably common in animes with large casts. However the extent to which Rakka needs [4] the Limelight episodes is quite rare in my experience [5].

This episode dealt with Hikari, and Kuu [6], later episodes will focus on Kana and Nemu. The transition is well handled, and grabs most of the viewer’s attention.

But there is also some clever misdirection going on: the focus on the supporting characters is a distraction from the hints about Reki’s darkness. The extent to which Reki’s story is foreshadowed here surprised me, and I only noticed it because of the viewing style for these posts [7].

Overall this is a well constructed episode with a lot to catch the viewer’s attention, and it acquires layers when you know what’s coming.

Day 1 – Cocoon – Dream of Falling from the Sky – Old Home
Day 2 – Town and Wall – Toga – Haibane Renmei
Day 3 – The World of Haibane Renmei
Day 4 – Temple – Communicator – Pancakes
Day 5 – Trash Day – Clock Tower – Birds Flying Over the Walls
Day 6 – Dub vs Sub?
Day 7 – Library – Abandoned Factory – The Beginning of the World
Day 8 – End of Summer – Rain – Loss
Day 9 – The Gender of Haibane Renmei
Day 10 – Scar – Illness – Arrival of Winter
Day 11 – The Bird
Day 12 – ???
Day 13 – Well – Rebirth – Riddle
Day 14 – Kuramori – Haibane of Abandoned Factory – Rakka’s Job
Day 15 – ???
Day 16 – Parting – Darkness in the Heart – Irreplaceable Thing
Day 17 – Bell Nuts – Passing of the Year Festival – Reconciliation
Day 18 – ????
Day 19 – Reki’s World – Prayer – Reconciliation
Day 20 – Looking Back At Haibane Renmei

[1] The Communicator is the only person allowed to speak in the Temple.

[2] I think this might be a cultural reference – I’ve never found carrots to be bitter. 🙂

[3] Given that the house mother uses a walking stick, it works surprisingly well.

[4] Rakka needs to find a place to work that suits her, and there are limited choices.

[5] I can’t actually think of another example.

[6] More time will be spent on the relationship between Rakka and Kuu.

[7] I expected this. I found the same thing when I did Twenty Days of Lodoss War and Thirty Days of Escaflowne.