TRIGGER WARNING: Episode 7 of Haibane Renmei contains elements of self harm, and possible references to suicide.
This is a very dark episode. Rakka is not getting over her grief, and it leads to some dark places that force Reki to reveal some of her past.
It looks like my comment on the post credit scenes was incorrect. The flashback to the return to Old Home after Kuu’s Day of Flight is an opening tag before the credits. Thematically this actually works better as it more clearly shows the other Haibane moving on when Rakka cannot.
After the credits the bells in the Old Home clock tower start ringing , and the shot pans past Rakka’s arm with what looks suspiciously like a scar on the wrist. This is something I hadn’t noticed previously, and it carries some nasty implications for Rakka’s previous life .
As Rakka rises a black stained feather falls unnoticed from her wings, and she comments about needing a bed. The subsequent monologue where Rakka talks to Kuu as if Kuu is still there is disturbing: a month later Rakka is still in denial, and is even cleaning Kuu’s bedroom. Rakka continues to talk to Kuu whilst cleaning her room before breaking down completely.
Near the window is a diorama of sorts representing Old Home with the Haibane represented as ceramic frogs in various poses. The two for Rakka and Kuu are side by side until Rakka tips hers over, leaving Kuu’s in place. I don’t like the symbolism of this scene at all, and worse is to come.
Back in her own room Rakka finally notices a black stained feather and pulls it from her wing. In town a depressed Rakka is buying pea soup from a cafe that Kuu used to work at. The proprietor remembers Kuu and is chatting about him when Rakka admits that Kuu has left.
I think that this might be the moment when Rakka admits to herself that Kuu is gone, but it doesn’t really help her yet.
Also significant is the lack of surprise on the part of the proprietor, who even makes a comment that he expects all Haibane to disappear sooner or later. I think he senses Rakka’s depression when he refuses to accept payment for the soup . When sitting down to eat her soup the idea that the entire town will forget Kuu depresses Rakka further.
Cue the insensitive male as Hyohko  arrives on his skateboard to ask Rakka about the beam of light. His relief when he finds out that it wasn’t Reki hurts Rakka deeply. Spilling her soup over her dress and leaving her container behind, Rakka flees to Old Home.
On arrival there is yet another reminder of Kuu’s departure: her name plate is no longer there. Looking back through the entrance, Rakka sees the crow looking at her again, and as it flies away black feathers fall to the ground.
The jump to the scene in the kitchen as Hikari is cooking pasta, with Kana criticising, jars somewhat until the mood darkens again as Rakka’s persistent absence is noted. Nemu is aware that Rakka has been cleaning Kuu’s room.
Rakka has changed to a dark, much less flattering, dress due to the pea soup stains on her main dress. This just reinforces the sense of depression as Rakka notices that the stained feathers are spreading before silently reaching for a pair of scissors.
Next morning a cheerful Hikari knocks on Rakka’s door to call her to breakfast. Rakka promises to come but there is also a sound of something metal hitting the ground.
In the guest room Hikari has been preparing patterns for sewing wing covers due to the arrival of winter. The jokes at Kana’s expense over her inability to sew reinforce the friendships among the established Haibane but die as Rakka enters.
I think that the gentle welcome, and concern, from the other Haibane isn’t something that Rakka is ready for yet. She certainly isn’t ready to have her damaged wings measured for wing covers.
Reki knows what is happening, and asks, but Rakka makes an excuse about the hard sofa. This leads to a suggestion that Rakka take Kuu’s bed triggers more of the black stains. Rakka flees and Reki goes to take care of it.
Reki hears crying from inside Rakka’s room and enters. The scene of Rakka sitting crying on the floor with cut feathers, and the scissors, all around her is harrowing. Reki approaches and manages to catch Rakka before she grabs the scissors again. Reki has a grim look  as she watches Rakka’s wings darken, but offers comfort to the sobbing Rakka as she takes the scissors away.
Reki is applying a dye that will hide the black, it is collected from a tree near the walls. Rakka asks why Reki has the medicine and we hear the story of the Sin-Bound Haibane who cannot achieve their Day of Flight.
For a good Haibane the walls are protection, for the Sin-Bound who cannot remember their Cocoon Dream the walls are a cage.
Reki was Sin-Bound from the beginning, and was only protected by another Haibane named Kuramori. Kuramori’s Day of Flight five years ago was what sent Reki off the rails.
Reki is insistent throughout that Rakka has done nothing wrong, that this is all a mistake.
I cannot help but wonder how much this faith helped Rakka later.
We also start seeing Reki’s art in this episode. There is a beautiful portrait of Kuramori on the one hand and disturbing paintings of the fragmentary memories Reki has of her Cocoon Nightmare , as well as the subsequent nightmares that Reki has every night.
Returning to her room Rakka finds a pair of wing covers on the door with a note that simply says “Sorry” inside.
Rakka is no longer finding Glie to be a paradise, that sad things still happen, and wonders what are the Haibane?
This episode ends with Rakka in a very bad place. Even though she knows that she has the support of the other Haibane, they simply cannot make the right connections to Rakka to pull her back from the brink.
It doesn’t help that Rakka hasn’t realised that her her Cocoon dream is incomplete.
This is a powerful episode, a textbook example of Break the Cutie done right, and it does leave a new viewer wondering how will Rakka come back from this. The episode also subtly sets the scene for the transition from Rakka to Reki as the primary character for the final episodes.
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 – Gender and Haibane Renmei
Day 7 – Library – Abandoned Factory – The Beginning of the World
Day 8 – End of Summer – Rain – Loss
Day 9 – Dub vs Sub?
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
- Twenty Days of Haibane Renmei – Day 7: Library – Abandoned Factory – The Beginning of the World (piratesobg.wordpress.com)
- Twenty Days of Haibane Renmei – Day 8: End of Summer – Rain – Loss (piratesobg.wordpress.com)
- Twenty Days of Haibane Renmei – Day 9: Sub vs Dub? (piratesobg.wordpress.com)