Episode 01:

Cocoon - Dream of Falling from the Sky - Old Home

Short Summary:
A new haibane is hatched after dreaming of falling from the sky. She meets the other haibane living in Old Home, is presented with a halo and a new name, and grows her wings.

Detailed Summary:
The show starts with a girl falling from the sky. A crow flies around her and caws, waking her. She talks to the crow for a bit, wondering why she isn't afraid. The crow grabs her robe, trying to stop her fall, but gets blown away in a gust of wind. The girl continues falling, flipping over as she breaks through the clouds to see a city stretched out below her. Just as she gets scared, a gust of wind blows her up and away.

Title screen.
After an establishing shot of an old building, we see a woman with long dark hair, a halo and wings carrying a box of miscellaneous items. As she walks past a door, she hears a sound and pauses. Opening the door, she discovers a large cocoon and drops her cigarette. Dropping her box, she runs down the hall, pauses, returns, and puts out her cigarette before running off again.

More shots of the building's exterior, focusing on the entry way. A number of tags with names on them hang there, as does a bulletin board. A pair of girls (also with wings and halo) ride up on a bicycle. Checking the board, they mention that everyone is already there.

Inside, The dark haired woman is trying to keep a group of kids out of the room with the cocoon. One of the girls from the bicycle, the one with the short hair, runs up and scares the kids off. Reki shows the other two into the room, where all the older haibane of Old Home are gathered. They talk about the cocoon, and Reki gets the others to help clean the room.

Inside the cocoon, the girl who was falling wakes up. Startled to be surrounded by water at first, she finds she can still breathe. Hearing voices, she digs into the wall of the cocoon.

The haibane have finished cleaning, and are deciding on a schedule to watch the cocoon when Kuu hears it making a noise. They gather around in time to see it crack, then hatch.

The girl who was in the cocoon wakes up lying on a bed. Realizing she's not dreaming any more, she tries to figure out where she is. She's interrupted by a pain in her back, and then by the haibane entering the room, talking all at once. Reki quiets them down and introduces herself. She then asks the girl about the dream she had in her cocoon. The girl tells them about falling from the sky, and the other haibane introduce themselves, explaining that they get their names from the dream they had.

Reki thinks for a bit, and then decides to name the girl Rakka (falling). Rakka is surprised to find she can't remember her original name.

Hikari presents Rakka with a halo. Unfortunately, it doesn't stick, and they have to use a support to hold it in place. Most of the haibane are forced to leave when their lunch break ends, but they promise to come back latter. Reki stays to take care of Rakka and explain things to her. Rakka asks where she is, and what a haibane is, and is surprised to find that Reki's wings are real.

Reki checks Rakka's back, finding that her wings are growing fast. She gets some ice to try to keep the swelling down, and apologizes for not explaining things in time. Reki explains to Rakka that no one knows exactly what they are, and that they aren't allowed to leave the city. She adds that no one outside remembers them. Rakka's wings start to break through her skin, and Reki runs to get her first aid kit. Wrapping a cloth bandage around her thumb, she has Rakka bite down as the wings break through.

Reki cleans the blood and oil from Rakka's new wings as Rakka recovers. Reki tells Rakka what beautiful gray wings she has.

The next morning, Rakka is out of bed. She's also got a major case of static-hair from her halo. Reki gives her a brush, but it doesn't help much. Rakka only gets distracted from her hair when she notices her wings in the reflection. She thanks Reki for cleaning them for her. Reki serves tea and formally welcomes Rakka to Old Home.

Standard Closing.


I'll start off with a short warning. There may be spoilers in these. I won't talk about later episodes in these sections, only about earlier ones. However, having seen the entire series my speculations cannot help but to take into account some of the things learned later. For some, this will be enough of a spoiler to be a problem, so consider yourself warned.

The first episode, being the first episode, isn't going to have a large segment here. Most of the important stuff is covered in the basic symbolism page. This one will be more of a general ramble than the later ones will. This is also just my first pass; I hope to refine things later.

The crow in the beginning is a good example of the crow in it's aspect as a guardian. It fails in this case, but it does try. The crows are quite important to the series, so keep an eye on them throughout.

Note the combined use of water, cocoon, and green. All three are variously symbolic of life and/or rebirth, along with change. This is a big signal as to what the major themes of the show will revolve around.

Notice that Reki is the only smoker. This is something else I'll be covering later on.

The reactions of the various haibane to the cocoon do a very good job of outlining their basic personalities. Their facial expressions while watching the cocoon react in particular. I'll cover that at the end of this segment. Especially keep in mind Kuu and Reki's reactions, in particular Reki's insistence on cleaning up the room.

Rakka's robe changes from the softness of a dream to the roughness of reality. The scent gives it that added touch of reality, as well as the down-to-earth feel.

The cigarette ash during Rakka's naming scene was a very nice touch. The obvious ash/hai and falling notes are there, but so is the symbolism of fire; purification or a destruction of the past.

The presentation of the halo I haven't completely figured out yet. It's something given by the other haibane, who also make it, as sort of a sign of acceptance. The basic halo symbolism ties in with the main themes of the series, but I'm not yet sure what to make of it not sticking right away. This scene is a little different than the doujin, where (assuming my translation is at all correct - not a given) Reki says it's a sign her halo will shine brightly.
The most likely explanation I've come up with so far would be that the halo not sticking is a sign she has yet to accept her status as a haibane. She also does say she should have been a normal girl. Reki's talk with Rakka shows that the haibane are set apart.

They are markedly the "others" in the series, and various restrictions highlight this.

The wings growing scene is definitely one of the more beautiful things I've ever seen in anime, even just on a cinematic level. The additional symbolism of change, especially major change, being painful ties in well with the other main themes. It also calls to mind "birth trauma".

Note the shot of the moon afterwards. This is done several times during the series, and it is something to keep an eye on.
In this case, the moon is full. A full moon is associated with mystery, nurturing, and pregnancy, all of which reflect on the story.

It looks like Reki's left handed here. She's using her right hand just to support Rakka's wing, and her left hand has the brush. She was using both hands pretty interchangeably earlier, so maybe she's ambidextrous.

On to our brief glimpses of the characters. Reki and Rakka get more screen time, and I'll save them for last.

Kuu: Energetic, happy, and young, she's the obvious innocent of the group. (Side note, but notice that her expression changes the least over the course of the cocoon hatching.) She also fits the suggestions of her name.
Kana: The obvious tomboy, chasing off kids and suggesting using a hammer to break the cocoon. I don't know yet how well she fits her name. The rest do quite well, so I suspect she does also. I'll be looking into this.
Nemu: Very laid back. She definitely fits her name. She also says little, so we don't have much to go on yet.
Hikari: Although bright and friendly, she seems prone to worrying and becoming over-serious. Another name I need to look into more.
Reki: The obvious matron of the group, she keeps everyone straightened out. Although the kids are willing to stand up to her en-mass, she's still got them mostly under control. She's also the obvious caregiver, the one staying with Rakka while her wings grow.
Rakka: Given the circumstances it's too early to make any definite conclusions about her. She seems a bit shy and timid, but she has just been thrust into a total unusual situation with no memories of her past. The confused and uncertain look may not last. She doesn't seem particularly pleased at being singled out this way, but she is quite delighted with having wings (who wouldn't be?).

Copyright 2003 - wraith@ssw.net
Images Copyright Pioneer and/or yoshitoshi ABe unless otherwise noted