Episode 02:

Town and Wall - Tooga - Haibane Renmei

Short Summary:
The haibane of Old Home take Rakka into town, except for Reki who stays to move into another room. They buy some clothes for Rakka and do some sightseeing. Rakka gets told about the city wall, the Tooga and the Haibane Renmei.

Detailed Summary:
Standard Opening
Getting dressed for her first day out after growing her wings, Rakka has trouble adjusting to wearing clothes with them. While she's getting changed, some of the kids raise a fuss around Reki. As Rakka comes out to meet them, they quiet down... briefly. Reki suggests they all go outside to the verandah.

Rakka looks over the surroundings, and Reki suggest she let her wings dry in the sun. Rakka's thoughts are interrupted by Hana, who shows off by clapping her wings. Rakka tries to imitate her, but has trouble controlling her wings. Reki brushes them out for her until the kid's curiosity gets in the way. Hana breaks up the boys fight by getting them all to practice with their wings.

The other haibane show up with breakfast. They talk about where Reki's going to move to, and she says she's moving in next to her studio. Some teasing of Nemu reminds Rakka that their names come from dreams, and she gets to hear about the kid's names. Then she asks about Reki's name.

Kuu suggests they go into town. Reki stays behind to start moving, but all the other older haibane go. As they walk to the main town, the haibane tell Rakka about Old Home. Rakka also finds out that most of the people there don't have wings, they're just normal people.

Once they're in town, Kuu notices Rakka looking at other people's clothing and suggest they go to a clothing store. Rakka finds out that haibane aren't allowed new things when they have to go to a used clothing store.

At the store, the owner has Rakka chose something off the rack, while the rest of the haibane have to pick through a box of used, unwashed, and unorganized clothes. Rakka chooses a seifuku (school uniform). As they "pay" for the clothes, they tell Rakka about the Haibane Renmei handbooks that function as money. Rakka has to sign and leave a feather since she doesn't have one yet. After seeing her face as he's bagging their purchases, the owner takes pity on Rakka and adjusts her seifuku for free.

As they have a break in the town, the haibane explain more about the Haibane Renmei and the rules the haibane live under. They explain that they all work; Kana in the clock tower, Hikari at a bakery, and Nemu at the library. Hikari suggests that Rakka start thinking about a job soon.

Kuu notices that something's going on at the gate. They go to see, and find that the Tooga have come. There they also see Washi, head of the Haibane Renmei, and the only one allowed to communicate with the Tooga, which he does by sign language. They also explain that no one is allowed to enter or leave the city, except for the Tooga. Nemu adds that as partial payment for Washi's services, many of the expenses of Old Home are covered by the people. Kuu calls out her thanks, which draws attention to them. They quickly leave, Nemu saying they'll be in trouble if they stay too long.

As she turns to leave, Rakka is distracted by the cawing of a crow. She turns to find Washi staring right at her. She stands there until Washi startles the crow, which flies off. Running after it, she catches up to the other haibane, who have paused while Kana shouts at the crow.

They walk back to Old Home as evening approaches. Rakka asks what's on the other side of the wall, but Nemu explains that no one knows. Rakka then wonders if the town she was living in before is out there.

When they get back to Old Home they find that the Haibane Renmei had visited during the day. They left Rakka's sign for the entryway, as well as a note asking her to appear at the temple. Hikari says she has to return the halo mold, and offers to go with her.

They break up to go to their own rooms. Rakka goes inside to find Reki waiting in the guest room, smoking in the dark. Reki asks if hey ate, and Rakka explains they ate on the way home. Reki sits down to some sandwiches, and Rakka offers to make tea. Before she can, she collapses from exhaustion. Reki puts her to bed, and her makeshift halo support falls off before she falls asleep.

Standard Closing.


Rakka's awkwardness with her new wings is perfectly understandable, but it's a great touch most wouldn't have thought of including.
As Rakka looks in the mirror, she's still uneasy about the wings, but is starting to accept them. The problems she has controlling them are only partly because they're new, although that isn't made clear until the next episode.

Reki definitely gets her motherly side emphasized here. She can't fully control the kids, but who can?
Nemu mentions that her room makes them feel calmer. It seems that Reki's been a solid figure at Old Home for a long time.

Notice Hana's shifts from shy to bold. She was the spokesman of the group in episode 1, and it looks like she's got some influence on Dai and Shouta.
These kids also remind me of the trio appearing briefly in NieA_7, in the "Alien and Violence Cosmic Bath". NieA destroys their sandcastle while trying to find out about the mysterious oil, and they chase her off by throwing mudballs.
Notice there's also a boy-girl-boy group in Serial Experiments: Lain, although the dynamics of the group are completely different.

Reki tells Rakka that she needs to let her wings dry out in the sun. This, of course, calls to mind a newly hatched butterfly. I'm sure the cocoon/transformation imagery isn't accidental there.

This is our first real look over Old Home.

I really love the touch of having Hana stand there flapping her arms after showing off to Rakka. I don't know what it is exactly, but the thought of a girl with wings flapping her arms is something I'm finding highly amusing. Of course, the same applies to the way Kuu runs around with her arms stretched out, like an airplane.

Nemu gets teased about her name a lot, doesn't she?

Being named after your dream is a haibane tradition, but Kana mentions the kids don't follow it. After Dai and Hana announce their names and the reasons, Rakka comments on them being future dreams. I'm still thinking about how this fits in with my other speculation, but going into that in this episode would be a big spoiler, so it'll wait. Just keep it in mind.

When Reki tells her dream, there's a very uncomfortable pause. Her dream does have dark overtones, but it seems stronger than what she says would suggest.

Keep an eye on how Kuu is treating Rakka. As she mentioned in the first episode, she was longing for a little sister. Now that she's ended up with a big sister, Kuu's still trying to fill the role of elder sister.

We find out a lot about the haibane's status in this episode. They made their nest in what was an abandoned building, which still doesn't have electricity in half of it. They have to live away from the main city, and use the things people there don't want any more. They aren't allowed to wear new clothes, or even to have money.

As the saying goes, it requires a very unusual mind to undertake analysis of the obvious. ABe shows some of the practicalities of having wings that I've never seen dealt with before, like the mention of sleeves for the wings and wing covers.

Notice the little wings-and-halo symbol outside the door of the used clothing store. It looks like haibane are restricted in the shops they're allowed to use. This symbol seems to be used as an indicator for those stores.

The clothing store guy is listening to a radio, but we don't see any radio towers around town. There must be one, otherwise they'd be picking up news from the outside world. It does make me wonder who the DJ is, and whether or not the wall acts as a good jammer. The audio isn't coming in that clearly.

Yes, Rakka chooses a seifuku. The first comment someone made at the anime club was "oh, fanservice". I don't agree. Rakka mentions in the first episode that she should have been a normal girl. For a teenage Japanese girl, I suspect the school uniform is about as normal as it can get. She's still trying to hold on to her pre-haibane life.
The color choice is also interesting. Most Eastern cultures relate white with death, whereas Western cultures tend to associate it with purity.
And I love her expression after the owner tells her that he'll adjust it for free.

We find out where everyone works. Kana in a clock tower, Hikari in a bakery, Nemu in the library.

The Tooga coming to visit is a big event. If they're the only ones allowed to enter the city, the goods they bring must command a high premium. With the Haibane Renmei acting as mediators, they're bound to have a very large amount of influence on the city's politics. The haibane are still treated as half-caste, however, which means it's probably the Haibane Renmei that wants them kept apart.

Comparing the size of the wall with the nearby buildings, it looks to be over ten stories tall. Rakka's right. That is a big wall.

Washi's title, speaker or communicator, is pretty obvious since he's the only one who's allowed to communicate with the Tooga.

Rakka gets very distracted by the crow cawing. They are important to the story, so keep an eye on their appearances and actions.

Nemu mentions that no one knows what's outside the wall. It's not even talked about in any of the books in the library. The city is under a very effective information blackout.

Rakka's halo finally sticks. If my theory about the halos is at all correct, she's started to accept being a haibane. She's still got a long way to go, as she's still trying to find her former life, but she's started.

Spot the fanservice.

No, I don't mean naked people. Or Rakka's seifuku. Check out the coat Nemu finds in the box. It seems she wasn't the first one to find it. Also take a look at NieA's treasure. They're a different shade of green, but the two shows have very different color pallets.

Credit goes to catsspat of Anime Phile on the Anime on DVD forums for spotting this one.

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