Episode 03:

Temple - Washi - Pancake

Short Summary:
Rakka is summoned to the Renmei temple, and Hikari goes with her to return the halo mold. Rakka returns to Old Home and helps Reki out with the kids, then goes into town to buy snacks for them. Kuu shows Rakka the bakery where Hikari works.

Detailed Summary:
Standard Opening
A new day, and Rakka is searching for Reki's new room. She follows a trail through the dust to find it, although she has trouble with her halo along the way. Hearing a scream from inside the room, Rakka quickly enters and finds Reki sitting on the floor, having fallen out of bed.

The room's a bit messy, since Reki was using the area as a studio. Rakka asks to see her paintings, but Reki won't show her, or let her into the actual studio. Rakka asks her to come down to breakfast, but Reki says she'll eat later. Rakka mentions that she'll be going to the Haibane Renmei temple later with Hikari. As soon as Rakka leaves, Reki mentions having the same dream again.

On their walk to the temple, Rakka is worried she's offended Reki by entering her room without permission. Hikari keeps telling her not to worry about it, but she does. Nemu walks part way with them, and tells Rakka a little bit about when she and Reki shared a room.

Hikari and Rakka have to take a path off to the side to get to the temple. Hikari mentions Rakka's halo, and Rakka asks why she's in charge of the halos, but Hikari quickly changes the subject. They come to a suspension bridge, and at first Rakka is scared to cross. She hurries across quite quickly after Hikari nearly falls off it while trying to show how safe it is. The rest of the path to the temple is a narrow ledge on a cliff.

When they get to the temple they encounter a Renmei member outside. Hikari warns Rakka not to talk. After they get bells put on their wings, the Renmei member directs them inside and leaves. Hikari quickly explains the rules to Rakka, including how to say yes and no by shaking the bells. This worries Rakka, since she still can't control her wings.

They enter the temple, which is filled with trees and open to the sky. Washi asks why they came, and then supplies the answers for them. He has them come into the garden, where Hikari returns the halo mold and asks Rakka about her name. When she tries to answer she messes up, and Washi gives her a short lecture about accepting her wings. He then presents her with a handbook.

On their way back from the temple, Rakka complains about Hikari not telling her anything in advance. Their talk is interrupted when Rakka thinks she sees Kuu and calls out to her. Kuu doesn't hear them, however, and Hikari explains that the hill, where Kuu was, is very noisy because of all the wind generators.

When they get back to the main road, Hikari heads into town to work. Rakka goes back to Old Home, planning to apologize to Reki. As she gets there she's almost run over by a group of kids who are running from Reki. Reki stops chasing the kids to talk to Rakka.

They talk about the temple for a bit, and Rakka tries to apologize, but doesn't. Instead she asks if Reki always cooks for the kids. Reki explains how things are set up at Old Home for taking care of the kids. Reki explains that the kids were running off because the dorm mother had made carrots for lunch. Rakka offers to help out with the kids. Reki suggests that Rakka go visit the other haibane's workplaces when she looks for a job.

Returning to the kid's lunch room, they find the remaining kids still complaining about the carrots. The dorm mother suggests that Reki should show the kids how it's done and hands Reki a plate of carrots. Rakka finds this amusing... until Reki passes the carrots on to her. Rakka eats some of them, which impresses the kids. Reki tells the kids it's their turn, but they still don't like it.

Hana refuses to eat any, and Reki threatens her with the Carrot Monster. Hana runs to hide behind Rakka, and then announces that Rakka smells like pancakes. The other kids agree and start up a chant, demanding pancakes. The dorm mother interrupts and announces that there will be pancakes for dessert... if they eat all their carrots. Rakka offers to go buy them, saying she wanted to see the bakery Hikari works at.

On her way out, she runs into the kids who had run away and tells them about the pancakes. As they return, Kuu comes out and meets up with Rakka. Kuu offers to show Rakka where the bakery is, and they take a bike in. While on the way, Rakka mentions having seen Kuu earlier, and Kuu says that she went into town to buy her new hat.

As they walk through town, Kuu points things out to Rakka, acting as a guide. They talk about where Kuu works, and Kuu tells Rakka how she had wanted a little sister. She adds that now she's glad that Rakka's bigger, because otherwise she'd be in the kid's group. They also run across a guy at a crepe stall trying to scare some crows away. Kuu says she feels sorry for them, because she thinks they just want to be friends.

When they get to the bakery, the lady behind the counter directs them to the kitchen. They watch Hikari working for a bit until they're noticed by one of the bakers. Hikari goes to talk to them, and Rakka tells her about buying snacks for the kids. When Hikari tries to minimize her role in the bakery, the older baker shows off some new pastries Hikari came up with... halo-shaped ones. He then mentions that Hikari recently brought in an unusual pan and they experimented with it. Rakka realizes it was the halo mold and gets upset.

Back at Old Home, the dorm mother and Reki are having an argument because Reki doesn't want to eat the carrots either. Reki ends up guessing that the carrots were as much a lesson for her as for the kids.

Later, Hikari tells the other haibane about things they're doing at work before they eat. They're all waiting for Rakka, who's trying to wash her halo off. Hikari goes in and apologizes to her.

Standard Closing.


Old Home is quite big and old. The haibane are quite obviously incapable of maintaining the entire building, so they just clean up the areas they actually use. It makes me wonder why they're using such a huge building, unless it was the only one available at the time. Or maybe the haibane have baby booms too...

Nemu mentioned in the last episode that Reki was always cranky after waking up, now we find out why. Reki has a recurring nightmare (or, at the least, strange dream). Since she is sleeping in a bunk bed, I assume it's usually not bad enough to cause her to fall out of bed. She also seems to sleep in her clothes, or at least her usual shirt.

Rakka is definitely a worrier. She doesn't let go of things at all.

Nemu mentions again in this episode that Reki doesn't sleep well. They do have very different personalities, and it's hard to imagine them sharing a room, especially in a building that big.

The Haibane Renmei are even more isolated than the haibane are, for all their influence.

Hikari isn't very good at changing the subject or hiding her nervousness. She also tends to jump into things without thinking about them first, something I'll mention again at the end of the section.

Notice how Rakka is hesitant to cross the bridge until Hikari nearly falls off it? She seems shy, but she's willing to take action when she's worried about someone.

The bells on the wings are a nice touch. It emphasizes that the Haibane Renmei are primarily there for the haibane. It would be interesting to see how the Renmei communicate with normal townspeople rather than the Tooga or the haibane, but they probably don't. We certainly see no evidence of it happening.

Hikari uses the word "aisatsu". My dictionary shows it as "greeting; salutation", but it seems to be used more like the Hawaiian aloha, for both hellos and good-byes. And yes, there is a point to me mentioning this. It's worth keeping in mind.

The temple is the first clear usage of the well symbolism. Notice that when Rakka looks up, the top of the temple is open to the sky.

All the greenery inside the temple would call to mind Shintoism more than any Western religion, I think. I'm pretty sure they aren't meant to be Druids, after all. I don't know enough about Shintoism to comment yet.

As I mentioned last episode, Rakka still isn't accepting her status as haibane. Washi tells her so here.

Kuu seems to like the hills with the wind generators. That's where we see her during the opening, and where Rakka spots her.

There's some interesting imagery in the scene where Hikari and Rakka part. I may be reading too much into it however, and it won't become obvious until much later why, so I'll leave it for now. Still, it's something you might want to come back and look at later, and I'll try to remember to address it again when it becomes appropriate.

Reki mentions being worried about Hikari doing something silly. She seems to have quite a long track record of this.
Reki doesn't seem to have a very good opinion of the Haibane Renmei, either. Not Washi, anyway.

Rakka is still too tentative and shy to actually speak what's on her mind.

The dorm mother seems to think it's her job to teach Reki as well, but Reki's pretty good at avoiding things she doesn't like. Rakka really shouldn't have laughed...

Reki has some interesting methods of kid-control. I haven't heard any "carrot monster" stories before. If anyone knows of a Japanese folktale this may have come from, please let me know.

Notice the little frog drawing on Kuu's nameplate? Kuu really likes frogs. I need to look into the symbolism there, but the obvious one is the same sort of transformation symbolism as with the caterpillar to butterfly symbolism of the cocoons.

Notice Kuu's new hat? She's even wearing it over her halo.
We also get another look at Kuu being a big sister. She even explains to Rakka how she felt about it. Kuu is pretty honest with her feelings.

Hikari and the halo mold, once again we see that she tends to give in to her whims.

The moon appears to be waning gibbous (which I've also seen called disseminating for some reason) in this episode. This phase of the moon is the time to collect information and prepare for later. It's also a time of introspection. Very appropriate for this stage of the story arc.

I've already mentioned most of what this episode showed us about the characters, but I want to address Hikari again here.
Normally in anime, when a character is wearing glasses it's to show that they're smarter than most of the other characters. It's not an infallible rule, but it's usually the case. In Hikari's case, I think the glasses are simply to show that she's shortsighted, in a figurative sense. As we see clearly this episode, she has a tendency of following her whims, of taking action without thinking things through first.
This ties in with one of my two main theories about the show, but I won't get into those until the episode 13 commentary.

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Images Copyright Pioneer and/or yoshitoshi ABe unless otherwise noted