Episode 07:

Scar - Sickness - The Arrival of Winter

Short Summary:
Rakka is depressed about Kuu leaving, and is keeping Kuu's room clean. Rakka notices a dark spot on her wings. While she's eating in town, Hyouko approaches her to ask about the light, and Rakka runs off. The others worry about Rakka and suggest she use Kuu's bed. They're also making wing covers for the winter. Reki notices Rakka's wings and tells her about a dye she can use to cover it and about her own past.

Detailed Summary:
The episode opens on Rakka lying on a couch in her new room. Looking at her hand, she says Kuu's name.

Flashback to the haibane leaving the forest. Rakka has stopped, and is just standing there crying. The other haibane try to comfort her. Reki takes Rakka by the hand and pulls her along.

Title screen.
It's morning at Old Home and the bell in the clock tower is ringing. Rakka has been sleeping on the couch since she hasn't found a bed yet. As she gets up a feather falls from her wings, one with a black spot on it. Rakka looks out the window, leaving frost from her breath on it, watching the other haibane in the courtyard.

Rakka goes to clean Kuu's room. It's been a month since Kuu left, and Rakka is keeping it clean. While she's cleaning she talks to Kuu, telling her about what's happened. She starts crying again, saying she wanted to be with Kuu longer. Noticing a diorama by the window, she sees that Kuu has a set of frog figures with everyone's names written on them. As she looks closer, she sees that the one labeled Rakka is sitting next to the one labeled Kuu, and pushes the Rakka one off its lily pad

While washing her hands, Rakka notices a spot on her wings in the mirror. Pulling the feather off, she isn't sure what to make of it.

Rakka goes into town to eat. She stops at the cafe Kuu used to work at and orders some pea soup. The owner asks about Kuu, calling her a boy. Rakka says her name, and he apologizes for calling her a boy. Rakka tells him that Kuu's gone, and he says he heard haibane do that. He gives her the soup for free.

As she eats, she thinks about how the people of the town are quickly forgetting about Kuu. Hyouko rides by on his skateboard and spots her. He goes to talk to her, and is surprised that she knows his name. He asks her about the beam of light in the woods, if it was someone from Old Home leaving. He asks specifically if it was Reki. When Rakka says it wasn't, he's relieved. Rakka gets upset and drops her soup, spilling it on her dress. She tells him that her friend is gone and runs off.

Rakka walks slowly back to Old Home, and notices that Kuu's sign is missing. While standing in the entryway, she notices some crows staring at her.

The other four haibane are in the kitchen making dinner. Kana is complaining about Hikari's cooking, and Nemu asks where Rakka is. Kana tells her that Rakka has been eating in town. They're worried about her still being upset about Kuu's leaving. Nemu and Reki decide they should do something to help her, and Hikari has an idea.

Rakka is in her room, trying to figure out how to clean her clothes. She notices in the mirror that the spots on her wings are growing. Hikari comes to get her for breakfast, and Rakka says she'll be there after she gets ready.

The other haibane are in the guest room with all their sewing gear and patterns out. They're making new wing covers before it gets too cold. Kana's complaining about having to sew, saying she's better with machines. Rakka comes in, dressed in her old brown dress, and everyone's pleased to see her. Reki asks about Rakka's clothes, and Rakka says she's trying to clean it. Hikari shows her the wing covers, and Rakka says she's never sewn before, which pleases Kana.

Hikari offers to teach her, and tries to get measurements. She notices that Rakka's wings are ragged, and asks if she's been taking care of them. Reki gets worried, and takes a close look. Rakka says it's probably because she's been sleeping on the hard couch. Hikari suggests using Kuu's bed, and Rakka's wings get worse. Reki tries to look again, but Rakka runs off. Hikari is worried she said something she shouldn't have. Reki runs after Rakka, insisting she go alone.

Reki goes to Rakka's room and hears her crying. When Rakka won't answer, she goes in anyway. Rakka is sitting on the floor, surrounded by bits of feathers she's cut from her wings. Rakka tells Reki to stay away, but she doesn't listen. Rakka grabs for the scissors again, but Reki stops her, hugging her. Rakka's wings are quickly getting worse, and Reki takes the scissors away from her. Rakka says they're growing quickly, and asks if she's sick. Reki says she isn't.

Reki takes Rakka back to her room, where she puts a dye on Rakka's wings. Rakka asks if it's medicine, but Reki insists that it isn't. Rakka asks why Reki has this, and Reki tells her about how sometimes there are haibane who do not have the town's blessing. They can't remember their dreams, and they never leave the nest. She calls those haibane Sin-Bound.

Reki says that Rakka isn't one. When Rakka was born, her wings were gray. Reki adds that she was born with black-spotted wings. She says she still can't remember her dream, and that almost everyone avoided her because of her wings.

Reki tells Rakka about Kuramori, the older haibane at Old Home when she was born and the one who took care of her. She shows Rakka a painting of her, and tells her about Kuramori getting the dye for her, and being there for her. Reki tells Rakka about when Kuramori left. She says that Nemu researched it, and found out about the day of leaving the nest, but she didn't believe it then. She had a fight with Nemu and ran away. She says she was caught and punished by the Renmei for other things she did in town after that. She adds that Rakka doesn't have to worry about it, because she hasn't done anything wrong.

Rakka asks about Reki's dream, and Reki shows her some paintings she's been working on to help her remember. She still doesn't remember very much of it, and Rakka can't make any sense of the paintings. Reki tells the story of her dream again, adding that something horrible happens that she can't remember.

Going back to her own room, Rakka finds a pair of wing covers hanging from her door. They've got a note inside apologizing to her. She stands outside the door hugging the wing covers, and thinks about what she's been told.

Back in her own room, Reki contemplates her painting of Kuramori.

Standard Closing.


This time it's Kana who stands apart from the others. She's unable to do anything to comfort Rakka, as the others are attempting. She's completely at a loss in this situation, left simply to wonder if Kuu could hear the bell ringing.
In the end, it's Reki who has to take Rakka by the hand and get her going again.

I'll cover the blight on the feathers later in the commentary.

This time it's winter, the season of death and isolation, as well as old age.

Kana seems to have no problem roughhousing with the kids.

The halls near Kuu's room have been painted with what looks like a landscape. Assuming Kuu did it, this is probably the view of Old Home from the nearby hill with the wind generators on it. Kuu seems to have spent a lot of time there.

Rakka is in serious denial. She understands that Kuu won't be returning, but is trying to keep her room clean for her, just in case. She even still talks to Kuu. Rakka simply cannot let go of her friends.

Kuu had a lot of stuffed animals in her room, emphasizing her youth. She's also very fond of frogs, which appear in various forms on all sorts of items.

Frogs are symbols of fertility, regeneration and cleansing. In Egypt they were also associated with chaos, and were the symbol of an unformed man. They are also heavily associated with the element of water.
On the negative side, they've also been associated with envy

The diorama of frogs that Kuu has put together is very interesting. Notice that she's using empty cigarette packs of Reki's as the wall?
She's managed to capture the other haibane's personalities well, too.
Reki, the authority figure, as the only obvious man of the group. This fits the traditional Japanese family structure.
Hikari is, of course, the only one with glasses. The frog is a student, which fits the way Hikari seems to act around the bakery.
Nemu is the one in the apron, giving her something similar to a traditional mother's role.
Kana, kicking back on the lily pad. If she had added a little watch, this would have been great.
Both Kuu and Rakka are given ribbons, emphasizing their femaleness. They're also sitting side by side, showing how close Kuu felt to Rakka.
Rakka knocks her own frog off the lily pad. She apparently doesn't feel she's worthy of Kuu's friendship at the moment, even though she's the one who's been most upset.

For all that Rakka seems to greatly value friendships, when she gets depressed she doesn't want to be around anyone.

The cafe owner isn't at all surprised that Kuu has disappeared. Being human, he's probably heard about this sort of thing several times before. The oldest haibane we know of is Nemu, who's been there for nine years, so it's no surprise that this would be a bigger shock to them than the townspeople.

I really like the bamboo take-out bowl for the soup, too. If anyone ever sees something like that, let me know.

While Rakka is thinking about people forgetting Kuu, we see a cat that looks just like the one Kuu was playing with in episode two.

Hyouko mentions that Old Home is in the south, which is the direction associated with power, strength and vitality. It's the direction where the sun is the strongest, and so is also associated with light, summer and the element of fire. In the Bible, the south was the side of the "spirits made just" and angels.
Since south is so strongly associated with summer and heat, winter would be the time this direction would have the weakest positive influence.

Hyouko mentions the nickname of the factory, garakuta koujou (garbage factory). He also mentions that it's in the east, which is the direction of sunrise and beginnings. It's associated with the season of spring and the element of air. In both the Old and New Testament, it's associated with God and Jesus.
It's also associated with the traditional and the civilized, but this doesn't fit the picture we're given of it.

Hyouko doesn't like people mispronouncing his name (hyoko means "chick", as in baby chicken). He's also quite worried about Reki still, which fits with what Nemu said in episode five. He still wants to keep his concern a secret, however.

Notice that while Hyouko is talking, the cat disappears? Right after he asks about someone being missing, too. Considering how strongly Kuu was associated with cats, I don't think this was a coincidence.

Rakka's so upset about Hyouko's relief that Reki didn't leave that she drops her soup. The staining of the dress reinforces the staining of the wings, which has become markedly worse by the time Rakka gets back to Old Home.

Hikari and Kana in the kitchen almost manage to feel like a bickering married couple. They're definitely close friends, even if Kana is complaining about Hikari's cooking. They show the same sort of thing later when Hikari is trying to get Kana to work on her sewing.

Kana, aside from Rakka, seems the one who was closest to Kuu. They were both tomboys, and Kuu was the one born after Kana, so they probably were pretty close, even if we didn't see much of it during the series.

Nemu shows the motherly side Kuu's frog gives her here, as well. She's the one who's been keeping track of Rakka.

Rakka ends up back in the brown dress from episode two. She's regressing here. After Kuu's disappearance, she's even less comfortable about being a haibane than before.

If the gray of the wings represents a balance, then the blight shows an imbalance. The worse Rakka feels about Kuu's departure, the stronger the black gets.

The theme of hiding is strong in this episode. Rakka avoids the other haibane, Hyouko is hiding that he's a haibane, they're making wing covers, and Reki shows her how to use a dye to cover the blight.

The bare tree calls to mind winter, with all the same associations as the season. The crow sitting in this tree is representative of death.

From Reki's description of Kuramori, it seems that Reki has been trying to emulate her. Also keep in mind their friendship.

In episode five, Nemu talks a little about the time Reki ran away. We know now why, because of Kuramori's disappearance. Reki calls herself a criminal, as well, because of what she did while she was away.
Nemu tried to help at the time, and researched the day of leaving the nest at the library. This is probably the same time as the scene in episode five, where we see Sumika comforting a young Nemu on the hill. She looked about the same age as she did in the flashback here.

Reki says that she can't remember all of her dream. Rakka still doesn't remember all of hers, either. This seems to be necessary for the blight to afflict them. It also explains what dream Reki's been having, the one that caused her to fall out of bed in episode three.

Thanks to Snuffles13 for pointing this out on the forum.

Keep a close eye on Reki's paintings toward the end of the episode.  You'll see this:

Reki's paintings

The one in question is the one in the middle.  Unfortunately, we never get a clear shot of the full painting in the series itself.  We do get a full shot of it in the artbook, though:

Reki's painting artbook version

Now take a look at this:

Vincent van Gogh's "Wheat Field with Crows"

This is Vincent van Gogh's painting "Wheat Field with Crows" (offsite link).  The similarities are almost certainly intentional, as ABe does have a fine arts degree, and was trained in traditional Japanese painting.  The French and Japanese painters of van Gogh's time had a large cross-influence on each other.

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