Episode 09:

Well - Rebirth - Riddle

Short Summary:
Rakka is rescued from the well by the Tooga. While trying to find her way home she gets lost and ends up at the wall, which she touches. Washi finds her there and escorts her out of the woods, talking with her along the way. He leaves her at the ends of the woods, where the other haibane find her. They rush her back to Old Home, where she falls ill.

Detailed Summary:
The Old Home haibane are looking for Rakka. It's snowing and dark, and they can't find a trace of her. They meet on the hill by the windmills.

Rakka is sitting at the bottom of the well, getting covered by snow. She's still wondering who the crow was, and is remembering all the things she's been told about birds since coming to Glie. She realizes she felt protected in her dream, but can't figure out who it was.

She hears a ringing, and one of the Tooga comes and looks down the well. Rakka calls out for help, but he just watches her for a moment, then silently walks away. Rakka panics, and tries to jump high enough to grab onto the stonework of the well, but falls. The ringing returns, and two Tooga members appear at the top of the well.

They lower a lantern down in the bucket for her, and one of them climbs down into the well. He signs at Rakka, but she doesn't understand him. He then kneels down and motions that Rakka should use him for a boost. Rakka understands and, kicking off her shoes, lets him boost her up far enough to reach the solid rungs. Pausing to look back at the grave she's made, she climbs out of the well.

The Tooga member climbs out after her, as the other Tooga pulls the lantern up. Rakka thanks them, and they silently walk off. Rakka yells at them to wait, and asks if they've seen Kuu. The Tooga pause but don't answer. As they walk off Rakka trips, but yells after them again.

Rakka walks slowly because of her sprained ankle, trying to get out of the woods. She gets lost and winds up near the wall. As she stands there she hears a noise and feels Kuu's presence. Looking around, she thinks it's coming from the wall, and she presses up against it to try and hear better. As she pulls away from the cold wall, Washi shows up. He warns her not to touch the wall and asks why she's there. Seeing she's injured, he gives her his cane and goes to get help. Rakka says she can walk and follows him.

As they walk through the woods, Washi talks to Rakka. He warns her not to associate with the Tooga. Rakka says she thought they might know something about Kuu, and says she heard Kuu's voice from inside the wall. Washi says it was just an illusion. He also tells her that those haibane who go over the wall are ready to live outside so she shouldn't worry.

Washi asks Rakka why she was investigating the well in the first place. Rakka tells him about the bird at the bottom, and how the birds were calling her. Washi asks her more about the bird, and tells her that the other birds showed it to her because they were proud of her. As he goes to continue their walk, Rakka drops the cane and says they showed her the real meaning of her dream. She's upset because she's sure she was the reason the bird died. When Washi asks her why she's so upset about someone she can't even remember, she says she doesn't know, but she's sure she hurt someone. Washi picks up the cane and has Rakka sit down on a nearby log. He says they should talk about this, because it's very important.

Rakka says that somewhere else she thought she was all alone. She thought no one would care if she disappeared. Then she had her dream about falling, but now remembers about the bird which tried to save her. Washi tells her that her wings and halo are proof that she has no sins to atone for. Rakka doesn't agree, and Washi realizes she's been dyeing her wings. He asks who she learned it from, but she doesn't answer.

Rakka asks what it means to be Sin-Bound, and if she is a sinner. Washi tells her there's no way to recover what was lost in the cocoon, and that even if she did hurt someone there's no way she can see them again. Rakka asks him to take her to wherever it is she does belong, but feels that everyone is too nice to her there. She wants to return to apologize.

Washi tells her that one who knows one's sin isn't a sinner. He poses to her a riddle he calls the Ring of Sin. Rakka says if her dream was real, then she is a sinner. Washi asks her what her sin was, but she can't answer. He asks her to riddle again, and she says if she thinks she has no sin then she's a sinner. Washi agrees with her and tells her she has to find the answer to the riddle herself.

Washi guides Rakka to the edge of the forest, and tells her this is as far as he's going. Rakka asks if she can see him again, and he tells her she has to return his cane. Rakka walks down the path away from the forest.

Reki, riding by on her scooter, spots her and calls out. Reki jumps off her scooter and runs across a bridge, hugging Rakka. Rakka apologies, and Reki asks what happened to her. As Rakka tells her, the other haibane show up riding bikes.

Rakka waves Washi's cane at them, and Reki asks her where she got it. Looking closer at Rakka's hands, Reki finds that she's extremely cold. Rakka says she can't feel anything, and Reki says she's numb. Reki asks Rakka if she touched the wall, and Rakka nods. Reki grabs Rakka and drags her down towards her scooter. When Kana asks what's going on, Reki tells her that Rakka touched the wall. Reki puts Rakka on her scooter and drives off.

Back at Old Home, Rakka says she feels light. Reki puts her to bed in the guest room and tells her to get some sleep. Rakka doesn't want to, and Reki tells her again that the Western Woods are dangerous. Reki gets some stuff from the kitchen, and Rakka tells her about the bird she found at the bottom of the well. She also tells Reki about the rest of her dream, and then falls asleep. Reki takes her wing cover off and notices that Rakka's wings are pure gray again.

The other haibane come in, and Reki asks Kana to go into town for some fever medicine. Kana complains, but takes the keys for the scooter and goes. Hikari checks Rakka's temperature, and says she's cold, not hot. Reki says she'll have a fever before morning, and starts worrying. Hikari gets a little upset at her, and Nemu takes Hikari to go tell the dorm mother they found Rakka.

Reki cleans Rakka's hands while she sleeps. Rakka wakes up, and says she feels like she's disappearing. She's reminded of the night her wings grew, and says that Reki's always been looking after her. Rakka says she keeps feeling lighter, and that she doesn't want to disappear, doesn't want to go anywhere. Reki tells her not to worry, that she can stay, and Rakka falls back to sleep. Reki gets depressed, but hides it as Nemu and Hikari return.

Reki tells them that if Rakka isn't better by morning she'll take her to the Renmei for help. Hikari is still upset from earlier, and tells Reki she can't do everything by herself, offering to help. Reki asks Hikari to watch Rakka for a while so she can get some sleep.

Reki goes off to her room alone. Talking to one of her sculptures, she says Rakka doesn't need her help any more. She says she shouldn't feel bad. Going in to her studio she says that she's used to becoming alone.

Standard Closing.


Wind is heavily associated with spirit. It's also related to fertility in much the same way water is, only on the masculine side rather than water's feminine side.

The entire getting out of the well scene is related the riddle Washi asks Rakka later in this episode. It's much the physical version of what he's asking her.

Rakka removing her sandals before climbing up is one of those Japanese cultural things. They see shoes as dirty, unclean, which is one of the reasons they aren't worn inside (there are other shoes, ones that haven't been on the ground, for that). Rakka's being polite, trying not to dirty the garments of someone who is helping her.

The Tooga aren't allowed to have anything to do with the townspeople, but apparently they're still allowed to help in life threatening situations. At least for the haibane...

The Tooga do react when Rakka asks about Kuu. However, it's not at all clear what they reacted to. It seems they reacted to the comment about a haibane going over the wall rather than to Kuu in specific. It's possible that they do know what happens to the haibane who have left, or perhaps are made up of them. The Tooga are related to the Haibane Renmei in some way, and I'll get into what I think the Renmei is in a later commentary.

Rakka walking alone through the forest highlights a couple of themes that showed up earlier. The losing the way theme started last episode in particular.

Washi seems to have been notified about Rakka by the Tooga. He probably doesn't have much reason to be walking around the woods randomly. That still doesn't explain why the Tooga were walking around the woods like that, however. The most likely explanation fitting with the theme of the show is that both the Renmei and the Tooga have an affinity for the crows. They've been present around Washi before, like in episode 2, and they were present when Kuu left in episode 6.

Rakka isn't willing to be left alone at this point, showing a change in her behavior since she fell into the well. Before, she wanted to be alone.

Most of Rakka's talk with Washi simply reinforces the comments I've made before. I won't annotate them all again.

Rakka refuses to answer Washi's question about who taught her to dye her wings. She's either very ashamed to have done it at all, or is wanting to protect Reki, or both.

Rakka emphasizes how out of place she feels again, which is one of the main themes.

Washi's riddle vaguely familiar, but I haven't tracked down any specific references in that form yet. If anyone knows what it comes from, let me know. In more general terms, this is a common Judeo-Christian theme.
In total, what Washi is talking about is that simply realizing that you have sinned is not what caused the sin. This is one of the first stages of redemption, since you have to realize you sin and repent of it before you can be forgiven. However, simply realizing you have sinned is not enough to be forgiven.

The Haibane Renmei, including Washi, seem to have very strict restrictions placed on their actions as well. The only time we've seen Washi out of the temple were when he was talking to the Tooga in episode 2 and this scene.

Reki is a very aggressive driver when she's in a hurry...

Rakka's experience has brought her back into balance. I don't think she's overcome the trial she faces in Glie yet, but she's no longer in extreme danger of failing it.

Reki and Nemu are the only ones who really understand what's going on at this point. Why Reki gets so worked up about this isn't revealed until the next couple episodes.

The attitude change is reinforced again. She now wants to stay, rather than wanting to disappear. This has been a major turning point for Rakka.

Hikari jumps head first into things again, trying to be helpful. She does care about others, but she acts on impulse quite a bit.

Reki is in sharp contrast to Rakka this episode. For all that she's the center and unofficial leader of Old Home, she feels starkly alone.

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