Episode 12:

Bell Nuts - Passing of the Year Festival - Reconciliation

Short Summary:
Everyone goes into town to buy Bell Nuts to get ready for the New Year festival. Reki runs into Hyouko and gives him one early. Hyouko and Midori tell Rakka about what happened, and Rakka gets them to help her try to help Reki. Rakka figures out some of the sign language, which she shows to Washi. Washi tells her about haibane having a true name and gives her both her own and Reki's. Reki stays at Old Home during the festival while everyone else goes into town. Rakka meets Midori, and they both run out to Old Home to get Reki to watch Hyouko's response.

Detailed Summary:
Standard Opening.
Rakka is getting Reki for breakfast. They head off to the guest room, and Rakka remembers she found Reki's lighter. Rakka tries to return it, but Reki says she doesn't need it any more. They join the others, and Hikari complains about the way Reki is dressed. Reki goes to change and Nemu reminds her that the Bell Nut market opens today. Rakka asks what it is, and Hikari explains that it's a tradition for New Year's Eve.

At the market, Hikari shows Rakka the Bell Nuts. They're various colors, and you give them to people whom you want to say something to about the last year. Rakka listens to one, and is eventually interrupted by Reki after the others have moved on. Reki tells her a little more about what the colors mean.

Hyouko, still in disguise, enters the market followed by Midori. He tries to keep her from following him and temporarily loses her in the crowd. He and Reki see each other just as Midori catches up to him. Midori gets upset, and Reki apologizes for all the trouble she's caused. She hands Hyouko a white Bell Nut, and he tells her the festival isn't for another week. She says she doesn't have much time left and quickly walks off.

Hyouko and Midori go to the bridge by the factory with Rakka. They tell her about what happened. Reki had run away from Old Home, and Hyouko found her. They helped her out, but Reki wanted to go over the wall. Hyouko tried to help her, but was injured when he tried to place climbing wedges in the wall. Midori says she never forgave Reki for that. Hyouko says it wasn't Reki's fault.

Rakka tells them that she wants to help Reki. Midori says Reki doesn't want any help, and Rakka tells her that she's wrong. Rakka tells them that it's just that Reki's always hiding it. Hyouko agrees to help.

Hikari is making breakfast, and gets upset at Kana for not helping. Nemu asks Rakka where Reki is, but they don't know. Reki is in her room, dyeing her wings. Looking at the picture of Kuramori, she says that she'll disappear soon and wonders where she made a mistake.

Rakka is at work, but is spending more time thinking about Reki than actually cleaning. She hears a noise, and thinks that it's Kuu. Examining the plaque nearby, she looks at the characters inscribed on it and tries to imitate them with her hands.
That evening in the temple, she approaches Washi, who is writing something. She makes the gestures she practiced earlier, and he asks her where she learned it. After being given permission to speak, she tells him about the plaque and asks if it's Kuu's. He says it is, but the characters don't mean "Sky" like the haibane named her, but it was another name with the same sound. He says it's the sign of a true haibane, and that the name on the plaque is replaced with their true name when they go over the wall.

He also gives Rakka a small box, saying it contains her true name. Rakka opens it to find that it says Rakuka (connect and nut, the u being silent), because she closed herself off like a nut but then grew and made many connections. Washi says it's her true name. Rakka asks about Reki, and Washi tells her that she won't listen to him. He tells her about the time Hyouko got injured. Rakka asks why Reki hasn't been forgiven, and Washi asks her why she was. He adds that she had the birds to help her. He hands Rakka a box with Reki's name on it, telling her to give it to Reki after the festival. He then sends her away, and she runs back to Old Home.

Reki is teaching Hikari how to make a meringue. Hikari goes into the kitchen to finish, and the other two head out on the verandah. Reki tells Rakka that she won't go into town today for the festival. She says that she wants to stay there. Rakka tells her about how she was afraid when she first got there, but feels safe on the verandah. Reki asks her not to forget about the room, even if she forgets about Reki. Rakka says she could never forget Reki.

All the haibane except Reki head into town that night for the festival. Herding the kids, they wait in the town center for the bells to ring. Kana says it's a time to be passed quietly, but that something special happens after the bells are finished ringing at midnight. They won't tell Rakka what it is, saying it'll be a surprise.

As the bells ring they go around town handing out their Bell Nuts. All the haibane, including the kids, give red ones to the dorm mother. Nemu gives a red one to Sumika, who is holding her new baby. Hikari gives red ones to the couple that runs the bakery. Rakka gives one to the guy who runs the clothing store, and one to the guy who runs the cafe Kuu worked at. Kana secretly gives one to her boss.

Rakka goes to the factory, where she meets Dai and Midori. Midori tells her that they're going to give a message to Reki. She says they're going to do something right after the festival, and asks where Reki is. Rakka tells her that Reki stayed at Old Home. The final bells start ringing, and Midori starts running for Old Home. Rakka follows, but has trouble keeping up.

They get to Old Home, but don't see Reki. Midori asks Rakka where Reki's room is, and Rakka tells her. Midori shouts, but doesn't get a response. She starts running, but doesn't think she can make it in time. Rakka picks up a brick and starts banging on a drainpipe that runs past Reki's window. Reki opens the window to see what the noise is and Midori tells her to look out towards the factory.

It strikes midnight, and a series of fireworks go off in yellow bursts above the factory. Midori says it's their answer. Rakka asks what yellow means, and Reki tells her it means "I'm stupid". Midori looks at the white Bell Nut that Reki had given her, and sits down crying. Rakka leaves, turning back in time to see Reki come down and get hugged by Midori.

On her way out Rakka runs into the other haibane and tells them to wait outside for a little longer. They stand on the hill watching the sky, and Rakka asks what was supposed to happen next. Hikari tells her that the wall releases everyone's memories. As they listen, the wall lights up.


It's not like Reki ever seems to get a decent night's sleep, so why is she using it as an excuse now? Is it just an excuse? Her nightmares may be getting worse, since she's getting closer to her time of leaving.

Rakka has good reason to be upset when Reki gives her the lighter. She got a jacket from Kuu right before Kuu left, too.

Hikari is getting a bit stricter (or uptight) about things. She's offered several times to help Reki out, and is apparently doing so. Things may be a bit more trouble than she imagined beforehand, however.

The bell nuts obviously tie in with the bell symbolism I've mentioned. New Years is traditionally a time of reflection, gratitude, and change, and the bell nuts fit very well with that theme.
They also seem a bit hypnotic, at least for Rakka.

Okay, the colors will be at the end of the commentary. They don't seem to fit any color scheme I know of offhand, but I'll keep looking.

Reki's meeting with Hyouko and Midori in the town tells us a bit about the latter two's character, especially with the story Hyouko provides afterwards.

I've seen suggestions that Reki and Hyouko really did have something romantic going between them, but I think they were just friends. The romance is only based on Nemu's story.
In the past Reki was more interested in meeting back up with Kuramori than with romance. It's also hard to say that Hyouko was interested romantically. He's far too confused himself to be easily read.
All the relationships in the series seem to be heavily on the platonic side.

Rakka finally makes a definite move to help Reki. We've seen her willing to help friends before, but this is kind of a turning point for her. Before now she hasn't really been ready to give up being with Reki, even if it was to help Reki. She's still not happy about it at all, but she's willing for it to happen.
I also want to mention the cinematics of this scene. I really, really hate those triple takes, but in this case there's actually some good use out of it. Rakka's head movement reminds me of the way a bird might move it's head.

Also, take note of Hyouko's story. It seems Reki used to be rather open about her feelings. He says she was constantly crying, and that's part of why he decided to help her. His getting hurt probably has quite a bit to do with the way Reki hides things now.

Yes, Hikari is definitely getting more cranky.

Unfortunately, I don't know much about kanji. I have no idea what Kuu's true name could be.
I don't really need to add anything about Rakka's.

I really do have to wonder about Washi's purpose in making Rakka clean the inside of the wall. He seems to speak with her a lot more than he usually would, as well. In part, this could be attributed to the things he's mentioned before. If the Renmei are made up of haibane who have failed their trials, then his comment about it being a peaceful but lonely life would indicate that he would like company, and Rakka is filling that role.
However, he also has her cleaning. All things considered, he doesn't seem very surprised when Rakka shows him some of the sign language. He may have brought her to the temple with the hopes of something like this happening. He does seem to be gently pushing Rakka to help Reki, including giving her the box with Reki's true name, which is quite a large degree of trust.

To expand on the true name comment, this sort of thing is important in all sorts of folklore and mythology. In general, knowing someone's true name is supposed to give you either complete insight about them or complete power over them.

Notice how Washi pounds the ground with his staff to send Rakka running? Remember episode two, where he does the same thing to send the crow flying? Rakka-as-a-bird is being played up in this episode.

Yes, that is a snowman with a halo and a cigarette...

Why does Hikari need to get baking lessons from Reki if she works in a bakery?

Reki staying at Old Home is a sign of that quiet avoidance of hers. She's also feeling attached the place, and doesn't want to leave. She knows, and by now probably not just because Washi told her, that she doesn't have any choice about it, though.

The other haibane have mentioned being at ease in the guest room before. Nemu mentioned it in episode two. Rakka is reinforcing that now, showing what Reki has meant to the other haibane.

All the haibane standing on a bridge. I've mentioned bridges before, and this one shows again that they're in-between. In specific, I think this was meant to reinforce the upcoming change that Reki leaving will make.

It's not even seven thirty when they start ringing the bells. I'm not sure how long it takes, but there is a tradition in Japan about bell ringing at New Years. All the temple bells are rung 108 times, but they start at midnight, not before.
All the usual bell symbolism applies, of course.

We get to see Sumika's new baby. Yet another hint that things are changing, coming to fruition.

Hikari either has a grudge of some kind against the young baker, or is engaged in a somewhat mean prank...

Kana, on the other hand, is simply Kana.

Rakka gets a red one from the cafe owner, and seems to have given him one as well. I'm not sure what she's done for him to be accepting one, but she may be accepting it in Kuu's place.

Rakka and Midori in front of the factory reinforce my opinion that Old Home and the factory represent the Yin and the Yang. Midori even makes a comment about how they aren't as ladylike as the group at Old Home.
There's more about this I want to mention, but it'll have to wait until the next episode.

Running for Old Home with the bells ringing of course calls to mind the end of episode six, where they were looking for Kuu with the bell ringing.

Rakka can come up with some good ideas when she needs to.

For all of Midori's long feud with Reki, she seems to really like her. This is an important clue to Midori's true character, as well as what the haibane are, and I'll cover that next episode.

The wall releases either their thoughts or their feelings. I'm not sure how omoi should be translated in this scene. Either would fit with the show.
I shouldn't need to go over green again, although it ties in with Midori's name as well.

Bell Nuts: (Colors according to the R2 Haibane Hakusho)
Red: Thank you for taking care of me.
Yellow: Love
White: Thank you and good bye
Green: Congratulations
Brown: Sorry

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Images Copyright Pioneer and/or yoshitoshi ABe unless otherwise noted