The Purple Pinup Guru Platform

When purple things are pulsating on your mind, I'm the one whose clock you want to clean. Aiding is Sparky, the Astral Plane Zen Pup Dog from his mountain stronghold on the Northernmost Island of the Happy Ninja Island chain, this blog will also act as a journal to my wacky antics at an entertainment company and the progress of my self published comic book, The Deposit Man which only appears when I damn well feel like it. Real Soon Now.

Monday, July 25, 2005


I' d never subscribe to the Purgatory nonsense - but it is different from Giant Robots and lolligoths showing off their panties... Recently Megatokyo ran a 9 page tribute to the below. I recommend it as interesting viewing. Tomorrow we'll have a different Anime for discussion.

Haibane Renmei

Haibane Renmei (????), translated by the author as Charcoal Feather Federation, is a set of original doujinshi written and illustrated by Yoshitoshi ABe. It is also the name of an anime series based on them. They follow a young girl named Rakka, a newly arrived angelic-looking being (called Haibane), and other characters in the city of Glie (guri), a walled city with no apparent exit.


Senior residents of Old Home in the anime. Clockwise from top left:
Hikari, Nemu, Kuu, Kana, Reki (middle).

  • Rakka ("Falling"): A new arrival to the Old Home, Rakka struggles throughout the episode to find herself, and has trouble escaping from curiosity of her past. She forms many friendships, but her closest is that with Reki.
  • Reki ("Pebble"/"Small Stones"): Always smiling and being kind to the other Haibane, Reki - one of the most senior Haibane in the home - is troubled by her past and by her dreams.
  • Kuu ("Sky"): The youngest of the "older" Haibane, Kuu overcame initial awkwardness to achieve a sense of peace. She develops a good friendship with Rakka.
  • Nemu ("Sleep"): The oldest Haibane at the home, she is often teased for her habit of sleeping in.
  • Kana ("River fish"): A mechanically inclined tomboy, she works at the clock tower in the center of town.
  • Hikari ("Light"): A serious, but occasionally mischievous haibane. She works in a bakery in town.
  • Hyouko ("Icy lake"): The leader of another group of Haibane in town (the "co-educational" Abandoned Factory nest). At some point in the past, he and Reki were romantically involved.

Plot Summary

The series starts out with two scenes. One contains the image of a girl falling from the sky, cradling a crow; it tries to stop her fall, but cannot. The other consists of a group of Haibane finding a large cocoon growing in a storage room. When the cocoon breaks open, the teenage girl inside is brought to the guest room, where she is cared for by several Haibane, most notably one named Reki. All the girl can remember is her dream of falling; as older Haibane are named by their dream from within the cocoon, she is named Rakka. Shortly after arriving, Reki helps Rakka go through the painful ordeal of having wings grow from her back, meticulously cleans her wings for many hours, and the Haibane present Rakka with a halo.

As time progresses, she learns her way around the Old Home, one of two places in the city where Haibane live. She learns about the town, in which the people are friendly and generous to the Haibane, but in which Haibane must work and are subject to restrictive rules with harsh penalties. Foremost of these is to not touch or even approach the wall that surrounds the town.

As Rakka begins to bond with her friends - most notably Reki and another Haibane named Kuu - she begins to search for a job. However, amidst this, Kuu grows distanced. One day, Kuu disappears in the western forest near the wall in beams of light. Rakka becomes distraught when she learns that Kuu, like all Haibane eventually who carry no guilt, passed over the wall and will never return.

Rakka becomes depressed, and notices her wings turning black. Despite desperate attempts to curb and conceal it by cutting her feathers, Reki discovers this and shows Rakka how to hide and treat the spots. Rakka learns that she is "sin-bound", caught up in guilt for past deeds. Reki reveals that she was born with this condition, with black wings and a dark dream she could not fully remember, and has been hiding it ever since. Depressed and confused about her condition, Rakka later runs off in despair, then is led into the western woods by crows. There she finds a well, climbs to the bottom, sees her full dream, and buries a dead crow found at the bottom of the well. Somehow she knows it was a person who loved her in her past life, who then became a bird to pass over the wall and let her know she was not alone. Finding closure and forgiveness for her sins, her guilt is relieved and her wings turn gray again. She also learns that Reki's time is running out, however, and turns her focus towards helping her friend find her way.

Rakka works to get another group of Haibane from the other side of the city to forgive Reki for a long past transgression in which she tried to pass over the wall and got her boyfriend almost killed and severely punished for damaging it. However, Reki is resigned to her fate; she refuses to trust anyone for fear of betrayal, and will not ask for or accept help. Her dream is revealed to her as a gift from the Haibane Renmei, but its destructive nature only serves to drive her into a self-loathing frenzy. As Rakka tries to shake her out of it, Reki reveals to Rakka that she never really cared for her, and was just taking care of her as a final effort to save herself.

Rakka leaves her, crushed, but finds and reads Reki's diary. From it, and from the forgotten memories it reveals, Rakka discovers that Reki spent so long performing good deeds for forgiveness that it has become her identity, even if she cannot see it. Realising that Reki truly did care and wanted someone to trust, Rakka's belief in Reki is restored, and she returns to save her friend from the dark fate of a sin-bound.

Context and Interpretation

Some fans have made the conjecture that the Haibane are, actually, children of our world who committed suicide and were reborn into this world to atone for their sin. Suicide is also a particularly high-profile issue in Japanese society, and some facts could support this hypothesis, like Reki's hallucination in the last episode, or an interpretation of the characters names ("Sleep", sleeping pills or coma; "Light", died in a fire; "Ice Lake", frozen; "River fish", drowning; "Falling", suicide by jumping...). ABe is reported to have denied this idea, but still encourages readers and viewers to come to their own conclusions.

A common variation of the above interpretation is the idea that all Haibane were simply children who died before their time; in this case, their names may simply represent the cause of death. Reki and Rakka's black wings and the Washu's reference to their sins are then assumed to be ways of showing that they committed suicide in their past lives. Some proof of this was the trouble both Reki and Rakka had in remembering details of their cocoon dreams. None of the other Haibane mentioned similar troubles.

Both interpretations suggest that the Haibane exist in a world between Heaven and Hell. Though they bear wings and halos as per traditional angels, the wings are not fully functional, and rot if the owner believes he or she has sinned. The time between arrival and departure suggests that their souls, while good-natured, are not ready to enter heaven due to something they have not learned, experienced, or atoned for. While superficially similar to the Catholic concept of Purgatory, the most notable difference is that a future in Heaven is not guaranteed; the potential fate of sin-bound Haibane such as Reki suggests that some may never ascend.

In an interview in the magazine Animerica, ABe stated that the series was inspired by Haruki Murakami's novel Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, which takes place half in a walled city with no apparent outside. Some fans believe the series contains influence from another Murakami novel, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, in which the main character spends a large amount of time at the bottom of a well.

External links

Tomorrow - Master Keaton

o&o - Sparky


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