It was good to be back in class! As we dig deeper into how we analyze media, using Haibane Renmei as our model, we all find that series getting deeper as well.
We did something a little different on Sunday. Together as a class, we looked as some of the Christian themes and ideas from a familiar property – Harry Potter.
There is a lot of surface-level Christian imagery in Harry Potter, but while such imagery is often meaningless in the context of drawing out Christian principles, there are exceptions in this series. The presence of Bible verses on tombstones, for instance, works in the context of the series to tell us about certain characters (Harry Potter and the death he’ll defeat and Dumbledore and the wrong place he chose to store his treasure) and further, about the Christian walk (the triumph of Christ over the grave and our consideration of where we should store our treasure).
Deeper Christian themes abound in Harry Potter as well, included, but not limited to, Harry Potter serving as a Christ figure (going to his death alone, dying, and resurrecting, defeating death to fulfill prophecy and save the world); sacrificial love; and the battle between good and evil, in which the tools of good are weapons that Christians also should wield (ex. love, wisdom, and kindness).
Summaries (taken from Wikipedia)
Rakka refuses to believe Kuu will never return from her Day of Flight, since it has now been a month since then as winter soon approaches. She goes insides Kuu’s room to clean up the place, but she begins to notice sickly black spots begin to appear on her own wings. Depressed, she goes into town alone to get something to eat and later encounters Hyoko. Although he is relieved that Reki was not the one who has disappeared, Rakka becomes upset since she really cares about Kuu. When Rakka returns to Old Home later that day, more black spots start to show, and Reki begins to worry when she catches sight of this. Rakka cries as she runs back to Kuu’s room, and Reki follows and embraces her. Reki gives Rakka special medicine extracted from an elderly tree for her wings. Reki explains that a Haibane is deemed to be sin-bound if they have forgotten their dream while inside their cocoon, and, unlike blessed Haibane, will never have their Day of Flight. She also reveals that she was sin-bound when she was a newborn and that she had been haunted by nightmares since then, trying to remember her dream.
Hikaru gives Rakka a pair of wing covers that will protect her from the cold atmosphere, though she uses it just to hide her wings. After Reki helps Rakka move Kuu’s bed into her room, Rakka questions her purpose for her existence, to which Reki suggests she must find out on her own. They take the Young Feathers to buy winter clothes. After talking with the store owner, who says that Haibane are said to be good luck, a customer tries to touch Rakka’s wings. She flees out of the store, and, as she trip onto the pavement, one of the wing covers comes loose. A man helps her back up and gives her back the wing cover, and she ashamedly runs into the Western Woods, led by the crows, who take her to an old well where she learns about her cocoon dream. Rakka feels both nostalgic and amnesiac of the crow she has seen in this dream.
Rakka, who has verged on the precipice of depression throughout the series, is now fully drowned in sadness, pain, and loneliness. She feels that no one understands her, and her experience with the black feathers makes Rakka feel even more isolated. And whether she understands it or not, Rakka is feeling more and more like she did right before she died.
But Rakka is not alone. As she follows the crows to the place they want to take her, and falls into a well, Rakka remembers bits and pieces of her past life and realizes she was never all by herself. The crow, representing a person, was always with her, and as Dan Cronquist suggests, literally came after Rakka the night she died, and passed away him or herself trying to save the adolescent girl. We, as Christians, can be that person for others hurting, and why? Because the crow also represents Christ, who never leaves us, who sacrifices for us, even to death (represented by the crow’s remains in the well), as a model of how we should love others and demonstrations of how much he loves us.
Additional Questions (taken from Set Apart)
- What was sinful or wrong about Rakka wanting to remember Kuu and protect her memory?
- If sin had physical manifestations, as it did for Rakka, would that change our perception of it? Would it be any;; easier to resist the temptations that lead to it?
Featured image by yasu (reprinted w/permission)