Haibane Renmei ep. 3 – Kuu Can Think Like A Jew (In Nazi-Occupied France)

Heya, I doubt you remember it, but a little more than a year ago I posted on the first two episodes of Haibane Renmei and did a little special on it’s DVD bonus features. I actually watched 4 eps at the time, but my intent wasn’t episodic blogging and I hadn’t found anything in eps 3 and 4 to post about. Well, I’m making another rewatch attempt now, and I guess the year break was worthwhile since I’ve seen Inglourious Basterds in that time, and I found a little something to post about~ Though I will say, rewatching this is very difficult, because I did not remember the animation sucking so hard and I just got done rewatching Baccano, so I might stop and watch something else to ween myself down from that excellent-animation high. I digress.

In episode 3 of Haibane Renmei, there is a scene wherein Rakka is heading into town to buy some bread, and Kuu tags along. The whole time, Kuu is explaining how she wanted a sort of little sister to be the next to hatch from a cocoon, but in the end was glad that Rakka was older, lest she had been branded as one of the young feathers. She then turns to a little more sophisticated conversation at the site of an old man swatting at crows with a broom.

Kuu says (as translated by Geneon): “Kana calls the crows ‘scavengers’, but I think they want to be friends with us. What is trash for us, is food for the crows, so I think they want to be friends with us and have us give them food. I became friends with the cafe owner because I’m a Haibane and can talk, and he gave me some sugar cubes. But since crows can only caw, and they are pitch black and scary looking, people won’t give theme crepes and Kana chases them with a broomstick. It doesn’t seem fair. I wish we could talk with them, don’t you?”

As I read this, I immediately thought back to the now-legendary opening scene of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, and to the most fragrantly beautiful piece of dialog from Col. Hans Landa A.K.A. ‘The Jew Hunter’. Luckily, Funeral owns the screenplay, so I can transcribe the segment for you here~

COL. LANDA The feature that makes me such an effective hunter of the Jews is, as opposed to most German soldiers, I can think like a Jew, where they can only think like a German or, more precisely, a German soldier. Now if one were to determine what attribute the German people share with a beast, it would be the cunning and predatory instinct of a hawk. Negroes-gorillas-brain-lips-smell-physical strength-penis size. But if one were to determine what attributes the Jews share with a beast, it would be that of the rat. Now the Fuhrer and Goebbels’s propaganda have said pretty much the same thing. Where our conclusions differ is I don’t consider the comparison an insult. Consider for a moment the world a rat lives in. It’s a hostile world indeed. If a rat were to scamper through your front door right now, would you greet it with hostility?

PERRIER I suppose I would.

COL. LANDA Has a rat ever done anything to you to create this animosity you feel toward them?

PERRIER Rats spread disease, they bite people-

COL. LANDA Unless some fool is stupid enough to try and handle a live one, rats don’t make it a practice of biting human beings. Rats were the cause of the bubonic plague, but that was some time ago. In all your born days, has a rat ever caused you to be sick a day in your life? I propose to you, any diease a rat could spread, a squirrel would equally carry. Yet I assume you don’t share the same animosity with squirrels that you do with rats, do you?

PERRIER No.

COL. LANDA Yet they are both rodents, are they not? And except for the fact that one has a big bushy tail, while the other has a long repugnant tail of rodent skin, they even rather look alike, don’t they?

PERRIER It is an interesting thought, Herr Colonel

COL. LANDA However, interesting as the thought may be, it makes not one bit of difference to how you feel. If a rat were to scamper through your door this very minute, whould you offer it a saucer of your delicious milk?

PERRIER Probably not.

COL. LANDA I didn’t think so. You don’t like them. You don’t really know why you don’t like them. All you know is, you find them repulsive.

Landa and Kuu have come to different conclusions about this, with Kuu having the more sunny standpoint of wishing the crows could be friends with humans, while Landa has more taken in stride the demonizing of rats. Nonetheless, the point stands, that both have observed this unfairness towards something that has really done no wrong, but is instinctively hated.

I think it’s interesting, too, what these speeches say about the individual characters. In both cases, there is this feeling carried that you are hearing something intelligent from an unexpected source. Kuu is the youngest of the Haibane, and acts the most whimsical, and yet, there is a sense in all of her conversations that she is thinking far more deeply than the others. If given thought, almost everything that Kuu says has a very analytical edge to it. For instance, as she and Rakka ride a bike together in this ep, Kuu makes a remark about how they really can fly if they put their mind to it (or something like that) which could be taken as the flighty, hopeful stance of a young, energetic kid or, minding Kuu’s serious facial expression as she says the line, a more deep and thought-out philosophy.

In the case of the Jew Hunter, it is easier to connect that he is saying something deep, because he puts it very eloquently, but one must reconcile it with the point he is actually making. This is a German soldier called ‘The Jew Hunter’ in WWII era France doing exactly what his title entails. What he is making us understand is a stance that allows him to determine where a Jew is hiding so that he can capture them (as he further goes into in the continued monologue.) Like with Kuu, there is that sort of surprise that this person, of all people, is telling you something that could change your perspective in their direction.

10 thoughts on “Haibane Renmei ep. 3 – Kuu Can Think Like A Jew (In Nazi-Occupied France)

  1. I saw posters for Inglourious Basterds in Osaka. The vulgar beauty of the title is really lost in katakana.

    Unfortunately I’ve never seen the film myself, but this bit makes me really want to, for the first time. You’ve inspired a change in one person. Cheers.

    • It’s easily one of my favorite films of all time, as is the case for all Quentin Tarantino films. As a matter of fact, Honey-Bunny, my pet name for you comes from the opening scene of Pulp Fiction~ I’d certainly call his films all must-sees. Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, and Inglourious all vie for spots in my top 5.

      • i am in heavy agreement here. For me, Pulp Fiction is number one, Kill BIll is maybe 3. Not sure where to place this and films like Jackie Brown and Reservoir Dogs.

  2. By the way, as an added bonus, from what I recall, these three lines:

    “Negroes-gorillas-brain-lips-smell-physical strength-penis size.”
    “Unless some fool is stupid enough to try and handle a live one, rats don’t make it a practice of biting human beings.”
    “…while the other has a long repugnant tail of rodent skin,”

    Actually don’t appear in the film. I guess the goal was to get things more succinct.

  3. This part in Haibane Renmei stood out to me (and I’m terrible at remembering details). I can’t say much about the Jew hunter ’cause I’ve never seen that movie, but as for Kuu, her line here is memorable because you wouldn’t expect the youngest and seemingly most childish of the characters to say something like that. But then again, children like most animals and have to be taught by society which ones to detest and which ones to embrace. Perhaps Kuu has retained the universal compassion for creatures that children have and is reminding the audience of this perspective.

    • Mmm. This kind of reminds me of my brother growing up. For the longest time, he was extremely compassionate about animals and would be soul-crushed if anything happened to one. As he grew up, he got a lot more cynical, though. Now he’s more decisive in his love.

      I, however, don’t recall ever having compassion for animals. I’ve pretty much always disliked animals as a whole. There are literally no animals that I can say I ‘like’, cats are the one that I can ‘respect’ because of their general lack of dependency, but my cat still does enough stupid shit to keep me from liking it. I guess for me it was a lot of having stupid pets growing up and the fact that real animals could never live up to the expectations set by Pokemon LOL.

  4. Wow. However I think the title here is far-fetched, your observation is curious and does Kuu some justice, which is nice to see for a character that have had less screentime of them, but is no less interesting in my book.

  5. Kanna later on comments on why she dislikes the crows scavenging their garbage. She says that if the crows always get food in Glie, they will no longer fly above the walls and will lose their freedom, sharing voluntarily the “captivity” of everyone else in the town.

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