「通り過ぎし、夏の夜の夢」 (Tōrisugishi, Natsu no Yo no Yume)
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream Gone By”
Dreaming for humans often means seizing life in pursuing wealth, love, a particular career, or philanthropy. The nature of vampires to be at once human and not human becomes clear in Deffrot’s and the vampire girl’s perspectives on dreams. Similar to humans, both these vampires hold wishes in their hearts, but Deffrot’s dream of death and the vampire girl’s dream of growing old are not human in desiring to release or end life instead of “seizing the day”. An impetus for pursuing dreams is that everyone’s life has a time limit, so they need to do what they can while they can. A life with no deadlines loses that urgency and accomplished goals only mark the passing of millennia.
For Deffrot, the stage is the only way to glimpse his dream of death. Shirase assigns Deffrot the fitting role of Orpheus. Orpheus is a play by Jean Cocteau based on a Greek myth. However, Cocteau’s play didn’t premiere until 3 years after the setting of Mars Red. If I wanted to cheer the public, the tragedy of Orpheus wouldn’t be my first choice-but it fits with Deffrot’s personal narrative. Like Orpheus, Deffrot lives with the supernatural. Ironically, when Deffrot insists on changing the ending, rather than a happy conclusion such a change usually implies, he modifies it so rather than being killed by foes, Orpheus kills himself.
Like Orpheus’ wife Eurydice, Shirase knows only the natural world, while befriending someone of the supernatural. The influence of the supernatural on Eurydice’s fate foreshadows how vampires will try to drag Shirase into their hell- a hell only Deffrot can rescue her from.
For centuries, humanity has dreamed of the fount of eternal youth. Youth bestows a fresh beauty on the bearer but also carries the look of inexperience- inviting adults to exert authority over said youth. An angsty teen’s protest “Don’t treat me like a child!” is echoed by Deffrot and the vampire girl. For powerful vampires who have been around the block awhile, this is a frustrating reality that no matter how their timeline ages, their appearance will not- leading people to mistake childlike looks for helplessness. As someone living in a society where the latest research and fads aim to slow ageing, it is striking to me how the vampires’ concept of ageing turns societal views of youth on its head.
The symbolism of finding one’s wings to fly is profoundly written, with Takeuchi developing a way to soar on a bamboo kite. (The merchant’s remark about bamboo and Goemon Ishikawa references a 16th century Japanese Robin Hood. In one tale, he flies using a giant kite. If you’ve played Persona 5, this is the same Goemon referenced during the game.).
While they are unable to fly with the birds beneath the sun, this also means vampires are unlimited in how far they can fly with no sun to crash into. With their stronger bodies, vampires can exert the brute force needed to fly which humans are incapable of. Metaphors aside, flying is a brilliant strategy. Since Nakajima’s unit is ground-based, attacking from the air will give our Code Zero crew an upper hand despite being lower ranked.
There were some interesting character developments in this episode. We follow Suwa learning to connect with others in how he warms up to the vampire children. It was endearing to watch Suwa’s interactions with the children teasing him. It was also surprising to see his protective side come out with the vampire girl.
As for Deffrot, the writers have done a quality job defying initial expectations for his character. In the beginning, given his involvement with Glenn, I expected Deffrot to be a vampire super villain. In later episodes, this is defied by his kind heart beneath the ice in how he tried to give Misaki her dream of performing for Maeda and puts himself in danger to rescue Shirase.
With Shirase, the parallels between her and Misaki were very strong in the discovery of Misaki’s costume, her involvement in staging a play, and of course, her open-heartedness towards Deffrot. Neither woman can live free of scheming vampires’ grasp and in both cases, Deffrot witnesses them as they are caught in Nakajima’s sticky web. Unlike with Misaki, Deffrot cannot turn Shirase into a vampire nor can he use his abilities since they are in direct sunlight. Shirase will have to be the one to get them out of Glenn’s trap using her reporter’s skills of wit and persuasion.