This series is so beautifully done- I am in awe of how they masterfully tie in their overarching philosophical themes of humanity, along with small moments of deep developments. They even have little heartfelt touches like the humorous moments when Code Zero half-jokes about praying to any number of deities and the nod to classic vampire mythology with the bat-like flying machine.
They skillfully wove the framework of a fairy tale into this episode with the “once upon a time” backstories of Deffrot and Tenmaya. Both Deffrot and Tenmaya experienced another vampire dying on their behalf-for Deffrot a vampire died in penance for destroying Deffrot’s life and for Tenmaya a vampire died saving him. Although not a vampire, Tenmaya has a similar experience of becoming an outcast, when society deems him “not fit” by being half Japanese. Tenmaya’s close bonds with the vampires gives hope that vampires and humans don’t have to live separately.
Unlike the other vampires, Glenn gets his “happily ever after”. I predicted before that Glenn was building power while allowing Nakajima to think Nakajima was in control and this came to fruition. When Nakajima entered the shadowed room, I knew the officials were either dead or vampires, coming right after Deffrot’s talk about living in the shadows. Glenn’s twisted enjoyment in toying with his victims means Nakajima cannot expect to have a swift or merciful end. It would be fitting if Glenn turned him into a vampire-the very thing Nakajima refused to do to himself, while justifying doing it to others.
Humans and vampires alike place great emphasis on the dividing line between the two. The issue is not are they human or vampire, but rather, on which side of the line between life and death does one’s perspective fall. On the one side is death. Humans exist purely to eat, sleep, mate, and die and vampires can’t do at least one of those naturally (die). Deffrot, finding meaning in death fixates on something he can’t readily attain. The vampires’ immortal souls outgrow their body because they cannot be released from their immortal body to reincarnate into another life and they live carrying the weight of eternity. (The show’s many references to religion and the afterlife supports this. If anyone was curious, I can discuss in the comments). Deffrot copes by re-incarnating artificially through the different roles he plays onstage.
For Suwa, being human falls on the side of life. Humanity is aiming for something beyond survival. It is staying in touch with one’s inner child that allows one to hope, imagine, wonder. One has only lost humanity when they no longer have something to live for. Suwa explains all of this while creating a toy- letting us know which side he leans on. Takeuchi is the very definition of someone in tune with their inner child, in his unconcealed excitement for his newest inventions. It was a touching moment when for the first time, we see a genuine child-like spirit of wonder in Deffrot when he smiles in awe at Code Zero’s flying bat invention.
It was impeccable timing how this invention arrived right after Deffrot exposes his anxieties about science. For Deffrot, science setting unbreakable definitions of what is natural shines light on superstitions, leaving no shadows for vampires to hide in. Science will expose them to explain their existence. Industrialization will then exploit their powers to achieve faster progress-like what Nakajima does to his vampire unit to achieve military superiority.
Unlike science, fairy tales reassure Deffrot of his place in the supernatural realm. With fairy tales accepting the existence of the supernatural, there is somewhere that also accepts his existence. It is a gorgeous irony that the modern science that threatens his way of life produces the invention that brings the Prince (Kurusu) to the rescue of his Princess (Shirase).
I have a sinking feeling that this will not end well for Kurusu. The flashback of a vampire sacrificing his life to save the human Tenmaya elegantly foreshadowed how Kurusu would come to Shirase’s rescue in broad daylight-that flashback’s end does not bode well. I sincerely hope Kurusu survives. Seeing Deffrot witness one of his beloved fairy tales come to life in Kurusu and Shirase was such a bittersweet moment. It makes me want to see them have a happy ending. If Kurusu dies, it would illustrate that in the dark fairy tale known as a vampire’s life, they have the “they lived ever after”, but without the happily in it.