Sure enough, Vanitas’ extravagant display of his grimoire is correlated with the appearance of the curses. For Veronica who hates humans so much, she would attempt to freeze one to death with her Queen’s Eye ice power, it is probably much easier to pin the blame on a human rather than look at a deeper cause for Charlatan’s appearance. Fortunately, Ruthven shows up on the scene to quell her power. Ruthven seems to have some sort of ability (whether intentional or not) to make characters pause for reflection and ceasefire-first with Veronica, and then with Noé.
Ruthven (Toshiyuki Morikawa (who also turns out to be Luca’s uncle!)), at least, is a vampire who can be reasoned with and even offers Vanitas and Noé safety-something that will be much needed if they have to go up against not only Charlatan, but also anti-human factions like Veronica. Ruthven apparently, as member of the Senate, holds enough weight that even Veronica won’t act against him.
For Noé (and probably many viewers), salvation means living, which is understandable because that is a context it is most often used in. Vanitas takes the meaning and twists it inside out-for him, salvation can mean killing in order to put vampires out of their misery-makes sense, but comes with a slew of ethical questions and conflicts with Noé’s stance.
From episode one, I got the idea that Vanitas was an any means to an end kind of guy and we get a clearer picture of that here. Saving vampires doesn’t necessarily mean making sure they all live and a happily ever after for everyone involved. Saving vampires (at least for Vanitas) could very well mean that most vampires end up dying in a bloody ever after if the situation with the curse-bearers becomes too far gone.
While I like to side with Noé in the belief that saving involves life and to want to find any way possible to avoid killing, Vanitas is the grimoire expert. I would have to trust his opinion (and hoping that in the past, he had actually tried and failed at rescuing far gone cases, as opposed to deciding that rescuing, while possible, was too much of a pain).
For life and death decisions like with the far-gone curse-bearer, Vanitas, as cold as he may seem, may be the best one as he can assess and take logical action. As opposed to Noé, who would probably hesitate because of his compassion, leading to further unnecessary deaths (something which his future self alludes to in the end). Vanitas is the brain and behind this team and Noé is the heart-you cannot have one without the other. In time, Noé’s importance will come to light as that heart that can see, as the Teacher puts it, the people written in the book more than the words themselves.
What makes Noé a great idealistic hero instead of an unbearable one is that he is able to become self-aware of his own ideals and the dangers of applying it to others who do not live according to his standards. The problem with his reaction to Vanitas wasn’t so much what Vanitas did, but more that he had set expectations for how Vanitas should act, based on how Noé himself should act, which, as Noé realizes, is unrealistic because Vanitas clearly thinks differently from him.
The heart of their relationship is that they disagree because they don’t understand each other, with the one an idealist and the other a realist. While Vanitas has the strength of the grimoire and the ability to think clear-headedly in any situation, Noé complements him in matters of the heart- something Vanitas is weak in. Noé is able to be honest with himself (something Vanitas seems reluctant to do). Noé see into his and Vanitas’ hearts, seeing things Vanitas tries to suppress-naturally leading to backlash from Vanitas. I am interested to see how their partnership continues to develop, with each one agreeing to follow their own vastly different convictions-will either (or both) of them change their views over time, after working with and hopefully coming to understand more of what the other one thinks?
The ending was unexpected-narrating these events as a flashback, with the future Noé hinting at a tragic end for Vanitas. This retrospective certainly put a much more grim atmosphere on the story, knowing that it won’t end as a happily ever after all around. But maybe that was the point-to challenge any expectations for the story, similar to how Noé’s idealistic expectations are challenged by Vanitas.