「Deux Ombres―出発点―」 (Dūz Ōnburu―Shuppatsuten―)
“Point of Departure”
Initially when Ruthven forced Noé into a one-time servitude, I thought that it was going to be used against Vanitas, however, Ruthven’s real target is Noé’s teacher-“The Shapeless One”. “The Shapeless One” keeps being brought up by Ruthven. What power is held by the Shapeless One that draws Ruthven’s attention so much? Based on the name, I speculate that he could flexibly take on any power that suits his need in the moment or the power is so great, it is undefinable-unlike other vampire powers which are neatly defined with one title. We will have to wait until the 2nd cour to find out.
Ruthven using Jeanne to distract Vanitas is no big surprise-I was kind of suspecting it in the last episode with how perfectly her date lined up with Ruthven’s pointed conversation with Noé. Ruthven is most definitely preying on Jeanne as well-he seems to be the expert at knowing how to mention the right people to the right audience at the right time. His “caring” façade towards Jeanne and the mention of Eric and Louise, who I assume are her parents, certainly did the trick of building her trust in him.
I foresee an interesting conflict when Ruthven using his powers over Jeanne may conflict with Vanitas trying to protect Noé, who will also be temporarily under Ruthven’s control. If Vanitas thought he was in trouble before (which never bothered him much), that will be nothing compared to what awaits him now, especially since he has built emotional attachment with these two characters.
For someone who gives off an attitude of being a lone ranger type of guy, Vanitas has come a long way in allowing others into his life. That he cares for Noé is obvious in how Vanitas leaves the lovely Jeanne to rush to him when he realizes something fishy is up with Ruthven and Noé. I appreciated seeing how Noé’s partnership with Vanitas goes both ways-just as Vanitas influenced Noé to take action (which Dr. Moreau received the brunt of), Noé has also influenced Vanitas to open his heart more to him and to Jeanne.
Feelings were sparkling in the air, and not just between Jeanne and Vanitas. There were a lot of strong (unfulfilled) teasings of Noé x Vanitas centering around Noé’s thirst for Vanitas’ sweet, sweet blood. (I am glad Vanitas was just joking about the bloody clothing-that was a bit weird.) Between trying to control his desire and pondering what he thinks of Vanitas, Noé realizes his feelings for him (or at the least, it is strongly implied). Unfortunately for Noé, the power to see the past through blood doesn’t do him any favors, nor does Vanitas’ blood-pact commitment to Jeanne. It is adorable to see Noé like a young boy with his first crush and the progression from hating Vanitas to now being afraid of Vanitas leaving him.
With Vanitas rejecting Noé, that leaves an open space for Dom-but the question is, will Noé be able to see her as anything beyond a childhood friend. Based on the erotically infused blood imbibing moments with her in previous episodes, I would say the roots are there, but he needs to dig out those feelings first.
As much historical animosity as there is between the Church and the vampires, there is something that they both can agree on-the Beast of Gévaudan, which is reportedly a special kind of curse-bearer. From the end scenes, this Beast looks to be a direct link to Charlatan and the hookline for the 2nd part. I am curious to see what powers this Beast has and look forward to seeing another partnership between the open-minded Olivier and Vanitas and Noé.
With Ruthven hinted to be on Charlatan’s side via a connection with the mysterious hooded figure, I wonder if Jeanne will also be forced to fight on Charlatan’s side through her pact with Ruthven or if Vanitas will hold sway over her. I am hoping we get her back-story and some character development with Jeanne in the next cour-she looks like she has potential for a complex history and personality. I like what I see so far in her, from her positive attitude, mysterious past, and gentleness combined with ferocious fighting powers.
More than a season finale episode, this was a “wait until next time” bookmarker for the 2nd cour. My impressions for this first part were quite favorable. I found the story to be engaging with how it peeled off layer by layer the individual stories of Vanitas and Noé, and still leaving more to find out. The dynamics between Vanitas and Noé were written well, with the progression of their partnership from mutual distaste to mutual friendship and how they each exerted influence over the other through shared trials.
While at first, I was opposed to Vanitas’ relationship with Jeanne due to his arrogance, I did warm up to and quite like the development happening between them, especially seeing the adorableness of her blushes and his genuine smiles (heartwarming to see that he has learned to truly smile after a season of his cynical grins).
My one regret for Part 1 was that it didn’t spend enough time featuring the steampunk environment. In the first episode, they were on the cool-looking steampunk airship, which we again caught sight of last episode. But beyond the little robots at the vampire ball, we haven’t seen too much more of the steampunkness. Which is a shame, because there would be a lot of potential for some neat looking devices and backgrounds.
More than anything, I came away feeling that this was a set up for the 2nd cour, establishing the basic premise with Charlatan and vampires vs. humans and endearing us to the main players. I am expecting the plot to really get rolling in the next part. They teased a lot of interesting mythology with the blight of the curse on the vampire universe, Vanitas’ past, and Noé’s mysterious teacher, that I am excited to see where they take it next.