OP2: “Your Name” by (Little Glee Monster)
「Forêt d’argent―邂逅―」 (Fore Darujan―Kaikō―)
“A Chance Encounter”
After a long season of waiting with bated breath, the second cour of Vanitas no Karte is finally here! I would like to mention that this post is written for those who have already watched the first cour, so I will not be hiding spoilers for previous episodes. If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend it and you can you can read about it here. Part two is already digging further into Vanitas’ vampire lore-picking up old breadcrumb trails and introducing new ones.
One of those new introductions is Astolfo (Murase Ayumu), a Chasseur. When I think of vampire-hunting, the first thing that comes to mind is protecting humans. For the newly Astolfo, he hunts vampires like one would a bear-protection of humans is only coincidental. His brutality shows vampire-hunters from the fearful perspective of the hunted, rather than the sigh of relief with which a human might see such hunters (unless you were one of those soldiers).
Once again, Vanitas uses his uncanny ability of reading his audience to know just which buttons to press. As I think I’ve mentioned before, it makes him an interesting foil to the naïve Noé and serves as the fire that pushes Noé into action. Noé lets the emotions of fear and memories of friendship cloud his judgement, like in his hesitation in fighting Astolfo. Vanitas (as usual) went too far in the opposite direction, cruelly mocking Asolfo for his family connections. It is clear this is a wound for Astolfo and it was painful to see his agony the further Vanitas got in his insults. Astolfo and Vanitas really are two peas in a pod. The thrill Astolfo gets from crushing vampires paralleled the thrill Vanitas got from crushing Astolfo’s soul. While Astolfo’s weapon of choice is his spear, Vanitas’ weapon is his sharp tongue and intellect. Our overeager vampire-slayer is about to have himself a field-day with a giant Beast coming his way plus Vanitas and a powerful vampire.
Jeanne is a woman of many identities-the Hellfire Witch, Ruthven’s Borreau (executioner), vampire, and perhaps other identities we don’t yet know of. She is one of my favorite characters because of her fierce strength, the multiple facets to her personality, and how she can hold her own against threats. They’ve name-dropped the Hellfire Witch and she’s used her special abilities, but how she got that ability and the backstory behind that is still a mystery. It would make sense if it was related to the special powers each vampire possesses. However, if that were the case, why refer to her as a witch? Until this episode, I hadn’t heard of any other witches besides the Hellfire Witch in this universe.
At first, I thought that Jeanne was the fabled witch of the forest, but that wouldn’t explain the apparent time-leap, as she strikes me as more of a fighter than a time-manipulator. Vanitas claimed that the change in scenery (and potentially time) was a malnomen (curse), although encountering an enchanted forest screams “witch” to me, given how often you see witches and forests together in the fairy tales. Which supports the possibility that witches are vampires with a special level of abilities. From how the episode ended, Chloé will be key to the mystery of the forest and the Beast.
I was kind of surprised that Jeanne knew the Beast (in my head I thought of her as younger than she is-but that’s vampire longevity for you). How she was involved with the creature remains to be seen. Though I’m guessing she must have either been friends with the creature prior to the incident and/or she lost loved ones to the carnage. Given her acquaintance with the Beast, I would bet that it is more than just duty as a borreau that is driving her after the creature. It wouldn’t surprise me if she became a borreau partly to gain the skills and backing to pursue it.
Vanitas, never daunted by a challenge, is set to try healing the creature-if it is a curse-bearer. I would have to agree that the Beast is a mega curse-bearer. From the time-leap and Jeanne’s interactions, it seems to have been a person at one point. Charlatan even enters the fray, and he is the pied piper of malnomens. With how huge and powerful this Beast is, it will be the test of Vanitas’ power limit. Indeed, his power is already limited now that his link to the Tome is broken. Not only is it broken, it is flung through time. Let’s just hope it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands before Vanitas can fetch it.
The tone and pacing of the episode was a bit odd. The first half of it had a fairy-tale horror story vibe that was a far cry from the curse-filled steampunk France and Vanitas was also strangely well-behaved, making it feel like a different show. By the end of the episode when Vanitas returned to his trouble-making and Charlatan showed up, it felt more like the old Vanitas no Karte. As much as the changing tones threw me for a loop, I liked the contrasting tones of creepy with the eeriness of the forest’s frosted stillness followed by the garish eeriness of lurid scenery and Mardi Gras style-masked musicians.
I honestly was expecting at least a few episodes to build up to the facing off with the Beast. With Charlatan joining the fray already, this episode seems more like what I would expect from an episode towards the end of a season as opposed to right at the beginning. It leaves me to wonder what more they could have left for the remainder of the series. Interrupting the big showdown to leap into character backstories seems a bit disruptive but if executed well, that shouldn’t be a problem. Fortunately, the premier left enough mysteries behind the Beast and Jeanne that it’s safe to say there will be plenty of gripping developments in the coming episodes.
ED2: “Salvation” by (Mononkul)
And so, my most anticipated show of the season finally airs, wasting little time getting into the thick of things. Best of all, Jeanne is back!
I still haven’t gotten into the manga despite multiple attempts to do so when finding spare time, but I’m not at all surprised Astolfo turned out to be a total maniac. Anime/manga has taught us that the overly chipper characters are to be kept under close surveillance. His conduct in this one episode brought mixed feelings. I understand his retaliation against the soldiers for mistaking him for a woman. Anyone in his position would get irritated by that. But going as far as killing them was overdoing it. The least he could’ve done was incapacitate them.
Jeanne’s involvement is especially interesting. The fact she’s there at all and kept addressing the Beast of Gévaudan as “Chloé” indicates that not only is this not her first encounter, but she has a personal history with the one controlling the creature. If so (and it probably is), then apparently the relationship didn’t go well given that she lamented not killing her “last time” during the fight.
The Charlatan parade materializing physically was the aspect that came from left field the most. Mainly because up until this point, I had the impression Charlatan creating curse-bearers was through psychological corruption. Chloé’s definitely involved since Naenia was hover around her neck during the last moments of the first season’s final episode.