「Château de sorciére―魔女と青年―」 (Shatō du Sorusiēru―Majo to Seinen―)
“The Witch and the Young Man”
Things really heated up between Jeanne and Vanitas. I wasn’t expecting them to start the episode that way, but they turned it into a telling scene for the emotions of both parties. It was cute to see both characters who normally possess nerves of steel blushing beet red.
Both Vanitas and Noé ended up in parallel situations of naked vulnerability but what transpired in each case couldn’t be more different. Noé was clearly taken advantage of by Chloé. Besides the problem of turning violation of consent into a humorous situation, there is also the issue of what the repercussions (besides severe blood loss) will be. Each vampire has their own powers that are activated by blood consumption like Noé with his ability to see memories and Ruthven with his brainwashing. What we don’t know yet is Chloé’s power (other than turning into a giant beast). Noé already has been brainwashed into serving Ruthven so it would suck for him if he had another vampire’s influence added on top of that. Noé turns into a liability when devious-minded vampires target him as a weapon him against paragons of logic and skill like the Teacher and Vanitas who they otherwise couldn’t reach.
While Chloé and Noé are not formally acquainted with each other, they do have an acquaintance in common-Charlatan. I am always intrigued when Charlatan shows up because of his luridly eerie automatons and this time did not disappoint. Charlatan’s had his eye on Noé for quite some time but every encounter is foiled by Vanitas. What better place to get his claws on his prey than in an isolated castle some distance away from the de-tomed Vanitas. He apparently has Chloé under his control, explaining why there is such a disparity between the aggressive Chloé and the kind big sister Chloé. Not that this is a surprising development, since they have been teasing this since the end of the last cour.
I find it intriguing that Jeanne and Chloé are parallels of each other. Both girls are identified as witches, have some sort of malady (although Jeanne’s may not be related to malnomens), possess fearsome fighting skills, and have an exclusive blood donor. The big difference is that Chloé appears to have lost her heart/kindness in transforming into the deadly Beast while Jeanne has people she cares for-a difference probably due to the influence of Charlatan. The past relationship between the two girls is being set up as quite important. Even though Jeanne is brainwashed as a borreau, it was obviously not enough to erase Jeanne’s affection for Chloé the first time she tried to kill the Beast. We’ll have to see if that emotion resurfaces the next time.
I am hoping memories of her fondness will stay Jeanne’s hand-I love her character and would be disappointed to see her become a mere puppet in the gruesome stage set by the powers that be. The way she parrots pre-made statements (probably fed to her by Ruthven) and mechanically follows orders is a far cry from the independent, feisty spirit we glimpsed in her protection of Luca and interactions with Vanitas. Vanitas, keen mind that he is, senses something is off-remarking that she holds no ill-will against the Beast and going so far as to question his informants on the anti-Beast sentiment in front of Jeanne.
As for Vanitas’ poisoning-he was fine from the start. The missing earring most likely served a greater purpose than a mere fancy decoration and contained antidote. He could have told Jeanne he had an antidote from the start rather than waiting to take it until she was asleep, but he let her do her thing probably partly for entertainment value and partly to distract her from killing. Plus his feelings for her that he tries to hide.
It was strange to see the larger-than-life Vanitas who pokes at other people’s vulnerability become vulnerable himself at Jeanne’s mercy. The dynamic between the two of them is quite interesting in how Vanitas’ normal aggressive bull in a china shop attitude softens around Jeanne and she becomes the dominant one. Whenever they are together his softened demeanor and tone of voice and her awkward forwardness give their feelings away. Unfortunately, with her in denial about her own feelings and his denial that his feelings could be reciprocated, I don’t know that their relationship will turn into anything. Even if she does eventually confess, Vanitas would either laugh it off or gently insist she look elsewhere. Unless events bring them closer together to the point where they are comfortable opening up to and accepting their feelings for one another. I love how the two of them bring out a more light-hearted side in each other and I hope to see more of that!