「Oiseau et ciel―ダプシェの吸血鬼―」 (Wazo e Sieru―Dapushe no Kyūketsuki―)
“The d’Apchiers’ Vampire”
The story’s tone was a switch from last week’s cuteness. The mood switch was not unexpected because last week’s fanservice like a person going to town on a sweets buffet before embarking on a fast. Although there was still a lot of cuteness in Noe’s and Jean Jacques‘ newfound friendship. I have to give Noe credit-he really can make friends with everyone-from the roguish Vanitas to the kidnapping butler.
The domestically talented Jean-Jacques’ relationship with Chloe is a curious one. From all appearances, he has no reason to stick with Chloe-he’s not related to her (since she’s the last living d’Apchier) and judging from his reactions to Noe’s praise, she probably doesn’t give him much appreciation. Given the access he has to Chloe (and by extension, Naenia), he could be a gamechanger on the progression of events if he becomes enlightened to the fact that Chloe’s happiness does not necessarily guarantee her well-being. Especially when that “happiness” is a curse that distorts her very being.
Naenia really is a master extortioner. What she can’t get by force, she tries to win by bargaining. Whatever authority she has to grant requests is questionable-why should she possess power to grant wishes when she needs to rely upon stealing vampires’ natures? I can’t necessarily blame Chloe for taking Naenia at her word- in a living hell of eternal isolation, any thread of hope, no matter how thin seems pretty good. I found it interesting how Chloe’s illegal research used sound to interfere with the world formula. I would take this as implying that Naenia arose out of her research with how Naenia is always accompanied by distortion of sound. That and the appearance of Naenia after Chloe redoubles her research efforts.
Experimentation keeps appearing time and again (rather fitting for a steam-punk setting). Chloe is both a Dr. Frankenstein- delving into secrets of creation better left untouched- and the Creature- cursed with the awareness that she can only look at Eden through the garden gate, but never step inside with the feet of a monster. The scene where she discovers the beauty of the world outside, only to later mourn learning the comfort of companionship and the beauty of nature was particularly devastating and reminiscent of Frankenstein’s Monster. In the words of Mary Shelley- “Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more deeply than he does the beauties of nature. The starry sky, the sea, and every sight afforded by these wonderful regions, seems still to have the power of elevating his soul.”
Is it better to never experience the higher things of life-love and beauty-if it will only end in loss? It is human nature to try to avoid pain because it rips you into vulnerable pieces, changes the fabric of your being. Yet, you can’t avoid it-especially if you’re a vampire who has lived for centuries. I can’t imagine living centuries locked inside the confines of a castle. Sure, it’s safer-but also isolating and boring. Love and beauty overcome that, giving meaning and enjoyment to life- even if only temporarily. Is the payoff worth it? I suppose it depends on the person and the situation. This elegantly parallels the vampires bound by the world formula. The world formula confines vampires to their nature. If the vampires seek higher knowledge of life itself, they run the risk of suffering. Though the suffering unleashed would far surpass that of loneliness and heartbreak. If Naenia is indeed the result of Chloe taking her research too far, this has the potential for exploring some interesting questions into suffering as the price of knowledge and whether some knowledge is best left alone.
It’s no longer a mystery why so many interested parties are after her. The Church with its religious fervor against the “non-human” certainly wouldn’t want her to research something that would tamper with the very structure of the world, blurring the lines between vampires and God. For Ruthven and the vampire Queen, the power to control the very nature of vampires would be an enticing tool for subjugation of the humans.
I was surprised that Ruthven was instrumental in the peace between vampires and humans- especially with the animosity he has shown since then. He seemed a pretty decent fellow in the beginning– except that showing up to befriend Chloe without explanation seems suspect. Of course that could be hindsight bias.
Something was clearly off in his last encounter with Chloe, but whether that was his true nature surfacing or a trauma-induced switch is debatable. We already know he is in cahoots with Naenia, so it is possible she was manipulating him. His change in names (August or Ruthven-which is the true one?) and the dark static when he attempted to brainwash Chloe is consistent with a malnomen.
If that wasn’t enough food for curiosity, there’s Jeanne. The flashback briefly mentioned that a Jeanne was ravaged by beasts. This could be a coincidence framed by Naenia to push Chloe over the edge or is one thread of the tangled history between Jeanne and the Beast. Ruthven is rather cruel, brainwashing Jeanne to kill Chloe whom he knew was a precious part of her childhood-heck, he even introduced them. The more I think about it, the more it seems likely this web of affairs has been manipulated-whether by Ruthven or someone or something else using Ruthven.