「Chasse aux vampires―“獣”―」 (Shasu o Vanpīru―“Kemono”―)
That was a marvelous sleight of the hand (or rather, pen)- setting up expectations pointing towards Chloe, only to defy them. I was surprised that Jean was the Beast, what with all of the previous build up about Chloe. In hindsight, in all of that build up, no one had evidence that it was Chloe-everything was based on hearsay or assumptions. Jean’s attachment to Chloe makes more sense from the backstory-and indeed, it would have to be a deep attachment for him to sacrifice what he did for her. After meeting her during childhood, Jean and Chloe bonded over being the outcasts of the village. Everyone likes to feel needed- it seems like a lot of Jean’s affection stems from what he could do for Chloe (and of course, companionship).
Things get complicated once the killings start. As is the human habit, the unexplainable is scapegoated onto the “outsiders” in outlandish ways-giving birth to superstition. Poignantly, a child (Jean) can see the truth that the frenzied villagers can’t-the Beast exists only in their imagination. An imagination stoked by the church after peace deprived them of their favorite sport. To create a pretext to continue their love of vampire hunting, they killed humans to create a fictional Beast that could be blamed on the vampires. I find it ironic that the church is so intent on pursuing vampires when their bloodthirst rivals (or even surpasses) that of the vampires. The only difference being that the Chasseurs don’t drink the blood- they just like to waste it.
It wouldn’t be astonishing if Naenia played some role in covertly suggesting such a horrific plan to the church and making sure that Chloe and Jean met. Jean certainly got a bad deal- if you could even call it a deal. He sacrificed his name to Naenia to protect Chloe by becoming the Beast, which did nothing to dispel the superstitions. Naenia knew it wasn’t a fair trade-after all, she doesn’t have to strike a deal with weak vampires like Jean.
I am interested to know how much the vampire government knew about the church’s schemes. I’m assuming Ruthven showed up on Chloe’s doorstep to monitor her and when he found her non-threatening, had no reason to stay. The fact that Ruthven brainwashed Jeanne to believe that Chloe must be killed as the Beast makes me think that there’s something shady happening on the part of the vampires (which is pretty much confirmed by Ruthven’s as yet unexplained connection with Naenia). Sure, the vampires would want to eradicate a curse that poses a threat to the humans so as not to upset the delicate façade of “peace” between the two worlds. But that wouldn’t necessitate blindly believing the villagers’ superstitions and even brainwashing the Borreaux.
The world alteration formula (a nice nod to the era with mechanisms resembling that of a music box) obviously has power far too immense for any sort of good, especially in the wrong hands. Chloe is blinded by rage, grief, and Naenia to even consider how erasing a single village could create a butterfly effect extending to the rest of the world. Then again when your world has gone to utter hell, the rest of the world certainly doesn’t matter-especially for Chloe whose whole world has only ever been Gevaudan. Needless to say, Naenia will seize the opportunity to hack the formula for her own purposes. While forcing Naenia into a physical form initially seems like a good idea, knowing Naenia, she has probably planned for this.
I find Naenia fascinating in how she can manipulate people’s emotions to extract their true name. Much like how Vanitas can manipulate emotions to achieve his aims. With how well matched they are in terms of cunning, I am looking forward to the final showdown between Vanitas and Naenia. That is, provided Vanitas can find his tome in enough time (which is probably where the next episode is headed).
Excellent plot twist (or bait and switch, if you prefer) throughout a compelling episode. Because of Jeanne’s continual references in the previous episodes, I was certain Chloé was the Beast and that all the attention would be on her. Props for using her as a distraction, hiding the fact that there was more to Jean-Jacques than initially thought.
The Chasseurs bit is a mixed bag. Surely there are those who believe (sometimes blindly) what they’re doing is just, such as Roland, and they’re participating in a noble cause. However, there are surely those who take advantage of that perceived noble cause to simply act on their violent impulses where they couldn’t possibly do so elsewhere. Astolfo fits that description, and let’s not forget he already wasted an entire unit of soldiers for simply thinking he was a woman, based on his appearance. So, neither human nor vampire is safe from that psychopath.
Even if it’s just a theory yet to be verified, Vanitas’ supposition of the church creating and exploiting the Beast of Gévaudan legend and sensationalism as an insurance policy to maintain its standing feels too real. Because like any company/organization, they need a justification to assure its relevancy. Even if they feel it’s necessary to fabricate one. Otherwise, they’ll fade into obscurity.
My assumption is that Ruthven let Jeanne, neglecting all the details, go after Chloé again in order to claim the world alteration engine for himself. He tried to put a curse on her in order to get exclusive use and it backfired. So, I would see him using Jeanne now as a less direct approach. And remember, Jeanne volunteered to make up for her failure last time.
Naenia has quite a large amount of hubris if she thinks she can manipulate others and not eventually find herself on the receiving end. I didn’t expect a mutiny, but it’s such deserved karma. Odds are one of Chloé’s motives is getting back at Naenia for laying her hands on Jean-Jacques when it was bad enough she had already gotten to her. I mean, she has previously confessed to being a very jealous woman.
Creating the Beast was also a political move on the church’s part. What with the “peace” that was formed between the two worlds, they couldn’t act freely without provoking another war.
The Chasseurs are definitely a mixed bag. I’d almost forgotten about Roland-he’s been out of the picture for so long. I wonder if they’ll bring him back or not? The imagine on the side of the vampires, the Borreaux are also quite mixed (well, at least they would be, if not for Ruthven’s meddling).
Judging by the cover art for this season, not only will Roland be joining the fray, but Olivier, his superior whom he indirectly threatened with rebellion in the anime’s first cour after his shift in personal beliefs due to his encounter with Vanitas and Noé, will be tagging along.