「Avec toi―ふたりぼっち―」 (Avekku Towa―Futaribotchi―)
“Just the Two of Us”
From the previous episode’s cliff-hanger, I was expecting a larger focus on Jeanne’s story and a team tag between her and Vanitas to tackle the issue at hand. With the help of Vanitas, Jeanne broke out of her cage.
An interesting question is whether the Vanitas Jeanne embraced was the real Vanitas or an idealized image of Vanitas she conjured in her head. Since the whole scene between them occurred in her head, either he performed some sort of telepathy to break into her headspace or Jeanne projected her feelings for him into her self-talk. I am hoping it was the real him and that he meant it when expressed his feelings. I would like to see their feelings move beyond tools for manipulation. Jeanne’s feelings are certainly no mystery, but with Vanitas it can be hard to tell if his feelings are in earnest or just a way to get Jeanne on his side.
Someone clearly not on Vanitas and Noe’s side is Astolfo. When young Astolfo rescued the vampire, I knew exactly where the flashback was heading-usually betrayal is the culprit of a 180-degree switch from naivete to bitter hatred. Unlike cynics who might shrug betrayal off as something to be expected, for idealists, betrayals crush both themselves and the whole world they have constructed in their mind. Sure enough, the ungrateful vampire repaid Astolfo’s kindness with bloody vengeance for his family that was slain by Astolfo’s father. Astolfo is now set on the path of vengeance against these vampires who are less than human to him (in Japanese, Astolfo repeatedly refers to vampires as “animals”, but the subtitles translate this merely into “those vampires”). If anything, his past makes clear that killing vampires is not a permanent solution-if you murder a few, more angry vampires will come after you, perpetuating the cycle of suffering.
Astolfo wants revenge, Chloe wants revenge, Vanitas wants revenge-everybody wants revenge. Chloe was planning on a one-way ticket to payback, with her death as the final stop. I feel bad for Jean-Jacques. This is a slap in the face (which Vanitas literally delivers) to Jean-Jacques who sacrificed his name to protect Chloe, only for her to believe that her life is worth nothing beyond a means to free her friend. Vanitas who normally gives off a devil may care attitude is personally disgusted by this. I think he sees a bit of himself in her. He has repeatedly declared his intention of vengeance against the vampires and doing it his own way regardless of what damage he leaves behind him, similar to Chloe’s determination on vengeance without regard to Jean-Jacques. Vanitas, after going through so much with Noe and to some extent, Jeanne, is starting to understand the responsibility and the emotions that come with letting others into your life. His reaction to Chloe is perhaps partly a reaction to himself and his own ego.
Vanitas’ life, unlike his tome, is certainly no open book (or indeed one that can’t be forced out of his grasp). There is so much we don’t know about him-like that arm of his. Vanitas’ mysterious arm that he normally keeps covered possesses the special astermite to activate the World Formula alteration device. The mark resembles the marks conferred upon humans after vampires imbue them with power during a feeding session, like the one Jeanne gave him. Did this come from the original Vanitas who imbued him with the power to use the tome or from the time spent as that mad scientist’s guinea pig? It is possible that if the embedded astermite was the result of experimentation, the original Vanitas caught wind of it and decided to use young Vanitas as a tool for his tome.
As for the tome-we finally see it back in action after Dante finds it and Jeanne rescues both Vanitas and the tome in the nick of time. What will happen next week? Only the tome (“time”) will tell!