「Un autre―傷痕―」 (An Ōtoru―Shōkon―)
It looks like Vanitas’ habit of keeping everything close to his chest will come back to bite him (perhaps quite literally too). Noe is shocked at discovering Vanitas killed Vanitas Sr. Sure, it would be a surprise to find out your friend was hiding something as big as murder from you. But, on the other hand, didn’t Vanitas already make it clear that he hated Vanitas Sr. and want to exact revenge on him? Wouldn’t that make Vanitas killing Vanitas Sr. unsurprising? At least for me, it seemed matter of course. Not to mention, why allow your view of Vanitas to be swayed by a boy who captured your childhood friend and is holding her over your head to force you against Vanitas?
The boy in question, Mikhail, has had his share of trauma-abused by his mother and then witness to her death (and that of the guilty vampire). I’m not sure if they mentioned Mikhail’s past as a way to gain sympathy for him or to use abuse as an explanation for becoming a manipulative villain, which would be a very problematic portrayal. Not to mention the uncomfortable connotations of an underage boy forcing his neck upon the much older Noe. At least they made it less erotic than the sucking scenes in previous episodes, but it was still disturbing- dancing a little too close to the neighborhood of shotacon for my tastes.
Interestingly, Roland shows up in the past again, this time as Mikhail’s rescuer. I am intrigued to know what Roland’s story is-he plays a role in multiple different characters’ backstories (Astolfo, for instance). It’s clear he’s a connecting thread between the individual strands in the story, but he’s been underutilized so far.
On the Domi front, we get a deep, heartbreaking glance into her backstory. Domi discovers posthumously that the ill-fated Louis was her twin brother. For whatever reason (which they never explain), twins are unlucky in vampire culture. Domi is chosen as the heir over her brother who is subsequently hidden away for the curse of being a twin, rather than the curse of a malnomen. Contrary to what I previously thought, her masculine fashion is not a mere fashion choice or sign of heirship but rather, Domi trying to become for Noe the Louis he lost in childhood. The moment when Noe awakens from his coma, mistaking Domi as Louis was heart-shattering. That compounded the insecurities and guilt Domi already felt about her relation to Louis (thanks to big sis Veronica throwing it in her face).
At this point, there is a lot of misplaced guilt or feelings of responsibility towards each other on both Noe’s and Domi’s sides that complicates their friendship. Domi blames herself for giving Noe the idea to protect their friend that ultimately led to Louis’ bad end. While Noe feels responsible for protecting Domi no matter what after all that she’s suffered. Even if Noe reciprocated her romantic feelings (which I honestly don’t think he does), I wouldn’t see it as smooth sailing because Domi would always be plagued by the doubt “Does he love me as me or me as a reminder of Louis?”.
Sadly, Domi’s guilt and emotional turmoil leave her open to Mikhail’s opportunistic manipulation. His “bumping into” Domi was surely no coincidence. He leaps upon her connection to Noe, using her as bait to persuade Noe to suck out Vanitas’ past to find the motive for murdering Vanitas Sr. While sucking Vanitas’ blood would appeal to the Noe x Vanitas shippers, it would throw a wrench into the Jeanne x Vanitas relationship. Especially if Jeanne were to happen upon Noe feasting on Vanitas, considering that Vanitas is marked as her blood source.
While Mikhail’s identity as the long-lost brother/nemesis was pretty much expected, what I didn’t expect was for him to pull out his own copy of the tome. I was under the impression that there was only one tome-but again, I’m sure that’s what Vanitas wanted people to believe (or believed himself, if he truly thought Mikhail was dead). We don’t know yet the extent of his power, only that he has a cool robot dog (Mecha-Godzilla meets K-9) and carries astermite power (and used it, given the astermite veins on his arm). I am intrigued to see what a face off between the two Blue Moon brothers will look like. With how Mikhail is a sore spot from Vanitas’ past, from an emotional/psychological standpoint, Mikhail might have the upper hand on Vanitas- making Vanitas open to emotional manipulation.