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Vanitas no Carte — Femme Fatale & Fangs that Reveal Blood

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Jeanne, je t'aime (๑♡⌓♡๑)
[WARNING!] This post contains spoilers for chapters 4 and 5 of Vanitas no Carte!


As with my previous post I'm just going to be rambling about things I noticed in these last two chapters, seeing as it's a bit too early for interpretations. Either way, hope you enjoy, and feel free to comment if there's anything else you noticed!
Mémoire 4「恋 Famme fatale」(Femme Fatale)
Mémoire 5「Archiviste - 血を暴く牙 - 」(Fangs that Reveal Blood)

MANDATORY QUESTION OF THE DAY:
Are you buying the official release, my pretties?
Remember Vanitas no Carte is being published in English by Yen Press on the same day it gets released in Japan! Make sure to check Amazon or whatever other store you use for ebooks!!


Terminology

The order: Japanese term, followed by special furigana reading in parenthesis if there is one, followed by romanisation in italics if I consider it necessary, followed by the official English translation, followed by definition after the hyphen.
Termis with a red flag ⚑ have appeared before, but now have new information!
  •  星碧石 (アストルマイト) (asutorumaito) [ Astermite ] — Often called a "panacea stone" (万能席 - bannouseki), Astermite is a mineral used in place of coal all over Paris in cars, steam engines, airship lift generators and many others. It appears to be non-pollutant, and did not exist before "Babel".
  • 血を暴く牙 (アルシヴィスト) (arushivisuto) [ Archiviste ] — The name of a clan with the power to read others' memories by drinking their blood. It seems to be common belief that they had perished long ago. Noé is an Archiviste. In Japanese, throughout chapter 5 it appears written in two different ways: as「血を暴く牙」 chi wo abaku kiba ("fangs that reveal blood") with the furigana アルシヴィスト arushivisuto ("Archiviste") beside it, or just asアルシヴィストarushivisuto ("Archiviste").
  • 混沌 (バベル) (baberu) [ Babel ] — An outstanding "incident" that rewrote the principles of the world, creating a mineral that did not previously exist: Astermite. In Japanese it is written in kanji as "chaos", 混沌 konton, with the katakana subtitle "babel"
  • シャルラタン (sharuratan) [ Charlatan ] — Charlatan appears as a dark, shadowy creature, and it is assumed he is responsable for wrapping many vampire names and turning them into malnomen. The attacked vampire sees themselves suddenly surrounded by fog, when out of nowhere the "parade of Charlatan" appears. Vampires find "Charlatan" incredibly terrifying.
  • シャルラタンのパレード (sharuratan no pareedo) [ Parade of Charlatan ] — The vision vampires see before their name is wrapped by "Charlatan". The "parade of Charlatan" appears to be mainly composed of jesters, instruments that carry themselves, and masked beings wearing flamboyant festival clothes. It is unclear if the actual parade affects the wrapping of vampires' names.
  • "式"の書き換え "shiki" no kakikai [ "Formula" revision ] — It is unclear what Noé exactly means by this, but it takes place the moment Lucas unleashes a type of power related to fire. The concept of "formula" (式) has frequently appeared throughout the chapters so far.

Sooooo before I get down to the actual chapters, there's a bunch of motifs and recurring elements I'm spotting in the illustrations MochiJun is releasing that are worth taking a closer look at, especially because those of you who possibly followed Pandora Hearts as it was serialized in the G-Fantasy magazine know that MochiJun included a bunch of very blatant foreshadowing in her illustrations that passed unnoticed until shit hit the fan.


GanGan JOKER issues 4 & 5 of 2016

It seems the GanGan JOKER is really stepping hard with its new series, because we're getting a looooot of freebies for it! Issue 4 had a pair of adorable stickers of Noé and Vanitas:
Vanitas: "That's right!"
Noé: "I refuse!"

Aaaaand issue 5 has two freebies with Vanitas no Carte on it! First of all we have a schedule book for 2016 featuring Vanitas and Noé....
lol it's called "handsome schedule book 2016", GanGan JOKER your naming sense is very odd. "Leave your schedule managing for 2016 to the handsome ones!" seems to be the slogan for this one, I am dying.

...and an additional cover for volume 1 of Vanitas no Carte (just as G-Fantasy used to do with Pandora Hearts, it must be a Square Enix thing) that was released on the 22nd of April!

I really like how Mochizuki Jun is sticking with the French title for the alternative cover and other freebies: Les Mémoires de Vanitas.
And with the release of volume one we have more than plenty to talk about!!

Mémoires in vanitas

Oh boy, MochiGenius is clearly starting to work her magic. Now, there are quite a lot of elements in this cover that are hard to miss. My guess is, judging by all the frames we're seeing both in the alternative cover, the actual cover and the first page illustration that frames are to be a recurring element in covers to come, just as chains appeared in all Pandora Hearts Covers, or how the inner illustration showed characters sitting in throne-like chairs that represented them. 
The the 19th century style "framing" of the characters in these furthers the overhanging sense that this is the retelling of accounts have already taken place, most likely narrated by Noé, that I spoke about in my commentary on mémoire 1. It's like looking at photographs, at mémoires...
Additional, it's become painfully clear that MochiJun did not name her main character "vanitas" because the word was melodic and rad. As pointed out in my first post on Vanitas no Carte, "vanitas" is an art style that focuses primarily on still life that presented the view of earthly life and all earthly goods and pursuits as worthless. In vanitas paintings, flowers and human skulls are symbolic of the transience of life, and it's hard to miss the presence of both these elements in the cover and inner illustration of volume one. And what about that skull at the very top with a crown, looking down as a king would at his subjects? Could this be the all powerful death, the inescapable end of life that affects us all equally, looking down at humans as a reminder that they are mortal?
Fans of Pandora Hearts will be well aware by now that MochiJun was a very big fan of making symbolic use of  objects and the language of flowers in her illustrations as a means of foreshadowing, but it's a bit too early to start speculating, so for now I'll limit myself to pointing out these details.


Twinkle, twinkle little star...

The second element worth pointing out now that the official covers are out is the ridiculous amount of stars Mochizuki Jun is adding into her drawings for Vanitas no Carte. If you look at the moonlit background behind Vanitas on volume one you will notice faint violet lines that run across the night sky in what resembles a constellation. This pattern was also clearly visible in the illustration used for GanGan JOKER's issue one of 2016, where Vanitas no Carte bagan serialization:

Now, if you paid close attention to mémorie 1, you will have noticed that this peculiar violet lightning appears every time Vanitas makes use of the power of the Book of Vanitas:


Needless to say they also appear in mémorie 3 when Vanitas takes care of the "9 fold murderer" Thomas Berneux. It's safe to asume this violet lightning is the visible manifestation of the power of the Book of Vanitas, but Mochizuki Jun's decision to blend it with a moonlit starry night background, where the bending points appear to be stars and causes the illusion of something akin to a constellation, is highly suspicious. Especially because stars appear all over her other drawings! Take a look at Noé in the inner illustration of volume 1 and at the blue background behind him. Now take a look at the alternative cover for volume one bundled in GanGan JOKER's issue 5. That's one neat set of stars you've got there. Heck, they're even in the freebie drawing of Noé and Vanitas bundled with volume 1 sold at Animate stores:
Staaaaaaaaaaars!!

They also appear in the illustration featuring Jeanne in mémoire 5 (see the next section for a capture of that) and are also all over the place in the illustration we got before serialisation began of Noé and Vanitas standing back to back in a tower-like structure:
Some of you might remember that in my post on mémoires 2&3 I commented on how the Eiffel tower was nowhere to be seen, yet we got a strange glimpse of an architectural structure that should not exist in Paris that could potentially be the structure featured in the above illustration:
I know I already stressed this in my previous post and I'm being repetitive, and I still think I might be getting a bit too carried away, seeing as nothing in particular in the illustration actually points out it's a tower, and the rooftops are way too low for Vanitas and Noé to be at its very top... but I've been snooping around Paris 19th century architecture, googling stuff about the Eiffel Tower trying to find any sort of hint, and I found this very, very peculiar fact: there was a project to build a monumental lighthouse in Paris, commonly known as the "Sun Tower", and Jules Bourdais claimed it would illuminate the whole city.
In the early 1880s a French electrical engineer called Sébillot set out on a tour of the United States, an almost obligatory part of a technical education in those days. Of all the installations visited, it was the lighting towers that captured his imagination most vividly. On returning to Paris, he began thinking about trying out something similar himself. He found a soul and interested partner in the architect Jules Bourdais, who had just made a name for himself by building the Trocadéro. Soon after the committee preparing the 1889 Exposition launched a competition for a monumental landmark, and Sébillot and Bourdais entered their project. This was, to quote the title of Bourdais' submission, a "Colonne-Soleil, Project de Phare électrique de 360 metres de hauteur destiné à éclairer tout Paris. Construction monumentale" (a "Sun Tower, an electric lighthouse, 360 metres high, to light up the whole of Paris. A monumental construction"). Or, in Sébillot's words: "Avant-Projet d'éclairage de la ville de Paris par un seul foyer lumineux" ("...a project to light up Paris from a single source of light"). Bourdais was to take responsibility for the architecture, Sébillot for the engineering. The Sun Tower, along with another project involving a tower, that of the bridge construction engineer Gustave Eiffel, made the committee's short list. Its pros and cons were discussed in detail at the meetings of the Société des Ingénieurs civils de France, and it attracted a great deal of attention in the French and European technical press. In the end, the Eiffel Tower won the competition, not because it was thought to be impossible to light Paris centrally from the Sun Tower, but because it seemed too expensive, impractical and dangerous. But the fact that Eiffel, too, considered putting an arc lighting system on top of his tower shows how attractive the idea was.

Source: Schivelbusch, Wolfgang (1995) Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century, p.128.
Jesus MochiJun, you've really done your homework...
(other sources: x, x, x)

So is this an alternative Paris where the Eiffel tower was never constructed and in it's place the French got the Sun Tower? It's perhaps a bit too early to speculate, but after what Noé commented about "Babel" in mémorie 5, an event that supposedly changed the very makings of the world and allowed Astermite to come into existence, it doesn't sound as far fetched. Could this Sun Tower turn out to be a Moon Tower that Vanitas will somehow use to his advantage? What if amplifies the power of the red moon and does something? If the moon plays such a big role in the story, could the Book of Vanitas be relying on the power of the blue moon and of the stars?


Cogwheels of fate?

See the stars in Jeanne's mémoire 5 illustration?

I think it's become pretty obvious by now that cogwheels are going to be a thing in Vanitas no Carte. I had speculated as much after mémoire 1 came out, but with all these illustrations featuring them I feel MochiDevil is pretty much shoving it my face for me to see. I don't dare speculate just yet what this could mean, as the story is still in its early stages and in being part of the steampunk genre it could very well be part of setting the engineering mood in the story, but I'm betting my socks it's not just a random detail she's adding because it looks rad. At the moment the only thing that comes to mind when I think of cogwheels, particularly when taking into account Pandora Hearts, is fate.

Okay, so, so far that's all I have to point out in the illustrations. Feel free to add anything about them in the comments section! Lets move onto the actual chapters!!



Characters

Jeanne & Lucas

We still don't know who the fuck these two are, and mémoire 4 did little to quench our thirst for knowledge. 
Evidently Jeanne is the original Hellfire Witch and vampires do live very long lives...

With Jeanne's past partial revealed by Vanitas and her blatant worry and love for Lucas exposed through treats to harm him, Jeanne is increasingly becoming a complex character. Clearly she cares a lot about Lucas — could the cruel past behind her have something to do with it? Did he save her from a lifetime of suffering, working under someone she didn't respect, killing and murdering when she didn't want to?
About our little dear vampire friend Lucas, though:
Oh boy, he's way stronger than he looks. Whatever fire magic or power he's unleashing here it's strong enough to shock everyone stupid and blow Noé off his feet. More importantly, there go those strange lighting bolts that appear every time Vanitas pulls out the Book of Vanitas! This, paired up with Noé's bizzare speech bubble ("A large-scale "formula revision...!") makes me suspect this is some sort of visual manifestation of any sort of power that affects the logics of the universe. And if that wasn't enough, Noé looks like he's grasped something about Luca we yet haven't. What could it possibly be?

Noé "Archiviste"

So our sweet little Noé isn't just any guy. Though I didn't think MochiJun was done with character presentations, I'm quite surprised at this new revelation. I've been so curious about Vanitas, who's ticked all the necessary boxes to become my new favourite psycho, I hadn't even considered the possibility that there could be something "outstanding" about Noé other than a tragic past.
Now I'm no French expert, but I'm pretty sure "archiviste" is "archivist" (I'm so clever, look at me).
An archivist is an information professional who assesses, collects, organizes, preserves, maintains control over, and provides access to records and archives determined to have long-term value. The records maintained by an archivist can be any form of media (photographs, video or sound recordings, letters, documents, electronic records, etc.).

Source: Our good old friend Wikipedia.
Interestingly enough, the actual katakanization for "archivist" in Japanese is アーキビスト aakibisuto, not アルシヴィスト arushivisuto. It's only just dawned on me Mochizuki Jun is using the French spelling and pronunciation to form the katakanized version (maybe not so clever, am I...).
This adds a whole new dimension to the possibility that this is a story being told by Noé about Vanitas in the form of memories. But perhaps right now what matters is not the nature of the title and story, but how this power Noé possess will affect the story as a whole. Can Noé, as the definition of an archivist states, store the things he sees? Is he able to keep every memory he peeks into and later come back to it, even if it isn't his? Is he some sort of walking infinite database??
I find myself most curious about Noé's teacher, though. This mystery man is getting more enigmatic with every new chapter. According to Noé he is stronger than Jeanne (or at least such is the conclusion he reaches whilst fighting her). He is also the man who sent Noé in search of the Book of Vanitas to learn of its true nature, and now it turns out he sent Count Park Orlok a letter describing Noé's situation and revealing who Noé is! I mean, who on earth actually is this guy????????
Moreover...
What the hell is up with Vanitas's reaction to Noé's name? Does he have a personal grudge against the Archivistes? Or does this add a new dimension to his plans of "saving all vampires"? Does this suppose a problem? Does he think Noé is going to become an obstacle in his path? Stop it you two, you're supposed to be the new cool OTP, no fighting allowed!


Vanitas

Sweet baby Jesus in his baby cot... Vanitas, you did not.

Oh yes, he did... and he was definitely enjoying it. Did you see how he shuddered when he threatened Jeanne by attacking Lucas and she cowered away? (what the actual fuck Vanitas, are you a ドS?!) How he stared at her hungrily and possessively?  This is very possibly the beginning of a lifelong obsession, he very definitely wants to monopolize her. Vanitas's character is slowly becoming more and more twisted, and I'm enjoying every bit of it. At least now we know why Jeanne looked so ready to spill blood in that illustration we got before the series began serialization...
Ooooh boy, Vanitas, you have earned yourself a sworn enemy after this...

Moreover...
It doesn't look like Noé actually heard what Vanitas said to Jeanne ( ゜Д゜;)!?

"So what?", you might ask. Let me remind you that in mémoire 3 Vanitas was not the only one who was struck by Jeanne's beauty... Noé was too (gee Jeanne, you really are a femme fatale, breaking hearts left and right...). I jokingly speculated that this could easily become a love triangle with a tragically bloody ending, but now I'm beginning to suspect I might not be entirely off the mark...
But moving on to other matters: Vanitas's relationship with the Vampire of the Blue moon is becoming more and more fascinating and bizzare by the moment. He states in mémoire 4 that "the vampire of the blue moon often told [him] stories of the 'Hellfire Witch' ", followed by a speech where he assures the vampire drank his blood:
Taking these few pages at face value is a little risky because what comes immediately after reveals that  Vanitas was just making up shit about his "true form" to corner Jeanne and have her fall into his trap, but none the less this is the very first time we've heard anything about Vanitas in relation to the Vampire of the Blue Moon (gee typing out the Vampire of the Blue Moon is so tiring, I'd like to refer to them both as Vanitas, but that would just make it confusing...). If what he states in these few pages is, at least, partly true, it means Vanitas actually met the vampire in question. It also further proves vampires live really long lives, but I think we've established that by now.
Furthermore:
This scene here reeks of black magic, if you ask me (en el nombre del Padre, del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo *sprinkles holy water all over the place*). Sexual harassment and other nasty stuff aside, did you notice how Jeanne loses all her strength the moment he touches her?  I had initially thought this was the effect of fear coming over Jeanne and freezing her, but her arm clearly drops heavily the moment Vanitas's naked hand touches her, and in the Japanese edition Jeanne's thoughts appear emphasized:
This is how one emphasizes something in Japanese narrative by the way, you add dots on the sidelines. It's kind of like underlining or adding bold type.

Is this a power Vanitas possess then? What comes right after this is a farce but this here is definitely suspicious, and it very well could explain the gloves he wears. Could this possibly have something to do with the blatant scars on his arm?
Was something done to him, and was it the Vampire of the Blue Moon who did it??
I also heard there was this wild theory going around about Vanitas and Charlatan possibly being connected, because the nickname Dante gave him, "Quack", can also mean "charlatan" and viceversa. While I agree that this dictionary connexion is quite suspicious and hard to miss, the nickname Dante gives him in Japanese is「ヤブ」  yabu, most likely meaning 藪, which either refers to a medical quack (藪医者 yabu isha) or a bush (lol). Seeing as Vanitas calls himself a "vampire doctor" yet probably possess no actual medical skill, I find if far more likely that Dante decided to name him "quack" because of this.
Though the English definition of "charlatan" states it is said of "a person who pretends or claims to have more knowledge or skill than he or she possesses; quack," in Spanish (and I'm saying this as a native Spanish speaker), a "charlatán" is usually used to describe someone who babbles, speaks too much and actually says little. But however similar Spanish and French may be, there's bound to be some manner of difference between the definitions, and that doesn't change the fact that the word appears listed as a possible way to refer to a medical quack.

Dominique de Sade

WOMAN, LADY, MAN, THING, WHAT ARE YOU?!
This man-lady person, what is she/he?! Because wow, that black hair with those light shaded roots sure looks exactly the same as that of the little shit boy that keeps appearing in Noe's flashbacks:
But this Dominique man-lady just introduced her/himself as Noé's fiancé, and this "boy" in the flashbacks is clearly dressed as a boy too... are we dealing with a genderbender character then? Because in the Japanese edition, Dominique uses the male pronoun 僕 boku to refer to her/himself, which makes it all really confusing, because the lack of any sort of bulge in the crotch area and the presence of a thigh gap reaaaaaally has me thinking she's/he's probably female????? But there's no boobies?? But maybe she's just flat chested like me?? (high five Dominique) Moreover "Dominique" is both a male and a female name????????????? (MOCHI JUN STOP THIS I DEMAND YOU IMMEDIATELY TELL ME WHAT'S GOING ON HERE)
And what's up with the little shit boy in the flashbacks anyway? Noé wakes up startled and immediately reaches out for his neck... I highly doubt the sound of glass shattering would have him so visibly distressed. 
Did this boy (whomever he may be, Dominique or not) ((come on it's probably Dominique look at that hair)) do something to him? He certainly doesn't look very friendly, and I've been getting the creepy kid vibes from him ever since he first appeared. Moreover, him pointing out that Noé won't see anything whilst sucking his blood has all the alarms in my head going off, especially because yet again it appears underlined in the Japanese original. What could have possibly happened? Clearly the use of "anymore" points out that Noé could see this boy's memories before, but at the time of this flashback things have changed... suspicious, very suspicious...


Babel

Aaaaannndddd there goes another similarity with Pandora Hearts MochiJun is throwing in. Not only do Vampires live longer than humans and turn to ash when they die, just like the Baskervilles did, but now we have an event that has reshaped the world as it is today that very much resembles the concept of the Tragedy of Sablier.
My first thought when I read mémoire 5 and saw the word "Babel" was the city of Babel and the etiological myth of the Tower of Babel. When I took a look at the Japanese version and realised the word was actually written in kanji, however, I realised MochiJun was using for its value as a synonym of "turmoil" and "uproar". We still know nothing of this event, but either way the word "babel" used as "chaos" also seems to be tied with the city of Babel:
The phrase "Tower of Babel" does not appear in the Bible; it is always "the city and its tower" or just "the city". "Babel" means the "Gate of God", from Akkadian bab-ilu, "Gate of God". According to the Bible, the city received the name "Babel" from the Hebrew word balal, meaning to jumble

Source: Your best pal, Wikipedia.
Now this whole "Gate of God" thing-a-ma-ding is what's really interesting about all of this. According to what Noé tells us in mémoire 5, "Babel", regardless of whatever it may be, changed the principles of the world, a power we can very much attribute only to God. It's a bit too early to skip to any manner of conclusion, as we still don't even know the nature of this "incident", but seeing as MochiJun added quite a lot of Christian references and themes in Pandora Hearts (mainly related to salvation) it wouldn't surprise me if she decided to focus on such themes yet again. This is getting incredibly exciting!!


Conclusions

I think I can officially say I'm starting to like Vanitas no Carte for what it is, and not just because it's a manga by the same author of Pandora Hearts. My love for PH is what's so far kept me glued, but now I'm beginning to feel attached to this series and its underlying mysteries. There's so much to explore, and so much that MochiJun clearly has in store for us. We can trust her to be the sort of meticulous author that calculates everything, and Vanitas no Carte is sure to be one hell of a ride.
With Dominique stepping up onto stage, all the main characters that got a sneak peek in mémoire 1 have been finally introduced. So now that all the puzzle pieces are gathered... what comes next, I wonder? Personally I'm dying to learn more about Dominique, this intriguing incident referred to as "Babel", and the very creepy Charlatan!

Well pretties, that's all for now. Sorry for the ridiculously long and heavy image post! I got carried away, once again. I do hope you enjoyed reading through it, and feel free to comment and add thoughts of your own down in the comments section! See you guys next time, whenever that is ♡
Posted on: 15/05/2016



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3 comments:

  1. your analysis make me want to read next chapter now! awww cant wait for this 22 i will buy it as soon as possible

    ReplyDelete
  2. Realmente me intriga más Dominique, porque que sea francesa y ademas tenga el apellido o titulo de una de las figuras más controversiales de Francia, dado a su gusto por escribir literatura que muchos pueden considerar como perturbadora, psicótica e incluso extremadamente morbosa. No me extraña que tal nombre aparezca en una historia de vampiros y estoy ansiosa por ver que clase de personaje se ha creado en base a tal autor (imposible, dada la ambientación de la historia, q no sea basada en el marqués de sades)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vaya, no me había percatado de ese detalle!!!!! Gracias por aportar algo tan interesante!! Ahora tengo aún más ganas de saber quién es Dominique...

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