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Comment: Vanitas no Shuki 16 — Galop

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All who lost their shit when Noé pulled off a Spiderman say I!

Every time I write up a VnS post I fuck all the previous structures I said I'd be sticking to, so you know what? I'm just going to write and do whatever the hell I want ʕノ•ᴥ•ʔノ ︵ ┻━┻ (I suck, I know, I'm so sorry for being a mess)

[WARNING!] This post contains spoilers for chapter 16 of Vanitas no Shuki! (duh)

Ho-ho-ho! We're back for more Vanitas no Shuki! Sorry for the delay my lovelies; as you all probably noticed, YenPress took a lot longer than usual to publish the chapter, and I have a new job with really awkward shifts that has me barely even stepping into my house.
As most of you know MochiGenius was out of the game with a cold last month, so she published a short story in the 4th issue of the GanGan Joker rather than a full chapter. I know I originally said I'd lump my thoughts for 15.5 here, but I really only had feels to talk about, so I made a mini tumblr post about them instead. Anyway, let's get jammin' already, because we have a brilliant new chapter and a revolutionary new volume cover to talk about!


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.
Terms with a red flag have appeared before, but now have new information!
  • 星碧石 (アストルマイト) (asutorumaito) [ Astermite ] — Depending on how it's manipulated on the outside, an astermite stone's nature can be changed in any direction. Astermite is a mineral that changes its properties by rewriting the world formula. The stone has a pipe that connects to the world formula, just as vampires do.
  • 過激派 [ Extremist faction ] — A faction of the chasseurs to which Moreau belonged to. It is believed they secured several underground passages.
  • 蝙蝠 [ Bat ] — A derogatory term for vampires. Vanitas spurts out one hell of a long insult ("Candy-brained, blood-sucking bat", 「脳ミソ砂糖漬けの血吸い蝙蝠」) and it's rather hard to tell what part specifically is the commonly used derogatory term, but I'm assuming it's the "bat" part.


Two in one


Why is it revolutionary? In case you haven't noticed, MochiJun has NEVER EVER draw a cover for one of her mangas with more than one character on it. Even the cover of her one-volume manga Crimson Shell stared only the protagonist, Claudia, surrounded by thorns. In this way, volume covers have served to showcase a character's peculiaritias and to shine a spotlight on them. For example, chains were a prominent motif on the Pandora Hearts covers that underlined the cover character's relation to the Abyss, and every character had an object or a symbol that defined them in the background (Oz and the pocket-watch in vol. 1; Gil and Raven's black feathers in vol. 2; Oscar and his camera in vol. 20). Likewise, [ Oz appearing a second time on the cover of vol. 22 served to establish his character as Oz the B-Rabbit, a different entity from the Oz Vessalius we saw on the cover of vol. 1. This can also be seen in distinction MochiJun makes between Echo and Noise by giving them each their own cover (volumes 9 & 21). ] ❖

❖ The comment between square brackets [ ] is a potential spoiler for Pandora Hearts. To view it, simply highlight the text with your mouse!

In this sense, Vanitas no Shuki's 3rd volume is groundbreaking, especially because covers 1 & 2 were leading us to believe MochiJun would be following her one-character cover trend. And it's not for lack of characters that she's breaking this chain: Jeanne, Luca, Lord Ruthven, or even Laurent could have easily been valid cover characters for volume 3 (especially Laurent, seeing as this is the volume where he was introduced in). So what effect does this new cover have, and what does it say about MochiJun's new series? It stresses Noé's and Vani-chan's co-protagonism, a fact MochiJun underlined in her blurb comment in vol. 2's inner jacket, especially since for three consecutive volumes they have been the stars on the covers. MochiGod is pointing out that Vanitas no Shuki's story is about Noé, Vanitas, and the relationship they share. Though the scoop of the story is bound to be much larger than just a few vampire disappearance cases, it's clear that in its climax it will all come down to them, and them alone.
And yet the illustration proposes a duality. Though Noé and Vani appear together, by placing each of our protagonists on different sides of the frame, it's almost as if MochiJun is facing them against each other and setting them on different sides of a conflict. As it stands, volume 3's cover, other than the groundbreaking use of two characters, with it's camera angle looking down and the added water effects, feels more like one of MochiJun's chapter illustrations than a cover at all. If all MochiJun wanted to do was add both Noé and Vani to underline their co-protagonism she could have done so in a manner of different ways, and yet she chose to have them on opposite sides of a wall, floating in water. I'm not smarty-pants enough to read through every detail MochiGod adds to her drawings, but nonetheless it's interesting to consider all these points... particularly in relation to the foreshadowed story ending, that will, allegedly, have Noé causing Vani's death. (cue all the feeeeeeeels)

However the biggest mystery in the illustration is, to me, the purple mark on Vani's neck. We now have a canon colour for the mark of possession Gandalf Vanitas left on his forearm, and clearly the red stain on the right flank of his neck (left on the illustration) marks the spot where Jeanne bit him. I found the red colouring of it rather peculiar, because it isn't just on his neck, but also splattered over his shirt. I had initially assumed this was blood, there to show the marking had taken place recently, but take a look at the blue marking on his forearm. There is a blood splatter there too, of the same colour as the mark of possession, on Vani's shirt.
These splatters, regardless of their colour, are probably there to represent the violence involved in marking someone, or the fact that these are points from which blood has been drained. And yet the purple marking, that is just barely visible beneath Vani's shirt, doesn't have said splatter. Is it another mark of possession? Though this feels like the logical conclusion, the lack of a "blood" splatter has me thinking it might not be. Perhaps it's an injury, or a disease of sorts? Its ominous purple colour has me thinking of poison, which is rather fitting, seeing as there's ivy growing all over the frame, and taking into account Vani-chan was subject to experimentation it wouldn't surprise me if it turned out to be another scar of sorts. Questions questions questions (๑•̆૩•̆)

By the way, though this isn't really relevant to anything I'll be discussing in this post, ヽ(⌐■_■)ノ♪♬ I also made a short post on tumblr with the magazine vs tankobon release differences of the chapters in volume 3. They're mainly small changes that don't really matter, but the first one is tied to the salvation debate and is a rather interesting change.

As for the cover of this months GanGan Joker! A certain post on tumblr that attempting to analyse it floated my way, but I wouldn't bother too much this illustration in particular. The cover announces that it's the GanGan Joker's 8th anniversary, and so Noé and Vani celebrate the occasion with a bouquet of pink flowers. Heck, even their collars have the initials G. J. on them!

Now, moving onto mémoire 16...

M.16 Comment

Vani-chan and V.Vanitas

OH BOY. OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY.  ᕦʕ ⊙ ◡ ⊙ ʔᕤ

Where do I even begin? Those of you who follow my MochiJun works tumblr (Pandora's Candy Box) might have seen the post I made on the possibility that Vani-chan's hourglass earpiece belonged to Gandalf Vanitas, and that he was carrying it as a memento. Whether my second theory is true or not has yet to be confirmed, but have you seen this illustration???? The hourglass is gone from Vani-chan's left ear, which is where he usually hangs it, and is now only present in V.Vanitas's hand, in the form of a charm/bracelet.
Additionally!! The original illustration published on the GanGan Joker includes the following blurb:

「砂時計が落ちた日、その復習は始まった。」
"The day the sandglass fell was the day his revenge began." 
Incidentally, when m.15 came out I thought Gandalf Vanitas was wearing black gloves, but I'm seeing here that his nails appear to come straight out of them, so is this actually his flesh? If so, why is it pitch-black? The skin on his face appeared to be of a normal coffee colour in m.15...

Chances are this really is something that belonged to the original vampire Vanitas, but the question is... why is H.Vanitas carrying it?


I can't help but link this question to this scene in mémoire 16. Who is H.Vanitas talking about when he says "you people" (「お前等」)? The vampire race as a whole? He very well could be, but from what we have seen thus far (particularly during the bal masqué) vampires aren't really ones to hold themselves back. The bitterness in Vani's words has me thinking he's talking about the Archivistes, which brings me not only to the second theory about Gandalf Vanitas I developed after mémoire 15, but to the second detail in the illustration that stands out: Gandalf Vanitas's hair colour. It's white. 
Now, we haven't seen any other Archivists (primarily because they're allegedly extinct) so it's hard to sustain this theory, and though Gandalf Vanitas's skin colour appeared to be of a dark shade at the end of mémoire 15, we still don't have canon colours for anything other than his hair and robe. But hear me y'all, I know I already stressed this in my last post, but my nerdy instincts are telling me this man is part of Noé's weirdo clan with funky blood-memory reading powers, and if he is, then Vani-chan's comment here is as big as the solar system in importance.


We know Vani's backstory, officially, up until the point he is taken by Moreau and experimented on, and unofficially up until V.Vanitas rescues him. Though Vani-chan has not yet openly spoken about this detail top Noé, we know Vani was taken from Moreau by Gandalf Vanitas because Moreau specifically referrs to him as "the boy Vanitas stole from me that day" in mémoire 15, followed by a panel of Gandalf Vanitas taking pity on the children —"...what cruelty. And such young children..."—. But what happened after that? What was Vani's relationship with V.Vanitas? Why did he take up his name? Why does he want revenge? This is where all the juicy stuff really is, and whatever the answers to those questions are, they're most likely the reason behind Vani's outburst in m.16. Moreover...


Vani's statement is heavy with bitterness towards both races. It's a moment of particular interest, because to a certain extent he's equalising one to the other, despite the fact that the series has been striving to set them apart and stress the division between them (the most obvious of these stresses being the fact that vampires even live in a different dimension with a "border" that separates it from the human world). It very well explains why Vani takes such a carefree attitude towards vampires, but I can't help but wonder what the source that lead to this conclusion was. After what Moreau subjected him to it's understandable that Vani would hold resentment towards humans, but what about vampires? Indeed, a vampire killing your parents sounds like the perfect backstory for a story focused on revenge, but judging from what we know of Vani so far and his attitude when —very briefly— retelling the events, methinks there's more to why he's deemed humans and vampires equally selfish.
Whatever lies beyond Vani's rescue from Moreau is most likely the source of all this angsty bitterness, and if the reason why Vani-chan lashes at Noé is because Gandalf Vanitas did something stupid and got himself killed despite being a monster-vampire, then hold onto your horses folks, cos I bet we're going to be in for a feels ride.
Which leads me to my next point:

Vani and Noé's fight

THE STAR SCENE OF THE CHAPTER.

Now, as it stands this is still a rather awkward scene to analyse, because though my heart aches to force these two into a kiss, any kindness in how they act when the other is in danger (namely, stepping in as a human shield, as we've seen Noé do for Vani in m.11 and Vani do for Noé in m.15) most likely springs from a sense moral duty rather than affection towards each other. I suspect it'll have to be some time before these two develop a true sense of camaraderie, so with this in mind, the scene stands out like a sore thumb. Noé takes one look at Vani-chan's bitter face and absolutely loses his shit. He identifies it as "that face," and really, it's hard to tell what face exactly he's talking about (because Vani is an angsty teenager with many angsty faces) but I suspect he's talking about these moments in m.11 and m.15:

Vanitas's anger springs from the fact that Noé stepped in to physically protect him from anything Lord Ruthven could have possibly been planning to do, as is plainly put together by Noé in m.15. Following this line of thought, Vani's bitterness here must spring from a similar emotion, where he rejects Noé's pity towards his situation —"but... don't you hate vampires?"— and sets himself apart from the rest, standing alone. I can't help but think now of Vani's definition of love in m.12, where he states he has no interest in people who would like him back. Granted, the subject here was romantic love, but it's undeniable that it showers Vani with an air of solitude and sets him as the solider that bears a burden on his own because he refuses to accept help. If this train of thought is heading in the right direction, then it's this aspect of Vani's attitude that Noé finds incredibly irritable, and we might be looking towards a future where he forces Vani to open up to accepting help from others.
Choo-choo, watch out for the feels traaaain 👀 👀 👀


Laurent Fortis


My expectations for Laurent are being fulfilled, and his character is rising on my thought-provoking-o-meter. First of all, what has me most puzzled is that Laurent doesn't seem to want to report Vani-chan's identity. He appears to accidentally forget to report this and make the decision of doings so later, but it's hard to believe a man who holds the title of Paladin would so easily forget such an important detail. Surely the church is interested in in acquiring information on the Vampire of the Blue Moon, so why miss out such information? Is it Laurent's chivalry that's protecting Vani from the horrors the church might subject him to should they know who he is, does he genuinely think Noé is holding Vani hostage, or is he keeping secrets? The way the words "protective custody" (保護) were emphasised both in the English and Japanese editions has me thinking he's got something up his sleeve... 

Laurent seems like a nice chap, and even his own men seem to find him overly kind, but is he really swapping to our side or will he stand against Vani and Noé if the tables flip, or once the Moreau business is done with?
Lastly, I'm intrigued as to who this Olivier (オリヴィエ) that's apparently going to go nuts once they hear what happened is...


Doctor Moreau & The Chasseurs

Last but not least... Doctor Moreau (ドクター・モロー). Not only does Vani's desperate last-resort revelation suggest Moreau was thought dead by the church (and very possibly Vani-chan himself too, judging by his reaction when he saw the button with the experiment number on the back), but we have also learnt Moreau is, technically, exiled. This means Moreau's experiments are not something the chasseurs are endorsing, which shines a much less crueller light on the church as a whole. Heck, when Laurent points out Noé is different from other vampires he has met, Vani's comment —"Of course he is. The ones you hunt are all dangerous types, rampaging the human world."— underlines that the chasseurs actually serve a noble cause, ridding the human world of vampires that genuinely mean it harm.
I'm assuming what will follow is a Moreau manhunt in collaboration with Laurent's team of chasseurs, but I'm expecting these reinforced test subjects to be hella strong. BUT HEY! Perhaps we'll finally get to hear more about what this shithead did to Vani-chan, and of what happened after he was rescued??  ʕ •̀ o •́ ʔ Fingers crossed


Conclusions

Though I was hoping MochiGod would enlighten our lives with some Gandalf Vanitas + Vani backstory and feel slightly dejected that we didn't get that, this months chapter felt like a stepping stone towards something bigger, and proved enjoyable nonetheless.
I know I'm always singing MochiJun's praises, but it never ceases to amaze me how good she is at slipping tiny details in casually, without you noticing they're even there. All those little hints she drops on how the gears of her new universe work always culminate into something logical, that has been introduced carefully enough that when she hits us with the blast of it everything connects nicely. Her slow explanation of the World Formula and astermite are prefect examples of this — she added evidence of their use even before she formally explained how these worked. It's what makes her universes so compelling and real.

Well my lovelies, I think this post is long enough already. As always feel free to leave a comment here with any of your own thoughts, or send me an ask at my MochiJun works tumblr, Pandora's Candy Box. I'll see you next month for mémoire 17!

Make sure to read the About Kira Kira and F.A.Qs pages before commenting so that your comments may follow the rules of the blog!


Posted on: 04/05/2017



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5 comments:

  1. I'm pretty positive the stain on Vanitas' neck is a mark from another vampire...perhaps Noe? Noe did say he wanted to taste his blood and that he was jealous that Jeanne beat him to it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. MochiJun (or MochiGod - I like that) actually drew more than 1 character on the cover before in Pandora Hearts' special edition cover (volume 17, 22). Although, it's true she had never done more than 1 character on the official cover.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aahh yes, she also had 2 characters on the Caucus Race novels, but I don't count the special edition covers or the Caucus Race ones because they're 'special', as you say.

      Delete
    2. The guidebook covers also have more than one character, but those aren't story covers as much as 'special book' covers, too.

      Delete

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