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Comment: Vanitas no Carte 22 — Hurler, A Calling Voice

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Bless their little cotton socks.

[WARNING!] This post contains spoilers for chapter 22 of Vanitas no Carte! (duh)




Quick Summary

Memoire 22 「Hurler 呼び声」(Hurler, A Calling Voice)

Jeanne persuades Vanitas to go back to where they where, as Jeanne has dropped the hat and parasol Domi lent her. On their way back, Vanitas remarks on how incredible it is that Luca would let her come and meet him all on her own. Jeanne tells him Luca is actually currently with his older brother, the beastia Loki. Because there is no safer place than by Loki’s side, there was no need for Jeanne to go with him, so Luca gave her a free day.
Jeanne mumbles on about how she had to get “permission”, however, and Vanitas questions who she’d need permission from. He answers the question himself: Lord Ruthven. Realisation hits Vanitas and he rushes back to the hotel, leaving Jeanne behind. He storms into the bedroom screaming for Noé, but finds Noé anticlimactically asleep on the floor. Noé wakes up dazed, shocked to see that it’s dark outside and amazed at the fact that he slept through the day, though he has the strange feeling that he’d been sitting in a cafe eating cake up until moments ago…
Back with Jeanne, as she stands around and realises Vanitas is not coming back, she bumps into Lord Ruthven and calls him “Teacher Ruthven.” Ruthven touches her hair and tells her the style suits her, and that her parents Éric and Louise would surely have loved to see her now.
Elsewhere: Olivier finds Roland buried in books, reading about vampire and human history. Roland tells him he used to think vampires were pure evil, but after meeting Noé in the catacombes he’s realised that’s not true. Olivier loses his temper with him and warns him that as a chasseur, this line of thought could not only harm him, but put his family in danger, if the higher ups caught wind of it.
Roland falls silent… and then asks Olivier how many Paladins he thinks he (Roland) could take on in battle on his own. Roland says 3 or 4, though perhaps bit higher if he’s be prepared to die trying. He finishes off by saying that fighting Olivier, though, could prove to be a challenge.
Olivier realises Roland is threatening him back, and temporarily lets the argument drop. He notices Roland is looking through documents related to Lord Ruthven. As Roland remarks on how amazing Ruthven is, Oliver comes across a pile of documents on the case of the Beast of Gévaudan. Roland peeks over his shoulder and remarks that before joining the church he had no idea this case had to do with vampires, or that Ruthven was involved, too. Olivier explains in an inner monologue that the case took place during Louis XV’s reign, where over 100 people where slaughtered in the areas of Auvergne and Gévaudan. The cover story was that wolves were to blame, but the truth was the Church discovered a vampire was behind the murders. The case is famous because it was the first time in history vampires and the Church joined hands and worked together. Unfortunately, the killer one day disappeared, leaving the case unsolved.
The scene then switches to the mountains, where a wolf howls, and a single figure in a cloak standing in the rain walks away from bloodied dead bodies. The figure says, “You can't see the moon today either. Oh... Hurry... Come quickly, please... please. I'm begging you... Jeanne!”
The chapter ends with both Lord Ruthven&Jeanne and Vanitas&Noé hearing that the Beast of Gévaudan is back.
Edited from the summary I posted on tumblr, plus quotes from the official English digital release.


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!
  • ジェヴォーダンの獣事件 [ The case of the Beast of Gévaudan ] — An incident that took place during Louis XV's reign, where over 100 people were slaughtered in the regions of Auvergne and Gévaudan. The case is based on a real-world historical case, but in the Vanitas no Carte universe it was caused by a vampire. The case is well known because it was the first time in history the Church joined hands with vampires, though unfortunately the killer vanished and the case was never solved.


Comment

and he did, and they all lived happily ever after. The end.
(Sorry)
((no I'm not))

Bless the heavens, someone picked the cinnamon roll off the cafe floor and put him back in his bed!! Though truthfully, I'm not sure it's something we can be too happy about... Noé has -100 recollection of what went down with uncle Ruthy; the vague feeling he has that he was eating cake somewhere in a fancy cafe passed off as a dream, even as he reaches to touch the spot on his neck where he was bitten. And so Ruthy gets away with murder, and our heroes are nowhere near closer to unmasking the villain...
However the introduction of a new case involving the Beast of Gévaudan at the end of this chapter, where the mysterious perpetrator of a new murder begs for Jeanne to come to them soon (no doubt the moment the chapter title is referencing), and a hook at the end of volume 4 with Jeanne that includes the text "Everything overflows— both these treasured feelings, and this loathsome lust for blood" (「等しく溢れてしまう—  大切な想いも、忌まわしき吸血衝動も」), lead me to believe we'll be diving into an arc closely related to our favourite Hellfire Witch. Which probably means that by extension Ruthy's also going to get dragged into the case, especially if he was a central figure involved back when the Beast attacked for the first time.
So hey, if the Church and the vampire elites all got together to solve the case when it first became a problem, does that mean they might work together again and we'll get to see sweet sunshine Roland Fontis and Noé be all BFFs again? bECAUSE.


Ruthven "sensei" & Jeanne

It's always a good time to quote Wreck it Ralph.

Recent developments in M.19 and in M.22 have had me reconsidering my thoughts on our dearest Ruthy, murderous uncle and Machiavellian endorser of mad scientists, and his role in the series. I don't believe Ruthy is out to be the ultimate form of opposition our main duo will have to face-off, but he's definitely fitting the "bad guy" role at the moment. MochiJun has always made her central antagonists complex characters with intricate motivations that don't just stem from a base need to be evil because reasons, but from past events that have shaped them into who they are. Which is why these scenes gave me pause:

Judging by that flashback Ruthy is having when he tells Jeanne her parents would have loved to see her like this, chances are Jeanne's parents, Éric (エリク) and Louise (ルイーズ), where part of the group of pupils that died in this scene of smoke and fire we see at the beginning of M.19, that Ruthy once again flashes back to later on in that same chapter when he tells Noé his pupils were killed. This  would explain why Jeanne calls him "teacher": it's a title she was used to hearing her parents use with him.
This new insight makes me reconsider what he intends to do with Jeanne. I had been reading his character with the assumption that whatever it is that he has forbidden Jeanne to talk about —that something that makes her crave blood, that might or might not mean she is a curse-bearer— was something evil he had done to her, and that she was just another pawn in his game of chess. However his interactions with her in M.22, where he lightly touches her hair and brings up her parents names with a sense of familiarity, point that this might not be the case; that Ruthy might actually care about Jeanne, and that perhaps forbidding her to talk about ~the thing~ is something he's doing to protect her. The gesture of lending her his jacket too has a very protective feel to it. Could it be he's not actually a bad guy?
However the close up of his face in the following panel right before he hands his jacket over to Jeanne is tripping... is he smirking slightly, or is he just pensive? Was that supposed to be a villainous smile??? To be honest, the new volume 4 extra cover bundled with issue 12 doesn't exactly help defend his case...
Don't miss those constellations / formula manipulations over Ruthven's shadow!

Okay, so, let me just start by saying I like this illustration A LOT. Why? Because it's deeply atmospheric and tone-setting, and I love me that kind of shit. It's practically oozing with the taste of control and submission.
As most have probably gathered, in all likelihood the illustration is a throwback to the moment in M.19 where Ruthven bites Noé, forcing him to swear to heed a single wish of his when the time comes. It's impossible to miss the blood splatter across the page that overlaps with the spot where Ruthven bit him, or Ruthven's shadow behind Noé, tinged in red and in a circular shape that si reminiscent of a red moon, exerting control over him like a puppeteer. Most disturbing of all is the hand he wraps over Noé's mouth, a gesture that silences him and takes away his voice. The unusual shading on Noé, that shadows his right shoulder and left arm, cuts neatly through Noé's middle, where his shirt meets — almost as if to say Noé isn't in control of a part of his thoughts, or his body. This time around it's his left arm that's shadowed, but could it be linked to the way MochiDevil has depicted his right hand all bloodied in previous illustrations?
I know this may come off as an over-analysis, and I don't pretend to suggest every stroke in MochiJun's illustrations is calculated, but this unsettling illustration is the shit, and the combination of all these details set Ruthven up as the antagonist working in the shadows that is always one step ahead and in control.

Either way, whatever Ruthy has going on and regardless of what evil plans he's spinning, one thing seems certain: Jeanne is totally clueless about it. It's clear by now she'd never willingly take part in a plan that apparently involves assassinating Luca, and she seems genuinely lost when Vani takes off in a panic and when Ruthy brings up her parents, so for the time being she's in the clear. Which brings me to speak about the other two gorgeous illustrations we got:

Look at my waifu, look at her. Look at how pretty she looks. MochiJun's use of flowers and baby colours in volume 4's cover is once again coating Jeanne in a very pure and innocent light, one that we already saw in the inside illustration of volume two, and one that probably has grown men wanting to sacrifice themselves nobly by sticking an apple into their mouths and serving themselves on a silver platter for a dragon to eat, perhaps with a salad side-dish. All quite ironic, seeing as she's an infamous deadly-ass killer bourreau who wiped out the more than a thousand vampires that sided with the humans during the ~Great Big War~.
It's interesting to note that, unlike the frames behind the characters in the previous volume cover illustrations, Jeanne's frame is empty. All it has is a pattern of tiled, grey rhombuses, that contrasts with the overall feel of the previous covers, where the other side of the frame seemed like a portal that teased an aspect or cornerstone of the cover character/s. It makes me wonder whether this is a conscious decision MochiJun has made to shroud Jeanne and her relation to Ruthven in a veil of mystery, or if it's just because the close-up composition of the image didn't allow for anything else to be added, lest she overkill the illustration. Seeing as Vani's hand is seen raising her blood-stained chin and tugging her towards him —a possible allusion to the pull Jeanne says she feels towards his blood— it's possible he's there to make up for the loss of that detail, as her relationship with Vani is, in fact, shaping where here character is going... which ties in neatly with the cover of GanGan JOKER's issue 12.
It's no coincidence we got two illustrations centred around the relationship these two have on the same day. Now, interpreting MochiDevil's drawings is always a tedious task: you can never be sure of what hints she's dropping in them until you see the entire picture that is the story she's spinning... and even then you might not fully understand what she was going for. Rather than going all Hamlet on you and pretentiously make guesses about the undertone message on the brevity of human life and the secrets of the universe hidden in the curtain folds (clearly, that's where they are!!!), I'm going to resign myself to posing questions that, perhaps at a later date when more information is revealed to us, we might feel have been answered: Are the spider webs and butterflies meant to simply disturb us, or are they representing the toxicity of Vani's and Jeanne's relationship? But who is the spider and who is the butterfly, I wonder? Is the fact that this is the first time MochiDevil has added a direct depiction of a vanitas still life painting (containing all the usual symbolic elements; skull, dead flowers, hourglass, butterflies) meaningful in any way? And the fact that the butterflies seem to fly out of or fly into the painting?
Unfortunately I haven't mastered mind-reading yet (I'm working on it), so I can't say for sure. What I can say is that I'm in love with the erotics she is adding to her story, that comes through in this month's magazine cover. There's definitely a layer of secrecy she has added in this beautiful illustration; a sense of the forbidden, as Vani pulls a curtain and incites Jeanne into the darkness of his embrace. It appropriately reflects the fact that, at the moment, the true nature of their relationship (where Vani has forbidden Jeanne from sucking anyone's blood but his) is being kept a secret from everyone else...


Vani

*whispers intently* gay.

Aha, ahahahaha, ahahahaha... guys, I know I have you all fooled with my talks of a love rivalry between Vani & Noé over Jeanne, but I am not above the broship these two are sailing on. I'm neck-deep in for the gay. Vani's panicked dash back to Hotel Chou Chou when he realises his boyfriend Noé is in peril is, hands down, my highlight of the chapter.
It's rather hard to tell what tips off Vani into realising Ruthven might have used this opportunity or even staged it to get Noé on his own, as he flashes back to seemingly unrelated scenes: of Ruthven in M.13 when he tells Vanitas he'd like to know more about the Vampire of the Blue Moon and the Book of Vanitas, and of Noé in M.18 when he tells Vanitas it's too soon to give up. Most likely what is happening here is that he's remembering what he felt in both these scenes and juxtaposing them — the threatening atmosphere emanating from Lord Ruthven vs. the hope Noé extends to him when he tells him it's not too late to save the curse-bearer in Moreau's lab, and ultimately panics at the prospect that the former might erase the latter... which is, in fact, exactly what's happening.

I don't think Vani has consciously identified Ruthven as the "esteemed personage" endorsing Moreau's experiments, but he has definitely pin-pointed the man as a potential threat. Seeing as Noé the stupidly trusting cinnamon roll walked right into a fucking trap this dipshit laid for him without batting an eye (come on Noé, it couldn't have been more obvious if he held a sign with the words I'M GOING TO KILL YOU), perhaps unmasking Ruthy will have to be a task for Vanitas the sinnamon roll.


Luca & Loki

(Evidently someone in the family has a thing for alliteration with the letter L...)

So Luca's curse-bearing older brother, Loki,  is a beastia! For those who might not remember, beastia was a title introduced during the Bal Masqué, in M.11. Though it hasn't yet been defined, judging by the Japanese writing of the title (女王の牙 "The Queen's fangs") it is likely they are powerful vampires in direct service of the Queen. I'm suspecting it might be the Latin word "bēstia," that means "beast." Veronica, Dominique's sister, is also a beastia.
Etymology of the word aside, I'm assuming this is the reason why it's Luca and not Loki who holds the title of Grand Duke Oriflamme, despite Loki being the primogeniture. I feel that MochiJun is building the hype towards the introduction of his character into the story, but we'll probably have to wait a bit longer before all the characters that appeared in those last three pages of M.1 come together.
Incidentally, this has only just occurred to me, but where even are Luca and Loki's parents? If Uncle Ruthy is Luca's guardian then that means they're... dead?? Is Ruthy responsible for that too??? Scratch everything I said about him maybe not being a bad guy aRREST THIS MAN IMMEDIATELY.


Conclusions

I am super excited about this upcoming case!! For those who might not follow me on tumblr, I suggest reading this post on the inspiration MochiJun has possibly drawn from the author Clark Ashton Smith when she dropped both the names "Auvergne" and "Averoigne," as it could mean we'll be heading back into Altus to get the full picture of the Beast of Gévaudan. I'm excited at the prospect that we might get to see more of the chasseurs and perhaps finally meet Astolfo, whose name was thrown around in M.18.
However... my biggest concern right now is that precious Domi was left alone with Misha. It seems odd that MochiJun would go out of her way to point out that she hasn't returned, and to be honest, I don't rust Misha's angelical smile one bit (never trust beautiful people.) I get the feeling we might not be seeing her for a while...

Until next month, my lovelies!

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Posted on: 27/11/2017



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4 comments:

  1. Im so behind in this manga, though i still think Pandora Hearts was better...maybe too soon to compare them, but it had more impact

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    1. Ungh, I am not over PH even years after it finished... I definitely still favour PH -- that series really marked me. But I'm enjoying VnC a lot at the moment, even though I admit to reading it out of a sense of loyalty to MochiJun rather than genuine interest at first. VnC feels more polished and aimed at an older audience, not just because of its slightly erotic themes, but because it's really genuinely complex...... I haven't reread PH in a long time, but I distinctly remember the beginning being a lot simpler: "this is the MC, this is what he wants to do, these are the bad guys, ok let's go!" It did get a lot more complicated towards the end, when MochiJun began to deconstruct everything we'd been lead to believe as the truth and she blurred the line between good / evil, but the presentation of the plot in those first few volumes was very straightforward.
      VnC, however, is on the other side of the spectrum to PH's beginning; it's more like the second half of PH. It isn't so clear, which is why I can totally understand why it can be hard to get into.

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    2. Speaking of new mangas, have you tried Tripitaka Torinique from the same mangaka of Kamisama H.? Its cute but more violent than her last manga, but so far im liking it.

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    3. I haven't!! My finger has hovered over the buy button on Amazon a few times, but I'm trying to wait a bit more before I get hooked on it... but the temptationnnnn...

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