Art credits: Twitter: @tarokunnnn and @_tamomoko
In the midst of an adventure between worlds of humans and vampires alike, on the cusp of two versions of Paris stand our protagonists of Vanitas no Carte challenged by the ongoing war between two breeds of vampires.
As more and more vampires get cursed, between what seems as horrible and plaguing, we also find hopeful and passionate moments that inspire us to think about the very question Noé poses here.
Noé was brought up in a turbulent situation and his childhood is filled with dark times until he is brought to his now teacher and grandfather of the Sade twins, to which his life turned to better places compared to his past.
From what we see of Noé, he is very curious and loves to research and explore, has a very chivalrous attitude and has strong ideals that he lives for. With no hesitation he jumps to save others, always makes sure to take care of the people around him and has a strong sweet tooth.
He is also very determined, although with good intentions he can sometimes jump to conclusions quickly and needs some time to be persuaded if he has set his mind to do something specific. With the mission to research about the ‘Book of Vanitas’ and promptly finding the current holder of the grimoire, he reluctantly follows him as the events of the anime unfold.
What sparks interest now is the way certain emotions and relationships are displayed in the anime.
Despite the grim and dark theme with the malnomen and the cursed vampires that could send a chill down your back, in the midst of the anime romantic encounters bloom on all sides.
Starting with the general cute and wholesome relationship between Noé and the lovely Amelia we find chivalry and respectful behavior on both sides to be the focus point of their relationship. Even after the action-filled airship debacle, Amelia stays as a witness close to Noé and Vanitas and even gets her blood sucked by Noé.
Next to those two, as Dominique de Sade makes her entrance, she and Noé seem to have a very scandalous relationship with obvious jabs at a submissive and dominant power dynamic that forms its foundation back in their childhood.
They could also have a sibling-like relationship since they’ve known each other for their entire childhood and it seems that Noé does not see their relationship in any other way but platonic. Although that might not be what we see as the viewer when they drink each other’s blood.
As a third example, the very eccentric Vanitas himself enamoured with the ferocious Burreau Jeanne, and claims that he loves her after the first time meeting her. After having a private moment with her and even later letting her drink his blood and marking him, another romantic relationship appears in this anime.
So Vanitas no Carte shows us many varying examples of how love can play out between two people, be it platonic or romantically inclined, so it comes to a surprise when Noé poses a pivoting question while dancing with Vanitas:
“What in the devil is love?”
The question comes out of his mouth with the curiosity and the confusion that we’re used to from Noé, it’s one that has a depth to it that even Vanitas who claims to love Jeanne can’t even answer.
“How am I supposed to know?”
With the very childlike soul that Noé has, despite his angry impulsivity that can jump out, he seems to understand very well what a relationship is and what love should mean.
Yet after watching Jeanne and Vanitas a longing bloom in his chest to which he concludes it must come from wanting to drink Vanitas’ blood and no other reason. It seems that Noé has little experience when it comes to romantic relationships and has no concept for them, which leads him to ask such a loaded question.
As Vanitas explains that his own definition of love is a fluttering heart and a shiver that overcomes him, we see Noé’s naive thinking as he compares those symptoms with those of nasty common cold.
It is hard to define love with just one permanent definition, as there are so many different types of love and everyone feels it differently. From this anime alone, many relationships that contrast each other present themselves and Noé in the middle to make sense of it all.
In the end, one can ask themselves the question of what love truly is, yet the definition and the feeling is something so deeply founded in us that it can’t be easily summarized and put in a box.
We will have to wait and see if Noé finds his own way to find out what love truly means.