|“||So what if I'd spare him? In my mind, it's the certainty in myself that I possess which allows me to have that kind of mercy or compassion. There's no wavering on that point. It's fixed like the stars. The fact is, I'm never gonna be killed! So remember this: Mercy and compassion are virtues that only the strong are privileged to possess. And I...am strong.||”|
Felix Walken (フェリックス・ウォーケン Ferikkusu Wōken), formerly known as Rail Tracer (レールトレーサー Rērutorēsā), introduced as Young Conductor and born Claire Stanfield (クレア・スタンフィールド Kurea Sutanfīrudo) is the legendary freelance assassin Vino (ヴィーノ Vīno), and considered to be the best in the world.
He will be referred to as Claire (rather than Felix) throughout the article, since that is how he is most commonly known.
Claire is a handsome man with blood-red hair and a lean build. Aboard the Flying Pussyfoot, he wore a custom-white conductor's uniform which was soon coated in the blood of those he killed aboard the train.
Claire is a solipsist. He believes that the world is a dream of his own creation, and all the people figments of his own imagination. He cannot picture the world without him in it, and so in his mind he "can never be killed." If he does die, he'll simply 'wake up' from his dream. His solipsism has led him to eschew the idea of immortality, as "it can do nothing for him". He considers himself the centre of the world and takes pride in this.
Claire immensely dislikes it when people attribute his skill to God or natural talent. He emphasizes that he worked extremely hard to improve himself, and he wishes people would acknowledge the effort he put in rather than dismissively calling him a prodigy.
As The President of the Daily Days puts it, Claire operates outside the law through his own warped sense of justice.
Claire is considerate of those he deems innocent, going out of his way to ensure the safety of people who are not his targets and/or pose no danger. Claire takes pride in his work, and takes his responsibilities seriously. As a train conductor, his job is to protect the passengers and he does so with zeal, adopting the Rail Tracer persona in order to protect them. It can be argued that he can take his responsibilities too seriously (to the point of lucridity) -- for instance, when he encounters a stowaway on board the train he briefly considers dealing with her despite the fact that he is in the middle of a bloodbath.
Claire has stated that only the strong (like himself) are capable of possessing mercy or compassion.
He is not above putting down his fellow assassins after he defeats them, and on at least one occasion has directly asked people to praise him for his good work. This probably stems from the fact that he is a rather insensitive person (as noted by Rachel), though he doesn't really seem to be aware of how tactless and blunt he can be.
Claire admits he does not know where he should release his emotions and so piles it all up inside himself therefore, turning all the bloodlust born of tragedies and hypocrisies towards himself. He has no common sense when it comes to other people's hearts.
When it comes to love, Claire is very much a romantic. He blushes, he fumbles, he is always one hundred percent and never zero.
He is first introduced to the audience/reader as the Young Conductor - an enthusiastic and friendly young man with a penchant for storytelling.
(Note: this section will be completely revamped.)
Claire grew up in the same apartment as Firo Prochainezo and the Gandor family. The Gandors took him in after his parents died, and he spent much of his childhood playing with his foster brothers and Firo. After the death of the Gandor don Claire ran away and joined the circus as an acrobat, where he worked extremely hard to hone his athletic abilities. While it is uncertain when this event occurred, it is known that Claire joined the circus by 1920, assuming the date in 1931 ~ Winter: The Time of the Oasis is correct.
It is clear that Claire respects his fellow circus members. He calls them amazing - he calls the self-proclaimed vampire magician Doubs and his illusions 'incredible' (see Trivia); he admires the circus cook Gregoire's ability to twist manhole covers like one might a sponge. There was a pretty girl in boxing gloves at the circus; an audience member could challenge her to a match for a dollar a pop. If you won, you'd win a hundred bucks. Most of the time, nobody could land a hit on her. At one point, Claire challenges her and wins - that is to say, he stops just short of punching her (he wasn't about to punch a girl) and says "if you want me to give you the hundred dollars back, go on a date with me."
The girl punched him smartly on the jaw immediately afterwards.
(as featured in Baccano! Manga Chapter 002)
In 1919, Claire runs off to play in a derelict building. Firo and the Gandor brothers (who are looking for Claire) eventually enter the building, calling his name. Hearing his name, Claire pops his head through a hole in the roof and greets them. Luck Gandor recoils and asks how Claire climbed all the way up there. Claire simply replies: "I tried real hard, and it worked." He adds that if you believe you can do something, you can do anything.
So saying, he flips off the roof beams (ignoring Berga Gandor shouting at him that it's dangerous) and lands safely on the ground. Luck remarks that Claire gets less human every time Luck sees him. Claire grins and points out that not even he can use magic. No matter how hard he tries, he'll never be Peter Pan. Firo wonders if Claire is implying that he can do everything except magic ("If I work hard" says Claire).
Berga says that now that they've found Claire, they should head home since their father will bawl them out. (Apparently the 'blood oath' at the Gandor place is "be home before dark"). Firo shivers and comments that the Gandor don is a real mafioso, so he means business. Claire and Firo agree in unison that "Old Man Gandor" is scary when he is mad - after all, "he doesn't even show us mercy."
Berga points out that of course his dad wouldn't. Firo and Claire are like family, which means no special treatment. The group heads home.
Claire related the following 1920 incident with Cookie the bear to Firo in 1927:
Claire was still just a boy when he joined the circus. In 1920, Cookie the bear has grown so ferocious that he has tried to attack his own trainers. Claire announces that he will make the bear (then unnamed) be quiet, and enters the bear's cage after making a bet with the circus Boss (a young man whose right eye is covered by a large scar; a red crystal is fitted into the socket). The specifics of the bet are unknown, but it can be inferred that if Claire 'lost', the circus would get rid of the bear.
Claire (who has doused his arm in hot sauce) declares that the bear's name will henceforth be Cookie. The bear sinks his teeth into Claire's arm in response. In the next moment, he releases Claire's arm and rolls on the ground, flailing his paws at the heat.
A clown wearing a mask asks what is going on, and Claire reveals that he'd doused his arm in hot sauce beforehand. A girl wearing a spiderweb-patterned leotard points out that the bear had bit Claire as hard as he (it) could, and Claire smiles and says it'll heal quickly. Although - Cookie would have broken Claire's bone had he bit any harder.
The Boss laughs that Claire has won the bet after all, and Claire reminds him of his promise not to get rid of Cookie. The Boss warns him not to let the wound get infected, and orders him to go get some cooking wine from Gregoire to treat the wound. Claire's circus mates cheer, and through the hubbub one of them praises Claire for being a genius ("Wow! That's the thing about a genius; no matter what they do, it always turns out!")
Claire sighs at that, and shakes his head. He's not a genius, he says. This was all the result of hard work. The Boss smiles and reminds him: "But your hard work has never been in vain, Claire, and I think that's a pretty legitimate talent."
After several years, the circus eventually has a run-in with a large gang. All the circus members scatter, in fear for their lives. Claire and the circus leader team up against the gang - by the time Claire and his boss take the gang down, there is "almost no one left."
After Claire leaves the circus he starts making a name for himself as the freelance assassin Vino, famous for his excessively brutal killing methods.
In 1927 (when specifically is unknown), Claire reunites with Firo and the Gandor brothers at a New York eatery (the eatery is under Gandor influence). When he easily catches the dishes a waitress dropped, Firo (sitting at a table) smirks that Claire is as "awesome as ever," though he doesn't look any different. The two converse, and fondly attribute any good qualities of theirs to Old Man Gandor (who'd looked out for them despite the lack of blood relation).
Firo recalls that Claire was in the circus, and Claire cheerfully says that place was full of party animals. He's "a normal guy" and they ran him ragged. The Gandor brothers arrive and Berga immediately calls Claire a liar - there "ain't anybody" less normal than he. Claire is pleased to see the trio - it has been a long time since he last saw them. The group talks about how Firo joined a different Family instead of the Gandor Family, and Claire wonders if they'll have to kill each other if there is a fight. Luck ends the conversation; they had promised not to talk about it.
Firo asks if Claire is going to the Feast of San Gennaro tomorrow. At Claire's confusion, Luck explains what the festival is, and what the Miracle of San Gennaro is. Speaking of miracles...the conversation turns to "The Phantom Father," the supposed serial killer menacing the streets of New York. Claire notes that Keith Gandor doesn't seem to be too interested in the festival, and Luck smiles and says that Keith prefers silent movies to festivals. Not to mention...he's taken a shine to a certain lady pianist (an accompanist for silent films).
The conversation is interrupted when two diners break out into a drunken brawl. Berga puts a quick and violent end to the fight and Luck intimidates the two men by reminding them who owns the establishment. Berga apologizes to Claire, but Claire doesn't mind and suggests that they go somewhere else. The group exits the eatery, and Luck and Firo's conversation is cut off when Claire throws his arm around Luck's shoulders and drags him away, demanding that Luck show him where the festival is being set up. Thus Claire, Luck, and Berga head off, leaving Keith and Firo to talk alone.
The next day, Luck contacts Claire with bad news. Apparently, Keith has been kidnapped - his bloody jacket and a smashed lollipop were found in an alleyway. Luck formally requests Claire to search for Keith in a professional capacity. Claire heads to the festival. In the crowd of people, he spots Firo hurrying through the throng. Claire calls out to Firo and says he's been looking for him. The two turn into an empty alleyway; as they walk, Claire asks if Firo has seen Keith. He tells Firo about Luck's call - when he mentions the lollipop, Firo pulls a lollipop out from his jacket. He says that a priest named Donatello gave him the candy yesterday.
Claire mutters that finding a priest in a [religious] festival will be difficult. Stretching his arms, he casually says that he'll look for Donatello 'up top' (to Firo's confusion). He nimbly uses the fire escape to reach the rooftops, and calls down to Firo that he'd better not push himself. After all, he has his own camorra position to worry about.
Claire proceeds to traverse the rooftops of Little Italy, looking for Donatello. Reaching an area on the outskirts of the festival, he spots the priest about to stab Firo with a metal stake. He swiftly reaches the ground and snatches Donatello's wrist, stopping him in his tracks. Having heard Donatello state his intention to hurt Firo, he coldly informs the priest that in that case he'll give him a 'pile driver.' So saying, he slams his knee into Donatello's arm, and sends the man to the ground with a punch.
Standing over the priest's prone body (his bloody face turned away), Claire says that he feels bad about hitting a priest, but there's no helping it since the man tried to mess with Claire's family. Firo thanks Claire but asks him to 'dial it back' - but Claire points out that as long as the man is alive, they can get Keith's location out of him any time they want. And besides, he's doing this as a 'job.'
They notice that Donatello has gotten to his knees. Claire remarks that the priest is tougher than he gave him credit for. Firo counters that something feels off as he stares at Donatello's face - there isn't a scratch on him. Donatello divulges that he is under divine protection. Just like San Gennaro was unscathed by fire, "the righteous will revive again and again."
As he charges at Claire with a stake, Donatello adds that that's why he continues to administer judgment to unpunished crimes. Claire kicks the stake out of Donatello's hand, grabs it and stabs Donatello through his right wrist with the metal.
Donatello leers at Claire, and shoves him away. Claire skids back but immediately rebounds with a blow that Donatello blocks. He compliments Donatello on his fighting moves before punching him in the face. Firo observes in astonishment that the priest's wounds are healing. He asks if Donatello really is the 'Phantom Father' and Claire brightly exclaims that [the healing] must be a magic trick.
Donatello spreads his arms and says that everything is a part of God's plan. Depraved New York will be reborn after the festival. He reveals that after the festival, the mafia will be given a warning. Claire stands with his arms akimbo and affirms that Donatello must be referring to Keith. Donatello says that he's being kind - he was advised to start out with weak mafia and thus chose the Gandors, although he could have chosen the Martillo Family instead.
At Firo's indignation over the misnomer, Claire waves his hand and says that he understands why Firo is mad, but the priest isn't too far off base. After all, they are with the mob! Donatello rushes Claire again (to reawaken his sense of guilt) and Claire drives his leg into Donatello's stomach, crashing him into a wall. The two (using the fire escapes) take their fight to the roof. Claire mercilessly inflicts more and more damage unto Donatello - two stakes through his right thigh, a hard blow to the jaw...with bloody lips, Donatello asks what on earth Claire is. Claire's reply is typical: "It's hard to sum me up in a word, but...well, I'm just a hitman. Don't worry about it."
With that, Claire delivers an uppercut to Donatello's jaw. A second later, Firo joins them on the rooftop. Donatello uses the opportunity to make a break for it, heading in the opposite direction of Little Italy. Claire is surprised, and then alarmed when he realizes Firo is chasing after the priest. He calls out, "Firo, don't!" but he is too late; Firo grabs the priest around his torso and uses his momentum to drive them both over the rooftop edge.
During the fall, Donatello is impaled through his torso thanks to a flagpole, and Firo lands safely in a pile of bags and boxes. Claire reaches the ground and asks if Firo is alright. At Firo's disgruntled reply, Claire is pleased that he is alright after all, and helps Firo to his feet. He sincerely tells Firo that he is a genius; as Firo nurses his bruised jaw, Claire silently contemplates Firo's nature. His musings are interrupted when Firo realizes that the priest is gone - which is odd, because he was definitely dead a minute ago.
Claire climbs up the fire escape to inspect the flagpole. It is devoid of blood. As Firo curses down on the street (how will they learn Keith's location now?) Claire shouts down at him to calm down - it's Keith, remember? Keith is not the type to just 'sit there'. He may be quiet, but "what he does is bigger and louder than anybody else." Claire jumps off the escape and lands on the ground, pointing out that thanks to Firo they have at least some idea of where the priest is headed. He tells Firo to leave Keith to him (Claire), and Firo grits his teeth and asks if Claire is implying that he won't be of any help.
Claire gently bumps Firo's chest with his fist, and says that he's worried about him (referring to his position as camorra associate). He says that Firo has done what he needed to do, and that he should trust his family to do the rest. After all...they're not that week. The two part ways.
Claire soon notices that a church is on fire. Heading there, he spots Keith emerging from the interior flames and walking unscathed through the double doors. Claire waves at him and happily says that Keith has pulled out all the stops yet again. He apologizes, and says that although Luck had hired him to find Keith, he (Claire) had managed to let the perpetrator escape. He promises that next time he sees Donatello, he'll kill him. He'll "end him so good, I'll leave a pool of blood..."
The two return to Coraggioso (a jazz hall and the Gandors' base of operations). They descend the basement stairs, and are immediately greeted by a relieved Luck and Berga. Keith reveals that he let himself be caught on purpose. Luck and Berga are horrified - what if Keith had been killed? (Keith succinctly replies: "We still had two.") As Luck clutches his head in frustration, Claire reminds him to thank Firo as well. Without Firo's efforts, Keith would have had a tougher time moving around. Berga asks if Firo is all right, and Claire grins and says that Firo is fine. After all, he's a popular fellow.
At some point during 1927, Claire begins training to become a train conductor under Tony's tutelage. He became a conductor because of his work as a hitman - as a conductor, he can travel all around the country (and find his targets) for free. He heard about the work from Gregwall.
Also at some point during 1927, Firo asks Claire why he became a conductor, and Claire reminisces about the circus. Firo marvels at Claire's confidence with women, and Claire reminds him that the people he meets are only characters in His world. He knows that he will run into them again if he needs to. If he doesn't, that just means they weren't that important to him. He says that he doesn't feel lonely, and he didn't feel that way even when the circus broke up. He'll see them all again someday; the boss, the others, Cookie...
Firo wonders what he means by Cookie, and Claire (realizing he only told Keith and his brothers about Cookie) talks about Cookie the bear and what happened in 1920.
By 2002, Claire is in his nineties and the great-grandfather of Charon and Claudia Walken. In August 2002, Charon says that Claire and Chané are on vacation in the Caribbean, where Claire is apparently scuba-diving for treasure (he intends to find a pirate's sword for Chané).
(To be rewritten)
The name "Vino" is well feared in the criminal underworld, as exemplified by Gustavo Bagetta, who was terrified at the prospect of having to face the legendary killer and hired freelance assassins left and right just to stop him. Many powerful assassins would like nothing more than to defeat Vino in combat, since such a feat would prove their own strength.
His speed, strength and dexterity are far beyond the boundaries of an ordinary human, first showcased on the Flying Pussyfoot where he became the Rail Tracer and was enough of a threat to be considered an entire third faction of his own against several homicidal hitmen from the Russo Family and the Lemures that worshiped Huey - after all, he managed to take down and severely traumatize both parties. He defeated the highly dangerous and well feared hitman Ladd Russo, known for his ruthlessness and killing capability, and took down several assassins, even severely crippling the homunculus Christopher Shouldered.
Even at a young age, he showed such promise that he caught the attention of Huey Laforet.
Claire's time in the circus allowed him to pick up and hone acrobatic abilities that would later serve him well aboard the Flying Pussyfoot, where he was able to move effortlessly atop the roof and below the cars despite how fast the train was moving.
With only short battles and unexpected means he defeated four powerhouse assassins that were hired by the Runorata Family without much difficulty at all and walking away unscaved, in fact Claire has even walked away unscathed from battles with supernatural being such as Adele and immortals like Berga.
His solipsistic persona also gives him somewhat controversial, but effective and surprising ideas in the midst of battle. For example, Claire noticed that Liza had thrown chakrams at him from behind by spotting the chakrams' reflection in Christopher's eyes.
Chané Laforet - Claire is completely and utterly in love with Chané. He proposes to her minutes after meeting her for the first time--though it should be noted that he proposed to every girl he took a liking too. However, Claire doesn't move on when Chané initially rejects him (like he's done with all the other girls). Instead Claire pursues her in Manhattan and goes so far as to seek Rachel's advice on how to confess his love for her.
When Chané struggles with her feelings towards him, he informs her that he'll be happy to start out just as friends, so long as he can be by her side. It is unlikely that he would have done this with his other old flames - Chané is the first person who has 'engraved proof of her existence onto his world', referring to when she nicks his ear on board the train. Very few people have managed to lay a blow or cut on Claire, which is probably why he fixated on her rather than giving up.
Claudia Walken - Claudia has practically inherited her great-grandfather's personality - like Claire, she is a solipsist and extraordinarily confident in her own self.
Charon Walken - Claire's great-grandson. While Claudia takes after Claire in personality, Charon has followed in his athletic footsteps and works as a child stuntsman.
Huey Laforet - Huey is Claire's father-in-law. Huey and Claire meet in the '1935-B: Dr. Feelgreed' manga. Claire initially thinks that Huey must be Chané's brother; when Claire learns that Huey is her father he is extremely excited and thanks Huey for bringing Chané into Claire's world. Claire is clearly grateful to Huey for Chané.
Firo Prochainezo - Claire and Firo are childhood friends, and their interactions reflect that closeness. Claire cares about Firo and has saved him on at least one occasion (e.g. from Donatello in 1927).
Keith, Berga, and Luck Gandor - Claire clearly cares for his foster brothers, and in fact offered to work for them for free (though they refused; he works at a discount instead) when he became an assassin. The three brothers freely tease Claire and are generally relaxed around him. Claire and Berga often roughhoused as young boys, and continue to have friendly sparring matches in their adulthood. Perhaps most notable is that Claire holds a great deal of respect for Keith. Keith might be the only man who has ever gotten Claire Stanfield to sincerely apologize, and that in itself is awe-worthy.
Renee Paramedes Branvillier - Renee is Claire's mother-in-law. The two meet when Claire catches Renee attempting to break into the Runorata manor. Noticing that she resembles Chané somehow, he first thinks that Renee and Chané are sisters. He is soon corrected.
Rachel - Claire is initially a tad antagonistic towards Rachel on the train, given that she was a stowaway. However, he warms to her when she begs Claire to stop killing people on the Flying Pussyfoot, tearfully revealing her passion for the railroad. Well, 'warms' is an understatement - he falls a little in love with her and says that if he had not already proposed to Chané he might have proposed to Rachel instead. In 1932, Claire invites her out to lunch in order to ask her advice on the matter of love. The two have an amicable conversation, indicating that they are on friendly terms..
- Claire is deliberately not named in the opening of the anime, purposefully misleading viewers as to his importance and his real identity. He cameos in the opening as the young conductor.
- He is the franchise's most popular character. However, Narita has no intention about writing a story with him as the main character; he feels that such a story would "move too fast without any plot or action."
- Ryohgo Narita has described him as a "Baccano's Number One Problem Child".
- Claire Stanfield has many aliases throughout the franchise: Claire Stanfield; The Young Conductor; Felix Walken; Vino; The Rail Tracer; Red Shadow.
- In the ending credits, he is credited with Jerry Jewell as his voice for the Rail Tracer in the Funimation Dub, but only actually speaks once as the Rail Tracer before his identity was revealed. Furthermore he is the only character who has a two word name cited in the ending of Baccano (both when he is credited as the Young Conductor and Rail Tracer.)
- The red hue of his hair differs between adaptations. In the light novels his hair is blood-red, in the anime his hair is lighter in the first few episodes. Some official artwork depicts his hair with a rustier hue.
- His nickname 'Vino' is derived from the way he mutilates his targets, leaving them covered in blood as if they were soaked in wine.
- The 'vampire magician' Claire admiringly remembers in 1931 ~ Winter: The Time of the Oasis, remembered by Charkie as 'Mr. Doubs' is Doubs Hewley - a character from Vamp!, one of Narita's other light novel series set in the Naritaverse.
- As a child, Claire's role model was Peter Pan. (1934: Prison Episode Alice in Jails)
- Huey Laforet and Chané Laforet travelled to Manhattan in September 1925 in order to seek out Claire and potentially recruit him, having heard of his skills. By that time, he'd already joined the circus.