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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

The Case Study of Vanitas | Vol.1-4

Updated: Feb 4, 2022


Overall Rating - ⭐⭐⭐1/2


"A tale of vampires and curses set in a whimsical and dark steampunk Paris unfolds! On the streets, rumors abound of a clockwork grimoire said to sow curses among the vampires. Now, guided by the Book of Vanitas, the gears begun to turn, and the story of two men, Noe and Vanitas, takes shape."


 

The Case Study of Vanitas, also known as Vanitas no Carte, is a fantasy manga by Jun Mochizuki.


Before getting into it, this review is going to cover Vol.1-4, which roughly covers Season 1 of the anime. As I read this while watching the anime, I will also be doing a small side-by-side analysis to see how the manga and anime differ.

Now, when I initially finished reading this, I thought it was fine but wasn't something I saw myself re-reading or re-watching. After thinking about it and letting it sink in, my opinion of it got a little bit higher as the story and the characters did end up sticking with me after the fact.

Let's get into the details.


 

ART

One thing this definitely has going for it is pretty boys, as can be seen by the way the characters are depicted. In general, there is a strong focus on the characters as, oftentimes, there is little detail in the background. As this is a manga and thus has monotone art, it is hard to tell the difference between the humans and the vampires as you are not able to see the vampire's distinct red eyes.

Something the anime has over the manga is, of course, the use of colour. As you can see with the gorgeous covers, the colour scheme which focuses heavily on shades of blues is stunning. What also translates better in anime than in manga would be the depiction of movement, but in this case, I think it was handled well through the use of lines.


PLOT

I honestly had no idea what this series was about before going into it, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there were vampires in this. Add in a magical cursed book and you had the recipe for something with a lot of potential. There were things I liked about the story, while other details brought it down a bit. I liked that this flipped around the typical vampire story. Many stories center on vampire hunters, but instead, our main character Vanitas is healing those who became corrupt.

In general, the format of the story differed between the manga and anime. The manga was a lot jumpier with the timeline. For example, it would depict that something happened, and then go backwards. I didn't feel like that added to the story and rather it disrupted the flow unnecessarily. What the manga did better, however, was that it went into more detail than the anime which was appreciated.

I was a bit lukewarm about the introduction and found that the anime handled it better than the manga. The anime started off with the story of Vanitas which was a better way to set up the story compared to the manga, which jumped right into introducing Noé. To go a bit further, Volume 1 as a whole didn't really set up much. I got no sense of direction for where the plot is going and was only given random tidbits about the world. Thankfully though, as you go on, the pace picked up as more of the story gets unravelled and you get to know more of Noé and Vanitas' background.

There were some minor things that put me off from the story a bit Right in the beginning, you are told that Noé will end up killing Vanitas in the end. I thought it was a bit odd to announce that from the get-go because it hinders the attachment you can have to the characters and the story. Another minor detail that made me question things a bit was that Noé at one point, ends up being chained at his neck which was...something.

The story has a mixture of serious and silly moments, and while that blend can be both seamless and entertaining, I found that in this case, it didn't always hit the mark. While I enjoyed the more comedic scenes, it contrasted a bit too much with the darker moments a bit for my liking. In terms of action, I wished that the scenes were more drawn out as they were rather short and minimal damage occurred. The fight scenes had a lot of potential, mainly because of the weapons the characters have at their disposal, so it would have been nice to see them utilized to their full potential in combat.

Ending with the ending, the manga did a better job at stopping at a good place. The anime ended up continuing a bit into the next volume in order to set up what is to come in Season 2, which I didn't think was entirely necessary. They also excluded a character introduction that happens in the manga which I don't think was the right choice as not only was it a better set-up for what is to come, it was crucial information about a character's storyline.


WORLD-BUILDING

Set in Paris in a world that is both historical yet futuristic for its time, the setting for the manga is definitely fancy and adds a certain ambience to the story. The motivation behind the characters is to help vampires who turned into malnomen by maladies after their true names were taken from them. This, I thought, was an interesting way to go about conflict and resolution. It also helped make the story more than just a simple, standard, vampire story by adding diversity.

On the downside, it took a bit for the world-building to sink in, as you are kind of thrown bits and pieces and were expected to connect the dots. Some elements were interesting though, like Altus, which is an alternate Paris where vampires reside. I did find the origin story of the vampires and the basis for the magic system, while different, was a bit odd.

Another element that I personally don't like to read about, even though it fits in with the era, was the addition of the church. While the church and their anti-vampire unit, the chasseurs, brought me my favourite character, I find that in most books they never have a good role, so I am not particularly psyched to see what role they have in this.


CHARACTERS

We mainly follow Noé and Vanitas but are introduced to a wide variety of characters along the way. Noé I found to be a bit bland, mostly because he was more on the serious side. Vanitas on the other hand is a bit more eccentric. He gave me very strong Dazai from Bungo Stray Dogs vibes; happy-go-lucky on the outside, more sinister on the inside. I found that it took some time for both of them to become interesting, as it took a bit for their characters and backstory to build.

Among the side characters, we have Jeanne who is one of the few female characters. I feel like her character could have been interesting, if she didn't immediately go from 'badass warrior' to 'only here as a love interest.' Her dynamic with Vanitas was a bit odd, and I hope that in future installments it progresses better.

Out of everyone, the characters I liked the most you only saw a grand total of 2 times... One look at Olivier and I was like yes, you are the chosen one. I really liked Murr the cat and Luca as well.


CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

If this appeals to you in any way and are interested in reading the manga or watching the anime, I would caution you a bit. The manga updated extremely slow, as in once a year. There are also enough volumes currently for only one more season, so you would be waiting a long time for more volumes and seasons. If you do like vampires, mystery, and pretty boys and don't mind the wait, then try this out for yourself.

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