Original Run: July 3, 2021 - September 18, 2021 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Supernatural Based on the Series Created By: Jun Mochizuki
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for The Case Study of Vanitas. Reader discretion is advised.***
In vampire lore, those born under the Blue Moon bring ill fortune. One such vampire was Vanitas, who the community shunned and exiled. Enraged by the injustice, Vanitas created a cursed grimoire, The Book of Vanitas, as a way to enact his revenge. Though still feared by the vampires, many centuries have passed since the book’s penning. Therefore, most believe it to be nothing more than a legend.
It is now the 19th century, and the vampire Noé (voiced by Kaito Ishikawa) has arrived in Paris to investigate rumors of The Book of Vanitas’s reemergence. While on his journey, Noé comes across a human named Vanitas (voiced by Natsuki Hanae), who has inherited both the infamous vampire’s name and relic. However, rather than using the book to cause harm, Vanitas is curing vampires who have succumbed to what many assumed was an incurable blight.
Hoping to fulfill his mission, Noé joins Vanitas, and the two set out to free all vampires from a horrific fate.
As of this review going live (December 2021), The Case Study of Vanitas is set to receive a second season in January 2022. Thus: 1) this season does not end with a conclusion, and 2) it is a story still in progress. Hence, certain positive or negative qualities of this series will remain tentative until the wrap-up of season two (assuming a season three won’t be coming a few months afterward).
But let’s forget about all that for the moment. If this is the beginning of a longer franchise, then The Case Study of Vanitas started with a bang; this show was a lot of fun.
Now, when I went into this series, having never read nor even heard of the source material, my gut told me to expect a dark, supernatural story that leaned more towards the occult. While there were elements of that, this show had goofiness that was incredibly entertaining. I wouldn’t list The Case Study of Vanitas as a comedy, but it did have a healthy sense of humor.
This silliness made this story, which could have easily been generic and forgettable, well, not those things. It was quite impressive. This series could go from hilariously cute to deadly serious in seconds without feeling jarring or out of place.
There was this scene where Vanitas proclaimed who he was and what he possessed in a room filled with vampires. Keep in mind; Vanitas was the successor to a figure all vampires have feared for centuries, and he was the owner of a relic believed to bring about the worst kind of fate for their kind. Plus, Vanitas was also a human, which had to sting a little.
Nevertheless, when Vanitas spoke, he sounded commanding and in full control of the situation. Even though many in the crowd called for his head, Vanitas had the entire room’s attention; it was impossible to write him off as a joke. Then, when he had finished his spiel, Vanitas looked over his audience and tried to carry out his mission in the derpiest, oh-my-god-what-the-hell-is-he-doing fashion imaginable.
To this show’s immense credit, those two extremes complement each other perfectly.
Speaking of Vanitas, he, along with Noé, brought out this series’ real charm. As the main pair, they worked incredibly together; they were a powerful combination of buddy cops, will-they-or-won’t-they protagonists, action heroes, and Laurel-and-Hardy-esque buffoons.
It’s strange. I don’t remember the last time – if there even was a last time – when a lead duo carried an air of resounding confidence as well as an imminent sense of something-is-about-to-go-horribly-wrong.
In particular, Vanitas was this show’s shining star. He had an arrogance he could back up with actions, a smugness that could instantly irritate an entire room, a mischievous nature that dished out far more than it could receive, and, all-in-all, he was a massive d-bag. Nevertheless, it was hard not to like him.
Likewise, Noé could be a total airhead. He was quick to trust others, shiny objects easily distracted him, and he was often dangerously naive. But when he got angry – a state Vanitas managed to trigger regularly – Noé was violent and vindictive. Nine times out of ten, he wouldn’t hurt a fly. That tenth time, though, everyone in the vicinity needed to run away as fast as they could.
I did not think I would enjoy The Case Study of Vanitas as much as I did; vampire anime have rarely captured my interest. Not only did this show do that, but it also made it look like the simplest thing in the world.
Part of the reason I “resigned” myself to watch this series was learning about its second season (guaranteed content for the site). Having now watched it, though, I am legitimately excited to see where things go.
Summer 2021 has had decent anime, but there have been a few that have impressed me. The Case of Vanitas was one of those special shows to do so.
Here is where it becomes difficult to review split-cour anime. Ideally, I want to use this section of my reviews to highlight flaws, missteps, and problems concerning substantial qualities, i.e., narrative, characters, and pacing. When I focus more on surface-level qualities – animation, sound, etc.- you can usually take it to mean the show in question is, at a minimum, not bad.
For something like The Case Study of Vanitas, at present, I am unable to point out major series-breaking flaws with confidence because I can’t be sure if there is a flaw at all. Although it has come back to bite me before, I prefer to give a show the benefit of the doubt. I want to give every story the chance to reach its conclusion before hitting it with any negatives – and, by extension, positives.
That said, The Case Study of Vanitas is in a good position to land firmly on its feet when its continuation concludes. Based on what I have seen, my confidence in this series is high.
Of course, that isn’t the same as me saying I don’t have any hesitations.
This series did struggle with narrative transitions. When it was in the middle of a plot point, The Case Study of Vanitas was on point. However, progression wasn’t the smoothest whenever it needed to move on; events tended to end without leaving connection points for future callbacks.
Or, in other words, this series sometimes felt more like a collection of highlights rather than a flowing narrative.
That aside, there is one concern I have about season two. Call it experience, but The Case Study of Vanitas feels as if it is on the verge of becoming a lot more serious. While I’ll admit the chance of a season three isn’t unheard of, I don’t believe it will come to that. No, I have a suspicion the next chapter will be the concluding chapter.
Therefore, given the nature of this story thus far, our character will need to confront some rather unpleasant memories and past experiences, especially Vanitas.
Though this show’s silliness was beneficial in this installment, I fear there is a chance it will get in the way in the next. I hope I am wrong.
I did not think I would enjoy this series as much as I did; this show was the most pleasant of surprises.
Although this story had plenty of dramatic moments, it wasn’t afraid to be funny. Comedy and edge don’t have to be mutually exclusive. On the contrary, these two extremes can be effective partners when done well, like in this series.
Then, when you mix in an interesting narrative with fun characters, you have a show that leaves you wanting more. And barring some change in the schedule, more is on the way.
The Case Study of Vanitas has earned a recommendation.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise The Case Study of Vanitas? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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