The Case Study of Vanitas
|The Case Study of Vanitas|
(Vanitasu no Karute)
|Written by||Jun Mochizuki|
|Published by||Square Enix|
|Magazine||Monthly Gangan Joker|
|Original run||December 22, 2015 – present|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Tomoyuki Itamura|
|Written by||Deko Akao|
|Music by||Yuki Kajiura|
|Original network||Tokyo MX, GYT, GTV, BS11, MBS, CBC, HBC, RKB|
|Original run||July 3, 2021 – April 2, 2022|
The Case Study of Vanitas (Japanese: ヴァニタスの手記, Hepburn: Vanitasu no Karute) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Jun Mochizuki. It has been serialized in Square Enix's shōnen manga magazine Monthly Gangan Joker since December 2015. In North America, the manga is published in English by Yen Press.
The Case Study of Vanitas is set in 19th century Paris and contains vampire and steampunk thematics. The story focuses on the young Vanitas who possesses the grimoire called The Book of Vanitas and uses it to heal cursed vampires. The vampire Noé Archiviste joins Vanitas in his quest to save cursed vampires. Mochizuki was heavily inspired to write Vanitas following her first visit to France as well as watching a movie about vampires. She aims to surpass her previous work, Pandora Hearts by drawing more appealing fight scenes and focus more on the themes involving hidden identities.
The manga has been praised for the handling of its two main characters and the use of action sequences combined with effective comedy. The anime adaptation enjoyed a similar reception for its visuals and fantasy elements. The portrayal of vampires was particularly noted for giving the story aesthetics of sex appeal, mostly due to arousal taken by their preys.
During an airship ride to Paris, the vampire Noé Archiviste meets Vanitas, a human claiming to be a doctor for vampires, curing them of the malnomen, which cause vampires to behave predatorily against their will. The book with which he heals, The Book of Vanitas, is connected to the original Vanitas, the Vampire of the Blue Moon, hated by the Vampires of the Red Moon who form traditional vampire society. Noé and Vanitas join forces to heal vampires, but there lurks a threat of some unknown force named Charlatan, which may be responsible for corrupting the sick vampires.
For her next work after Pandora Hearts, Jun Mochizuki wanted to draw vampires in a high school setting. Vanitas was the first character she created during a trip to France. While sightseeing in Mont Saint-Michel, she mused on drawing the story of a single vampire who had watched over an island for about a hundred years. Everything else about The Case Study of Vanitas came from that one idea, and the general forms of Vanitas and Noé were born there. There were multiple things she thought about doing after Pandora Hearts, like increasing the number of romance and battle elements. The head editor told her to cut down on them since she was not skilled at those. She started thinking, though, like to draw more, believing they would be more appealing the more she practised. The usage of the steampunk setting was done because the author has been a fan of it for large time. Additionally, it was executed to contrast her previous work.
One of her influences to draw a vampire story was the 1994 movie Interview with the Vampire which was based on the novel by Anne Rice. When she watched it, she was captivated by the tragic and fleeting existence of vampires, as well as the blood sucking scenes, so those ideas were planted firmly in the author's mind. Additionally, it had an effect on her fondness for stories with a dynamic between a young man and a girl. This also influenced by her handling of the protagonists. Paris was the first place she ever visited outside of Japan, which highly impressed her. She had been invited as a guest to Japan Expo, which influenced Noé's fondness for the city. This eventually led to her decision to set the manga in France. The Paladins of the Catholic Church draw their motif from the legend of Charlemagne. The characters from Vanitas are not actually the same people as those in the legend, but she likes to play around with the shared relationship dynamics and character traits. Mochizuki claims the genre of vampire stories has already been used several times, and she had to find something to differentiate herself from the many vampiric works that already exist. By studying the myth and the figure of the vampire, she realized that these creatures have several weak points, and that it could be interesting to exploit that in order to give a new point of view.
Initially, Vanitas was the vampire, and Noé was the human. Drawing from Sherlock Holmes, Vanitas took the role of Holmes and Noé of Dr. Watson. But, no matter what the author did with that concept, her boss would look at it and call it generic. She agreed when providing consultation. She was eventually suggested to swiitch the protagnists' roles which she found more striking. A different friend of her criticized her design for Vanitas, which is how he ended up developing those two-level side bangs. Noé's design completely changed from the first drafts to serialization. Originally he had glasses and was more of the straight man of the comedy duo. She was forced to part with those and other ideas. Due to the lead's clashing natures, Mochizuki wrote them to avoid turning them into friends. She does not I does not have any specific points of fixation when it comes to expressions, but she usually end up redrawing the expression several times when making a new panel. Whenever she draws a character's face, she ends up making the same expression on her own face, so shes leave a bad impression when I draw in front of other people. Rather than writing villains, Mochizuki aims to make all her characters relatable. She also aims to improve multiple of her flaws in regards to Pandora Hearts such as the inclusion of meaningless deaths.
For the anime adaptation of the series animated by Bones, producer Naoki Amano was behind every aspect of the production process. In the script-writing stage, series composition writer Deko Akao split up the story. In the storyboard phase, which serves as the "blueprint" for the finished video, Itamura wanted to represent as many of the poses from the manga as possible. The purpose is to be as faithful as possible to the original manga of the series. The aesthetics of the manga involving the idea of vampire and steampunk. Nevertheless, the team often took liberties like in the first episode by portraying a fight scene using silhouettes. The director was careful to make the storyboards look appealing when making the fight. When Vanitas uses his book, 3D animation is used with color artist Izumi Takizawa using vivid colors to be faithful to the source material.
Itamura said it was difficult to make a general distinction, but he thinks that "shojo manga-like" elements occupy a large weight. As a stylistic beauty, he feels that it is basically beautiful and aesthetically necessary, regardless of how the stage or character is perceived. In order to animate it properly, research was done by making the team visit Paris, where the series is set. He wanted to keep the darkness of a traditional vampire movie on the film. In this era, people can see anything if they increase the sensitivity. He wanted the anime to have an horror feeling. Vanitas and Noe need to be kept away from each other. The director tries to be careful because there are places where the charm is lost if it is a familiar relationship.
The protagonists Vanitas and Noé are voiced by Natsuki Hanae and Kaito Ishikawa, respectively, and their performances were the subject of positive response. Both Hanae's play and Ishikawa's play are basically compliments in various places. Hanae makes full use of all the cool, uncool, and sexy parts to bring out the charm of Vanitas whereas Ishikawa is good at playing the reaction of natural's boke's, and it is very helpful to have the story. Hanae was cast as Vanitas for his vast experience as an actor and also because of the sex appeal he can bring even when simple lines like "It's a secret". Inori Minase, who plays Jeanne, said Jeanne is quite rare for her, or that she has played a lot of protected sides, but the defending side will play for the first time. Through interactions with the director, Minase was told she could properly expand Jeanne's characterization. The scenes where Noe takes Dominique's blood and Jeanne takes Vanitas' blood were given to emphasize a sex appeal even though the characters are clothed. The music was played in these scenes to convey an erotic feel.
Regarding the theme of existence and identity, it was not really in a voluntary and conscious way that she took it up, but later found more crucial in Vanitas, than in Pandora Hearts and in Crimson-Shell use these elements. Afterwards, the author wishes to show little by little what is hidden deep in the hearts of her characters. When they explore more in this direction, she inevitably arrives at the question of identity and the meaning of existence. From the start, for me Vanitas had to be a character inspiring a feeling of freedom and eccentricity. He does just about anything that pops into his head. In addition, it allowed her to strike a balance with Noé, the other main character, who is more pure, kind, has a strong sense of justice and responsibility. Finally, both are complementary. Possessing a grimmore capable of saving cursed vampires, Jun Mochizuki has claimed Vanitas' duties is the main aspect of the manga as the manga author wants to portray the themes of identities which a person can lose and recover.
Then in terms of the idea of the real name of vampires, she think sin video games and anime and fantasy manga in Japan it is a concept that is used quite often, so it's not is not a "novelty" created by her. However, she chose to introduce it for specific reasons. Initially, the concept of Vanitas as a vampire savior was already established, but then she had to think about how to visually show him healing the vampires in the story. Making him perform pure medical procedures did not interest her, and she does not think her readers would have liked it very much. So she thought about something more conceptual, and that's where the idea of using this real name story came to me.
Comic Book Resources commented the portrayal of vampires in the series as two different ideas when it comes to bloodsucking. In regards to the vampire Jeanne, she often bites Vanitas early in the series as a comical charm, it instead involves how Vanitas is interested into cursed vampires and often deals with them to heal them. Though their interactions through their first date leads into consensual bite, the writer felt that Vanitas was actually trying to heal her if he managed to learned from her that she is also a victim of a curse.
Vanitas wears an earring that looks like a hourglass. Upon first seeing it, writer Deko Akao believed that such item appears to have a history, something which proved him right upon further seeing Vanitas' past in the manga. Anime News Network stated that such earrings reflected his mortality and short lifespan which also comes across as the message the author aims to give.
The Case Study of Vanitas is written and illustrated by Jun Mochizuki. The series began in Square Enix's Monthly Gangan Joker on December 22, 2015. In April 2020, Mochizuki announced that the manga would be on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The manga resumed publication in November 2020. Square Enix has collected its chapters into individual tankōbon volumes. The first volume was released on April 22, 2016. As of June 22, 2021, nine volumes have been released.
On December 3, 2015, Yen Press announced on its official Twitter account that it would be publishing new chapters of the series concurrently with Japan. The manga is also licensed in Taiwan by Sharp Point Press, in Hong Kong by Sparkle Roll, in South Korea by Daewon C.I., in France by Ki-oon, in Germany by Carlsen Manga, in Italy by Star Comics, in Spain by Norma Editorial, in Russia by Istari Comics, in Thailand by Siam Inter Comics, in Vietnam by Kim Đồng Publishing House and in Poland by Waneko.
On March 28, 2021, it was announced at AnimeJapan that the series would be receiving an anime television series adaptation by Bones. It was directed by Tomoyuki Itamura, with scripts overseen by Deko Akao and character designs by Yoshiyuki Ito. Yuki Kajiura composed the series' music. The series is a split-cour anime, with the first half airing from July 3 to September 18, 2021, on Tokyo MX and other channels.[a] The second half aired from January 15 to April 2, 2022. The first opening theme is "Sora to Utsuro" by Sasanomaly, while the first ending theme is "0 (zero)" by LMYK. The second opening theme is "Your Name" by Little Glee Monster, while the second ending theme is "salvation" by MONONKUL. Funimation licensed the series outside of Asia. On August 5, 2021, Funimation announced the series would receive an English dub, which premiered the following day. Plus Media Networks Asia has licensed the series in Southeast Asia and released it on Aniplus Asia and IQIYI.
Upon release, the Japanese volumes appeared in charts from Oricon. The manga was praised by Otaku USA for its handling of a steampunk setting as well as the characterization of the title character as both the reader and Noé are not sure whether or not the cocky user of the book is using his magical book for the good of other or is secretly a meanspirited man symbolized by the meaning of his name. Anime News Network agreed in regards to the handling of Vanitas and setting and praised the mix of action, humor and adventure. The Fandom Post acclaimed the first manga volume as "This book blew me away. It exceeded my expectations. The art was stunning. Every page turned was incredibly detailed while maintaining the action scenes. The characters were well developed, interesting and full of intrigue. I can’t recommend this book enough." while finding it as a worthwhile creation of Mochizuki like Pandora Hearts rating the book with a "A".
In a following review, The Fandom Post enjoyed the mix of action and multiple events occurring in the manga's seventh volume and that while the art was not that detailed, the action scenes made up for it. The focus on romance between arcs was praised for its handling of Vanitas as hilarious character considering how poorly he reacts to his feelings towards Jeanne. Manga News criticized prolonged narrations, but praised the handling of Vanitas through his tragic backstory as well as apparent fated duel to when Noé will try to kill him. Another theme the critic enjoyed was how there is no black and white morality within the cast which keep giving the series a darker narrative. Although the manga is shonen, the art was compared with "beautiful shojo-esque art style" by Comic Book Resources, making it equal to Pandora Hearts. Melina Dargis from Fandom Post also wanted the manga to be adapted into an anime in 2017.
The series was listed twice by Anime News Network as one of the best anime from 2021, while IGN featured it in their own list as well. The handling of vampirism between Jeanne and Vanitas as well as Dominique and Noé was listed by Caitlin Moore from Anime News Network as the best moment in anime from such year due to amount of sex appeal they portray directly. The Fandom Post agreed in regards to the sex appeal featured during the episode where Jeanne sucks Vanitas' blood, comparing it directly to sex, hinting it as an example to why their misrelationship could progress in following episodes of the series.
The Fandom Post found the early fight scenes of the series were the most appealing parts of the series based on how unpredictable Vanitas was, especially when dealing with Jeanne, but the series was less eventful in other areas where there was criticism over the handling of science fiction. An early scene where Vanitas forces a kiss to Jeanne was panned by AnimeFeminist for the downplaying one of the strongest female characters while the other one, Dominique, was criticized for how she objectifies Noe comically. The massive violence displayed in the series' fifth episode resulted in Funimation warning sensitive viewers to avoid watching it. Bones' animation has been generally praised for making the settings and character details appealing alongside Yuki Kajiura's music. Natsuki Hanae's performance as Vanitas brought major praise from Anime Feminist for how he conveys different sides of Vanitas' twisted personality to the point he comes across as "peak trash". The series was nominated for the Crunchyroll's 2021 awards in the category of "Best Fantasy". The series' second half also earned a positive reception from Anime News Network writers due to the character arcs of the main cast as well as the production value to the point that they considered it to be one of the best anime of the Winter 2022 season. The characters of Vanitas, Noé and, Jeanne were popular in Anitrendz, with Vanitas and Jeanne being nominated in the couple category.
- Tokyo MX listed the series premiere at 24:00 on July 2, 2021, which is at midnight on July 3.
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- The Case Study of Vanitas official manga website at Gangan Joker (in Japanese)
- The Case Study of Vanitas official anime website (in Japanese)
- The Case Study of Vanitas (manga) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia