The Case Study of Vanitas – Summer 2021 Anime First Impressions (Spoiler‑Free)

Welcome to Summer 2021 First Impressions!

Welcome once again to the Yatta-Tachi First impressions! In case you’re new, or in case you’ve forgotten, this is how we do things around here: in the week or two before the start of each new anime season, we run a poll for our readers to vote on what series they’d like us to cover. We then review the first episode of the three series with the most votes. This season, those series are The Case Study of Vanitas, The Detective is Already Dead, and Sonny Boy. Of those three, The Case Study of Vanitas is the first to air.

Key art for The Case Study of Vanitas

It’s 19th-century Paris, and young vampire Noé hunts for the Book of Vanitas. Attacked by a vampire driven insane, a human intercedes, rescues Noé, and heals the sick creature. Commanding the book and calling himself Vanitas, this doctor tempts Noé with a mad crusade to “cure” the entire vampire race. Allying with one who wields arcane power so easily may be dangerous, but does he have a choice? – Funimation

Let’s see what our team of writers had to say!

William Moo

Vampires. Why’d it have to be vampires again?

The Case Study of Vanitas is a dark fantasy steampunk tale set in the Victorian Era with two distinguishable leads: Noé Archiviste and Vanitas. One is a vampire tasked by his master to study the Book of Vanitas and the other is a chuunibyo doctor whose eccentric methods help him deal with troubling cases. A central conflict in the series is the advent of a curse that inflicts insatiable hunger and destruction from vampires. So far, these two have formed an unlikely pair that’s bound to mature over time as they get to know each other.

Similar to last season’s Mars Red, which takes place during the 1920s Taisho era, the anime focuses on vampires trying to coexist quietly within human society. On an artistic and animation level, Vanitas closely resembles Fire Force’s art style in certain moments of joyful bliss and intense action.

The first episode sets up the world-building and introduces us to the central characters pretty efficiently. From point A to point B, you know what’s going on, which characters to follow, and anticipate what happens next. I think this anime is off to a promising start and despite my bias against vampire media as of late, I think I’ll stick around to see what happens. I also know for a fact that this series will definitely start some BL shipping.

Kaley Connell

I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure what I thought of this show.

The Case Study of Vanitas feels unique in its story while being carried out in skins I’ve seen many times before. The story is new and interesting, the art and animation is absolutely beautiful (easily being the best thing the show has to offer), and the voice acting is great. Oh, and the boys are incredibly hot. Just saying.

Despite all this, I wasn’t hooked by the first episode. I did love the humor, and the characters were enjoyable. Usually, this would be something right up my alley, but it kind of felt disjointed. I wasn’t expecting the show to play out like a comedy, and maybe my blind expectation is what dragged the episode down for me. I still think it’s good, and if you’re looking for cute, funny boys getting up to things, then this is probably the show for you. I just… I don’t know. I’ll have to give the show a few more episodes to see how I feel.

Daryl Harding

What intrigued me about The Case Study for Vanitas was not its story, its characters, or even the fact that Bones (who are usually on the top of their game–getting the best staff members possible for their work, with even the studio’s most average looking work still being above average for the anime industry), but who was directing the series. None other than Monogatari series director Tomoyuki Itamura, who has directed every part of the Monogatari TV franchise since Nisemonogatari.

Vanitas is Itamura’s first full directorial role since leaving Shaft and you can kind of tell. The fast-paced dialogue and cuts are still here, along with deformed characters to hit a comedic note, but like some of the more average parts of Monogatari, it felt uninspired. Nothing about the first episode really gripped me.

Now, I know I am not the target demographic for Vanitas at all, I could see fans of series like Moriety the Patriot or Black Butler lapping Vanitas up. For me though, there was nothing outside of the strict genre box that it is clearly trying to keep itself in to make me think, “Yeah, I’ll try another episode.”

On the animation side of things, it was fine. Very clean animation with some fun deformed gags, but outside one very Fire Force-inspired shot, it was Bones at their average–still better than most anime studios out there, but nothing to sink your teeth into.

You can watch The Case Study of Vanitas on Funimation and Wakanim.

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