Vanitas no Carte (also known as “The Case Study of Vanitas”) is an anime series by Bones and is based off the 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 anime series consists of 12 episodes of 23 minutes each.
The narrative is central to the main character who names himself a doctor to vampires, Vanitas, and is in possession of the grimoire called The Book of Vanitas which he uses to heal cursed vampires. The vampire Noé Archiviste joins Vanitas in his quest to save cursed vampires and on orders of his mentor to observe Vanitas and the book. Mochizuki was heavily inspired to write Vanitas following her first visit to France as well as watching a movie about vampires. The writer of the manga’s aim was to surpass her previous work, Pandora Hearts by drawing more appealing fight scenes and focusing more on the themes involving hidden identities. If you enjoy watching Vanitas no Carte and are looking for more entertainment, you may be interested in giving Pandora Hearts a shot, I quite enjoyed both series myself as well as Vanitas no Carte’s second season which has finished airing as well. The story takes place in the 19th century, Paris, and thus has many elements that revolve around the history and mythology of France, such as the Marquis de Sade and The Beast of Gévaudan.
Producer Naoki Amano was behind every aspect of the production process in terms of this adaptation. 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 which is great as we all know how irked some fans can get, myself included when the manga and the anime don’t match. The aesthetics involving the idea of vampires and steampunk were beautifully animated and the entire series as well as the second season was visually pleasing. When Vanitas uses his book, 3D animation is used with color artist Izumi Takizawa using vivid colors to be to remain faithful to the source material. With all the production team’s efforts, the fight scenes were great! Along with the fresh approach to vampires, combining old-fashioned and modern tropes, the vintage outfits, and the Paris setting, Bones, has truly showcased a masterpiece.
Returning to the narrative there is a great balance between the horror, comedy, historical, and action themes preventing anyone from being inferior to the other. The narrative offers intriguing side-stories and mysterious characters have been introduced smoothly via the worldbuilding. It’s difficult to figure out whether the protagonists are heroes or villains. There is certainly an underlying grey morality theme. Vanitas for example comes across immediately as an arrogant, vain, and stubborn character who is well-written and padded. As the narrative continues his relationship with the other main characters develops and although he tries to hide the fact that he cares it does show to some extent, almost as though his love for his friends is an internal conflict, though it is unclear to what end or why it would be bad for him to get close to others. In the second season the narrative delves more into his character and some of his past is revealed, but his true motive is still unclear, I suppose this is the mystery genre peeking through which can also be seen in various other characters’ who have ulterior motives as well.
All in all, both season 1 and season 2 were enjoyable and I couldn’t wait to watch the next episode, making this a binge-worthy watch. I am looking forward to season 3 to untangle the various stories and questions left unanswered as well as seeing more of Vanitas the eccentric rebel.