Once again me and the girlfriend have been watching some anime! This was a show that I skipped out last time, but we decided to see what was up. Am I glad I did? Or did I just waste my time? Well after the cut let’s take a dive into the first cour of The Case Study of Vanitas and find out!
I am probably the opposite of an elitist when it comes to my media. I like my stories simple, the ideas straight forward, and the plot points interesting, but not abstract. While I do like to dig into certain characters and motivations (Fate is a great example) I don’t want to have to spend my time thinking about this or that obscure idea to understand. It one of the reasons I never cared for Evangelion, and still don’t. I like things neat and simple, it is just my way.
So when I watched the first cour of Vanitas. While I saw an interesting story with interesting characters, I also saw a show that felt like a mess. A show that felt like it had a bunch of ideas and concepts it put in a cup, jumbled around, and then tossed on the table. It was a show that throws so much stuff at you, and expects you to either keep up or get drowned. I in many cases felt like I was drowning.
Starring Noe a vampire raised by his mysterious teacher. We follow him in an alternative Earth history as he comes across the mysterious Vanitas who, using his mysterious spellbook, can reveal the true name of a Vampire and cure them of the mysterious forces possession them. Intrigued by this, Noe decides to join up with Vanitas on his journey, one that is made by complicated by the fact that they can barely stand each other. Throughout this first cour, we see the duo meet new faces, fight some foes and try to come to an understanding about who they are and what they want, even if Vanitas himself remains a mystery trapped in an enigma, boxed into a question.
It’s an interesting premise for sure, and like other series that depend on duo main characters (Full Metal Alchemist and Tiger and Bunny for example) the strength of the series lies in those two people. Sadly for the first cour, I found Vanitas and Noe were both dragged down by a rushed plot, no real sense of pacing, and a story that wanted to do too much in the time it had. Everything at times felt like it was on double fast forward, with little time for the characters to breath and just be themselves, hang out, react to a problem they need to solve. Yet even when that breather does comes in the last 3 or so episodes, it feels a bit too late, because with so many other characters to juggle, it feels that both of them are sharing an increasingly full spotlight. Something that Alchemist did was that it had several episodes (and chapters) to let Edward and Alphonse be characters. You got to know their status quo, how they act and why they are so close. Vanitas and Noe sadly don’t have that, and I found the story just wasn’t giving them enough room to breathe.
Perhaps that will change in the second cour, which promises to move into a proper real story arc where our two leads go out to solve a mystery. That sort of thing I think is something that The Case Study of Vanitas needs right now. It’s got some cool ideas, and to its credit, is trying to create a tense, but brotherly relationship between its two leads. However such twosomes are common place in anime, and have many stellar examples of it being done well. Vanitas isn’t there yet, but I am also not willing to drop the series until it’s had a bit more of a chance to shine. We’ll see if it holds up.