When the first cour of The Case Study of Vanitas aired in summer 2021, it quickly became one of the most beloved shonen anime of the season. We're now at the second cour, and there were naturally high expectations, given how stunning the first twelve episodes were. So, is The Case Study of Vanitas actually any good? Read on, to find out if Part 2 lives up to the hype.
What Is The Case Study of Vanitas All About?
The Case Study of Vanitas is based on a manga of the same name by Jun Mochizuki, who has also penned Pandora Hearts, so you know what kind of aesthetic to expect. Produced by Studio Bones, also home to Fullmetal Alchemist and Wolf's Rain, it is the story of Noé, a young, idealistic vampire, and Vanitas, an obnoxious human who becomes his ally and travel companion.
Armed with the book of Vanitas, a cursed grimoire created by an old vampire - from whom the current Vanitas derived his name - the constantly bantering duo travel around, saving vampires whose true name has been corrupted, causing unnatural bloodlust.
The anime is colorful, upbeat, breathtaking to watch, and occasionally moving. But there's a shadow looming over the entertaining narrative as Noé, who is also the story's narrator, starts recounting the events by admitting that the journey ended with him killing Vanitas.
Is The Case Study of Vanitas Any Good?
Even before watching The Case Study of Vanitas, you have to admit that its credentials are excellent. The author is known for eye-catching, comfortably familiar yet unique settings, and studio Bones has produced some excellent anime over the years.
Does the anime live up to it all? That largely depends on your expectations. The art is definitely the show's strongest point. The Case Study of Vanitas is arguably one of the most good-looking shows of the season. Whether you're watching an epic battle between the main characters and Charlatan, or a breather episode in alternative Paris, it's all bound to look stunning.
Of course, art alone can't sustain a popular shonen show - you need characterization and plot for that. We'll be honest here: The Case Study of Vanitas is entertaining, with a decent plot, world-building, and characters, but it is not groundbreaking in that regard. We've seen pairings between a naive, enthusiastic character, and a brooding, mysterious one, a great many times. The same can be said for modernized vampires who are peaceful until corrupted. As for the plot, it's pretty straightforward and largely dependent on battles, as is the case with most shonen works.
Does this mean that The Case Study of Vanitas is not good? Certainly not! There's nothing wrong with using formulas that have succeeded before. They're popular for a reason, and there are many little ways to freshen them up.
The Case Study of Vanitas his good in that regard. It gives you a simple plot, where Vanitas, Noé, and the friends they make along the way, roam the world, solving mysteries and saving vampires. Despite the often high stakes, you can almost imagine that they'll go on like this forever.
But knowing from the beginning that Noé ends up killing Vanitas makes this a more complicated experience. You can't help wondering: at what point will things change so drastically? What will it take for the relationship between the two leads to become irreparable? Is Noé even a reliable narrator? Such questions will make you want to go on, even when the plot is a little bit underwhelming.
Similarly, the characters fit into archetypes, but a few of them come to life pretty well. Noé is a naive, idealistic character, but he is not any idealistic character. He gets adorably enthusiastic about the sights he encounters for the first time, he loves cats, and he manages to make friends in unlikely places.
Such little things make the characters stand out, and combined with their often heartbreaking backstories, they make you care about them. Their interactions are also fun to watch, and there's a wide range of them; rivalries, friendships, romances, and surrogate family relationships all have a place here.
Are There Any Negatives?
Once again, this depends on what you consider as negative. Going into the show, you might want to know that Vanitas is a bit of a problematic figure. He is completely out of touch with his and others' feelings, which makes him rather unlikeable, especially early on. This becomes especially apparent in his relationship with Jeanne. At first, he acts all flirty around her, disregarding the fact that she doesn't seem to care about him, which is, unfortunately, a bit too common in male-female anime dynamics.
Thankfully, the second cour and later manga chapters subvert this a bit, as we're given reasons for both Jeanne's passive behavior and Vanitas' emotional immaturity, which is associated with intense self-loathing. In other ways, the show subverts gender expectations, as was the case with the same-sex dancing partners during a ball in the first cour. Moreover, Vanitas' problematic behavior is at least acknowledged in-universe, as Noé himself can barely stand him at times, but it's still something you might want to know before you start watching.
Related: When Will The Case Study of Vanitas Part 2 Be Dubbed in English? When to Expect a Dub Release Date for the Anime
Is The Case Study of Vanitas Worth Watching?
Overall, there's a lot to love about The Case Study of Vanitas. It's a beautifully animated show with fun character interaction and a rather conventional plot that is made less so using a bold storytelling move.
If knowing from the beginning that something very bad is going to happen is a dealbreaker for you, then you should probably not watch the show, but if you're intrigued by this, by all means, give Vanitas a chance.
The show might not appeal to those who enjoy completely unconventional storylines, and characters, but if you're ok with some fantasy and shonen formulas, The Case Study of Vanitas might be the best that the Winter 2022 season has to offer!
For more articles like this, take a look at our Anime and The Case Study of Vanitas page.