The Case Study of Vanitas has proved itself, time and again, to be one of the anime gems of 2021. Love them or hate them, the characters are unforgettable, and the plot is both interesting and illustrated with such beauty that you can’t help wanting to keep watching. And, of course, there’s this first-episode spoiler, that hooked us right from the start: why does Noé kill Vanitas?
First, a little context: In the first episode of The Case Study of Vanitas or Vanitas no Karte, Noé, a young vampire is out on a quest for the book of Vanitas, a cursed grimoire that corrupts vampires and causes them an unnatural bloodlust… at least, that’s how the story goes.
In Paris, Noé meets Vanitas, a human who possesses the legendary book but uses it to cure vampires of the corruption of their true names and return them to normal. His motivations are a mystery, as he’s extremely obnoxious and hard to work with. Nevertheless, Noé and Vanitas have a common goal. But then Noé, who is narrating this story retrospectively, after an unknown passage of time, admits that he ended this joint journey by killing Vanitas.
As the manga of Vanitas no Karte is still ongoing, we can’t tell why Noé would kill Vanitas. He is, after all, the more mild-mannered and idealistic of the two (so far in the anime, at least) and he’s fascinated by Vanitas even when he can’t stand him.
At this point, we can only speculate, but given how difficult a character Vanitas is, it could be that he did something unforgivable at some point – though, given the regret in Noé’s voice when he narrates, he probably doesn’t feel justified in doing whatever he did. This fact illustrates Vanitas’ death more like something Noé considers his fault.
Over the span of the 12-episode first cour, Vanitas and Noé navigate numerous dangers, and peril is bound to become greater later on. It would be plausible to speculate that Noé was unable to protect Vanitas at some point – after all, no matter how hard he’s to kill, Vanitas is human.
Of course, this is Jun Mochizuki we’re talking about; the author of Pandora Hearts has blurred the line between life and death on several occasions, and why would we expect anything different here, in a work about vampires no less?
One guess – far-fetched but not entirely implausible – could be that Vanitas might become a vampire later. Or, he might not even be dead at all. It might be that Noé only believes so.
Whatever the reason Vanitas died, and whatever Noé’s words mean, one thing is certain; spoiling the ending in the first episode can be a blast by way of storytelling. Even if what’s happening right now isn’t exactly your cup of tea, there’s reason to persevere and keep watching – knowing that the journey is more important than its conclusion, but also that you want to know how the foregone conclusion came to be.