The actual title of episode 1 of The Case Study of Vanitas is In the Event of Rusty Hopes. I mention it because I really love this title. Rusty Hope is such an evocative expression and it’s fun to say. It’s a much better title than my post title, to be honest.
Oh, In case it’s not obvious by now, I will be reviewing Vanitas this season along with the second half of To You Eternity and Villainess in my first ever collab with Crow AND Karandi at the same time. Hot! I hope you will join me.
Some of you might recall that I reviewed the first volume of The Case Study of Vanitas manga. At the time I was already well aware that it was going to get adapted so I read it with that in mind and it got me very excited for this show. For one, I was already a big fan of Pandora Hearts so seeing something from the same author was bound to be fun and two, the manga looked like it had the potential to become a great anime…but…
First Vanitas is essentially an action comedy with a supernatural twist. Not entirely unlike Black Butler let’s say but a different type of humour. Get the tone wrong and the entire thing falls apart. Push the slapstick too far and what was silly on the page becomes annoying on the screen. There’s a balance to be had and Vanitas is such an eccentric character, he runs the risk of becoming unwatchable.
Also, a big appeal of the manga was the art. Not only the character designs but the beautiful images of Paris and the gorgeous La Baleine. The manga is full of intricate, finely detailed imagery and wild action that is impressive even on paper. And looks punishingly difficult and expensive to animate. Of course, you could adapt around it or simplify the art but that would have been a shame. In any case, part of me was anxious about seeing the anime form.
I hadn’t noticed at the time that BONES was doing the adaptation. I would have been much less anxious. BONES do pretty anime and I generally love the way they animate. This was no exception. The middle of the episode was taken up by a long fight sequence between Noé and Vanitas and it was exceptional. Just fantastically choreographed and fun to watch.
I was almost holding my breath waiting to see a glimpse of the airship and I cheered when the entire La Baleine showed up on my screen. Sure, it wasn’t as detailed as the one in the book but it was still really pretty and the metal glistened and shone in the dark sky in a way that I could never see in a manga.
As for the tone and balance. So far, it’s better than I expected. I would say that even though this episode was an extremely faithful adaptation of the first two or three chapters, I might like Noé and Vanitas better in their anime form. Noé is played a little goofier, his delivery makes him sound like just a bit of a dork and already that wins me over, but it’s Vanitas who was almost a caricature in the manga and is now toned down. He says the same things but the tone is more subtle and nuanced than what was in my head so he ends up sounding like a more balanced character.
So what we learned in episode 1 is that Vanitas is a human in possession of a mystical book that has the power to both destroy and cure vampires. And he intends to cure them. Meanwhile, Noé was sent by his mentor to retrieve this book. And fate has just thrust them together. If I didn’t already know the story I would have enjoyed this first episode as a setup. I can tell you it gets more fun from here. Although you probably figured that out by the OP.
All in all, this first episode was all I wanted from The Case Study of Vanitas and even a bit more. It makes me very excited for the rest of the season!