Yeah, The Case Study of Vanitas is definitely my jam. Not that many of my fellow bloggers seem to be watching it. I only see a few talk about it now and then but AniList tells me it’s the 4th most popular show of the season so I’m happy. It would be a huge bummer if part 2 got cancelled.
There is of course no chance in.. a blue moon, that Vanitas gets so popular it prompts a second season of Pandora Hearts, but that would be my wildest dream come true. I really loved that show. If anyone knows where I can still find the Pandora hearts manga box set, please let me know!
There was a content warning at the beginning of this episode. And actual content warning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that on a streaming anime before. So I was getting ready for some real gross stuff and then I got, happy summer days at the castle in the forest!
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t disappointed. First, all of the kids were adorable. Genuinely adorable. I might have fallen in love with Domi a bit. And Noé might be a little less of a cry baby (arguable) but otherwise hasn’t changed much. It was a pleasant and funny little romp down memory lane. I know that realistically the first half of the episode was really a tonal detent meant to make the second half hit harder by contrast. But t me, this was the important part of the episode.
This was the part that explained that Noé had a tough life but also often a happy and privileged one. It showed that he wasn’t some maligned and completely isolated kid that would grow up to hate everyone but a gentle child that had friends who deeply loved him and is now a compassionate adult who can deeply love his friends. It showed that Dominique is a layered character with many aspects to her personality and now I want to know her more.
I know that sequences like these are often considered filler but to me it was foundational. And I think the first half of this episode is going to make me enjoy everything that follows in the Case Study of Vanitas just a little bit more.
However! hear me out on this, this was also a huge missed opportunity. Where was kitten Murr? Huh? ‘Cmon guys, how can you not put in kitten Murr? What is this, amateur hour?
There are two basic boogiemen you have to be scared of in order to accept The Case Study of Vanitas at face value. I’ll come back a bit on the face value part. The first is Charlatan and the second is the curse, both in the curse bearers and in contracting the curse. And the show is doing a surprisingly good job at building both up to be genuine threats.
That’s impressive considering how generally goofy The Case Study of Vanitas is. But Charlatan has this unnerving design that clashes with everything else and makes it uncanny. An enemy that is seemingly unmaterial and therefore invulnerable and that attacks by breaking your psyche down. It’s scary! While the curse seems to be portrayed as a monstrous Alzheimers. A disease that robs you of your sense of self and your understanding of the world, driving you mad in the process. If Charlatan was scary, then the curse is horrifying.
And this is what the second half of the episode drove home. The curse bearers aren’t completely gone. They have these brinks of sanity where they realize what’s happening and you know they’re just normal people. Scared, lonely and disgusted with themselves. When you consider this, it does make Vanitas’ quest to save the vampires so much more compelling when you see it in that light.
So what now? Well, naturally our two dashing heroes are going to have to kick some smokey Charlatn behind and put an end to all this nonsense. But the question that’s gnawing at me is why.
I thought Charlatan was corrupting vampire names. Filling their hearts and minds with darkness until they lost themselves. But that’s not it, is it. He’s collecting true names. Actually taking them away. Guys, why is Charlatan collecting vampires’ true names? What’s it going to do with them? This doesn’t sound like good news.
Oh and yeah, I guess Jeanne didn’t kill Vanitas. That’s kind of a good thing or whatever.