With the amount of new vampire anime that came out this year, there was bound to be at least one that I would fall madly in love with.
After the wide spread panning of Twilight, vampire romance seemingly disappeared from pop culture, much to the detriment of those, like me, that actually enjoy it.
Enter The Case Study of Vanitas, a series hellbent on making vampires sexy again, with some of the most heated romantic moments in any recent anime.
Based on the manga by Jun Mochizuki, The Case Study of Vanitas begins with the vampiric sleuth, Noe Archiviste, as he investigates strange occurrences in France. Noe soon finds himself entangled in the web of Vanitas, a human who was bitten by the famous Vampire of the Blue Moon.
Despite being human, Vanitas is a member of the Blue Moon cult. He wishes to use the knowledge and resources of the cult to heal vampires who have been consumed by their bloodlust.
Along the way, Vanitas and Noe are confronted by fellow vampires Luca and his guardian, Jeanne. Due to Jeanne violent nature and potential at becoming lost in her own bloodlust, Vanitas quickly develops an infatuation for her, declaring that she can only drink from his blood.
Unsurprisingly Noe also holds a similar relationship with Dominique de Sade, a childhood friend who often acts as Noe’s comforter whenever Vanitas’s eccentrics drives him up the wall.
Being adapted by Studio Bones (My Hero Academia, Mob Psycho 100), Vanitas featured some of the best animation of any series out this year, even among others animated by the studio. However, it was not just the action scenes that received this visual flourish, but the the more intimate dialogue-heavy scenes as well. This is likely due to director Tomoyuki Itamura (Monogotari, Call of the Night) typically directing character-focused stories over those that are action-driven.
Vanitas balances both quite well, as shown in its first episode. The heart of this series is the relationships between characters.
Most of the time, I could care less about the overarching plots with anti-vampire cults and vampiric bureaucrats.
What drew my gaze was Vanitas and Noe’s complicated friendship and how it always seemed like they were mere inches away from each others’ throats; or Jeanne’s denial of her love for Vanitas and his clear love for her because of it.
Art director Shingo Kinai (Hortensia Saga, Weathering With You) and art designer Shuhei Tada. Director of photography Ying Ying Zhang (Attack on Titan, Higurashi: When They Cry-GOU) only added to the intimacy with their use of effects and color to create some especially beautiful frames. Director of photography Ying Ying Zhang (My Hero Academia, Carole & Tuesday) then further accentuated the romanticism in post.
Naturally, much of my attachment to these characters is due to how they were portrayed in the English dub. Considering the romantic atmosphere between nearly every character, it came as no surprise that the dub was directed by David Wald (Bloom Into You, Stranger By the Shore), who is well known for wringing out every ounce of intimacy he can get from his actors. However, it was scriptwriter Katelyn Barr (Haikyu!!, Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun) who is likely most to blame for that intimacy.
I’ve been following Zeno Robinson’s career since I first got into anime because, and as my taste in shows has grown, so has his career. Zeno has certainly voiced many a main character in the past, with My Hero Academia’s Hawks and Re:Zero’s Garfiel being two of our favorites here at The Rich Report. Naturally, I could not have been more excited to see him voicing a lead, especially one as charismatic, captivating and eccentric as Vanitas.
Robinson’s chemistry with the rest of the cast is what makes Vanitas’s English dub one of the best of the year. Stephen Fu’s portrayal of the more logical and straightforward Noe contrasts perfectly with Robinson’s Vanitas. Their shared moments on screen are easily some of the best in the series so far.
Although, it is Molly Searcy’s performance as Jeanne that quickly became my favorite due to how she portrays the character’s reluctant love for Vanitas. Seeing Jeanne flustered over her conflicting feelings results in some of the most hilarious moments in the series, and the way Robinson pulls off Vanitas’s coyness in response is delightful.
Of course they were not the only standouts. Despite their more limited time together on screen, I hope to see more of Fu’s Noe and Alexis Tipton’s Dominique together as the chemistry between the two is quite underrated.
It was also great hearing Ricco Fajardo play a more intimidating role for a change with Roland, as I am so used to hearing him as more light-hearted or heroic characters.
Vanitas was a welcome surprise this past summer and I am anxiously awaiting the second cour. While the plot may not have been the most intriguing, the characters and their interactions with each other more than made up for it.
You can watch the first 12 episodes subbed and dubbed on Funimation.