The Case Study of Vanitas; Vampires in Victorian France


It’s no secret. I love the supernatural. The way some myths and folklore are brought to life are truly stunning (Van Helsing is one of my all-time favorites) . Other times it’s straight-up weird (Once Bitten, anyone?). What do these two films have in common? They’re about vampires. Know what else is about vampires? The Case Study of Vanitas.

Yes, once again… I’ll be discussing vampires! And although this series I’ll be describing treats vampires with much liberty, it also does something unique with them as well.

I came across The Case Study of Vanitas while scrolling through the FUNimation library one afternoon (RIP FUNimation) and decided to give it a shot. After all, it had mostly positive reviews. It’s categorized as a supernatural action Shounen, but with the amount of cutesy imagery you could almost mistake it for a Shoujo.


The anime takes place in what appears to be Victorian-era France. We’re first introduced to an elegantly dressed vampire, Noe, and his Fluffy white cat, Murr, aboard an airship heading to France. He meets a friendly woman who soon becomes a monster out of nowhere. Then a lively blue-eyed man comes crashing through the window and looks to possibly harm the deranged woman.

A fight ensues between the vampire dressed in white, Noe, and the black clad human Vanitas. Eventually Vanitas whips out a special book and cures the woman of her insanity. In that moment, Noe knew… this was his calling. In which I mean, he follows Vanitas, the eccentric man with the magical book. 

That pretty much summed up the first episode. While I didn’t have strong feelings for this anime, I still thought it had its fun moments, its romantic moments, and its cool moments. I’ll briefly describe what I remember from the first two seasons. 


The lore is very briefly described early on in the anime. Basically there was a red moon, which pretty much all vampires were born under. But there’s also a blue moon that had its own set of vampires that went extinct… for some reason (which team are you on?). The last blue moon vampire, “Vanitas” they called her, had an apprentice with a magical book that could either annihilate or cure vampires. Yeah I know it’s wild (half-sarcasm). 

I guess there was also a war between vampires and humans? It only comes up a few times in the series. So why would vampires need to be cured? Because one of the original red moon vampires was a freaky motherf*cker who loves circuses (because why not) and thought it would be great if some vampires were cursed and could randomly go berserk and start attacking people on sight. Born from the curses from the book of Vanitas, Naenia can peer into the minds of wary vampires and make them go crazy. Life sure is hard to be a vampire. 


Before I get into the plot, and I’ll try not to spoil much, although I didn’t feel there were any crazy revelations worth being spoiled over, I just have to talk about the vampires. 

Media has taken many, many… liberties (if you will) when it comes to creating and making up rules with the vampire mythos. Bram Stoker is perhaps the biggest offender with his Dracula, granting one vampire (Vlad Tepes aka Dracula…) every power under the sun (pun intended), and that became the basis for virtually all modern day vampires. What does this have anything to do with The Case Study of Vanitas? The vampires…

The vampires in this anime… aren’t what I’d call vampires (now hold on, lemme explain!). Sure they suck blood and have superhuman strength. But they can walk out in sunlight, eat whatever they want, die from deep mortal wounds, and appear to age. Call them whatever, but don’t say “vampire”. It’s really a minor critique, however, that doesn’t bog down the anime. I’ll talk more about that later. 


Noe and Vanitas are certainly an oddball pair in The Case Study of Vanitas, whose personalities can sometimes be inconsistent with being ecstatic at times however serious and even melancholy when the plot calls for it. 

Noe at times is whimsical, with a grand curiosity about the world around him (France has a lot of neat architecture). Hung up on his past, with the loss of a childhood friend and exposure to berserk vampires, Noe is on a mission to follow the book of Vanitas for answers. While rather cheerful, he gets serious when it comes to protecting those he cares about. I’d say he’s fairly bland however he is elegant with that white top hat and his cat rarely steals the show.

Vanitas on the other hand, is a tsundere. “Baka!” he tells Noe time and time again when mishaps occur (or Noe is practically anywhere near him). Dressed in a black coat and gloves with claws, Vanitas is shrouded in mystery. His personality drastically alters however, at one point an ecstatic magician with that magical book, a bit of a narcissist who sees himself better than others and flaunts that fact because, well… he has the blood of the blue moon vampire coursing through his veins. 


But then there’s times when all the silliness and jokes disappear, and Vanitas becomes an angry man who feels misunderstood by all. Vampires (of the red moon) fear the last vampire of the blue moon and the power of the book that can destroy or save the vampires. 

Vanitas’s character is shrouded in mystery. He has secrets and would literally kill anyone willing to take those secrets from him. Noe has a strong curiosity and that very curiosity drives him to follow Vanitas on several occasions. Vanitas is a mysterious guy, and Noe wants to tear down those iron walls of mystery to learn the truth. 

From this, you can guess that the relationship between these two doesn’t work so well. 

In fact, they hate each other.

This hatred is stated time and time again from the both of them. But Vanitas puts himself in danger often and Noe is the one to help him. There are even times Noe is in danger and Vanitas is the one to do the rescuing. They need each other to achieve their common goal of saving the vampires, even if they do clash heads often, usually in humorous fashion. Many hilarious interactions ensue between these two, bantering at every chance they get.


Anyway back to the plot of The Case Study of Vanitas, when Noe and Vanitas arrive in France, the two are met with distaste and must prove that what Vanitas is doing is helping the vampires, not killing them. So when Vanitas is on the cusp of saving a rampaging vampire, he’s met with resistance from vampire Jeanne the “infernal witch”, and her… loli master, Lucius. Armed with a giant cannon… for an arm (which is pretty bad@ss actually), the bright-haired vampire nearly blasts the duo away.

Only when Vanitas presses a startled Jeanne against a wall and plants a kiss on her lips does she drop her guard and lose her cool composure. This scene was fairly controversial with the anime community because it implies forcing a kiss on someone is the best way to one’s heart (spoiler alert… it’s not). 

I’d like to say Jeanne is best girl because of how b@dass and powerful she is, but that tough mask is taken down once she develops feelings for Vanitas, then it starts to feel like a typical Shoujo (which I can’t help but roll my eyes at). It’s funny because Vanitas has zero dating experience, and there’s a whole episode of him having this dramatic inner-turmoil with his feelings of love. With Jeanne being terrified of going berserk, Vanitas promises to stop her if it comes to that. The anime isn’t a romance, but I can’t help but hope they do more with the developing relationship between Vanitas and Jeanne. 


In the second season of The Case Study of Vanitas, it seems like Jeanne has a firmer stance in her relationship with Vanitas. When she used to be entranced by him and give in to all his silly whims, she starts to give him orders and so their relationship isn’t so one-sided.


Both Vanitas and Noe have their own childhood trauma that comes to haunt them as adults. We’re first shown a glimpse (well… more than an episode’s worth) of Noe’s past involving his suspicious grandpa and two childhood friends Louis and Dominique (they’re all vampires FYI). Noe and Dominique’s friendship drifted apart as her twin brother Louis went berserk and was killed, and this has been the driving force for Noe to follow Vanitas to save the vampires. 

I really want to like Dominique’s character. With flowing black hair and a white officer coat and armed with a rapier, she comes off as a powerful vampire. While it’s clear she has romantic feelings for Noe, and they do have a few tender scenes one can appreciate, Noe is oblivious to her feelings and this can be quite annoying. The second season doesn’t do much with Dominique’s character besides a minor confrontation, and I felt that was a shame. I’m really hoping a third season will bring more life to her character and her obscure relationship with Noe.


Relationships aside, Noe and Vanitas infiltrate the headquarters of the Chaussures, a vampire extermination group. We learn that Vanitas was part of such a group, and human experiments were even conducted on him, because… err… there’s a mad scientist, Moreau, that used to work with them? I won’t spoil any more, but it just gives us some background on Vanitas’s character. The pair meet a captain of the Chaussures, Roland, who starts out antagonistic but later has such a gushy/cheerful personality, I couldn’t help but cringe a little. They all become best buds, which says a lot for Vanitas. 

Another arc that many people especially like is “the beast of Gevaudan”, where Vanitas and Noe and a few others go to investigate the awakening of a giant demonic wolf-like beast. Chloé is a childlike vampire that has lived very long and is cared for by her servant, Jean-Jacques. There’s a misunderstanding and of course the freakish Naenia is involved. The only thing scarier than that is perhaps the disembodied telephone noise that plays when suspense is built. I won’t talk about the arc beyond this, but I did enjoy the fights and the outcome of events.


There’s a number of characters that make an appearance in The Case Study of Vanitas, but… I’ll be honest here, I didn’t find any of them memorable besides the main four I mentioned.

Dante is a half vampire that works with Vanitas and always rants about him. August is the uncle of Lucius that hates humanity and is clearly evil; we have yet to a solid conclusion with him. Johan… I really don’t know what to say besides him being comedy-relief with Dante.

Roland and the band of Chasseurs include Olivier and Maria (etc.) who are good and just kill berserk vampires to protect people, or Astolfo who just wants to kill them all because of a tragic back-story.

Mikhail the rival brother of… well that’d be an actual spoiler. Or what about Veronica; the evil adopted sister of Dominique we see maybe once?

There are many characters in this anime, and while they add some interesting dialogue and scenarios to play out, they don’t serve much purpose to the plot (most don’t, but not all!).


One brief character does stand out among all others in The Case Study of Vanitas, however, and it’s none other than Vanitas. 

Alright, not that Vanitas – or Luna? The true vampire of the blue moon we get a brief glimpse of, and who Vanitas named himself after, is one of the most unique vampires we come across in this anime. With dark skin, blue eyes and shimmering white hair, She appears intimidating at first glance, but actually wholeheartedly gentle and kind. She is the last one of her kind. I wish the anime showed more of her character and her interactions with Vanitas, but that would ruin the mystery of her.


Some small events take place between the major arcs, but I didn’t think they were memorable enough to describe. In one episode Jeanne and Vanitas go on a date, and Jeanne tries to be tsundere because she thinks that’s what he likes. In another episode Vanitas realizes he’s in love, and he acts like he’s in utter agony because he’s never felt that way before. It all plays out with humor of course.


Visually the anime switches it up often. The backdrop of France is spectacular, while other backgrounds are dark and less detailed. Often times an eye-catch, those cutesy one second scenes that generally serve as a punch-line, have far little detail in them, which is probably just the intentional aesthetic of them. When characters are far away they tend to have muddy details as well. 

There are a few close ups of the characters that show a great amount of detail, which took me off guard. The fight scenes are half-decent as well.


I realize I’ve been bashing The Case Study of Vanitas throughout this post, but it does some things right and things I personally did enjoy. If I were to rank it, I’d probably give the anime a very high 7 out of 10.

Some of the action sequences were nice, and the main characters are likeable and funny from time to time and their developing relationships leave me wanting more. The setting and mythos is unique; the red and blue moon vampires and the vampire disease, as well as the book of Vanitas are a nice touch.

However the plot itself just wasn’t that interesting to me personally; a good chunk of the storytelling relies on flashbacks to explain the current emotions and actions of the characters. When it does get interesting or serious, eye-catches pop up and take away the seriousness of an otherwise dramatic scene.


The OP of the first part is cheerful, but the OP and ending of the second part felt melancholy. 

It may have its flaws. 


But honestly, it’s definitely not bad! 

I absolutely love the main characters, their over the top personalities, and the struggles they face and overcome. After 2 seasons, however, I’m just left with many unanswered questions, and I just feel there was very little development between the characters and their relationships (except maybe Vanitas and Jeanne?).

There was actually some genuine horror in it that took me by surprise (I’m still hearing that disembodied telephone), and the romantic scenes are stellar whenever they do happen.

I do look forward to a third season though (or is it season 2 part 1?), and I hope if you haven’t checked it out already that you’ll give this series a chance! 

Thanks for reading! 

Don’t be like Vanitas; never EVER give up!

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