Hello and welcome back to Otaku Thursday. I would like to begin by thanking Star for the name of this post. I have so many feeling about Vanitas that I often find it hard to talk about and make decisions about things regarding the anime. Now, when I say I have a lot of feelings, I mean I have a lot of GOOD feelings. Vanitas no Carte has been one of my favorite manga for a few years now. I found it pretty much when Pandora Hearts ended, being the next manga by Jun Mochizuki, and I always liked it a lot better. Like, A LOT better. Whereas Pandora Hearts was good, the plot wasn’t really amazing until the latter half, but Vanitas? It always seemed more straightforward (which we’ll get into in a second) and just had more interesting narrative elements in my opinion. So, yeah. I have a lot of good feelings about Vanitas, and I’m just so incredibly grateful that it got an anime. But we’re still going to break this down with a first impressions of the anime, so without further praise, let’s get into it!
Vanitas no Carte. What can I say? Vanitas no Carte is the story of the friendship/relationship/partnership between the kind hearted vampire Noe (who shares a Myers Briggs personality with me) and Vanitas–the slightly crazy doctor who promises to save vampires from a malady as part of his revenge. It is the story of how they met, their journey together, and how at the end of it–Noe kills Vanitas with his own hands–and also no. That was not a spoiler. They literally say that in the first episode. It was this narrative element that really got me interested in the first place–that from the get go, you know Vanitas will die by Noe’s hand. It makes for an interesting read–watching their whole story play out and knowing how it ends but not when it ends (or why). I know some people didn’t like this narrative choice, but honestly to me it makes for a good story.
So then onto the characters. Noe and Vanitas are–great. Great in different ways but still great. We’re only a few episodes in, and even from an anime only perspective, I feel like we’re really getting to know them. We know that Noe is the good natured vampire with a bit of a ditz streak (cue episode four, him getting lost) and Vanitas who twistedly complicated. They make for interesting enough characters on their own, but their dynamic is truly the best part of the show. WHICH MAKES SENSE. After all, the show is banking on us getting attached to these two characters and these two characters getting attached to each other. Literally their bond is the entire story in a way–we wouldn’t care that Noe kills Vanitas in the end if we weren’t so invested. So yeah, they both need to be likeable to get us invested (and this show succeeds with this attachment early on). Other side character like Luca, Jeanne, Dante, and Domi, all have only briefly showed up so far–being so early on in the show, but they each feel distinctly them. If there’s one thing about Pandora Hearts, it’s that there were a few standout characters but others faded to the back at times. With a much smaller cast, Vanitas can focus on making their characters likeable. Jeanne right now, is pretty badass, Domi as well–though at the same time I can see that she’s still a bit of a mystery character, though we know she is pretty protective of Noe (I mean, who wouldn’t after meeting him? Oh wait–Vanitas). So, while there’s still plenty of room for these characters to grow (obviously, only episode four) right now they’re doing good but not great.
Aside from interesting plot and some good characters, what else does Vanitas have to offer? BEAUTY. Like seriously. I am absolutely floored with the production of this. Now, I knew the artwork was pretty just from the manga but this is honestly gorgeous. The animation? Nearly flawless. The colors? Stunning. The scene shots? MUY BIEN! Honestly this production team really went all out for this and more than exceeded my expectations. I am incredibly happy with the production value of one of my favorite manga’s anime adaption…so I just hope this quality keeps up. It deserves to have solid quality because it’s a pretty fucking solid manga in my opinion. But of course…being so pretty and pleasing to watch–I do worry that this can very easily take a turn down the “anime only ending” lane since the manga is unfinished and the production value is higher than I honestly expected, given Vanitas no Carte’s rather modest manga fanbase.
Then there’s the music. Oh. The music. Is. Fantastic. Just as she did for Pandora Hearts, Yuki Kajiura signed on to do the music for Vanitas and boy does it show. The opening? Amazing. The ending? Breathtaking? Actual OST within scenes? Literally could not be happier. I am so in love with the music that fits the show to a T, that I actually think it might be a contender for one of the best OST of the year (I know that’s premature to say, but it’s really hella good. Yuki brought her A game and didn’t settle for less than flawless).
But now…more serious things than just me singing praise for Vanitas. Because this whole post I have been avoiding one question–one question that been on a lot of people’s minds: is Vanitas a BL? And then as a follow-up: Is it fujoshi bait? Well for the first question, my immediate response would be to say no. Vanitas is not advertised as a Boys Love, and there’s certainly female love interests within the story. However, that is not to say there are no implications that it’s also not explicitly a boys love. So, read it as you will–you know? And that response leads me to the fujioshi bait question–AGAIN, it’s like a–read it as you will kind of thing. Because there’s definitely a kind of love between Vanitas and Noe–or at least some kind of strange dynamic akin to it. But the thing is, there’s also more than just romantic love. We know from the get go, Noe and Vanitas will have a close enough relationship that Noe finds it even fitting to tell this story so fondly–but that could be a brotherly bond. A close friend bond. Or yes–perhaps a romantic one. So for me, I will never say that it’s very clearly fujoshi bait or it’s very clearly no fujoshi bait. I think to each their own, but just know that that’s not a big part of the story. How you label their relationship matters not. The only thing that matters is their dynamic itself. Which is also my way of saying don’t just boil this anime down to simply being fujoshi bait with a good plot. It’s so much more than that. And to say it a huge disservice.
All and all, you have probably read my excitement with the Vanitas no Carte anime adaption. I cannot say enough how happy I am that we even reached a day when we actually got an anime adaptation. I do have my concerns with that, but I really have high hopes that we will get a decent ending (or you know, sequel seasons), but being on the nicer side of productions (and an anime with square enix in the credits), it very well done could end up being gorgeous, stunning, interesting — but never ending without a good closure (think Hanako-kun from last year). Plus I have lowkey PTSD from how they ended the Pandora Hearts anime (it was so shitty. So SO shitty. Please don’t do me like that again Squinx). But the real question is should you watch it? My answer? Yes. This is the vampire anime that could make vampires cool again. Okay but no in all seriousness, it’s just a really good story and a treat for the eyes. I think it’s a good one to give a try. But until next time, these have just been my first impressions.
P.S. Star and I are gonna be cosplaying Vanitas and Noe next spring. So, look forward to that.