Vampires & Vanitas
Story: Jun Mochizuki
Art: Jun Mochizuki
Translation: Taylor Engel
What they say
Deep within the bowels of Paris, Noé and Vanitas race through the catacombs with an elite team of Chasseurs, the Church’s elite unit, in hot persuit. Their search for the missing vampires takes the pair down a path all too familiar to Vanitas, bringing them face-to-face with not only an overwhelming curse-bearer but also Vanitas’s past. Confronted by the horrific menace, what will Noé and Vanitas fight for, and whom will they save…?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
This is probably the hardest review I’ve ever had to write—not because I didn’t like The Case Study of Vanitas volume 4, but because I was so confused while reading through it. Let me be honest for a moment. I haven’t read volumes 1, 2, or 3. With so much content and plot lines that I’m unaware of, I was very confused while reading this volume, but I’ll do my best to give an accurate review!
This volume begins with Vanitas and Noé running through the depths of Paris. The Chasseurs, who I believe are vampire hunters working for the Church, are hot on their heels. I immediately got the sense that Vanitas and Noé played off each other very well during the dash through the underground. I’m not sure about their history or past together, but the dialogue between them was fun and engaging, and it was also filled with a lot of tension. Noé is a very idealistic and hopeful vampire who wants to make friends with humans, while Vanitas is a snarky, sarcastic, and somewhat sadistic human who thinks both vampires and humans are scum. I found the dichotomy between these two fascinating. While idealistic vampires aren’t new in Japanese media, it’s interesting here because Noé isn’t a cute anime girl, which is what you can usually expect to find in a manga.
A good example of their strange relationship is when Vanitas wants to use one of the Chasseurs as a hostage, but then Noé decides to take him hostage instead, despite them being partners. Somehow, this ends up with them teaming up with the Chasseurs, which is even more surprising, but I feel like the strange plot twists here works. The characters all have set personalities that mesh well when thrown together. I’m actually tempted to go back and read volumes 1, 2, and 3 so I can see more of how and why these characters work. In either event, Captain Roland of the Casseurs and Noé seem to get along great, being like-minded indviduals, which I found fun to read about because they are supposed to be enemies.
While this series tends to play up a good bit of comedic dialogue and moments, it isn’t all hilarious hyjinks. There’s a lot going on that gives the story a dark overtone. When Vanitas, Noé, and the Chasseurs confront a man named Doctor Moreau, we learn about the experiments that Vanitas underwent when he had been turned into a research subject. This guy scares the crap out of me. He seems like a typical mad-scientist type, but his madness is cranked way up. The way he can so casually ask someone if he can pluck out one of their eyes disturbed me, but in a good way. Since it seems he is one of the villains for this series, his disturbing nature makes him a great bad guy.
The first half of this volume dealt primarily with the chase underneath Paris, but after Noé and Vanitas return to the surface, a lot more political and dramatic plot twists ensue. There seems to be a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes. I’m really not sure where all this is going, but I can’t deny that I’m very interested in finding out. I might even have to buy volumes 1, 2, and 3 when I get the chance.
While I’m very intrigued by the story, one thing I adore about this manga is actually the artwork and the setting. The art is stellar. Truly beautiful. Meanwhile, the setting is something that resembles Paris during the 1800s but with magnificent zeppelins and other technologies that didn’t exist. It’s all very steampunk. Since I’ve never read a steampunk manga with vampires before, the setting has me interested. Also, I’ll admit that the weird romance happening between Vanitas and Jeanne, who I didn’t meet until at the very end, is probably what interests me the most… just because I’m a hardcore shipper.
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: OT
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: August 21, 2018