Vanitas no Carte: First Impressions

green hair anime boy suit classic gramophone

Art Twitter: @tarokunnnn and @_tamomoko

First impressions matter.

The second one lays eye on somebody or something, it is our natural human instinct to form assumptions, these lead us to instinctively sort out how we want to interact with the given object or person before we strike a course.

As much as assumptions on media in this case can stray from the truth, it’s the first impressions that start the flow of curiosity in a viewer’s mind. If your first impression of something is not really pleasant, it feels a lot harder to continue watching a series that doesn’t strike your fancy.

With that said, welcome to another first impression post, where we look at the premise and first episode of an anime to tell you what you can expect! If you want to check out our other impression posts click here to read about Jujutsu Kaisen and Tokyo Revengers!

If you haven’t watched the anime yet and want a complete spoiler free and blind experience, watch the first episode and come back here, since this post will deal with the plot events of the first episode. This was your spoiler warning!

Paris in the 19th century.

In a world in which vampires and humans coexist, with the fresh wave of industrialism riding away we find ourselves in a story about a vampire who is adamant on finding a folklore scripture with many powers who meets a seemingly “normal human being” who just so happens to hold onto that exact book he was searching for.

With a premise filled with fantasy elements and that significant steampunk vibe that industrialized France brings us, we start to look deeper at ‘the case study of Vanitas’.

But before we go any further, let’s check out what we know about this anime in general!

Vanitas no carte is adapted from the manga series with the same name that was brought by the pen of mangaka Jun Mochizuki.

Known for her works “Crimson Shell” and especially the popular series “Pandora Hearts” which were both published by Square Enix in their magazine ‘Monthly GFantasy”, she has followed up with “Vanitas no Carte” in December 2015 and is since then still ongoing.

On March 28th 2021, the announcement was made by AnimeJapan that the manga will be getting an anime adaptation by the hands of studio Bones, and the first episode was released on the 3rd of July in 2021 as well. The anime will have a split cour, meaning the first 12 episodes will be released in this season, and the following 12 will be released later on.

Studio Bones is a very renowned and popular animation studio that has many high grossing anime in its belt. Some of them might ring a bell since we have Fullmetal Alchemist in both adaptations, Ouran Highschool Host Club, Soul Eater, Boku no Hero Academia and more!

Tomoyuki Itamura is the director of the anime, and is known for working on many parts of the Monogatari series and has had his hands on animation, screenplay and other directive moments in anime such as “Pokemon Chronicles” and the movies of “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” which both ensure a very interesting approach on new and popular anime and storytelling could find an interesting course with his mind in the mix.

The screenplay is overseen by Deko Akao (My little Monster, Noragami, Snowwhite with the red hair) and the soundtrack was produced by Yuki Kaijiura most famously known for her work on Pandora Hearts, Sword Art Online, Fate/Zero and Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

This can already tell us a lot on which direction this anime is going to take, since we have directors who have worked on various popular and very epically strung anime, with soundtracks that have many mystery elements.

Last but not least is the constellation of our voice acting crew!

One of the main characters, Noé Archiviste is voiced by seiyuu Ishikawa Kaito, who we know and love in Haikyu!! as Kageyama or Iida Tenya in Boku no Hero Academia. He also voiced Genos in One Punch Man and has shown us once and again how he can accomplish very distinctive different roles. 

Vanitas, as another core character, is voiced by Natsuki Hanae, most known for Kosei Arima in Your Lie in April and Kaneki Ken in Tokyo Ghoul. Two very different characters, yet we can see a shrill and more eccentric character that resembles more his vocal range of Hoshiumi Korai in Haikyu!!. With later appearances of Ayumu Murase and many other voices, we have ourselves a very promising set of voices.

Plot:

It all starts off with the story of the vampire Vanitas.

Being born under the blue moon, unlike the rest of his village who have been born under the crimson moon, he is shunned and banished from his own kind. Lost in the forest alone he vows to himself to create a grimoire that will corrupt every vampire’s true name, which is akin to their life, and curses them all.

It becomes now a folktale to the people living in the modern world of the 19th century, in which vampires are seen as extinct creatures that will never rise again. Unbeknownst to most of the population, vampires actually do exist; with their red eyes and extreme physical capabilities they mask themselves from the crowd and how to stay undetected.

So does Noé, a young vampire who has been instructed to go to Paris by his former teacher to find the grimoire that curses vampires in the folklore. On his way to Paris via airship, he encounters the ill Amelia who suffers from some sort of cold before she turns out to be a vampire as well.

Amelia quickly turns from a nice lady to a horrific monster as her name was corrupted by a curse called the malnomen and she resumes to attack Noé as well as other humans around her. In a snap, a young man appears as he breaks through the glass with an accomplice and starts to hunt after Amelia, which Noé is trying to protect her from.

A fight ensues on the airship until the mysterious and eccentric man takes the upper hand by whipping out the grimoire Noé has been entrusted to search, but instead of cursing somebody with it, he uses it to rid Amelia of the curse inside her.

The young man escapes from the aircraft but not without Noé following him as they jump out of the ship in a desperate attempt to escape the conflict they’ve caused.

Back on the ground, Noè can’t believe as the young man introduces himself as Vanitas, saying he inherited not only the original Vanitas’ Grimoire but also his name as he vows to do the opposite of his namesake; he will save all vampires.

He asks for Noé’s help but is flat out rejected, which ends our first episode there with the question hanging in the air.

What will happen next?

Expectations vs. Reality:

In sharing how I’ve experienced the first episode I hope to give you slightly better insight into what this anime accomplishes storywise, while also looking at the impressions it has given and what you can expect.

Before watching Vanitas no Carte, I had almost no idea of what this anime would be about. The idea of fantasy and vampires was in my mind, but that was about it.

Steampunk elements are nothing new in anime, but they are a popular element that has moved viewers across the world again and again. There is something very refreshing about the nostalgia of old trains and technology mixed with the fashion style of the old times. Similar to the atmosphere of historical animes such as Violet Evergarden or more mysterious ones such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Vanitas no Carte opens up a similar valley but goes into its own original direction.

With the primary tagging genres adventure, fantasy and historical, so far all boxes have been ticked off successfully and with a grace that is to be reckoned with. 

Vampires alone are by far no new concept, but the storytelling of Vanitas the Blue Moon Vampire and the idea of corrupted names has a unique flavor that hopefully carries through the anime.

The animation, curetsy to studio bones, is mesmerizing and depicts the contrast of a dark Paris with the coiling of old technological advancement and the bright coloured characters with crisp animation style. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the sudden incorporation of a smooth fight scene mixed into the very detailed  landscapes and indoor airship decor. It all had a nice balance between the elegance of fashion metropolis France and the mystery element of a typical shounen anime.

With Vanitas being an obvious main character since he shares the name of the title, we can also see Noé as the focal point of the story which brings two very different characters together to kick start new events. The balance of the calm yet assertive Noé who seems a little bit like an airhead next to the twisted and idealistic vanitas, I can imagine many more thrilling instances to come.

All in all, after watching only the first episode it has already a very addictive feel to it, if the atmosphere and genre are up your alley you will hopefully enjoy it as much as we did. The animation is beautiful, the premise seems promising and the characters all have secrets that we wish to unlock sooner rather than later.

If you have watched the first episode, I would love to see your personal first impression down in the comments so we can all discuss together!

Until then, see you in Paris! I mean, the next post…

-Nissa

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