Vanitas no Carte Anime Review

This article contains spoilers.

Vampires and mystery, set in a steampunk inspired alternative of 19th century Paris, France. This is what Vanitas no Carte or The Case Study of Vanitas has in store for its audience. With a human and a vampire working together to unravel the mystery of the recent epidemic affecting vampires, as well as having to face each of their own pasts, this anime provides a different kind of adventure to look forward to.

Legend has it that a vampire named Vanitas, born under a blue moon, created a grimoire called the “Book of Vanitas” that he would use one day to bring destruction on the vampires born of the crimson moon, who scorned him for being different.

In the 19th century, a vampire named Noe Archiviste arrived in the city of Paris in search of this legendary book. While aboard an airship, he got involved in an incident wherein a fellow vampire was afflicted by some kind of disease or “curse”. In the midst of this commotion, Noe met the infamous Vanitas, said to be the owner of the fabled cursed grimoire. However, it turned out that this “Vanitas” was merely a human, a self-proclaimed vampire specialist, who had inherited both the name and the book of the vampire of the blue moon. But unlike the vampire of legend, this human Vanitas declares to use the grimoire to save vampires, not harm them. And so this unlikely duo must now venture both into the human and vampire society to uncover the truth of the curse, as well as each of their personal connection to everyone and everything involved.

Vanitas no Carte is a steampunk, supernatural, and dark fantasy anime that was aired on July of 2021 to September of the same year by studio Bones. It currently has 12 episodes, with the second part coming in 2022.

French Steampunk. The first thing that caught my interest when I first came across this anime was the setting. A steampunk-inspired alternative of 19th century Paris, France where vampires and humans coexist. I was intrigued by this worldbuilding and, after reading the premise, immediately knew I would regret not giving this series a try. I was right. I loved that the retro-futuristic technology of the world did not feel too prominent, but still coexisted along with its 19th century fashion. And because it is set in France, the story involves historical elements of the country. Besides the famous landmarks and cuisine, it also includes the House de Sade (based on the French philosopher Marquis de Sade) and the Beast of Gevaudan (a mythological creature from France).

Character Design. Vanitas’s character design looks cool. The combination of black, white, and light blue gives Vanitas the impression that he doesn’t want to stand out, but does. It makes him look mysterious, like a man of few words. But we all know he isn’t. Noe’s design looks good, too. The purple bits of his white attire pair well with his eyes, as well as the purple bow tie of his cat, Murr. I love seeing the characters’ clothing designs, as inspired by the anime’s setting.

Story. I was intrigued by the idea of two individuals, differing both in nature and in personality, seeking to solve the mystery surrounding the curse afflicting vampires. Both the concept and setting gives off a somewhat similar vibe that I get whenever I remember the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, but with a supernatural twist.

Also, the story’s pacing doesn’t feel too quick nor too slow. Information is provided at a steady pace, from one encounter to another, and no event or interaction is wasted. Though it may feel like the information given is too small, considering that the first season had 12 episodes, it actually seems like the first part of this series is more like a prologue or introduction to the world of Vanitas no Carte. We were introduced to the setting, the main casts (Vanitas, Noe, Jeanne, etc.), and the forces at play (curse-bearing vampires, August Ruthven and his shady group, and Roland and the Chasseurs).

Characters. The first character that caught my interest was, of course, Vanitas. Besides the fact that I love his character design, it was his vibe and personality that I was interested in. He gives off a mysterious aura, like he’s hiding a dark secret behind those light blue eyes. Well, after the first season, we found out that that may not be too far from the truth. But conflicting this vibe he’s giving off is his personality, which is the opposite of what he looks like. In anime, characters with dark hair and covered in black clothing are usually the quiet and gloomy type. However, Vanitas isn’t like that. He is more of an ecstatic and playful character, goofy even. And yet that’s what makes him more likable.

Noe Archiviste is a captivating character. Besides his mysterious background, as well as his connection to The Shapeless One, Noe’s innocent curiosity is what makes his POV fun to watch. Despite his slight naivety, he is an all around good guy. Noe treats both vampires and humans with respect, values life, and cares about others. His dynamic with the seemingly selfish Vanitas is one of things I love seeing in this anime.

Another character I’d like to mention is Roland Fortis. His introduction was a bit late, near the finale of the first season, yet he has become one of my favorites already. Roland is more of an extreme version of Vanitas. He is a Paladin of the Chasseurs, an organization in the church tasked with hunting vampires. With an aura as bright as the sun and a hidden side to him that is as mysterious as the moon, I find his character interesting. I wish to see more of him and how he’ll influence the story in the next season.

Vampire Mystery. What is August Ruthven’s true goal? Who is Charlatan? Who is The Shapeless One? What happened to the Queen of Vampires? Is Jeanne a curse bearer? Who was the other boy alongside Vanitas that was saved from Dr. Moreau’s lab? Who was the true Vanitas? So many questions and the mystery just keeps evolving. I am intrigued and am excited to follow this anime more in the future.

Hot Bloodsucking Scenes. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. You read that right. The bloodsucking scenes in Vanitas no Carte are a sight to see. My favorite being that of Vanitas and Jeanne.

Animation and Music. The animation is well done and complements the art style pretty well. The fight scenes are good and the sceneries are alluring.

I love the opening and ending songs of the anime, especially the ED. It gives off a melancholic feeling, while at the same time being catchy. And the soundtrack really fits the anime with its seemingly classical music.

Final Thoughts. Vanitas no Carte is an anime with a good blend of vampires and mystery, plus the aesthetics of 19th century steampunk-inspired Paris, France. I find the story interesting and the worldbuilding captivating. The characters and their dynamics are well done, and no episode is boring to watch. Truly an entertaining anime that is worth the praise. I gave the anime a score of 8/10 on MAL and highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. I am excited for season two and I hope the amount of quality they put in the first season will continue on in the next one. Thanks for reading.

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