Having seen Chloé’s past, and realizing that the Beast of Gévaudan’s situation was far more complex than that of a rouge vampire, Noé and Vanitas find themselves fighting not only the church’s chasseur paladins but also Chloé herself as she seeks to re-write existence with that reality manipulation power that vampires possess. While none of the cast are strangers to shadowy dealings at this point, nothing is what it seems and nothing is even what it appears to be at a second glance.
I’m honestly a bit surprised at how quickly the anime has gone through this arc — the Beast of Gévaudan arc starts in volume 5, wraps up in volume 8, and these are not small volumes with volume 7 being especially big. We may have already seen the majority of Chloé’s history but there’s still a number of flashbacks to get through in this volume, including around Jeanne and how she went from being happily adopted to being forced into the role of a vampire-killing bourreau after the supposed treason of her parents. I’m sure all of this will come up again, and not just because Jeanne’s personal history is fishy, since there is something very rotten at the core of vampire society. Vanitas correctly guessed a few volumes back that something was up with the queen of the vampires and I have to wonder if vampires getting their names stolen by Charlatan has always happened since the birth of the species or if that is a relatively new issue as well (or at least, one that’s become more frequent lately).
With the closure of the arc of the beast we move onto a new arc and one where it looks like the characters will be in an even worse position than usual. When Vanitas’ younger brother was mentioned several volumes back I immediately knew that they’d appear later on in the story and, while I mistook Astolfo for that role at first, they have appeared and have apparently already been up to some nasty things behind the scenes. It also looks like Noé childhood friend/fiancée/mutual-sharer-of-trauma Domenic will play a larger role in this next arc which I both like since I like her character and worry about since this new arc has barely begun and she’s already had some distressing moments to cope through in volume 8 alone. All of the main characters in this series feel like they’re playing pieces in someone else’s game, but at this point I’m still not entirely sure who the players are.
Jumping back into the manga after watching the first half of the anime, I was once again reminded of just how much I absolutely adore Jun Mochizuki’s extravagant, eye-catching art and how her art feels like the perfect match for the gothic themes she loves to infuse into her works. The art elevates some moments to be almost moments of horror — there’s a stand-out spread in volume 7 that reminded me of one of the most disturbing moment of Tegami Bachi/Letter Bee, and it’s simply fantastic throughout. The anime’s art and animation are perfectly fine, pretty even, but there’s a richness of detail, a flow of paneling, and an intensity of mood that is so perfectly suited for the page that it didn’t quite make the jump to the screen.
The Case Study of Vanitas teeters on the edge of having too many characters and plots for me to follow but so far everyone’s histories and fates are tied together closely enough that I’m not having trouble yet. I think the anime helped re-spark my love for Mochizuki’s works and I am now completely enamored with this story and ready to dive into volume 9 ASAP!