There once lived a vampire known as Vanitas, hated by his own kind for being born under a blue full moon, as most arise on the night of a crimson one. Afraid and alone, he created the "Book of Vanitas," a cursed grimoire that would one day take his vengeance on all vampires; this is how the story goes at least.
Vanitas no Carte follows Noé, a young man travelling aboard an airship in 19th century Paris with one goal in mind: to find the Book of Vanitas. A sudden vampire attack leads him to meet the enigmatic Vanitas, a doctor who specializes in vampires and, much to Noé's surprise, a completely ordinary human. The mysterious doctor has inherited both the name and the infamous text from the Vanitas of legend, using the grimoire to heal his patients. But behind his kind demeanor lies something a bit more sinister...
Vanitas no Carte is simultaneously published in English as The Case Study of Vanitas by Yen Press on the same day as the Japanese release. Physical release began on December 20, 2016. The series has also been published in Polish as Księga Vanitasa by Waneko since December 5, 2016.
Hello! Well, I'll be giving you my first impressions for the series Vanitas no Carte. This review contains minor spoilers of the first chapters to better explain what the story is about, nothing to worry about. Every chapter I'll be updating this review if necessary. Enough said, let's get started!
"This is... the tale of how I met Vanitas... and how we walked together... Off all we gained... and lost... and of how... at the end of that journey... I would kill him with my own two hands."
— Story: 8/10
Vanitas no Carte is set basically to feature concepts relating to vampires and the steampunk style, which
commonly incorporates elements of the Victorian Era alongside more intricately advanced steam-powered machinery (the sci-fi genre). And the protagonist Noé is the voice in off narrating this tale.
The story starts in a 19th century Paris in an alternative steampunk world — we can assume the world is a parallel universe — where long ago vampires — a new race created after "Babel" — fought a "great war" against humans between the 16th and 19th centuries that caused their extinction — supposed to be their extinction. So we meet Noé, our protagonist, a young vampire aboard La Baleine, an airship bound for Paris. He's on an errand to find the cursed legendary book of Vanitas to his teacher — a very suspicious and widely feared vampire also known as "The Shapeless One".
"Find it without fail and see for yourself, with your own eyes, the true character of the book of Vanitas."
As he begins to approach his destination a strange man who calls himself Vanitas and a doctor — who coincidentally is in possesion of such book — invades the airship to "cure" a vampire that has lost its sense of self. With this and some other things, we can say that VnC starts out as a typical average shounen fantasy/adventure series, a myth is established, back stories are being constructed, and characters are introduced with a bit of mistery around them. BUT, already on the first chapter we receive what seems to be a big "spoiler" of the end — explicit on the first above quote, already left us wondering about the path that leads to that end. From what I've learned from MochiJun previous works, then I should know it's going to be one very twisted story with things most certainly aren't going as expected, obviously there's no way it's that simple. I have to say, vampire is not a genre that I like, but already on the first chapters we see how this vampire story should have an unique storytelling, blending steampunk (sci-fi) and fantasy elements with vampires.
And we have 'Charlatan', which seems to be one of the driving forces of this story. 'Charlatan' is a very mysterious entity which can invade the subconscious of vampires, distort their true names and claim possession of a vampire's subconscious. 'Charlatan' can also physically manifest and influence their physical realm and appears to exists in various forms. 'Charlatan' is hinted to be in fact female, a detail that has been especially hinted through "they're" dainty appearance, feminine lips and long hair.
Also on the beginning, we are presented to a new world called "Altus", which is essentially the vampire world created when the constitutive formula of the human world was rewritten, as a result of the accident called "Babel" — a disaster brought upon after the alchemist Paracelsus attempted to test his "world formula" theory, Babel brought down a host of cataclysms upon the human world, once the storm passed, people noticed the world now harboured vampires. As I've said before, vampires are supposed to be extinct, humans generally believe vampires no longer exist, but the truth is they live in this parallel world known as "Altus", vampires travel from one world to the next through "borders" — a distortion in space that links the worlds, and only vampires are able to cross them, if humans attempt to cross, they become unable to return to either world, but if they are touching a vampire as he crosses, they can get through. And everything in both the worlds seems to be affected and controlled by "formulas" — very few humans still know about this "world formula". Great world building, no?
The story also appears to show ourselves a recurring moral dilemma. What is salvation? A torturous question for our poor protagonist Noé, the characters are thus far defending that DEATH can also be "salvation". It appears that Noé cannot fully compute this idea of salvation possibly meaning death, what conclusion of his own Noé will reach?
The old legend of a vampire that curses all of his kin, a sign of Ill Omen, the blue full moon, curse-bearers, a very mysterious entity called 'Charlatan', the alternative world "Altus", the "Babel" accident, the "world formula" theory, questions, questions, questions... there is so much potential and so many things to be explained, right? The 'introduction' of the series took up eleven chapters, just saying.
+ Historical/Literary References
Now, apart, I would like to say about the historical/literary references.
Starting with historical references, if you're a historical manga lover like me, you surely will note references to Paris/France, be in important people names — like 'Paracelsus' or 'de Sade'; or buildings — like the draw of Notre Dame on chapter 2; or you will note some references that nobody else noticed in minimal details — like the alternative tower on chapter 3, reminiscent of a lighthouse, called 'Sun Tower' or 'Lighthouse Tower' — there was a real project to build a monumental lighthouse in Paris proposed in 1885 by Jules Bourdais to compete with the famous 'Eiffel Tower', that would illuminate the whole city, will be this tower used as an important element on the plot? MochiJun is really doing a magnificent work on the historical details.
As in her previous works, MochiJun is keeping her literary references in VnC with famous vampires. Like the Count Orlok inspired on the character by the same name from the movie 'Nosferatu', or Mina inspired on 'Mina Harker' from the novel 'Dracula', and some other characters... With this, just keep in mind that MochiJun doesn't use literary references arbitrarily.
— Art: 10/10
The artwork is top notch as usual, the setting is excellent, and it successfully pulls of a very wonderland sort of feel to it, as expected of MochiJun, and the steampunk elements with her gorgeously detailed drawings... I lived to see this. The artwork also has an unique way of expressing emotions. I especially love her color pages and speaking of which, attention to ALL of them, she loves to put foreshadowing in all her drawings, what about the poster with Vanitas and Noé surrounded by chess pieces? Who are the pawns, and who are the players? When will they break?
— Characters: 8/10
On the very first chapter we already see the main character's personalities. Vanitas is an eccentric and enigmatic character, he seems to be a very twisted character and to have a very dark side, you'll feel terribly intrigued by his past. An average human being and a kin of the blue moon helping vampires of the crimson moon? Very suspect, his actions are not heroic, they are most born out of HATE and REVENGE against a certain character — which seems to be the only thing he lives for. He doesn't care about vampires, behind his suspect demeanor surely lies something a bit more sinister.
Now Noé, also a very interesting character, being an "unusual" vampire of the crimson moon, fascinated with the legends of Vanitas of the blue moon and didn't fearing the same blue moon — vampires of the crimson moon tend to fear the blue moon as a "rule" — and being the last known member of a presumed-to-be-extinct clan of vampires called Archiviste, in almost every chapter there's a little bit more of his past, which let you more intrigued about the character. Both Vanitas and Noé have a good relationship dynamic, as expected from protagonists of the series, but you already know that this relationship should be very complicated.
I don't have much to say about the mysterious entity 'Charlatan', just see by yourself this intriguing bastard.
The left cast of characters doesn't has appeared so much thus far, but promises to be a ridiculously unique cast. The vampires are presented to have your own unique abilities, and aren't cast as singular species. 'Archiviste' vampires are forced to see a person's memories when they drink their blood for the first time, 'de Sade' vampires seems to be very sadists, etc. You can expect a vampire mythology of all shapes and sizes here.
— Enjoyment: 9/10
My expectations are very high for VnC, not only because I'm a MochiJun fan, but the manga started so good, interesting and intriguing, making you try unveil the mysteries and wondering what she is plotting for us. I already felt attached to this series with only one chapter.
— Overall: 8/10
I have a tendence to not give — high — scores to mangas on beginning, but it can't be helped, the first chapters showed a great potential, and the universe also has a great potential. And all the fragments already shown on the first chapters deserves that or higher scores, you SHOULD keep attention to every detail, follow my instructions. If you are not capable of following an incredibly complex storyline, and are impatient with mysteries, you may tire of the series easily. Those who are looking for intense action should probably stay away from this series as well, because the action is mainly "fantasy-based", not actual brawling here. Let's gather all the puzzle pieces and see what comes next.
It looks like VnC will be teaching us life ain't pretty. Readers with soft hearts, beware!
That's it. I actually had a few other things I wanted to mention, but this review is already long.
Thank you for reading.
The tale about the downfall and salvation of vampires begins.
I saw there were no reviews about this manga (no surprise, only two chapters are out right now and they are very hard to find for free), and I wanted to say what I thought about it so far..
Story : 8
Those first chapters were… Confusing. Like, really. There are a lot of informations, this is not a bad introduction but you can’t tell exactly where the story is going to go, even though you know the end at the beginning. There is a good background universe : steampunk, vampires, early 1900, Paris. I’m curious about the way Jun is going to put all these
ingredients together. As for the first chapter, action begins very quickly and the main characters are both introduced right from the start. There is humor as well, and mystery starting the very first chapter, and the end of a chapter makes you want to read the next chapter. To put it clearly, the story is confusing BUT it is catching. You might need to read the chapters again to understand the point of some things, but this is okay. There are more good points than bad points and I noticed a few things when I read it for the… 3rd, 4th time ?
Art : 10
This artwork is simply amazing. Details, colors, for the colored pages, character’s outfits… everything is gorgeous, you can see it for yourself on the pictures given !
Characters : 9
This is only the beginning of the story and we can already see the main character’s personalities, be it Noé or Vanitas and I think this is good. Plus, there is a special relationship that is already being developped between the characters and we can see, by ourselves, that this realtionship is going to evolve into a veeeeeeeery complicated relationship, you understand it right at the end of the first chapter !
Enjoyment : 9
I didn’t wait months for a new manga of Jun for nothing, the story is still a little bit confusing, but this is probably going to become great, reading such a beautiful manga is a gift and I can’t wait for the first volume to be published !
Overall : 9
I’m very curious about how the story is going to evolve, but I think these first chapters have a good potential to make a great manga. So overall I give a 9, because being able to master so many things with so few chapters is just amazing.
My review is in Portuguese, sorry if you only know English.
Vanitas no Carte é um mangá que desde o começo se mostra bastante interessante. Logo no começo já somos jogados em uma situação meio confusa sem muita explicação e mesmo assim em momento nem um você se sente de fato perdido, fora isso todo esse inicio apresenta um enredo que aparenta ser bem complexo, coisa que se confirma um pouco depois, onde são jogados diversos conceitos e detalhes que mostram o quão bem construído esse mundo aparenta ser. Fora isso temos, claro, um tom bem misterioso que a autora (Jun Mochizuki) sabe
fazer como ninguém, porém não se pode ter uma real noção da complexidade do mundo tão cedo (nos primeiros 14 capítulos) ,mesmo que ele demonstre um potencial absurdo(Note 9 for the history).
Fora o enredo ainda temos a arte belíssima tipica de Jun Mochizuki que evoluiu bastante desde Pandora Hearts e que já começou incrível em Vanitas(Note 10 for the art).
Personagens, isso também é um ponto bem forte que a autora demonstrou em Pandora Hearts e em Vanitas no Carte aparentemente vão ser tão bons quanto, nestes 14 capítulos que pude ler eles já mostraram bastante carisma e um desenvolvimento razoável de alguns deles e mostrando também que alguns guardam bastante segredos(Note 10 for the characters).
O prazer que esse mangá dá é semelhante ao visto em Pandora Hearts, mesmo que esteja falando de temas obscuros de alguma maneira ele se mantem com um clima leve e gostoso e ao mesmo tempo bastante marcante e viciante, ainda que seja cedo de mais para afirmar isso com certeza, pois o clima da obra pode mudar em algum momento da história, mesmo que eu ache isso improvável(Note 9 for the Enjoyment).
I'll compare this a little with Pandora Hearts, for those readers who've loved Pandora Hearts and aren't sure if they should read this. No major spoilers though, so I think it'll be alright.
Vanitas no Carte has been really engaging since the beginning. First chapter in and we get a glimpse of the main characters, and what little we get is already very interesting. Mochizuki-sensei is great at making things seem mysterious, and this begins from the very first chapter. There's the feeling hanging around that there's more to things than is revealed, which might either annoy or engage readers. The only way to know if
you'd like it or not is to try it.
Let's talk about the main characters, Noé and Vanitas.
Noé is easily likeable, and rather cute at times. He's the one whose story we are following, so it's a huge plus that he's easy to like. The gap between us readers and Noé doesn't seem that different, so it's not too difficult to follow his actions and thought processes. That's extremely relieving, because Vanitas, on the other hand, is an enigma.
We're introduced to Vanitas early on, but we know little to nothing about him. That makes for a very fascinating character, because his actions are unpredictable. Mochizuki-sensei does a great job in potraying his character in an unusual way, and he feels very unlike the usual protagonist. His motivations are unknown, and his actions crazy. Many main characters in stories have mysterious backgrounds, but we're usually able to get a sense of the character even before we find out what it is. With Vanitas though, it's difficult.
This causes two things:
1) Vanitas becomes a extremely fascinating character to watch.
2) We don't feel all that connected to Vanitas because we can't understand him.
Compared to the mangaka's other work, Pandora Hearts, I don't feel all that concerned for the wellbeing of Vanitas' main characters (of course, I'm only 13 chapters in, so I'll have to see). But at the same time the mysteriousness of the characters makes me more interested in the background/personality characters here than in Pandora Hearts. In short I just mean the characters here are more interesting but difficult to relate to and thus like on a personal level. It's both good and bad, so it's difficult to say what most people feel about it. Luckily, Noé exists as our main character, so readers can at least feel connected to him and view the story from his lens easily.
The art is amazing as expected. It really fits with the tone of the manga, and the character expressions are fabulous. The mangaka can convey things with not only words but expressions, which really makes for better storytelling. No complaints here.
This is pretty difficult to get a good grasp of right now (as of chapter 13). It does feel that the mangaka knows what she is doing and where the story is heading, but similar to early on in Pandora Hearts, the reader might feel a bit lost as to what the main story is right now.
But that doesn't mean it's an incoherent mess. It never feels like the story is just being made up as we go along. There's the feeling that everything happening has an importance to the story - except we don't know what it is yet. That might be frustrating to some. It certainly is frustrating to me. But I'm really looking forward to seeing how things play out, to have this story be revealed to me in bits and pieces. Considering the story setting, which feels more limited, I'm not sensing any upcoming crazy twists like in Pandora Hearts, but I'm sure whatever the author has in store will surely be interesting. For now, the frustration of not understand only makes me more curious rather than annoyed, so it's all good. It helps that the characters are interesting enough for me to keep on reading now.
This is difficult. I certainly do enjoy it, but not the mindless easy type of enjoyment. There aren't really slice-of-life moments for me to enjoy now, but so far the characters and their interactions with each other/how they react to situations is keeping me hooked. It's probably a manga not easy to enjoy if you read lightly and only look at the surface. But with all the interesting elements glaring at you in the face, I also think it's quite easy to be interested in this manga. It's too early for me to have an opinion on the overall plot, but there is potential for things to shape up well. Hopefully I have time to edit my review then.
(the review got too long, I'm sorry ;_;)
Overall, an interesting manga, though too early now to see how it goes. Definitely should give it a try. The story moves fast, so it's pretty exciting, but there's also a lack of slice-of-life moments. Also be prepared to be lost and feel like you know nothing about the story/characters. Art is beautiful and story elements have the potential to lead to an interesting story. Characters are fascinating.
Pandora Heart fans should definitely check this out, but you might not feel too attached to the characters at first. But if you've enjoyed the characters in Pandora Hearts, I'm sure you'll find this interesting too. The setting doesn't give me that much hope for similar crazy plot twists, but the mysterious feeling is thick in the air and the characters are a joy to watch.