Vanitas no Carte and the importance of aesthetics

As of writing this, we’re 8 episodes into the second season of Vanitas no Carte, or the Case Study of Vanitas. That means I’ve watched twenty episodes of this show. And yet I’m not invested in the story at all. It just doesn’t really interest me that much.
For those unfamiliar with Vanitas let me give you a quick, mostly spoiler-free, rundown. 
Vanitas no Carte follows the titular Vanitas, who is a human doctor. At some point in his life he got the illustrious Book of Vanitas. It was a book from a famous vampire. This book allows him to help vampires that are letting their instincts take control of them, the so-called curse bearers. On his journey he meets a vampire called Noe. Together they run into more trouble than the average toddler in a toy store. On their journey they come across several characters that are important to the story, including Jeanne (definitely not D’arc), several Chasseurs, an organization fighting vampires as well as some prominent vampires. 

Off to an interesting start. We’ll see the colors blue and black a lot throughout this show.

If that description is a little bit vague then that’s because looking back on twenty episodes of this show, I’m still not really sure what kind of story it is trying to tell. Everyone seems to have their own subplot, character personalities seem to be all over the place, and it feels very anime, if that makes sense. Some stories thrive on their realism, and some stories thrive on them feeling fictional. How everyone sort of knows each other and gets embroiled in the same problems. That’s not a bad thing, by the way. Durarara has everyone’s lives intermingled and I absolutely love Durarara. Many good shows do this. But it shouldn’t be a replacement for the plot. Every week I see the episode appear online and think to myself; do I still watch this show? But then when I do I always find myself enthralled. And that’s what I’d like to talk about today. The aesthetic qualities of Vanitas.

The illustrious book of Vanitas in all of its blue glory.

Vanitas no Carte has a certain style. A pizazz. (I just really wanted to use that word.) It speaks to a sense of fashion and glamor that I don’t really have in my daily life. These are all extremely pretty women and extremely handsome men. Sure, many anime have that, and since it’s not a genre that I tend to watch a lot, there’s a very good chance that there are shows out there that do this kind of thing better, but everything just kind of pops when I watch it. From the opening to the ending. To the cat that looks like it has more class than I ever will. To Roland and Olivier casually sitting at a cafe in Paris while our main characters stroll past them. Paris is massive, it’s not a place where you just casually spot someone you know easily if you don’t live there. But it feels like everything is interconnected. And everyone is dressed like they own the place. The outfits in this show almost make me feel bad about sitting here in sweatpants and a hoodie. It’s cold, okay, leave me alone. 

All jokes aside, it’s shows like Vanitas that remind me how many different facets there are to a good story. And when it comes to visual storytelling, the way your characters shine on the screen is very important. If there’s not a single character in your show, male, female or otherwise, that I want to be stepped on by (don’t judge me) what are you even doing? You’re wasting my time here. (It’s Domi, for those wondering, and it’s not even close). 

Don’t judge me okay, just look at her.

This show makes me wish I could rock an outfit like Olivier does. And Jeanne looks absolutely amazing too. Hell, even Noe looks fantastic with his white clothes and hat. This show just screams style and class and it’s just enthralling. I’m generally someone who watches shows for the story or the action. And I think that’s why the rest of Vanitas falls so flat for me. There’s not a lot of interesting action and the story doesn’t quite interest me personally. But it’s the pure style that keeps me watching. I want to see these characters in motion, I want to see them talk to each other and find out what ridiculousness they get up to. 

Imagine being able to rock a hat like that.

So if you’ve reached this point and you’re still wondering if this show is worth the time, then I’d say yeah, probably, I don’t know, I’m not your dad. Watch the first two or three episodes. If you like what you see, I promise it keeps getting better. I think season two has better moments than season one so far. The introduction of some of the chasseurs in this season has really built up a bigger cast, and Chloe is adorable too. It’s a fun show. It’s got great aesthetics and sometimes that’s all you need. Thanks for reading.

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