Book Review: The Case Study of Vanitas Volume 1

The Case Study of Vanitas Volume 1 cover

I hope everyone is having a good weekend, and preparing themselves for the new year.

Things have been going fairly well, now that things are not so noisy anymore, so I can at least get things done.

As I mentioned in my last post, I received a unexpected gift of some Amazon credit around Christmas and used it to get a few books, but even though most of them were preorders for titles coming next year, two of them were already released.

So, I have covered one of them and only one more remains.

Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called The Case Study of Vanitas Volume 1 by Jun Mochizuki.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, and it works out well as a summary of this volume too, I will not be doing any summaries.

A while back, after Pandora Hearts came to an end, I found out that Jun Mochizuki's new work was going to be published soon and got the first few chapters, in order to check it out, before deciding to follow the volume releases.

Now that I got a chance to read the first volume, I have to say that I really enjoyed it.

From the very first moment I opened this book, I was reminded of what I liked about this series when I talked about my first impressions of it, and the questions that I had were also still present.

While this may be a bad thing in aspects, the first volume of a series is supposed to get readers interested in the work, and the people who compiled these chapters into this volume did a somewhat nice job of pulling that off from start to finish, which is quite an accomplish, because there are works out there, like the first volume of Yoshiki Tonogai's Secret, that end at terrible moments that cause my interest to wane.

I also liked how funny things were in the content that I did not read prior to the release of this volume.

Back when I talked about my first impressions of this series, I made mention of how I actually felt like laughing quite a bit, and the content presented here was just as hilarious as I was hoping that it would be, though still not at the level that I got from Oz and the gang back in Pandora Hearts.

The funniest stuff happened during Vanitas's skirmish with Jeanne, also known as the hellfire witch.

After he used a bluff to distract her, the spectator called him a jerk for hitting a woman in the gut and then they solidified that statement in their thoughts when he threatened to hurt somebody that we can only assume is a child.

This had me laughing because it really reminded me of the thoughts of my elders and how they would agree with the spectators' sentiments that Vanitas is a jerk, yet everything Vanitas was doing, he did to end things quickly.

After all, once a fight commences, age, gender, and ailments/disabilities go right out the window, with the only thing that matters being survival. That is why the one that wins, or survives, is strong, and the one that is considered strong does not always win.

Not only was it funny when Vanitas was being called a jerk, but I also laughing at how Vanitas suddenly came on to Jeanne and start to propose to her.

Even though I am not too sure if that was all part of his bluff or not, I was chuckling hysterically, because it seemed like it was all a ploy.

Seeing how I was laughing much harder in these scenes than what I had seen in the chapters I read before writing about my first impressions, it looks like Jun Mochizuki lived up to my expectations, and deserves a big round of applause. Nice job, Jun.

The thing that I liked the most though is how one of the questions that I had during the first three answers is being explored a bit.

Throughout most of this volume, the book of Vanitas has been a complete mystery, with some characters believing that the Vanitas that we were introduced to is causing mischief with a book of evil, but towards the end of the volume, a shadowy figure appears and talks about finding their next victim to take a true name from.

True names, as presented in this series, are a control mechanism that, if tampered with, can cause vampires to go rogue and get labeled curse-bearers, and it seemed like Vanitas may have been causing these incidents to get notoriety because the book he holds was the only known way to tamper with those names.

However, with what this mysterious being presents, I am wondering if there is some other way to tamper with a vampire's true names, especially because Vanitas talked about Maladies around the first few chapters of this series.

As a result, I want to read the next couple of chapters right now, though I will wait for the next volume because Barnes & Noble and Amazon are both charging two to three dollars, USD, for each of the thirteen chapters out now, and this volume, which contains multiple chapters and extras, only costs about $7 on Amazon, $13, if you prefer a printed copy.

This is the Jun Mochizuki that I know, and seeing how she gave me more questions than what I had when I initially read the first three chapters, things are looking really bright for this series.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, because this is only the beginning on the series.

Because some of things that I liked when I first read the early chapters were still present, or even improved a bit, like the humor, and that I got more questions than I did when first reading this series, this was one of the best books I have this year.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as problems commonly found in the first book of a series, and concerns that I expressed when I talked about my first impressions, there were only one thing that bothered me.

The volume contained only four chapters.

Now, seeing as Pandora Hearts had no more than five chapters in every volume prior to the 23rd and 24th volumes, this is not too much a big deal and I do not feel cheated out of it, but what makes me feel cheated is that I paid for practically the same content twice.

Yes, the people who make manga, like Jun Mochizuki, and the people who compile the chapters into volumes need to make money, and I did choose to purchase this volume, but that does not change the fact that I should not be charge for what I already have.

Yen Press is making a big deal out of being able to buy the chapters individually on so many websites online, but eBooks have not caught on to the reason why stores like iTunes work out really well.

With iTunes, if there is a show that you want to try out or a song that you want, you can buy a few episodes or that song, and, depending on the title, if you later decide that you want the rest of the show or album, iTunes knocks down the cost to a bit to get the remainder.

This is great because I do not get any duplicate content downloaded again, and I am only paying for what I do not have.

Unfortunately, the way Yen Press is handling things, and most likely every other manga distributor, only caters to those who are buying digitally to test the waters, before deciding they want to buy the content in print.

Business are supposed to take into consideration what their customers want, and seeing as Yen Press wants me pay for this, instead of trying to get distribution channels to work like iTunes does for music and TV shows, or even just making a deal with Crunchyroll to publish the chapters, I am not going to do what they hope that I would by advertising this.

After all, I only got one new chapter from this volume.

While the only thing wrong had more to do with how digital distribution works than something wrong with the content, it was still enough to dampen my enjoyment a bit.

Despite the fact that there was not much new content, the good outweighed things enough to make this worth reading.

While I do not recommend this fans of the series, because they are probably purchasing the new chapters every month and they will feel just as cheated as I was, I do recommend this to fans of Pandora Hearts and Jun Mochizuki because this did turn out to be as good as I was hoping that it would be.

As for everyone else, this may be worth giving a try, but to avoid feeling cheated like I did, I recommend sticking to the volume releases, especially if you prefer to read books in print.

What are your thoughts on The Case Study of Vanitas Volume 1? Did you like it, like I did, or did you hate it? Was there something that you liked or hated that went unmentioned? Feel free to comment.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.