Book Review: The Case Study of Vanitas Volume 2

The Case Study of Vanitas Volume 2 cover

I hope that everyone is had a good week, and are getting ready to have a relaxing weekend.

Things are going fairly well here, as I can still relax a bit and do things that I can enjoy.

Right now, the first set of my preorders from Barnes & Noble have been arriving one after another, unlike my previous experiences with them, and the final book of the first set recently arrived.

Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called The Case Study of Vanitas Volume 2 by Jun Mochizuki.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.

After resolving matters with the curse-bearing vampire in Paris, Vanitas and Noé get down to business by asking Amelia what had happened before she went berserk, which gives them a clue and they decide to look into it.

However, when an unexpected visitor arrives at Count Orlok's residence and takes the Vanitas and Noé to a masked ball, strange things start to happen and the duo come face to face with their mysterious enemy who seems to recognize Noé from the past.

I must say that I really liked it.

From the moment that I opened this volume and started reading it, I did not want to put it down for any reason, though I do have to satisfy the same needs that any other human has to deal with.

Over the course of all of her work, from Crimson-Shell to Pandora Hearts and the first few chapters of this series, Jun Mochizuki has been able to write in a way that draws me right into the world of her work and maintain it from beginning to end, and that is something that is not so easy to pull off.

When people read fiction or watch fictional works, they want to be able to escape reality for only a short time, and the way a story is told can really affect how well immersed the reader can be.

Unfortunately, there are many writers and so-called literary experts out there that do not seem to understand how important this is to overall enjoyment of a story, as opposed to have all of the other things that some people think a great work of fiction, and it really disappoints me.

Jun Mochizuki, however, has seemed to have learned the importance of important ingredient to create a fictional work during the early moments of her career, and that she can still make things interesting after only completing two series prior makes me want to give her even more applause.

Hopefully, she maintain this kind of consistency in latter installments in this series, because I want to see this series just as strongly as Pandora Hearts did.

Then again, Jun Mochizuki is only human, just like the rest of us, so I am well aware that there is a possibility that she could reach her peak with this series and all I can do is just see where things go.

I also liked how people were still suspicious of Vanitas.

From the very beginning of the series, there have been many mysterious surrounding Vanitas, like his real reasons for trying to treat vampires and how he came into possession of the book, and the words Noé said back in the first volume made me think that Vanitas will be another Jack Vesssalius.

Now, I do not expect to get these answers too soon and this volume does not answer any of those reasons, as that would ruin the element of mystery, but there have been instances in other stories or series where characters are trusted too much after doing only a few things, which tends to make things rather annoying, though we do tend to live in a society that is either way optimist or way too pessimistic, so it does make sense that writers tends to exploits those weaknesses in stories.

In the case of this series, nobody has seen or knew this Vanitas person, or even the original Vanitas of the Blue Moon, and the fact that the vampires all think he is suspicious is to be expected.

After all, if somebody said that they had a foolproof method to revive the dead or cure cancer or seen God in the flesh, would you really believe them?

I sure would not believe them, because there have already been some horrible people out there that made such claims, in order to control others or be worshipped, and having the vampires suspect that Vanitas is dangerous is exactly what I would expect in this series, which makes me all the more interested in finding out more about Vanitas and even if and how he would have these vampires see him in a new light.

This is what I was expecting from a work created by Jun Mochizuki, and she really delivered.

If she had incorporated this, the story presented so far would have begun to be a little less believable, this disappointing me because of all the great work she did in Pandora Hearts.

Fortunately, because she did what she did here, I can happily give her some major applause. Nice work, Jun Mochizuki.

Another nice thing about this book was how many chapters were included.

While I was a bit disappointed by the first volume, mainly because I purchased the first three chapters and the first volume digitally and the first volume had four chapters, which gave me only one new chapter, I was kind of expecting this volume to also have four chapters.

In this volume, however, I got six chapters, or six new chapters because I did not buy any more individual chapters this time around, and it really makes up for how I felt gypped with the first volume.

As much as I want to give the Japanese staff that put this volume together credit for this, since this series came from Japan, I cannot because I do not have access to the Japanese edition of this volume, nor can I find any places that are as reliable for this series as Detective Conan World is for Detective Conan, I can only give credit, at least temporarily, to Yen Press.

Unlike Viz and Kodansha USA, Yen Press's titles usually have only four to five chapters, with the final volume possibly containing more than that, and I have grown used to this pattern, even if it means I cannot regularly purchase the chapters digitally.

However, with six chapters, I feel like I might be getting away with a bit much, and I am really happy about this turn of events.

The only thing that would be better than this is if the latest chapters were on Crunchyroll, so that I could keep up with the series and not feel like I was paying for the same content multiple times, even though I would technically be paying for that more than once anyway.

Of course, that might really be asking for a lot, so I will just be satisfied with this much, and give whoever was responsible for compiling six chapters instead of four into this volume a major round of applause. Nice job, guys.

It was also nice how I was able to get quite a few laughs out of this volume.

Even though the comedy found in Jun Mochizuki's work is not that unique, when compared to other anime or manga, I always seem to get a very chuckle out of all the situations and character interactions that she puts into her series.

The funniest of which was when Dominique comes in, introduces herself as Noé's fiancée, and then puts a collar with a chain leash on Noé.

This made me laugh because it was all just executed so perfectly and reminded me of how Maes Hughes dragged people in like a kidnapper in the 2009 adaptation of FMA, though in this case, it was more like laying claim to him.

I am not too sure about you guys, but it seems like Jun Mochizuki has not lost her touch in making more of the usual come off as absolutely hilarious, and this serves as a good illustration of how even the less refined forms of humor can be funny if they are done right.

If she was not able to deliver this much, I would have been sorely disappointed in her, because, with only three major series under her belt, she has already shown herself to be quite capable of balancing out all of the different tones present in her work to the point that things kind of feel realistic, but because she succeeded, I am willing to give her another big round of applause.

The thing that I liked the most though were all of the mysteries that cropped up in this volume.

While the first volume did have a few mysteries, like those surrounding Vanitas and what he really intends to do, which was deepened further in this volume, others began to catch my interest as well.

For example, when the shadowy figure, called Charlatan, appears in front of Noé and Lucius at the ball, it says that it knows Noé and then bids Noé farewell with a smile when commanded to stop its assault.

Even though there is a flashback somewhere in between those events, as Charlatan said it knew Noé through somebody close to him, I wonder what kind of connection it has with Noé and how it came to be.

If I had to take guess, from the contents of these chapters, I would probably say that it came from Noé's childhood friend, Louis, who was introduced in the flashback, and that such an entity exists in all curse-bearing vampires, much like how people who seem nice can have a bit of darkness in them.

Then again, I could be wrong, since I never took the time to catch up with the Japanese releases of this series and the series has only just begun.

However, this huge mystery makes me want to go out and read the next volume to see if this can receive some kind of definitive answer, beyond the fact that Charlatan refers to an entire group, much like the Baskervilles in Pandora Hearts were more of a group than a family.

Jun Mochizuki has set a really high bar with her previous works, and I am hoping that the answers turn out to be as interesting as they were in Pandora Hearts, because that is the only way that she can even hope to match the greatness of that work.

Not only was the mystery of Charlatan and Noé intriguing, but I am wondering who Vanitas of the Blue Moon was and what he did to Vanitas.

Back in the first volume, Vanitas claimed that he wanted to help the vampires with their troubles and he continues to make that claim in this volume, but he then adds, “That will be my revenge on Vanitas!!!”

Vanitas of the Blue Moon has been an enigma since the beginning of the volume, coming of as more of a myth or legend, and we know less about him than the Vanitas we were introduced to, so hearing Vanitas say something like that makes me wonder just what kind of relationship they had and why he would be mad at the person who supposedly gave him his name.

Now, things are not usually straightforward in Jun Mochizuki's works, considering how Jack Vesalius was introduced as good person in Pandora Hearts, only to find out that he caused the Tragedy of Sablier, but this makes me wonder if Vanitas was evil, like legend say, and if he did something against the will of the Vanitas we know or to him.

Vanitas himself may be a huge mystery, but now that things are about to involve Vanitas of Blue Moon too makes both characters mysterious enough to make me want to change my mind about only purchasing the volumes, so that I can find out more about both of them, though it will probably be a long time before Jun reveals the truth behind the mysterious Vanitas of the Blue Moon.

Seriously, if series were written more like this, I would be more willing to give them a chance, as opposed to trying to find books that are standalone works.

Unfortunately, series produced here are not tightly woven as FMA or Jun Mochizuki's works, so I do not really see that changing any time soon, and it saddens me because people will probably never learn to notice what books should not get sequels and which should.

Still, the fact that there were this many questions gives me quite a bit to look forward in this series, and, for that Jun Mochizuki deserves another major round of applause. Nice job, Jun Mochizuki.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, especially because I am pretty much in the dark about what will happen next.

Because my attention was captured and held for the duration of the book, there were more than four chapters, people continued suspecting Vanitas, and that I was able to get some laughs, as well as the fact that things got much more interesting, this was one of the best books I have read this year.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, nothing really bothered me too much.

As a result, I will have to say that there is nothing worth mentioning.

Considering that there was so much to like about this volume, as Jun Mochizuki has yet to lose her edge, this was definitely worth reading.

I recommend this to fans of The Case Study of Vanitas, Pandora Hearts, and Jun Mochizuki, as they will be able to enjoy this the most, but the first group might want to avoid this volume like the plague if they buy the chapters released monthly by Yen Press, otherwise they will feel gypped.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try it, but it would be best read read the previous volume first.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or buying the reviewed title on Amazon via the link provided above, so that I can find more worthwhile reads for you guys, and do whatever you do when you find something that impresses you.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.