Book Review: The Case Study of Vanitas Volume 3

The Case Study of Vanitas Volume 3 cover

I hope that everyone is having a good day today, regardless of how you spent it.

Things are going fairly well, though this particular day is not usually the best, and I am still glad to do what I enjoy.

Recently, I received some Amazon credit and I got some some books that I had my eye, as well as preordered a book that I was not too sure would be released here.

Today, I will be reviewing one of the titles I got, which is called The Case Study of Vanitas Volume 3 by Jun Mochizuki.

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

Things are still a mess at the masquerade ball, and somebody is after Vanitas and Noé, and, if things do not end, the duo might be separated soon.

However, the incident at the ball is not the only thing that must be dealt with, as Vanitas hears about a string of vampires going missing and decides to sneak into the stronghold of vampire hunters to find the person responsible, and this person seems to recognize Vanitas before he was taken by Vanitas of the Blue Moon.

Even though my interest in a series can wane if I am away from it too long, there is no guarantee that every series will be terrible after being away from it for so long.

And after reading this book, I must say that I really liked it.

From the moment that I opened this book and started reading, I did not want to put it down for any reason, though I do have to satisfy the same needs as everyone else.

One of the reasons that I consider Jun Mochizuki to be one of the best manga creators out there is because she has been able to draw people into her work from the first few pages of a chapter, with the first chapter of Pandora Hearts being the best examples, where the audience was left wondering why Oz Vessaulius's existence was his sin and what was happening, and she continues to deliver that quite well in the very first chapter, in spite of the time away from the series, though it is mainly because of the time that it took for this volume to be released, rather than a lack of funds.

If I had to say why, it is because the first chapter in this volume slowly picks up right where the last volume left off, where Noé asked Vanitas what salvation is.

While many manga publishers in Japan do a good job of making sure that each volume in a series starts off with the final chapter of the last one, and creators like Jun Mochizuki do not seemingly forget that the audience needs to be brought up to speed, the problem with many manga out there is that they have their chapters start off immediately where the previous chapter left off, with maybe a little summary of what had happened earlier, and this tends to make it hard to get into the series, or even get back into, if one has been away from a series for too long, which in turn makes it harder for the reader to enjoy it.

Here, however, Jun Mochizuki seems to have remembered that she had wrote this series in a way that reads like a diary, in that Noé, who is also the narrator, says at the end of the very first chapter of the series, “That was the very beginning…This is the tale of how I met Vanitas…and how we walked together…Of all we gained…and lost…and of how…at the end of that journey…I would kill him with own two hands,” and she started of the first chapter in this volume by having Noé say something similar to remind us that he is either telling this story through a diary or to us personally in the future, before picking up right where the last volume left off.

By starting things off like this, I had already forgotten that this was picking up where this one left off and that I was going to be seeing something else in the timeline, only to be brought right back to Noé asking Vanitas what he meant by salvation.

If this volume immediately started off right where the last volume had left off, instead of easing back into it, I would have been a little disappointed, because it would seem like Jun Mochizuki had forgotten what made her such a great mangaka, as well as show that she had peaked back in Pandora Hearts, the first series I read from her.

Fortunately, that did not happen here, and that allowed this volume open so well, though Square Enix or whoever they have put these volumes does deserve some credit too for starting and ending volumes at the right time.

Hopefully, the future volumes continue to have strong starts, because fans of Jun Mochizuki would rather continue to sing her praises and see that this series can hold a candle to her previous work.

However, seeing as Jun Mochizuki is only human, just like the rest of us, things could go downhill pretty quickly, as continually putting out gold is near impossible, so I guess I should be prepared for the time when I would have tear into her.

I also liked how I was able to laugh quite a bit throughout this volume.

While the humor found in this volume was not really that unique to the series, or even anime and manga in general, Jun Mochizuki executed things well enough that I felt like laughing in a few scenes.

When I first checked out this series, by getting a few of the serialized chapters that Yen Press puts out, I was not too impressed with the comedic scenes, though I still liked them, because I could not get as many laughs from it as I had gotten from following the gang from Pandora Hearts, so I was not too sure if I would be able to get used to this cast.

However, as the series progressed, the characters got more interesting and likeable, and the comedy itself has improved to the point where I am now getting the amount of humor that I expected to see when this series first started.

The funniest thing though seemed to be a bit of homage to Pandora Hearts.

After finding out that there has been a string of vampire disappearances, Vanitas and Noé take a trip to cathedral, where somebody asks them their names, when they are noticed in a secret, Vanitas introduces Noé and himself as Gilbert and Vincent respectively.

This was funny because instead of being able to picture these guys as people trying to make sure nobody knew who they really were, I was suddenly imagining Gilbert and Vincent Nightray being right there in the room, amidst vampire skulls, and thinking that Gilbert would be terrified of such a situation, at least before Oz Vessaulius was cast into the abyss.

Now, this would have been a whole lot funnier if Jun Mochizuki's characters all looked the same, much like many of the characters that Gosho Aoyama created look very similar to one another, but being made to think of two other characters from a previous work still made this quite funny.

If Jun Mochizuki had not put in something like this, I would have been kind of disappointed, because the comedy in this series seemed to have reached a new high for me, as I was beginning to think that this might indeed be a good follow up to her last work, though this is one thing that fans of Jun Mochizuki would understand than those only familiar with this series.

Fortunately, Jun did not miss the possible chance of using a possible homage to characters from the previous series, and that makes me want to give her a big round of applause.

Hopefully, thing will only keep getting funnier from here on out, as that is one of the best things about Jun Mochizuki's works, and the fans of her work expect to be able to get a good laugh amid an intriguing series.

The thing that I liked the most though was how this volume ended.

When it comes to publishing a series, how things end is just as important as how they begin, because the reader needs to be given reason to continue on with a series.

While there is more than one way to accomplish this, such as having characters that are interesting enough that one would want to see more of their adventures, which was one of the biggest draws of Spice & Wolf, the usual way that this comes about in manga is through cliffhangers or big questions that appear on the last page of the last chapter.

In the case of this volume, the thing about the ending that grabbed my attention was all the questions that came up.

After Vanitas and Noé eluded the person that tried to kill Noé, Noé realizes that they are being watched and Vanitas starts talking about what had brought him to the stronghold of the chasseurs. Then the chapter cuts away to a new character, who we can only assume is the person Vanitas seeks, and he says that he surprised that he would see our protagonist again, after Vanitas of the Blue Moon had taken him.

Shortly after, Jun Mochizuki transitions into a flashback with another new character, whom I want to believe is the real Vanitas of the Blue Moon, commenting on what they saw and asking our protagonist if they wanted to come with them.

Seeing these scenes play out, I was left wondering what the experiments the person that Vanitas is after had done to make the entities responsible for the vampire kidnappings more dangerous than other chasseurs, and if the real Vanitas was really some misunderstood person, instead of a vampire that seeks vengeance on their own kind, and I want to find out the answer right now, though I would just have to wait for the next volume to come out.

Yes, I can purchase more of the chapters that Yen Press puts out on a monthly basis, since they are advertised to be released on the same day that Japanese fans get them, but because purchasing the early chapters in the series hurt my enjoyment of the first volume really badly, I will just stick to the volume releases, so that I will not feel cheated for buying the same chapters more than once, as well as allow myself to at least have some rest between all of the series that I follow on a regular basis.

While I would want to give Jun Mochizuki the credit for ending the volume so well, the real credit for this great ending goes to Square Enix or whoever compiled these chapters into volumes for them, as they have chosen a great place to end things. The mystery of these experiments and who Vanitas of the Blue Moon really is might be kept secret until the end, just like thetruth of the Tragedy of Sablier was not revealed until the later portion of Pandora Hearts' run, but making me think that some backstory will crop up soon is a nice way to end things, because it screams that there is something more and that is what makes me so anxious for the next installment.

If the people that put the volume together had not ended things here, I would have been very disappointed because I do not know how to end things any better than they did here, even if there is a possibility that a few of the chapters published after the ones found here were originally serialized just might have provided a better ending, and I probably would have put this on probation, before completely dropping it.

Thankfully, they did not do that, and remembered what was so great about Pandora Hearts, aside from how Jun Mochizuki handled things, and they were able created one of the best endings I have seen so far.

Hopefully, whoever compiles the chapters into volumes can continue to have the volumes end on a note as high as this, whether it does end with a ton questions, because that is the only way that this series would be able to surpass Pandora Hearts, but I must keep in mind that they too are also human beings, who make mistakes, so I better keep my expectations more in the realistic realm than thinking that they would make the right decision.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could not be added into what I already talked about.

Because my attention was grabbed quickly and held right through until the end, in spite of having been away from the series for a while, the comedy was quite good, and I had so many questions that I wanted answered, as the ending hinted that Vanitas's past might be delved into a bit, this was one of the best volumes in the series that I have read so far.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

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

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

Considering how there was quite a bit to like, such as how this book was able to capture my attention, even though I had been away from the series for a bit, and nothing to really hate, unless you really want to be nitpicky, this was definitely worth reading.

I recommend this mainly to fans of Jun Mochizuki and The Case Study of Vanitas, as they will be able to like this the most.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, as the way this volume starts off does not make the knowledge of the previous volumes completely necessary, but I would still suggest reading the previous volumes first.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or, if you want a copy of the reviewed title, purchase the book from Book Depository, who offers free shipping to many countries around the world, so that I can continue following this series and possibly find more worthwhile reads for you guys.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.