REVIEW: ‘The Case Study of Vanitas,’ Episode 5 – “Friends”

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The Case Study of Vanitas Episode 5 - But Why Tho

Charlatan has descended upon the masquerade ball in The Case Study of Vanitas Episode 5, stealing vampires’ true names, and they recognize Noé. Studio BONES is behind the anime adaptation of Jun Mochizuki’s (Pandora Hearts) steampunk vampire tale. Legends say the vampire of the cursed Blue Moon, Vanitas, created a cursed grimoire to enact his revenge on vampire-kind. Now, the name and book have passed to an eccentric human doctor, and sheltered vampire Noé journeys to Paris to learn more about their origins.

At last, viewers learn who the young boy from Noé’s flashes of memory is. The Case Study of Vanitas Episode 5 is mostly a flashback episode, but it is very well-done. The flashback itself is narrated by Noé, whose mind is currently being probed by Charlatan in the middle of their battle. Charlatan is trying to prey on Noé’s insecurities to obtain his true name. Noé’s obsession with the Blue Moon and the Book of Vanitas is revealed to be linked to his childhood friend, Louis. Louis was Dominique’s older brother, and both were the grandchildren of Noé’s teacher.

While Noé’s own origins are still vague, they’re definitely steeped in trauma. As the supposedly last Archiviste, he was bought and sold until he was found by his teacher. Louis, who was exiled by his parents, is sequestered away with Noé at his grandfather’s estate. Up until this point viewer’s have only been given positive descriptions of Noé’s teacher, and throughout this episode the curtain gets pulled back. While Noé may think differently, it becomes clear to viewers that he may be an unreliable narrator due to the trauma he endured witnessing what happened with Louis. It makes his character’s naivety and optimism take on a darker note. What initially was an adorable character quirk may in fact be more of a defense mechanism for his trauma.

The Case Study of Vanitas Episode 5 is another round of stellar animation. The adorable, comical expressions of the children with literal stars in their eyes make the ending that much more painful. The episode also comes with a graphic imagery warning. While the episode certainly is violent, its gore isn’t on the level of Berserk or Vinland Saga. Don’t get me wrong, characters are beheaded in disturbing fashion. The warning feels more because of the fact that all of this disturbing violence happens to children, vampires or not, and that makes it harder to watch. Especially so when the twisted art style of Charlatan comes out, with scratchy, old picture book faces that truly feel as if they are part of a child’s nightmare.

The Case Study of Vanitas Episode 5 does everything an excellent flashback episode should. The pacing is great, the animation on point, and the storytelling both reveals and makes viewers question what they know. Answers also bring new questions, and Noé’s character development throughout this series is going to be fascinating, and likely painful, to watch given what we now know.

The Case Study of Vanitas is streaming now on Funimation, with new episodes premiering Fridays.

The Case Study of Vanitas Episode 5 
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

The Case Study of Vanitas Episode 5 does everything an excellent flashback episode should. The pacing is great, the animation on point, and the storytelling both reveals and makes viewers question what they know. Answers also bring new questions, and Noé’s character development throughout this series is going to be fascinating, and likely painful, to watch given what we now know.