The Case Study of Vanitas’ Complex Shipping Situation

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for The Case Study of Vanitas, Episode 7, “Love,” now streaming on Funimation.

The creator of The Case Study of Vanitas Jun Mochizuki has been known for her penchant for portraying melodramatic relationships ever since Pandora Hearts, and this is also a major selling point of The Case Study of Vanitas. The entangled romance aspect of the story is on full display in Episode 7 of the anime, appropriately titled “Love”.

The Jeanne/Vanitas ship has been well underway ever since the non-consensual kiss in Episode 3. It also helps that Jeanne fervently sucked Vanitas’ blood in Episode 4 when she was taken over by bloodlust, even leaving her mark on him. And Jeanne doesn’t even seem to hate Vanitas all that much.

But of course, this relationship is not as straightforward as one might think. At the end of this episode, Noe asks Vanitas what he loves about Jeanne, and while Vanitas mentions a lot of superficial things like her strength, her looks and how she is easy to tease, in the end, he says that he loves the fact that Jeanne would never love him back, as he won't love someone who also loves him. This hints at some self-loathing tendencies within Vanitas, as well as the way in which he displays his “hatred” toward vampires by curing them; aspects that are very likely related to his tormented past.

Vanitas’ feelings for Jeanne might not even be love. He claims that he doesn’t know what love is, but his heart quickens when he sees Jeanne and he interprets this as love. However, since Vanitas has no experience with romance, demonstrated by the very pubescent way he treats Jeanne, it's possible that he has misinterpreted his feelings.

Although Vanitas thinks Jeanne will never love him, this is not how the show portrays things. Jeanne constantly blushes when she sees Vanitas. She doesn’t dislike being around him and also agreed to suck only his blood from now on. Jeanne may also relate to Vanitas in terms of his self-loathing, as her reputation as a ruthless executioner makes her feel inferior. However, if she falls for Vanitas, then by his logic, he would stop loving her, so this seems like a doomed ship from the beginning.

To complicate things further, there is Noe, who is still quite innocent and knows very little about love. During their meeting where he is served his favorite dessert, tarte Tatin, he takes particular notice of Jeanne. When Jeanne drags Vanitas outside, fearing that he might expose her bloodthirsty secret, Noe feels lost and even abandons his dessert to go after them.

Noe then witnesses Jeanne willingly suck Vanitas’ blood and admits that he feels agony in his heart. While Noe attributes this feeling to also wanting to taste Vanitas’ blood in front of Domi, he may sense it’s something more, because he tries to invite Jeanne to a dance that night. However, he is interrupted by Domi, who clearly loves Noe and doesn’t want him to realize his true feelings. There might still be hope for Domi though, as Noe is used to sucking her blood and is still very obtuse about his feelings, so it might take a long time for him to realize anything.

If all these ships seem hopelessly heterosexual, don't despair, because the melodramatic love square cumulates in a very ingenious way as the foursome participate in a dance party that evening. Domi surprisingly invites Jeanne to dance in an attempt to stop Noe from falling further for Jeanne. While Noe and Vanitas watch, Noe also invites Vanitas to dance, as he thought he could teach Vanitas.

The dance scene is a wonderful moment that disrupts the heteronormativity in the series so far. The matter-of-fact way this moment is portrayed is refreshing. By not making a big deal out of this, the series is also making way (whether consciously or not) for more organic portrayals of same-sex interaction.

Hilariously, as the two same-sex pairs have their progressive dance party, Luca is the only one left on the sidelines, watching as the adults have fun and hoping that he can grow up soon enough to invite Jeanne, as he obviously has a massive crush on her.

It's worth noting that in the manga, it’s a bit more ambiguous who Noe is really jealous of, because it could be interpreted as either Vanitas or Jeanne. However, the anime’s editing makes it very clear that he has feelings for Jeanne, not Vanitas, and Dominique is the only one who notices this -- although this doesn’t mean that the Noe/Vanitas ship is going nowhere. The dance scene in this episode, plus Noe’s heartfelt confession from Episode 6, solidifies their partnership as something that can potentially transcend distrust, perhaps even jealousy.

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