The Case Study of Vanitas Introduces Vanitas & Noe’s Most Powerful Foes Yet

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for The Case Study of Vanitas, Episode 8, “Where Death Slumbers”, now streaming on Funimation.

Powerful villains and exciting fight scenes are a staple of shonen manga, and while The Case Study of Vanitas has had some fun fight scenes, most of these have lacked urgency, as they took place either between protagonists or are simply misunderstandings. The main villain, the Charlatan, doesn't even attack directly, instead, using cursed vampires to do his bidding.

Very rarely are Vanitas and Noe in any actual danger, with the possible exception of Episode 6, when Domi's sister Veronica attacked them but is stopped by Lord Ruthven. However, this changes in Episode 8 with the introduction of the church of vampire hunters known as the Chasseurs.

Episode 8 first introduces some real danger with Lord Ruthven when Vanitas directly asks to see the Vampire Queen, as he suspects that her health is deteriorating or that she has already passed. Ruthven is enraged and unleashes his power to instantly knock everyone out, including Jeanne, who is already quite powerful. Only Luca manages to stop his rampage.

This scene gives the audience an idea about the power scaling in The Case Study of Vanitas. Vampire nobles like Ruthven and Luca are much more powerful than any regular vampire, so Vanitas is definitely no match.

It is later revealed that Ruthven is only pretending to be angry to hide the Queen’s real condition, although Vanitas has gotten this information anyway from reading Luca’s unusually calm reaction. The problem, however, is that if Ruthven is acting, this would mean his real power goes far beyond what's being shown, and he would therefore be incredibly difficult to take down should he turn on the protagonists.

But Vanitas and Noe have more pressing issues to deal with. When vampires start being abducted, they discover that the church’s vampire hunting division known as the Chasseurs is responsible. The Chasseurs have specialized weapons that are designed to weaken vampires, and they are already aware of Vanitas’ work. There has been plenty of religious symbolism in The Case Study of Vanitas since Episode 1, but this is the first time that a religious institution is introduced in the series.

Vanitas also seems to be oddly familiar with the Chasseurs and their hideout in the catacombs; he knows how to enter their secret lair and the tactic they will use against vampires, which means they are almost certainly related to his mysterious past. While Noe doesn’t know exactly what happened, he notices that Vanitas is only pretending to act normal and that he’s trying to investigate alone, so Noe waits for Vanitas to sneak out, then joins him without his permission. This shows that Noe already understands Vanitas better than most, and has now figured out how to deal with Vanitas’ secrecy and pretense -- another sign of their growing partnership.

The pair enter the catacombs wearing priest outfits they stole and stumble into a room where the Chasseurs display their trophies, aka the skulls of vampires. They meet Roland Fortis, the Sixth Paladin of the Chasseurs, one of the most powerful captains in the order. Roland looks like a kind individual, but the way he speaks of dead vampires like insignificant objects shows how ruthless he can be, which makes him frightening.

Vanitas and Noe pretend to be lost, and to their surprise, Roland says he’s also lost. Since Roland has appeared to mistake them for fellow priests, they venture out together to look for an exit. While Vanitas is worried that Roland will take them back to the Chasseurs’ headquarters, Roland has other plans. He lures Vanitas into one of the prison cells in the catacombs and locks him up, then immediately attacks Noe with a stun grenade that blurs his vision.

The fact that Vanitas has no clue about Roland’s true intentions and the swift way in which Roland attacks Noe is a display of his intelligence and power. Roland may act as though he's careless, but he is far from naïve and could be one of the first real threats to Noe’s life. As a true believer of God, Roland is more than capable of killing vampires and has even injected some kind of venom to increase his powers.

This is also one of the few instances where Vanitas is outsmarted by anyone and loses his cool. However, given that Roland seems to feel bad for Vanitas and wants to save him from the vampires, what he will do with Vanitas remains to be seen.

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