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Anime Expo Lite 2021 & Aniplex Online Fest 2021
Aniplex Online Fest 2021: Making of The Case Study of Vanitas

by Kim Morrissy,

This panel about the making of the hit anime The Case Study of Vanitas took the form of a documentary: the pre-recorded video takes viewers on a brief tour through the anime production process, from script-writing to animation to compositing. It also gives insight to the team's creative approach when it came to bringing Jun Mochizuki's manga to life.

“Aesthetic may have been the first word to come to mind,” said director Tomoyuki Itamura at the very beginning of the video, describing his thoughts on the manga. Vanitas is set in Paris, with vampires and steampunk elements. Capturing that very distinctive vibe was a very important task for the anime.

Producer Naoki Amano explained how this was achieved across every aspect of the production process. In the script-writing stage, series composition writer Deko Akao split up the story into individual episodes, pacing events so that each key moment in the manga was given an appropriate amount of time. In the storyboard phase, which serves as the "blueprint" for the finished video, Itamura wanted to represent as many of the poses from the manga as possible, and as a result the storyboards strongly resemble the manga.

Nevertheless, the anime exerts its differences in the movements between frames. For example, the anime takes liberty with the action in episode 1 by portraying a fight scene using silhouettes. It is up to the individual animators to bring those scenes to life with their drawings. The director was very careful about keeping track of the setting and where the characters are positioned in order to bring about satisfying action choreography.

Character designer and chief animation director Yoshiyuki Ito chimed in on the character designing process. Although he remarked that it is difficult to animate characters who appear exactly as they do in the manga, he wanted to draw them as close to the manga designs as possible. To this end, they consulted with Mochizuki and incorporated various visual ideas from her. This applied not just to the characters but also to object and setting designs like the Book of Vanitas and how it moves. Itamura said he was particularly meticulous when it came to the 3D animation of the Book, because its movements don't exist in the manga.

Likewise, color artist Izumi Takizawa, who coordinates with the director on the colors in the anime and applies them to every individual frame, took heavy inspiration from the manga's color choices. At the same time, the anime needed to use colors somewhat differently from the manga's very stylistic choices for the sake of keeping the action grounded throughout the runtime. Takizawa tried to use vivid colors where possible to capture the spirit of the manga.

At the end of the process is the compositing, which combines the 2D and 3D elements with the backgrounds and other elements. Itamura also commented on the voice acting, praising leads Natsuki Hanae and Kaito Ishikawa for their versatility and responsiveness to feedback.

The panel ended with a sneak peek at episode 2 and a short introduction to the new characters who will appear. Jun Mochizuki left a message thanking all the main staff and the viewers, expressing her hope that everyone will enjoy watching the anime as it unfolds.

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