Vampire Princess Miyu Vol. #1 (of 2) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2001
What They Say
Vampire Princess Miyu. Is she friend or fiend? As the demonic forces of the Shinma strive to obtain a foothold upon the mortal plane, spiritualist Himiko seeks the truth. Join us now for two elegantly chilling journeys into the Occult - Japanese style!
Himiko travels to the ancient capital of Japan to exorcise a slumbering child, only to be confronted with a wave of vampire attacks. Here she meets the mysterious, childlike Miyu and her silent, enigmatic companion. Is Miyu behind the attacks? Or does she, too, seek the real culprit? And if so, why?
A Banquet of Marionettes
Himiko is hired to investigate several mysterious disappearances at a school. At the site of each, a strange doll has been found. Here she again meets Miyu, now apparently a student. Miyu has designs on the body, and perhaps the soul, of the school hero, Kei. But so, it seems, does another...
This now marks the third time I've purchased Miyu in the past ten years. Ah, the joys of multiple video formats! Miyu's one of my earlier acquaintances with domestic anime in the early 90's and it's great to finally revisit this old friend again.
For our primary review, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. While this is indeed an older OVA series, dating back to 1988, there are some quite good audio moments in the disc. One of the early moments with one of the Shinma moving with its cloaks flowing is very enveloping across the front soundstage and sounds great. Dialogue throughout is quite good and ambient effects and music make good use of the left/right channels.
This is a very pleasing transfer overall. With the age of the materials, you can never be sure of exactly what you're going to get. There are a small number of source materials flaws that show up more prominently than they did in other media, such as the brightness fluctuations, but not distractingly so. There's a bit of background artifacting in a few blue sequences which weren't all that noticeable at all on our primary Pioneer DVD player, but were more prominent on our low-end Apex player. It looks like a bit of clean up was done overall, but nothing too major. This is a nice solid looking release from a different time in anime production.
My main gripe with the past releases has always been the packaging. While the central image on the covers have been great, they were always surrounded by a light gray border. This time around we get a much darker looking release with a full black background mixed with the black keepcase and the dark imagery in the center. I love it. The look is very nice and one of my favorites so far this year. The back cover doesn't provide any animation shots but focuses on the story itself and listing the features of the disc. There isn't a typical insert in here, but the "recipe" card liner notes that owners of the Urusei Yatsura TV box know all about. These are very similar to the liner note sheets AnimEigo provided with their VHS and LD releases over the year, and while not flashy, at least provide some interesting and useful information.
AnimEigo did a really great job with the menus here in bringing a sense of style to what could otherwise have been fairly simple but effective menus. There's a nice bit of flowing animation along the top mixing together with the music the subtlety rises from a low to medium volume. Otherwise, selections are quickly accessed and things are laid out in a nice and logical way that leads to no problems. Good stuff here.
The only real extra included here (as we don't count trailers for other shows as extras) is a two minute video image gallery that provides some nice looks at animation and original artwork.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Vampire Princess Miyu is the mixing of three tales, two of which are consistent throughout the episodes while the third is the focus of the individual episode.
The first story is that of Miyu, apparently the last vampire and the one whose duty it is to hunt down the Shinma, a word that literally means Gods and Demons. The Shinma are spirits and demons that take form in the human world and cause various forms of misery and pain to exist and to grow. Some are more subtle than others, but in the end they all fear the vampire who can see them and who is hunting them down. We don't learn too much about Miyu in these two opening episodes, but there are dark hints about her past.
The second story is about Himiko, a spiritualist who finds herself entangled in Miyu's mission against the Shinma and for the first time in her life, finds herself really face to face with the demons that she supposedly has the abilities to deal with. Her own past has some dark moments to it that are only briefly glimpsed at here as well. The majority of Himiko's focus is on learning what the Shinma are, how Miyu plays into things and how she can protect the innocent people against both of them.
The third story, or stories, are the ones of the Shinma who show up in the episodes and how the interact with the person they're hunting or possessing as well as with their battle with Miyu. These battles tend to lead to slightly brief encounters, but the Shinma in the early episodes are weaker ones and not all that powerful. But the way that destroy the lives around them is where the stories are at.
I can't bring myself to really find fault with Miyu even after nearly ten years. I love the slower pacing, the mysterious moments such as when Himiko realizes that holy water, daylight and crosses all have no effect on Miyu. The character designs are nicely stylized, the secondary female lead isn't a teenage girl running around but a serious woman trying to understand all the new things going on around her.
Even to this day, the soundtrack is one of my favored ones. Going through these episodes was definitely a trip into the past for me, when I had a simple 19" color TV/VCR hooked up in my bedroom and popped those bright blue tapes into my player for the first time and experienced something new. Fond memories indeed to go with a nice shiny new version that will last much longer.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Video Image Gallery
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: AnimEigo
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Vampire Princess Miyu