Mania Grade: B+
1 Comment | Add
Rate & Share:
- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: N/A
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: B-
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: TOKYOPOP
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 75
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Vampire Princess Miyu
Vampire Princess Miyu TV Vol. #1
By Chris Beveridge
August 28, 2001
Release Date: August 28, 2001
Vampire Princess Miyu TV Vol. #1
What They Say
Evil Shinma -- shape-shifting monsters and vampires -- roam the Earth on a mission to unleash their darkness upon the Human race. Miyu Royal Princess from the dark is the Chosen One -- The one being who must banish the Evil Shinma from the Earth. She has the power to offer Humans the gift of eternal happiness, yet is herself, trapped between two worlds; destined for perpetual solitude and internal conflict.
Miyu’s only companion is Larva, once an evil Shimna; now her devoted guardian. Together they share a dark journey through the weakness of the human heart and the tragic loss of innocence. Cut off from humanity by the knowledge of what she is, Miyu lives an endless quest as both the hunter and the hunted, on the edge of darkness.The Review!
One of my earlier and fondly remembered shows during the time I got into the domestic anime releases was the Vampire Princess Miyu OVA releases. When those 4 episodes were done, I always longed for more, though there was at least a manga that could help fulfill that need many years later. Thankfully, more Miyu anime was produced and this time it went the TV series route. Tokyopop's acquired the uncut home video release version of this series, and once again I find myself enthralled with the slowly paced but engrossing show about a Vampire who hunts her own kind.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. As expected, this is a pretty typical TV soundtrack. The majority of the dialogue is through the center channel and sounds good and clear. The volume level appears to be noticeably lower than other shows though. The left/right speakers get used very well with the haunting music and other sound effects. Thankfully a lot of the original music from the OVA's are preserved here and tweaked slightly. Video:
There's an awful lot to like here. The shows colors are very distinct, with lots of dark colors and a lot of subdued shadings to it. it's also contrasted with some wonderfully colored character designs. There's no noticeable grain or much in the way of jaggies during camera pans, though there are a few. Color banding also appears to be quite minimal. What's the most noticeable problem is the rainbowing, particularly during episode two. The rainbows make it throughout the show, with the middle and long range shots being the most susceptible to the characters looking as if they're shimmering a lot. And since it should be considered a video problem, this disc contains one opening, the three episodes, and one partially blacked out ending sequence. To us, this is not the way to produce a disc. But we learned about this prior to the discs release and have been told it's corrected for all remaining volumes, so other than saying "stop that", we aren't going to harp on it much. But the blacked out sections of the ending doesn't work well in our book and would rather see it with credits playing over it than this way.Packaging:
Much like their first release of Spring & Chaos, Tokyopop's packaging for Miyu is pretty sweet and shows some paying attention to what's wanted. While I do admit that I would have loved to have seen the Japanese covers, I know that they did the best with what they had. The close-up of Miyu and Lava works well in giving both crowds what they want, with the cute girl and the handsome guy. The back cover provides a decent summary of the show and then lists the episode number, title and one-line summary below images from each episode. The technical specs at the bottom list all the features of the disc clearly as well as the region coding. For inserts, they went a fair bit above the usual call of duty. The main insert has larger view of the front cover with the great border artwork and better coloring. I'd almost say to slip this into the front of the keepcase. The back of the insert gives a summary of each of the episodes as well as talking about the changes made from the OVA perspective on Shinma to the TV series perspective, as well as changes with Lava. A smaller insert offers a free Miyu poster that looks to be the insert artwork as well as promoting their soundtrack release. There's also a two page foldout that contains desiugns and comments by Kenji Teraoka where he talks about the Shinma met within (and may contain some spoilers). The front page of it also lists the Japanese voice actors for all three episodes. The front artwork on these pages is taken from the Japanese LD release.Menus:
The menu system is pretty simple here, with the main menu having some static animation while some music plays. The layout is decently done and the artwork looks good, but either my eyes are going or the actual selections look a fair bit fuzzy to me. Access times between menus is nice and fast and things are in a straightforward manner. If there's anything that really bothers me about the menus, it's in the language selection section where once you make a selection there's nothing to indicate what the disc is set to play at, since the screen remains static.Extras:
The sole real extra contained here is an image gallery. This is actually quite a good image gallery in that it presents the covers, which just have absolutely stunning pieces of cover artwork. There's some cel's included and some other drawings, all of which just look great here. Miyu's one of the few shows that I really get into the various pieces of artwork that's out there for it.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
For the opening of the series, we're given three standalone stories that help bring to light a bit of who Miyu is and who her opponents are. Then young looking girl is older than she looks and moves from school to school in different towns as a cover for her to ferret out the Shinma who have taken up residence there. The Shinma are considered demons from another dimension who take up residence on Earth in different forms. Our first introduction to a Shinma here is in the form of a small lizard who has possessed the weak heart of a school teacher whose being blackmailed in a way by some of her students who caught her stealing one time.
The story has Miyu following the three girls who are blackmailing the teacher, as the students who were involved in this begin to die off in what appear to be Vampire attacks. The class "superior intellect/lower social grace" student finds one of the girls and sees Miyu walking away, so he assumes it's her and tries to follow. A little game of cat and mouse begins to play out here, but the roles of cat and mouse are reversed without the student knowing it. Of course, I kept thinking of the student as Tenchi as the English voice actor portrayed him in the dub here and sounds exactly like Tenchi. As the mystery unravels, Miyu takes more of a center stage and unearths the Shinma.
The two subsequent stories bring Miyu to something she hadn't done in awhile; become friends with some of the schoolgirls. She's using them for her own purposes as she's hunting down another Shinma whose abducting beautiful women off of the subway. The interactions with Miyu and the other schoolgirls brings out some of the more interesting elements in Miyu as her detached and soft spoken ways goes against the current "in" way of speaking. One of the girls even comments that Miyu's form of speaking is quite similar to how her grandfather speaks, which helps given some hint to her true age.
The third episode provides some of the more interesting highlights to the series so far. Miyu and her friends are concerned about one of the girls brother, whose become somewhat unhitched from reality. Apparently an African mask that was sent to their father as a gift is causing the boy to hallucinate. It is of course a mask that contains the power of a Shinma, and it's been taking him over and causing him to go out and cause trouble.
Where this episode provides something interesting is in having part of the masks history be associated with Lava, Miyu's Shinma assistant/guardian/warrior whom she has converted to her side (which isn't explained in these episodes at all). Over a hundred years ago when Laval was playing the role of a British aristocrat and was part of a voyage to Africa, he had come across the mask in its original environment. Seeing Lava in this way brought some interesting new things to the surface which hopefully will be brought out later. In fact, just the change from the OVA's in having Lava remove his mask is quite a change.
With this being Tokyopop's first TV series release, there's some good and bad here. The opening and ending subtitles are unsubtitled which is very bad, but the subtitles within the show (done by New Generation Pictures, one of my favorite subtitlers out there) does a good job with the rest of the show. The dub is decent and actress Kimberly Brown does a rather good job in keeping Miyu's detachment in her voice. The overall packaging is a definite highlight, but there's just some things that need to be corrected first with how things are produced. It's unfortunate that these things happened, what with so many different companies releasing material for over a decade now, I'd hoped that they would have seen what people wanted and worked from there. Some indications we've heard are that many of these problems are being corrected for the next volume, so we'll take a more critical look come then.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Image Gallery
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.