Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: A-
- Extras Rating: B-
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: TOKYOPOP
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 125
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Vampire Princess Miyu
Vampire Princess Miyu TV Vol. #4
By Chris Beveridge
April 19, 2002
Release Date: March 26, 2002
Vampire Princess Miyu TV Vol. #4
What They Say
Garden of Crying Reeds
A young man, looking for a missing cat, comes across a strange a beautiful woman.
Light of the Sea (Part 1 & 2)
Soon after a ghost ship appears. Larva begins to act strangely and disappears from Miyu's sight.
Dream of the Mermaid
Toshihiro, a lonely young man, begins to visit a beautiful young mermaid he has discovered at a deserted aquarium.
The priest woman, Yuiri arrives from Hong Kong to fight the Chinese Shinma.The Review!
The fourth installment of the Miyu TV series breaks away from the episodic mode briefly by giving us a two parter and by moving the focus away from Miyu a bit and letting us get to know Larva better. The stories also seem to increase in quality here, as we found ourselves enjoying these much more than previous ones.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Throughout the disc we had a no problems at all. The majority of the show is dialogue, which is mostly through the center channel. The music continues to be a real highlight, making excellent use of the forward soundstage.Video:
Compared to the previous volume, the video quality is less shaky overall. There’s less cross coloration throughout the episodes and all of them seem to be of the same quality, making it less jarring going from one episode to the next. Colors look decent without being over saturated and there wasn’t much in the way of bleeding. The cross coloration mostly seems to be relegated to some mid and mostly long range character shots where the characters are smaller and have more detail crammed in, causing them to shimmer.Packaging:
With this volume giving some proper time to Larva and his past, it’s only appropriate that he gets the front cover and with no Miyu to be found on it either. The back cover provides a summary of what the show is about and then two lines or so for each of the episodes along with a picture for each. Features and production credits are all clearly listed as well as episode numbers and titles, but no volume number. The insert provides the full image of the front cover with the surrounding frame while the reverse side advertises some of their manga. The other insert goes again into comments and designs from Teraoka and covers the various Shinma seen in these episodes. This extra insert is a great piece to have. Menu:
Similar to the second volume, Nightjar's work again brings a nice feel to this release. This one just looks very Miyu stylish with a paper style image of Larva in the background with a floating flame image moving along it as well as some of the eerie music. The layout for the menu works great, selections are easy to check and access times are fast. Yet another series where I'm excited to see the menus.Extras:
The only extra provided this time around is the original opening sequence again, which is something I like to see on each volume.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I’ll get right to the good stuff here. There’s a two episode piece in here that gives a lot of play to Larva and his past. We’re introduced to a ghost ship of sorts on the outskirts of Japan, where a man and a woman feel the presence of an old friend nearby. They debate briefly about finding him and then decide that it must be done, so they head towards the coast.
Things change venue to Miyu and Larva dealing with a Shinma, only to find this one somewhat different than others. When a piece of crystal shard appears on its shoulder during combat, Larva takes control of the situation and moves Miyu out of harms way. The Shinma manages to escape, and Larva convinces Miyu to not engage in pursuit. Larva knows something based on that crystal, which we later learn is something unique to the Western Shinma that are looking for him from his past.
The other Shinma escapes though and reverts to human form only to find himself helped by a young woman who takes him into her home. We learn that she’s like him for the most part, a Shinma. Her difference is that she doesn’t really affect things in the world, though she lives off of human energy. She offers her body to hungry men and takes their excess energy and absorbs it during sex, fulfilling both peoples needs but without killing anyone. Apparently there are many Shinma like this throughout Japan, living under the radar as things go.
While we’re learning about this new level of living for some Shinma, we get a number of flashbacks to Larva’s past when he, a Western Shinma himself, arrived in the poor lands of Japan. His encounter with Miyu and how she bound him to her, as well as the promise he agreed to with her. While this takes place halfway through the series, it feels like the right point to touch on the bonds of these two characters. But all of this is played against Reiha getting involved in all of this, with her more black and white view of the battle against the Shinma and the world. Miyu finds advantage in working with the under the radar Shinma while Reiha simply sees them as tools to be properly disposed of when done.
The two parter doesn’t have any noticeable ramifications in the following episodes, as things move back into the episodic format, but we do get some rather good stories told here. The “Dream of the Mermaid” is a very interesting single story tale of a woman at an aquarium who long ago ended up with a Mermaid whose really a Shinma. The Mermaid has been spending time with a young man who comes to visit her, though how the two found each other is a bit of a mystery. The way the tale plays out is typically sad of the Miyu stories, but also in the way Mermaids seem to always be presented in Japanese mythology stories. From things like Mermaids Scar to this, there’s something very tragic about mermaids that seems very Japanese.
The final episode also brings some new things into play, with a more world traveling Shinma arriving in Japan after causing quite a bit of sorrow in Hong Kong. It’s being followed by Yui after the Shinma killed her mentor as well as her lover. Well, that’s not enough for true sorrow, so the Shinma also killed her parents and her younger sister as well. When she comes across Miyu, whom she regards solely as a Shinma as opposed to a Guardian, the two are like oil and water, and it’s amusing to watch as one uses the other while thinking the other doesn’t know.
These are some solid episodes and really push the Miyu mythos further along. Very enjoyable stories and left me wanting more right away.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Opening
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.