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The only complaint I have about the OAVs is that the story seems too condensed, and the characterizations seem to suffer as a result.
Review by Kathy "Integra" Elgin
4 OVA series
Running Time: 105 minutes (Volume 1: 55 minutes, Volume 2: 50 minutes)
Rating:PG-13 (for “occult” themes, and some violence)
modern-day Kyoto, five women are mysteriously murdered by what seems to be
a vampire. At the same time,
a young, attractive “spiritualist,” by the name of Himiko arrives in
Kyoto. She is there to answer the desperate pleas of a husband and wife
who have turned to her in desperation with the hope that she can save
their ailing daughter. For
their little girl has been comatose for two months, a result of an
apparent supernatural illness that has “possessed” her.
Upon sight of the little girl, Himiko immediately recognizes how
dire the girl’s situation is, and attempts an exorcism ritual.
However, she soon realizes the cure for this girl’s possession is
beyond her abilities, and after hearing of these recent vampire killings,
she decides to explore further to see if the vampire slayings are at all
tied to this girls illness.
It is not long before Himiko finds herself confronted
by this new serial killer vampire. Just
as Himiko is about to become the next victim, a strange girl appears,
Vampire Princess Miyu, who is accompanied by her servant and protector
Larva. Miyu easily exorcises
the demon from the girl, although it kills her, and she vanquishes this
demon easily. Miyu very
briefly explains to Himiko the nature of her powers and her mission to
return the demons known as Shinma back to the darkness they came from.
She then vanishes, with a warning to Himiko that she is out of her
league and should not interfere with her mission.
Himiko is left alone with the memory of Miyu’s playfully taunting
laughter and the realization that she has many more questions than she had
before. Who is this vampire
Miyu? Is she really a
guardian protecting humans from the demon-Shinma, or is she truly the
monster that Himiko suspects her to be?
DVD VISION TEST
Put simply, the picture is clear and the colors are beautifully
vibrant. The darks are solid
and there is little or no bleeding of the colors.
Considering the age of this series, now close to it’s fifteenth
anniversary, the picture quality is exceptionally good.
The audio mix for the Dolby Digital Stereo was very clear.
The mix seemed seamless -between the actors dialog, sound effects,
and musical score. There were
no detectable distortions in either the Japanese or English audio tracks.
However, comparing the two tracks, the Japanese version does have a
richer sound quality.
a single frame has been edited. The original open and close are still there,
with optional subtitles during the closing segment.
EXTRAS: Not much to see here. AnimEigo offers the same image gallery on both Vol. 1 and Vol.2 of these DVDs. The gallery is shown in a slide-show format with soundtrack from the animation playing lightly in the background. Volume 1 also contains some previews for other great AnimEigo titles. Highlights include a Bubble Gum Crisis music video for the song “Rock Me” (sing a long everyone: “…Rock Me! Just You!…”) as well as trailers for the titles including Oh My Goddess!, Crusher Joe, Kimagure Orange Road, You’re Under Arrest, Vampire Princess Miyu (of course), Riding Bean, and MADOX-01.
STORY: The story seems too condensed, and the characterizations seem to suffer as a result. True, you aren’t meant to understand Miyu’s character in the beginning. Part of the appeal is that you are learning Miyu’s secrets as Himiko learns them, but it seemed like just as you are beginning to understand the characters, the OAVs come to an end.
ACTING: As true in most anime, the Japanese cast feels a lot stronger than the
English cast. To me, the
English cast seemed a bit too “hammy.”
Their lines seemed over done, and at times, over enunciated.
However, that’s not to say it’s completely bad.
By the third and fourth episodes (Volume 2), the acting started to
seem more natural. Unfortunately,
those were the last two episodes for these OAVs.
I felt that the Japanese actresses for Himiko and Miyu seemed more
comfortable with their characters, and thus they seemed to give stronger
performances. The supporting
characters also seemed better in the Japanese language track. However I
thought that some of the supporting cast for the English track did good
jobs, most notably, the actress portraying Miyu’s mother.
FAN SERVICE: Not much, if any, of the standard fan-service. Yes, there are teenage girls in their school sailor uniforms and girls in kimonos, but sorry guys, no panty shots to be found here. There are few glimpses of bras, but nothing drastic. Of course, you can’t have a vampire story without a little of the eroticism that goes with it. Some people might be uncomfortable with one scene where one of Miyu’s classmates tries to “seduce” Miyu into drinking her blood or in a certain scene where Miyu must drink her own mother’s blood, but for the most part, it’s pretty tame when compared to some other vampire stories. Those looking for gore along the lines of Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, or Blood: The Last Vampire, need not look here. For a vampire flick, there is surprisingly little blood. Also the “friendship” between Miyu and Larva seems pretty toned down for the OAVs.
originally saw this series years ago on the subtitled VHS, and I felt very
nostalgic getting the chance to see it again on DVD. Compared to today’s
anime titles, chock-full of techno soundtracks and eye-popping CG, some
people may be turned off by Miyu’s “old-school” animation, yet I
feel it still stands as a good series, and therefore it is deserving the
title “anime classic.” The animation is beautifully detailed, down to the stray
strands of Miyu’s hair and the musical score seemed perfectly suited for
each scene it was representing.
The only complaint
I have about the OAVs is that the story seems too condensed, and it may leave
viewers wanting more.
Larva seems like he could be a very interesting and complex
character, yet the OAVs only give you glimpses into what motivates him to
serve Miyu with unwavering devotion.
Also, the conflicts that Miyu and company run into seem too quickly
and easily resolved. For
instance, Himiko defeats a very formidable possessed suit of armor by mere
finger twitching and chanting. I’m
sorry, but that just seemed too simple to me.
The same is true
for some of other enemies Miyu seemed to vanquish too easily. Namely, the one “bad guy” that seemed he would be able to
stand up to her, Lemures, and even he’s defeated in an instant.
It’s not that I dislike Miyu at all, but I think her character
was too powerful, she should have had to suffer more when it came to
defeating her foes. If she
had encountered more difficulties in defeating her enemies, I think her
final success would have probably elicited a more emotional response from
the viewers. It just seemed
I guess I can
forgive the feeble enemies with the understanding that there was only so
much time allotted for the action that would also allow time for some
story and character development. I
suppose there is only so much you can show when you only have four
episodes to tell four separate stories.
That said, the OAVs serve as more of a sampling of Miyu’s
universe, giving viewers a peak at the potential for these characters.
Those “hungering” (pun intended) for more can look to the manga
or the newer Miyu TV Series for more insight into these characters (and
you can also meet some intriguing new characters).
As for the DVD
itself, overall I thought it was very well done.
My compliments go to AnimEigo for the quality of the transfer, and
DVD authoring. I was even
impressed with the animated menu design, but I would like to have seen
more Extras for Miyu. Given
the age of the series, one can understand how it might be difficult to
come up with more Extras. Although,
I would have welcomed at least a text interview with some of the creators,
animation staff, or voice actors. Even
some cursory character designs might have been nice to see (but perhaps I
am expecting too much. What
can I say, I’m spoiled by all of these Ultimate Uber-Edition DVDs that
seem to be the trend). At
least Volume 1 includes some liner notes explaining some of the meanings
behind the Japanese names and some of the English translations, offering
some very interesting insights.
Of the four
episodes of the OAVs, I must mention that episode two, “A Banquet of
Marionettes,” and episode four, “Frozen Time,” were my favorites of
the bunch. “Banquet of
Marionettes” seemed the strongest story-wise, as Miyu encounters a rival
doll-Shinma that is competing with Miyu for the heart and soul of the most
popular boy in her school. The
one had a very artistic quality to it.
“Frozen Time” packs the most emotional punch of all of the
episodes as Miyu’s origins are finally revealed and her purpose made
known… and a final twist at the end involving the “spiritualist”
Himiko may leave some questioning Miyu’s secrets even more…!
the end, it’s not the extras or the flashy menu animations that make the
disc, it always comes back to the actual show.
As stated, the Miyu OAVs may not one of the best series ever made,
but it is a classic that should be given credit for helping to increase
awareness of anime back in the early 90’s.
(Thus whetting the appetite for a cult of anime-followers back when
it was first released on “old school” VHS in the U.S.).
So if you’d like to experience one of the classics of anime,
whether you’re new to anime or if you’re a vet who missed this one the
first time around, than give Miyu a try, you may be pleasantly surprised.
… Oh, and don’t
forget to stock up on essentials like garlic and crosses… and while
you’re still on the nostalgic kick, pull out those old Cure records…
or if you like Goth… pull out some old Bauhaus… play some “Bela
Lugosi’s Dead”…. Oh, and don’t forget to brush up on your chanting
and finger twitching…. It helps to keep the ghouls away….
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