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AnimEigo presents
Vampire Princess Miyu: Volume One (1988)

"Is she friend or fiend?"
- Promotional tagline

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: May 10, 2002

Stars: Watanabe Naoko, Koyama Mami, Kobayashi Kiyoko
Other Stars: Shoo Mayumi, Horikawa Ryoo
Director: Hirano Toshihiro

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, adult subject matter)
Run Time: 00h:51m:10s
Release Date: May 29, 2001
UPC: 737187003615
Genre: anime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-A-B+ D+

DVD Review

Vampire Princess Miyu is an interesting, very short animated series that presents the viewer with an interesting character: a girl who is both the villain and the hero at the same time. Miyu is a vampire, yet she is also bound to rid the world of a far greater evil: the Shinma, a race of half-god/half-demons capable of more sinister activities than hers. The question of which is more threatening, though, is a perplexing one.

A chilling story of the supernatural, Vampire Princess Miyu follows Himiko, a Japanese spiritualist who investigates strange cases wherever she's needed. As the story begins, she finds herself in Kyoto where a comatose girl leads to local rumors of a deadly vampire hunting in the wilderness. Himiko doesn't believe stories of vampires; that is, until she has a nasty run in with a mysterious girl, Miyu, who warns her to keep clear. Miyu claims that, although she is a vampire, she is not the one responsible for the problems in Kyoto. Rather, a Shinma demon is, and she intends to stop it. Himiko refuses to believe that Miyu is any kind of good entity, but she is forced to accept the stories of how vampires were once charged with sending the Shinma back into their own realm. Himiko has stumbled into something very dark and very scary, but feels powerless to do anything about it. Although set in modern times, Miyu very much relies on traditional Japanese stylistic horror to create its mood.

Not at all an action-based show, Miyu is firmly rooted in telling eerie stories of the Shinma and their effect on society. Meanwhile, Miyu masquerades as a schoolgirl, while in reality she harbors great powers as well as command of her very own Shinma slave demon, known simply as "Larva." Miyu considers herself good because she only makes victims out of those she feels want to live forever and become vampires themselves, but this also means she tends to compete with the far more sinister Shinma over suitable victims. This leads to an uncomfortable setting in which Himiko is the only truly innocent character. That's not a bad thing, though, because it actually makes the show quite creepy and effective. It's a sad, tragic story that doesn't compromise on horror to make a point. Japanese occultism is, I find, often some of the most chilling and disturbing source material, and here it's used to great effect, especially in the second episode in which a strange girl places human souls inside lifeless marionettes. While the first two episodes are presented on this disc, the other two are contained in a separate volume, but if this entry is any indication, both go together like air and water.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The transfer is superb, in just about every way. The source is a bit grainy, which leads to very minor, occasional compression artifacts in very dark, murky scenes, but otherwise the animation is crystal clear and presented in a very solid manner. The visuals are crisp and clean, allowing you to enjoy the substance without any distraction.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Japaneseyes


Audio Transfer Review: An impressive stereo audio tracks adds a lot to the series, especially in terms of subtle sound effects and creepy little background elements. It's an amazingly loud, powerful, and immersing soundtrack for just being stereo, and it really juices up the general texture of the movie. While there are no surround effects, the skilled mixing of the channels results in some interesting moments where sound does seem to come from about the room.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bubblegum Crisis
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Image Gallery
Extras Review: There is an image gallery of still frames that runs about 2 minutes. There is a lengthy, promotional trailer for Bubblegum Crisis, the original series. An index card in the keepcase provides some trivia about the film, as well as an online URL where more detailed information can be found.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

Vampire Princess Miyu has earned something of a classic status in the realm of anime, and admittedly it does deserve it. It's a haunting story told in a very rich and in-depth way.

 


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