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AnimEigo presents
Vampire Princess Miyu: Volume Two (1988)

"Water isn't helping. I still have the thirst...I'm so thirsty."
- Miyu (Watanabe Naoko)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: May 17, 2002

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

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence)
Run Time: 00h:55m:00s
Release Date: May 29, 2001
UPC: 737187003622
Genre: anime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-AB+ C-

DVD Review

In the second and final volume of Vampire Princess Miyu, the mystery of Miyu's existence as a vampire who hunts Shinma demons becomes the primary subject. The supernaturalist Himiko feels pulled towards Miyu and insists on stopping her, feeling she is an evil creature despite ridding the world of Shinma. In her search for Miyu, things take a decidedly strange turn when Miyu asks Himiko for help. Larva, Miyu's slave demon, has been sealed away by the powers of another Shinma. Without the help of her Larva, Himiko is the only one with abilities that may be able to stop the Shinma. Unfortunately for both of them, this mysterious being has enlisted the aid of a powerful, haunted suit of armor.

As Himiko helps Miyu (mainly out of a sense of morbid curiosity), she learns much about her history as well the origins of Larva, the silent killer with whom she travels. In these final two episodes, the origins of this conflict slowly become revealed and, in the end, may raise more questions than answers. As a continuation of the Vampire Princess story, these episodes complete the rather chilling saga in a sort of awkward way. By no means does it diminish the mastery of the tales told here, but there is definitely a rush to finish the story. Now that I've seen all four episodes in their totality, not only do I consider Vampire Princess Miyu as one of the best animes out there, but I also consider it one of best horror movies I've ever seen. It isn't very violent or gory and lacks many of the earmarks typically associated with something labelled "horror", but it's very subtle in its creepiness. It portrays vampires in a very creative light; much different than the typical, Western treatment of the character.

The art design and direction of the series also contributes to the scariness. The atmosphere manages to bring out the sense of realism as well as fantasy. There's also a great deal of strange musical cues and sound effects that add small surreal touches to certain scenes. Perhaps the most compelling thing about the show is the clever writing, leaving no clear hero or villain. Miyu is perceived as evil, and she does induce chills now and then, yet she helps rid mankind of far worse creatures. Is her motivation honorable? Himiko appears to be the obligatory force of good, but when her misunderstandings of what Miyu is exposing her to cause the death of a young girl, it becomes unclear if Himiko's quest to kill Miyu is a good thing or a bad thing. In the end, Vampire Princess Miyu feels like a superb, dark tale you might read in an old tome, late at night. Despite being set in modern day, it has that classic, Gothic horror feel and the visuals back this up. This is a clear example of an idea best suited to animation, likely impossible to pull off with live actors to this effective.

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

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: The transfer is crystal clear and manages to bring out the fine detail as strong as ever. In many sequences, the source print shows some limitations, but that's because the solid transfer brings out minor flaws in the cels such as speckles or, in some cases, even the most trivial errors in painting and brushwork. This really exposes how clean and nice the digital work is, and there are no compression or pixelization issues. In a few places the image moves around a little, but this seems to be rooted in the source.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Japaneseyes


Audio Transfer Review: The stereo mix is very strong and adds tremendous effect to the series. Sound is important here, and the faintest sounds to the most disturbing, loud ones are given quite a lot of energy. There's good usage of directionality and multi-channel effects to really create individual elements to the track. For example, the voice of the haunted suit of armor is cleverly mixed in a sort of out-of-phase, stereo so that when he speaks, it resonates in a very commanding, dominant way, coming from left and right speakers equally. There's little effects like that here and there that serve to make the soundtrack feel very modern and juiced for the DVD format. The English dub makes good on this as well.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Image Gallery
Extras Review: The disc's main extra is a gallery of still images from the show, many of which are not actually in the episodes but seem more promotional in nature. They are nicely presented in a 2-minute reel with some score from the show. The keepcase contains a funny insert which I won't spoil here, but suffice to say the details you need for the show are contained in the first volume. One element worth mentioning (and this goes for Volume 1 as well) is the superb English subtitles. Not only are they expertly written, but there's also "sub-subtitles" that often explain Japanese terms, what signs say, and things of that nature. There's also a detail I missed on the previous volume where there are two different end-credit reels: the original Japanese Kanji, and an English credit sequence. Depending on your language selection, a different one plays.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

Vampire Princess Miyu feels terribly short at a combined length (both discs) of about 100 minutes, but it's 100 minutes of storytelling bliss. It's a disturbing, romantic, and tragic story in the best traditions of supernatural tales. To see the story continued is an understandable urge, but it could also ruin the mystery and charm.

 


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