What They Say:
Born of vampire and human, doomed to remain trapped in the body of a teenager forever, she is the Chosen One: mankind’s last defense against the forces of Darkness. With her once-greatest foe, the Shinma named Larva, as her sole companion, she stands eternally poised at the bridge between two worlds. She is charged with the duty of tracking down supernatural beings who seek to harm the human race and banishing them back to the dark realms from whence they came.
But this ultimate hunter is a creature of the Night herself, and though her human half gives her the ability to walk by day, she still needs the blood of the living in order to survive. Though she may use the name Miyu Yamano when dealing with mere mortals, since the loss of her human memories she is increasingly drawn back towards the Darkness, even as those on the other side prepare to target her!
Contains episodes 1-26.
The audio presentation for this release comes with the original Japanese language in stereo as well as the previously created English language dub, both of which are encoded at 224kbps. The show doesn’t have a hugely dynamic mix but it works well with the forward soundstage design that it has. The music is what gives it its lift, along with some of the ambient sounds along the way that really helps to create a very good mood and atmosphere for it. The dialogue itself is largely center channel based with a few nods here and there with placement, but nowhere near enough to really make any kind of difference. The opening and closing songs are where it’s really at in terms of fullness and warmth but it does in the end do the job without any fanfare. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in late 1997 into early 1998, the transfer for this series is presented in its full frame aspect ratio. The twenty-six episode TV series is spread across five discs with five episodes per discs while the fifth disc has six. Animated by AIC, the show was done traditionally and has a very good feel to it where the transfer is generally solid with just the right amount of a grain feel to it. The series has a dark tone overall and uses a softer color palette rather than lots of harsh and vibrant, bold colors. It’s doing a real world kind of design to it with the twists to the supernatural with the shinma but it has a very distinct look with some of the angular nature and the general tone of it. The transfer captures it well without much in the way of noise problems and it manages to avoid most cross coloration issues as well, leaving only some bits of line noise during a few panning sequences. While it’s not a striking looking show, what we get here works well and is a solid representation of the source material in standard definition.
The packaging for this release changes it up from the last edition as we get a standard sized keepcase with hinges inside to hold the five discs that the series is spread across. The front cover goes for a dark look to it with a murky red and black background while doing an almost marble-like border of darkness to give it more weight. Putting our two leads together in the middle of this using animation material provides for a really strong contrast of color that pops even amid all the darkness. The back cover goes a little darker with grays, blacks, and reds for the borders that surround a good bright piece of white, which is where we get some good character artwork and the premise for the series. That’s covered in some detail since it has a good bit to layout and it’s surrounded by a few shots from the series as well. The sets extras are clearly listed as are the production credits while the rest is rounded out with the solid technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release uses the designs from the back cover, though without much in the way of whites. There’s a lot of grays, blacks, and reds that’s done to create a solid blocking throughout it, giving it some stone-like weight about it. The left side changes up the artwork with each disc of the main characters and it has a lot of good vibrancy of color and detail to it that lets it come across as fresh. The right side breaks down the episodes by number in red against the black and gray background which looks quite good. Submenus are quick and easy to load, primarily made up of the language selections, and getting around was a breeze.
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga series by Narumi Kakinouchi and Toshiki Hirano, Vampire Princess Miyu is a twenty-six episode series animated by AIC that started back at the end of 1997. It followed ten years after a four part OVA series that was done in 1988, the same time as the manga got underway, a manga series which ran until 2002 when it finished with ten volumes. Both Kakinouchi and Hirano worked extensively in anime and manga over the years with their names involved in lots of key properties, from MegaZone 23 to Kimagure Orange Road to Angel Heart and Magic Knight Rayearth. They’re the kind of creators who produce some fascinating works and seeing them come together for a simple supernatural horror series brings a lot to like, particularly since Hirano stepped up to direct this series as well.
The premise for this series is pretty simple overall and is one that you can see as serving inspiration elsewhere, particularly for a series like Hell Girl. The show revolves around Miyu, a teenage looking young woman who is a vampire, born of both human and shinma parents. Because of her nature, being part of both worlds, she’s been thrust into the role of being a Guardian, one of those who hunts down the stray and errant shinma that cause all manner of trouble across the country. While there are many shinma that just live quiet lives that don’t cause any trouble or harm anyone, they’re not the ones that really get noticed. What does get noticed are the ones that take over lives, either through subtle means so as to drain and devour them or more outright methods that are mired in violence and bloodshed. But even those tend to be a bit subtle and shadowy in their way.
Miyu’s spending her time in this world while going to school as there are so many shinma in the vicinity and it’s ease to come across them while keeping close to people through those in school since it leads to others of the same age and adults. Miyu doesn’t do all of this alone though she’s generally quite capable. She has the aid of a sort of information creature named Shiina, but she’s an animal shinma which means she’s small and almost looks like a cute pink bunny but has some familiar aspects to her. But her mains source of companionship on this journey of being a Guardian is that of Larva, a Western shinma who is bonded to Miyu after an encounter in their pasts. There are several Western shinma that are drawn into the series and there are some tensions that come from the way they’re making a move on this part of the world, though it’s not a constant or overarching storyline in general.
While the series focuses on lots of episodic encounters with these shinma, from ones that masquerade as cats and cause troubles to others that have more direct interaction such as one shinma that feeds off of young idols in the making, there’s a background conflict along the way too that serves as one of the unifying themes of the series. With Miyu, she does what she does without any problems, having little care for people in general even as she makes friends with other students and spends much time with them. Her main job is what drives her and she performs it very, very well, but she has no interest in the people that get killed because of the shinma, only to stop them from killing more. But she has her soft moments as well and she gets grief from a long time sort of friend named Reiha and her doll-assistant Matsukaze. The pair provides a darker look at how a different Guardian would handle things and it shows that there is a human side to Miyu.
When the series gets to those final episodes on the last disc, we get a lot more of the meaty material that does tie things together. In particular, we get to see the real connections that exist between Miyu and Reiha that helps to expand their relationship with why Reiha has such a problem with Miyu over the years and the kind of tense way she snaps at her at times. The show also goes into Miyu’s origins well and pushes her in a lot of ways as it goes on as we do see that there is a larger game that some of the shinma have been playing across the series. They’re tied loosely in a way, which leaves you able to enjoy the individual stories on their own but also see how they did bring it together in the end. But it’s also reflective of the time this was made, and of the manga itself, in that it has a sort of looseness about it that keeps it from all feeling truly answered in a clear and concise manner.
Vampire Princess Miyu in its OVA form was one of my first anime VHS purchases and I got into the TV series when it was later released on DVD here. Getting the full series back out after all these years and watching it in marathon form over a couple of days does help to tighten it up a bit, but it follows the tradition of lots of short standalone tales that figure into a bigger plot just a little before it all wraps up with a torrent of reveals, encounters, and actions. The show has a lot of good horror material here, Japanese style of course as it’s not big on the blood and guts but rather suspenseful horror and mystery, but it’s one that could have used a bit of tightening up in the larger storyline from the get go. It’s a great little show by some top tier creators of their day that have left a lasting impression on the medium. While this isn’t a pinnacle of anime, it’s definitely a solidly engaging series worth spending quality time with.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Maiden Japan
Release Date: March 29th, 2016
Running Time: 650 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.