Vampire Princess Miyu

volume 1 sleeve

Official Blurb:

There are many kinds of vampire from the demon-gods of the abyss to the beautiful hunters sworn to fight them until the end of time. Their battles rage across a strange world - the world of the Vampire Princess, where reality exists only as a fractured jigsaw above the scarlet wastes of another universe, and where creatures born from fear and loss can reach out into the world to feed on the weakness of the human heart....."

Director:         Toshihiro Hirano
Screenplay:       Noburu Aikawa
Character Design: Narumi Kakinouchi
Music:            Kenji Kawai
Copyright:        Soeishinsha Inc./Pony Canyon Inc.

Language Format:  English Language
Running time:     55/57 mins
Certificate:      PG/12
Label:            Manga Video
Catalogue no:     MANV 1134/MANV 1135
Price:            £11.99 each
Release Date:     4th Mar/15th Apr 1996


Well, it had to appear in the UK eventually. For those of you who don't know it, Vampire Princess Miyu is a four part OVA series, focusing on the adventures of a spiritualist, Himiko, and a vampire, Miyu.

The first episode on the tape, Capital of Mystery, leads Himiko to Kyoto, where she has been asked to investigate the illness of a young child. A spate of supernatural killings have occurred in the city, and Himiko's investigation draws her into the struggle between two powerful forces. On one side are the race known as Demon-Gods (Shinma in the Japanese), whilst on the other is a young girl, Miyu, and her servant Larva. Both prey on others, but which is responsible for the killings?

The second episode, Puppet Festival, is set in a school. Here Miyu battles the Demon-God called Ranka as both pursue the same prey, a boy called Kai. Again Himiko appears on the scene to investigate the disappearance of students at the school. Which of the supernatural beings will win, and which is the more selfish? And what is the connection between Miyu and Himiko?

The voice acting is reasonable, but not inspired, although the script is quite faithful to the Japanese original. There are a number of Americanisations, but overall there are few changes.

Both episodes are very well written and directed (by Toshiro Hirano), with superb animation. Unlike better known 'horror' anime like Overfiend or Guy, Vampire Miyu relies on its plot and characterisation to convey their atmosphere, earning it a PG rating rather than a 15 or 18.

Unfortunately, I know a large portion of MEL's core market will ignore this title because of its rating, lacking as it does scenes of gore or foul language. If anything, the horror of the stories is enhanced by their absence, giving the video a sense of style lacking in the splatter fests available elsewhere. Others will assume the PG rating implies a juvenile plot, when in fact there is considerable sophistication, the whole story evolving over the four OVA's in the series, not just the two on this tape. It's their loss - this is one of the best titles available in the UK, and in my opinion, one of the best horror animes.

My one real gripe with Vampire Princess Miyu (not with MEL's version) is that there are only four episodes. There is a manga series, written (I believe) by Narumi Kakinouchi, Hirano's wife, which provides more stories and a deeper understanding of the characters background and motivation. The manga is currently being serialised by Antarctic Press.

8 out of 10 (would've been 9.5 out of 10, but for the dubbing) [Chris Hartford]

In the original and subtitled editions, this is a minor classic, a restrained and hauntingly beautiful horror series entwined with Japanese legends. The mythology of the series is complex and perhaps confusing: the vampire's bite can confer on humans eternal bliss, or death, or enslave another spirit to the vampire's will. There are evil spirits known as shinma, and vampires such as Miyu have the task of banishing them from Earth back to the netherworld. Miyu herself is a lonely figure who appears in the form of a young girl.

In the first story, the medium Himiko Se, investigating the deaths of several young women of Kyoto who have been found bloodless, stumbles on Miyu as the latter is about to bite the neck of a young girl and assumes that the vampire is evil. Miyu's familiar Laba makes his appearance.

In the second story, Himiko attempts to penetrate 'a labyrinth of loss and deception' as Miyu and the shinma, Ranka, battle over the handsome boy Kai, who himself hungers for eternal beauty. But Ranka's kiss turns humans into lifeless marionettes. You'll never feel quite the same about Japanese dolls again!

The original videos have a fine soundtrack; I have a copy of one of the soundtrack CD's and often play this lovely haunting music as I drive!

The Manga Video dub leaves somewhat to be desired and fails to re-create the delicate atmosphere of the original; with various voices pitched higher than in the Japanese. [Geoff Cowie]

Comment from newsgroups:

Brandon Wong:
After reading the Anime Primer and seeing VPM listed as "recommended",
I ran down to my local place and rented both volumes to see what the fuss
was all about.  

And you know what?  .zzzzzzzzzz.  Wasn't worth my time, nor money -_-.  I
thought it was slow on action, strange story, and had unlikeable characters.
Even one of my friends said, "This was the first thing I've ever seen that
put me to sleep!"  I couldn't agree more.  Oh well, maybe we'll see a
crossover of "Vampire Princess Miyu meets Mamono Hanta, Mano Yohko"  Yeah!

Well, VPM isn't supposed to be an action story.  It's a horror story (and
a rather good one, IMHO).  The anime episodes were suitably eerie and
somewhat chilling at the same time (again, IMHO); they conveyed a sense of
cold other-worldliness which fit the OAV very well.  I'm not sure if
liking the characters in VPM is as important as understanding their
motivations, either.  I don't think I'd want Miyu as a close friend, but I
don't want to destroy her, either. 
	My friends and I had the exact opposite reaction to VPM after we 
watched it.  We found it to be creepy, thought-provoking, and generally 
very cool.  ^_^