Reviews of yesteryear: Vampire Princess Miyu OVA

Welcome back, my friends, to horror anime month. This week we’ll be looking at an OVA about a vampire. After last week I needed something with a strong and well developed female character who isn’t sexualised, so we’re looking at Vampire Princess Miyu. Vampire Princess Miyu originated as a manga by a married couple: Hirano Toshiki and Kakinouchi Narumi. You may recognise him as the director of Magic Knight Rayearth, Devilman Lady and many others. Her works are quite a bit more obscure so if you’ve heard of her it’s probably going to be because of this or Yakushiji Ryoko no Kaiki Jikenbo, which she did the illustrations for. Vampire Princess Miyu has two adaptations, an OVA from the late 80s and a TV series from nearly a decade later. I might get to the TV series at some point, but right now let’s look at the OVA.

There’s not a major over-arching story for this. Basically, each of the episodes tells a different story. The first begins with a spiritualist named Himiko. She’s called in to investigate a young girl who’s been asleep for months. A condition that her parents believe is caused by possession. When she investigates she discovers that women have been being found with all the blood drained from their bodies. She’s attacked in the dead of night by a swift moving robed figure and finds herself rescued by a girl in a kimono, a girl who feeds on blood and knows more than she’ll reveal. Don’t worry, I’m not going to do that for all four episodes. One thing I can say to the OVA’s credit is that it has some really good suspense, a lot of which is created through mysteries. In the first episode you’re left wondering what exactly is attacking people and what its connection to Miyu is or even if there is any. Every episode has a mystery like that, except for the last which answers a mystery that’s been building for the entire OVA. The only real downside is the second episode which isn’t nearly as suspenseful or interesting as the rest. A lot of the issue is that its mystery has an obvious solution virtually from the beginning. It’s not really scary, but it does have some legitimately creepy moments so it’s doing better with the horror aspect than everything I’ve reviewed so far this month.

There are really only three characters worth mentioning in this. Miyu, Larva and Himiko. The other characters show up for one episode or part of an episode. A few of them do get developed, but most just serve a very specific purpose and never get actual development. As for our three major characters, Miyu is fascinating. A lot of the details about her are left unsaid, but very effectively illustrated. She’s a multi-faceted character who’s neither a paragon of virtue nor a blood sucking monster. She has a great deal of verisimilitude in spite of being a supernatural figure. Larva is less developed. He’s a very mysterious character with motivations that are touched on a bit, but not much. He’s mostly defined by his protectiveness of Miyu. Himiko is another interesting character. She wants to find and stop Miyu, but frequently ends up on the same side as her. She’s the most relatable character since she’s an ordinary human who’s trying to make the most of extraordinary circumstances. So there’s a lot of character depth for these three. Especially when you factor in the number of episodes.

The art is reminiscent of 3×3 Eyes. The character designs use the same basic style and both feature very stylized and interesting supernatural elements. Vampire Princess Miyu has very atmospheric art. The backgrounds, the character movements, the entire aesthetic really, helps with the sense of suspense. That isn’t to say that it’s perfect. There are some scenes where the characters mouths aren’t in sync with their dialogue but that’s a minor complaint. The biggest art issue is that the action scenes aren’t particularly intense. They tend to end pretty quickly. Although I’m not going to hold it against the series too much because it does use that time effectively to build suspense and develop the characters.

The voice acting is pretty well done. I really like Watanabe Naoko’s performance as Miyu. The laugh especially is just perfect. Which is good since you hear it quite a bit. Koyama Mami doesn’t do as well in her role as Himiko, but she still does a good job. Shiozawa Kaneto only gets a few lines, but he gives a good performance. The music in this is amazing. It works with the art to establish and maintain a really strong atmosphere. Kudos there.

The yuri factor is a 1/10. There’s really nothing homoerotic here.

My final rating for the Vampire Princess Miyu OVA is a 7.6/10. The stories have good suspense. The characters are well developed and interesting. The atmosphere, from a combination of the art and sound, is amazing. If there’s one thing that holds it back it’s the second episode and even it’s okay. If you like 3×3 eyes or suspense in general you’ll probably enjoy this too.

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