Tag Archives: Vampire Princess Miyu

Kyuuketsuhime Miyu TV- Not Quite as Good

I’ve talked about the vampiric Princess, Miyu, once before. About seven years ago. Like the OVA, this is from AIC. The same studio that brought us Blue Gender, Night Walker, & Bubblegum Crash to name a few. This series came out almost a decade after the OVA since that was late 80s and this was late 90s. But the important question is, does it maintain the same level of quality?

Story:

Miyu.jpg

The narrative follows the same basic premise as the OVA. There are supernatural beasts called Shinma that feed off of humans. Fighting against these monsters is the Guardian, Miyu who uses her flames to send stray Shinma back to the darkness. Each episode presents a different encounter with the Shinma.

Honestly, that’s the big weakness of the series. It was fine for the OVA to be somewhat “monster of the week” since it based its dramatic tension on the mysteries behind the scenarios and they were building up to something. This tries to do the same thing, but it doesn’t work nearly as well when everything is stretched out over twenty six episodes and the bulk of them have little or nothing to do with the big finale. It also doesn’t help that the only episodes strongly hinting at the turn for the finale come at the very end, shortly before the event itself.

The mysteries also aren’t as well handled. Yes, they can be interesting and the scenarios can be quite engaging. However, a big part of what made the OVA’s mysteries work was having the outsider’s perspective. This doesn’t provide that. There is no equivalent for Himiko. The closest we get is a single episode that focuses on a young woman trying to hunt down a Shinma that killed her family. Which generally means the episodes that want to push the mystery aspect more will focus on an ordinary human who finds themselves targeted by some kind of Shinma and Miyu will appear largely in the background until the end where she confronts the Shinma.

I will credit the series with being engaging. Even though the episodes are fairly formulaic, there’s enough variation to keep the scenarios interesting. It’s not one of those monster of the week series where nothing interesting happens. Or one of those ones that’s full of pretentious nonsense juxtaposed against stupid shit like mecha pilots using DDR to sync their movements. It does help that there is a strong mystery element to some of the episodes. It also helps that the people being targeted are neither faceless parts of a crowd nor are they guaranteed safety.

Characters:

This is actually a bit improved over the OVA. The OVA gave us largely nothing characters with a few main characters who were worth mentioning. In this one, the side characters being targeted do tend to come across as complex and very human. Which makes the changes they undergo more disturbing and adds some investment to their fate. The major characters are still the most compelling. We even get some strong back stories for Miyu, Larva & the ice-powered Reiha in this one. It is also interesting to see Miyu & Reiha clash ideologically. There are some very strong interactions in this series in general. Which is a big factor in how it remains compelling in spite of following a monster of the week formula.

The weak point is that some of the Shinma are just kind of dull. Some are well developed and have a strong sense of personality, but others are just kind of generic villains.

One odd thing is that Miyu comes across as much more sullen and duty-driven in this one. In the OVA, she came across as more of a trickster figure. I kind of preferred the OVA version, but I can see why AIC considered this more suitable for a main character.

Art:

The art style does, generally, look pretty good. The Shinma have interesting designs. The backgrounds are nicely detailed. The action sequences are where the series falters a bit. One issue is that Miyu doesn’t come across as all that capable. In a lot of her battles, she’ll summon Larva to block attacks and weaken the enemy so she can deal the final blow with her flames. Which kind of creates the impression that she can’t handle things on her own. The battles themselves aren’t all that interesting to watch. There’s strong build up to them, a well done reveal of the Shinma’s true form and then the fights themselves are kind of short and one-sided.

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Sound: 

The acting is well done. They didn’t get the same cast, but this did come nearly a decade later and the people they get do do a good job in their roles. Nagasawa Miki, Miki Shinichiro, Ogata Megumi & Shirakura Asa are all fine actors and their performances are definitely a strong point for the series. The music is very good. Kawai Kenji did a great job.

Ho-yay:

There’s a bit in this one. There’s an episode that deals with a doll maker that explicitly involves two women getting into each other. Larva also meets a man from his past who seems interested in him in more than a friendly way. Some of Miyu’s interactions with women also come across as a little gay.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. A stronger over-arcing plot. Yes, episodic anime are fine. But monster of the week series generally only work when they’re made for children. Which, this isn’t. I think it would really benefit from a more complete narrative.
  2. Start hinting at the twist early on. Not obvious things that you’ll easily pick up on, but subtle hints that take on a new meaning in retrospect would work a treat.
  3. More effort in the action sequences. More physical clashing and varied use of powers would go a long way.

Final Thoughts:

I can’t say I enjoyed this as much as I did the OVA. While the episodes are interesting and the characters are well constructed, the weak over-arcing narrative does hurt the series. It’s still decent. If you liked the OVA and can look past the formulaic nature of the series you’ll enjoy it. I’m giving it a 6/10.

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.