Vampire Princess Miyu is an older (OVA from 88/89) semi-horror series following, as you can guess, a female vampire named Miyu. I love the manga because it’s visually beautiful, so I wanted to see the rest of the series.
As a side note, Miyu is so much more awesome once you realize that her name means “beautiful evening.”
As far as I understand, this OVA was the very first appearance of the entire Vampire Princess Miyu franchise, preceding even the manga and its spin-offs. I’m familiar with Miyu mainly through exactly that manga, although I never read all of it. Since then, the whole series has fascinated me but just didn’t watch or read more.
Right from the start, the OVA has a different overall feeling from the manga. The manga never seems to seriously attempt to be horror while this very clearly is (although I’ve never found animated horror very, well, horrifying). The manga feels whimsical and romantic while this is a more somber portrayal. For instance, the manga quickly draws the reader to the “Miyu is good” side, while the OVA leaves her morally ambiguous. The manga also uses the “Miyu comes in as a transfer student to hunt a Shinma” set-up often, while only one of the four OVA episodes is set at school.
The stories are episodic with a general plot strung throughout them. Himiko, a spiritualist, happens upon Miyu on an assignment in the first episode. From then on, she becomes fascinated by Miyu and continues following her, hoping to find out who she really is. The first three episodes revolve around different supernatural cases, while the fourth and last puts together Himiko and Miyu’s past.
There isn’t really a solid ending, perhaps because there wasn’t really a story built up across the episodes. The whole anime feels more like a glimpse into characters’ lives than a story with a definite beginning and end. It’s sort of like a photo, which is in itself complete yet only a single frame of a much greater whole.
Each episode is self contained, but there is a revelation about Himiko (who had seemed like a strategically placed supporting character) at the very end that puts everything into place. And that’s it. No further explanations. And I like it.
It’s old. 20 years by now, and it shows. It’s not as fluid as it could be, but what’s most important are the character designs. For all that have even glanced at the manga, you should know that it’s eye candy. The layouts, the whimsical lines, the fluidity of everything… and of course the pretty characters. Everyone is beautiful. While the anime of course doesn’t look like the manga (although that’s something I’d really like to see), the character designs are the same, done by the same person.
When you combine that fact with some absolutely gorgeous shots of people turning their heads and the like, I’m all for it. The action scenes are rather still, but at least there’s some movement. By the end, I was in love with it, but keep in mind that I like old animation almost more than modern animation.
The sound effects also show their age. Think of an old fantasy anime, like the Lodoss OVA, and then imagine the sword-clashing sound effect from it. Oh, or when people jump. I don’t know how to describe it, but if you know older anime, you probably (hopefully) know what I’m talking about. And exactly that is all over Miyu. It’s not terrible; it’s just noticeably old and almost nostalgic by now.
The music itself is quite nice, particularly the opening theme. It fits the atmosphere well.
The Menu looks at least somewhat appealing and serves its purpose.
Extras are kind of sparse, and by “kind of” I mean “very.” On the first DVD, there’s an image gallery and some previews (which froze up MPC for me); on the second, there’s an image gallery. That’s all. Considering that there are only two episodes per disk, a bit more would’ve been nice.
The translation is fine overall. At one point, “shoujo no chi” was translated into “virgin’s blood,” which didn’t really fit at all. “Shoujo” can apparently mean virgin as well as “girl,” according to my dictionary, but it’s written with a different kanji for “shou.” I have no clue if the translation is right or not without knowing how it’s actually written (seeing the actual Japanese script). In any case, Miyu drinking the blood of young virgins is not what the show is about and the line stood out like a sore thumb.
Other than that, there weren’t any glaring mistakes (in the easier parts, because I can’t understand all of the Japanese) or annoying localizations. I was content.
The video and audio quality were nice. As you can see, all of this stuff I would label “nice” is hard to write about, because “nice” is all it is.
Looking back over the review, there were positives and “nice stuff” but really not many terrible negatives. I suppose that means I liked it a lot, which I did. Miyu is a great atmospheric horror series that emphasizes mystery rather than bloodshed. I would define it as a classic, a must-see of anime, since it’s the beginning of what should be one of anime and manga’s most well-known series.