Reviewby Bamboo Dong,
Vampire Princess Miyu OAV
What are vampires? Are they wicked creatures that suck the blood out of innocent victims, escaping in a flurry of black wings and glowing red eyes, or are they protectors of mankind, granting immortality to those who ask? In the OVA series now available through AnimEigo, these questions are posed and answered, mixing an eerie feeling of suspense and the occult in a two-episode disc. This is Vampire Princess Miyu, an intriguing tale of a spiritualist named Himiko, and a mysterious vampire named Miyu.
The first episode on the disc introduces Himiko, a spiritualist who uses her gifted powers to disperse the evil in the world. She receives a call to perform an exorcism on a young princess, whose hidden past throws a frightening twist into the story. In the meantime, the city is being haunted by an onslaught of vampire attacks. While Himiko is out trying to find the vampire, she chances to meet Miyu, whose motives for catching the same vampire leaves the viewer with questions regarding her background that are gradually answered along the way. The second episode on the disc reveals more information on Miyu, and also her connection with the ghastly entities that Himiko always seems to be on the lookout for.
The Vampire Princess Miyu OVA is one of the most captivating series I have ever seen. Although the storyline is confusing and hard to follow at times, the underlying mood of somberness creates a magnetic attraction that's difficult to pull away from. Released in the United States by AnimEigo, the disc is a bit scant at only two episodes, but it is definitely something worth checking into. As usual, AnimEigo delivers at the same high standard they are known for and this DVD is no exception. Upon opening the case, the viewer is confronted with AnimEigo's infamous liner notes, a sheet explaining some of the names in the series, including interesting tidbits about the show's background. I found the notes to be extremely helpful, as they provided me with a deeper insight of the series. Another extra included on the DVD is a collection of art from the series that is presented in slide show format as music is played softly in the background .
The subtitled version of the series was done extremely well, displaying an excellent Japanese voice cast. Performing their lines with passion, the actors portrayed the natures of the characters and the situations perfectly. Especially commendable was the actress that voiced Miyu. I was captivated by both her false cuteness and her extremely creepy giggle. The subtitles were easy to read, and translated the script faithfully down to every little nuance. The English track, on the other hand, was a bit sub par. Although a select few of the actors delivered their lines well (for the most part), the casting was off-center. Many of the side characters sounded like re-hashed Sailor Moon dubs, complete with whiningly obnoxious female voices that were devoid of all natural emotion. The script was also skewed, sometimes to the point of completely changing the meaning of the original lines. With the exception of a few rare moments, I was not pleased with the dub.
On the positive side, the soundtrack for Miyu is able to redeem the points lost by the English dub. Sporting a variety of beautiful pieces, the music ranges from lyrical ensembles, to subtly haunting melody lines. The music in the second episode, in particular, deserves laudatory praise, periodically dipping into traditional Japanese music, which coordinates with the theme of marionettes in the episode.
One of the aspects that I particularly enjoyed about the series was the art. Although the designs for the main characters were rather stereotypical, the overall effect of the dark backgrounds and side illustrations enchanted me. With tree branches having a penchant for resembling eyes, the backgrounds were beautifully illustrated, giving off a mysterious air that matched with the ghostly atmosphere of the series. Also, at times, the art was just plain creepy. In the second episode, the viewer is treated to an odd scene where a boy is turned into a doll, sporting strangely sculpted limbs that are disturbing at best. As a person who has a passionate dislike of dolls, the episode spooked me to the extent of harboring an even sharper aversion of dolls. Even now, as I just realized that the cover design contains a few choice doll limbs, the art continues to have a lasting impact on me.
While the series is confusing at times, and disturbing at other times, it leaves the viewer craving more. With beautiful music and fascinating (read: uncanny) art, the OVA possesses an air of mystique that both entertains and frightens. Surprisingly high in quality for a straight-to-video production, Vampire Princess Miyu is definitely something worth looking into. Amongst all the other cuddly teddy bears and fluffy mahou shoujo anime under the Christmas tree this year, this DVD might just be the thing that sticks out. A word of caution though: don't buy the person this DVD and a box of dolls at the same time. The effects are perturbing.
Overall (dub) : C-
Overall (sub) : A-
Animation : B
Art : A
Music : A
+ Dark, surreal tour of the occult
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