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[R1 DVD art]
AKA: Shin Kyuuketsuki Miyuu, Shin Kyuuketsuhime Miyuu
Genre: Supernatural, Horror
Length: Television series, 26 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed by Maiden Japan through Section 23 Films.
Content Rating: 13+ (violence, adult themes)
Related Series: Vampire Princess Miyu
Also Recommended: NightWalker, True Lunar Chronicle Tsukihime, Vampire Princess Miyu
Notes: Based on the manga by Kakinouchi Narumi and Hirano Toshiki.

Though Carlos' review predates this one, this is treated as the first opinion on account of it being the first complete review we have.
Rating: Three StarsThree StarsThree Stars

Vampire Princess Miyu TV

Synopsis

Modern Japan has a dangerous secret: creatures called shinma lurk in the darkness waiting for their chance to feed off of humanity. Unfortunately for them, they are being hunted by a vampire named Miyu and her mysterious companion Larva. Shinma have escaped their proper place in the universe and it is Miyu's destiny to destroy those that are now plaguing Japan. As she has the form of a young girl, she decides to integrate herself into the local community to continue her hunt.


Review

One of the most important attributes of a good horror show is its ability to properly generate a dark and disturbing atmosphere. On that count, Vampire Princess Miyu succeeds rather well. The shinma initially operate through the shadows manipulating and feeding off the dark emotions of humans. When any given episode starts, it is sometimes difficult to tell the exact nature of the threat. When the eventual shinma battle comes, the aftermath is rarely glorious or happy as well. Often, in this series, by the time Miyu has eliminated the shinma it is unfortunately much too late for some of the victims. The last fifteen or so seconds of many of the episodes can be rather disconcerting as the viewer realizes the implications of what has gone on.

Miyu and her various companions only contribute to this atmosphere. She performs her task as a hunter out of the obligation of destiny not out of any deep personal zeal. Her cold demeanor along with her own tendency to "relieve" her victims of some of their psychological trauma through putting them into lands of "eternal dreams" while simultaneously drinking their blood makes her more than a little unsettling, and a bit more interesting than usual, as a protagonist. Her companions are seemingly of the same general mindset, particularly Larva, who serves Miyu for various complex reasons, none of which have particularly to do with righteousness. Also offering occasion assistance to Miyu is the ice demon Reiha, who destroys shinma but would also like to see Miyu destroyed. It is interesting world, they inhabit, where humans are being protected from monsters by other monsters.

Unfortunately, despite all this atmosphere, the show is rather handicapped by staying fairly close to a "shinma-of-the-day" formula. Although the individual stories are fairly engaging, the bulk of the episodes of this series are unrelated one shots. This seriously inhibits the ability of the show to build up overall dramatic tension. Miyu has a "daytime" identity as a student, but this aspect of the show is underutilized overall.

We do get to see a lot more insight into Miyu as the show progresses, though some may find the character development a bit sparse for their taste. The pace and way it is handled in regards to Miyu does in fact make sense given that she's basically spent over a hundred years following the same life style. Dramatic shifts in personality wouldn't fit with the character. She doesn't stay completely static and later on certain moral implications of some of her actions are explored. As we get more of an insight into her personality the viewer can begin to sympathize with her position as she struggles with her role in the world of humans and the world of the supernatural.

The other main characters get some development, but actually the single most interesting character from the development standpoint is Reiha, a being of complex emotions tethered just as much to the past and destiny as Miyu except for different reasons.

Now, interspersed in between the monster hunts are a few minor arcs that concern the pasts of Miyu, Reiha, and Larva. These arcs are actually rather engaging and help flesh out the characters a bit more. Aspect of Miyu's past and her relationship to some of the other characters, collide together for a final rather unsettling show down toward the end. The end of this show pretty much is the very definition of a Pyrric victory and it is rather fitting with the general tone of the rest of the show.

Honestly, I think that if Vampire Princess Miyu was only 13 episodes long, it would have been a better experience overall. The main plot episodes are the most enjoyable and it would not have seriously harmed the show to cut out a lot of the more extraneous shinma hunts. As they stand, they end up just being filler and aren't interesting enough in and of themselves to really make this a stand out title.

The show is competent enough of the technical side. The character designs and shinma designs are well done and the animation for the most part works well. Despite all the shinma battles, this isn't really a high-octane action show by any means. Most of these battles end fairly quickly and involve mainly just Larva or Miyu invoking their powers and then finishing off their opponents without serious trouble. It is interesting to see the various types of shinma, though some end up a bit on the goofy side, I think. While the opening and ending themes are fairly evocative, the in show music is simply decent. It helps set mood, but isn't really interesting beyond that.

Good atmosphere and an interesting protagonist, but the show is hampered by too much unnecessary filler. Still a fairly good suspense/horror title, but it falls a bit short of the excellence of the OAV series. If you want more action or are looking for something a bit more light go ahead and subtract a star. Jeremy A Beard

Recommended Audience: Teens and above. This is no Goosebumps story, folks. This can be really creepy, and it's definitely not for the under-twelves.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Vampire Princess Miyu TV © 1997 Hirano Toshiki / TV Tokyo
 
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