Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Anime Review No. 44/Halloween Special: Vampire Princess Miyu OVA

Happy and Spooky Halloween, I'm the Eclectic Dude!

Before Hellsing and Vampire Knight, Before Master of Mosquiton, there was this: Vampire Princess Miyu. Based off horror manga series Narumi Kakinouchi and Toshiki Hirano, I got it this summer as part of a gift from my younger brother. This four episode OVA done by studio AIC back in 1988 and released by AnimEigo in the States, making this the only anime I have reviewed that's about as old as I am. Goodness, I feel old. 

So, what is it about? Well, it is a series of four tales involving a vampire girl Miyu and her companion Larva as they seek to deal with stray Shinma, or demons from the dark world who have come into our world. They are trailed by Himiko Se, a female spiritualist who wants to uncover the truth about Miyu and the Shinma she hunts. In the OVA, they deal with creepy dolls, possessed armor, and finally confronting the darkness within. 
Miyu-ain't she the cutest vampire princess?
ANN (Anime News Network) once quoted this show as being a “Dark, surreal tour of the [Japanese] occult”. I added in Japanese in that the horror presented here is much in the vein of Silent Hill, The Ring, etc. By that I mean, there's a slow creeping dread prevalent throughout the four episodes. Some of the themes explored here are: Fear of the Unknown, Mystery of the Darkness, and The Search for Eternal Life. Fear is one thing I felt while watching this, as there are several moments that just jump at you. I was genuinely scared at certain parts. The darkness is presented as a mystery, full of fear and dread yes, but also of wonder and awe. Miyu at times seem to revel in the fact that's she part of the darkness, and it is both terrifying and awe-inspiring. That's the mark of true horror anime, in my opinion. Lastly, the search for eternal life is something common in vampire stories, and Vampire Princess Miyu is no exception. This show postulates that while eternal life might be desirable, it is totally not worth it. This makes Miyu an inherently tragic heroine, as she can live forever, but her sorrow at not being able to live normally is tremendous. 

Unfortunately, Miyu is placed at the forefront, at the expense of the other characters. Larva, Miyu's Shinma lackey, is nothing more than a silent brooding partner who only gets a brief glance of his past which is not enough. Himiko Se seems interesting at first, but she turns out to be nothing more than an observer.   

Now onto other stuff. First, the animation is dated to say the least. Thankfully, there is lots of shadow and dark colors in this production to hide this fact rather well. It still looks OK, but this old school anime much like Birth: A War of Two Worlds is. Music contains dark moody music combined with natural sounds (cicadas chirping, wood knocks, etc) to make Vampire Princess Miyu a very atmospheric piece. However, the dub leaves much to be desired. It is a bit dull and wooden, with Pamela Weidner as Miyu being the only notable VA  Keep in mind, AnimEigo did dubs for Oh My Goddess OVA and You’re Under Arrest OVA, both were decent and serviceable. This isn't, sadly. Dialogue a tad stilted and plodding and writing is nearly note for note translated straight from Japanese. 

Final note: Despite its flaws, Vampire Princess Miyu is still very good. It's worth a look if you are into horror and supernatural anime, especially for Halloween. If you want to check out similar titles, check out Master of Mosquiton, Hellsing, Elfen Lied, etc. 

See you on Sunday! 

No comments: