a.k.a. Kyuuketsu Hime Miyu
Himiko is a spiritualist who is often called for help in supernatural incidents. While investigating a girl in a coma, Himiko encounters Miyu. Miyu is the last vampire, fulfilling her duty to defeat the demon gods known as the Shinma and return them to the Dark. She is accompanied by Larva, a Shinma she has bound to her by her blood. Will Miyu be successful in her mission to seal away the Shinma?
summary by Madoka
Highs: Atmosphere; withstands test of time
Lows: Slow pace; majority of episodes are formulaic
Vampire Princess Miyu is an OVA that has introduced many American fans to the world of anime. Even though the series is over fifteen years old, the animation does not show its age and the muted colors match the dark undertone of the story. The supernatural, haunting atmosphere created by unsettling backgrounds and images keeps this series standing through the test of time. It’s a shame that the slow, formulaic story doesn’t match the quality of the setting.
There could not be a more fitting location for this series than the historic cities of Kyoto and Kamakura. Depicted as a city of decay and darkness, Kyoto almost becomes a character in the story and adds a sense of creepy realism. Shadows take on a life of their own with images that are meant to play tricks on viewers’ minds. Combined with culturally-themed Shinma, such as the kimono-clad puppet master and a suit of samurai armor, this series unites tradition with horror to create a memorable and eerie ambiance.
Unfortunately, the plot is slow-paced and drags the series down. The first three episodes basically follow the same format: find and defeat the Shinma of the Episode. Bits of background and the overall story are hinted at, but the majority of the first three episodes are devoted to the Shinma rather than the characters of Himiko and Miyu. It’s not until the end of the series that most of the back story is explained. If only these three episodes had the drive and emotion of that one final episode, the pacing in the rest would not be so noticeably slow.
Nonetheless, Vampire Princess Miyu is still an entertaining series that is sure to send a chill or two down your spine.
Highs: Beautiful artwork; haunting atmosphere; the last episode
Lows: Storyline doesn’t really advance during the first three episodes
Nearly two decades since its creation, Vampire Princess Miyu hasn’t lost its charm. With a reputation as an anime classic, fans are still discovering the gorgeous art and deeply engaging atmosphere surrounding a uniquely Japanese story about vampires. Unfortunately for such a short series, the majority of this anime is taken up by episodes that, though entertaining, don’t really advance the story at all.
Next to the stylized, angular modern anime style, Vampire Princess Miyu features artwork that is dated but not at all shabby. The subdued, saturated color palette and slightly gritty art style lend themselves well to the hauntingly dark and creepy atmosphere. Incorporation of traditional Japanese art, architectural and musical styles heighten and enhance the uniquely Japanese take on vampiric lore.
It is easy to get sucked in by all the things this anime has to offer stylistically and overlook the things that it lacks. Though the first three episodes of this short series are not poor, they lack a cohesive storyline. With each of these episodes centering on the detection and defeat of a Shinma, they provide very little character development or insight into the backstory behind the events at hand. The last episode, however, provides both of these things in spades, at least when it comes to Miyu. During the course of this episode, the vampire girl goes from a shallow, two-dimensional character to one with depth and human emotion. Sadly, the series provides no such opportunity for the other two main characters.
With a relatively short list of flaws, this anime is a must-see, and not only for horror fans. Dark, stylish and creepy, Vampire Princess Miyu provides conclusive proof that “old” is not the same as “dull.”