All of the stories on this DVD turn on two of the most persistent themes of the Miyu stories – destiny and eternal life or immortality. Miyu is a thirteen year old girl who is destined to banish Shinma back to the Dark from whence they came. She has an assistant, Larva, who is really really cool, along with Miyu. They are just doing their job, giving people eternal life who want it. THEN, Himiko the spiritualist comes along, and tries to stop them. This would be bad. She messes everything up. And thensome. Having Himiko as the protagonist makes Miyu’s personality and character really shine, and I think this makes the series more interesting because it’s Himiko who goes through the trials with Miyu as the mysterious figure. Plus it’s got some interesting stuff regarding life and death.
Miyu is not satisfied, and the 26 TV episodes which follow the 4-episode introductory OVA explain what she wants and how she tries to get it. As the series progresses, one sees that Miyu has a wonderful boy who will defend her to the death, a cute little bunny to sit on her lap, a lovely little flute and the skill with which to play it — but Miyu’s days and nights and battles and idylls are terribly empty. Miyu is not compassionate, but she does battle for what is right. She is even willing to explain it, briefly, to mortals who happen to be in the right place at the right time. The series does not spend much time talking about morals, but this is a series with quite a few moral messages in every minute of screen time. Where the OVA had Miyu as the daughter of a human father and a vampire mother in post-World War II Japan, the more well-known 1997 anime series that followed gives the demonic role to the father and the human role to the mother. This 26-episode version of Vampire Princess Miyu also changed the setting from post-WWII Japan to pre-WWII Empire of Japan. It’s this version of Miyu that Maiden Japan is bringing to DVD in North America — something that hasn’t been done in 10 years.
But what made it for me was the stories. The endings were rarely happy ones and most never even came close to being fair ones. Even for the Japanese these stories were sad, in which good guys, bad guys, victims and even bystanders, were either hurt, killed or had their lives destroyed. Bird-demons, giant spiders and flesh eating mermaids turn dreams into nightmares. Nobody ends up happy or untouched and it really makes me think how much BETTER horror movies could be if it was more like this. Miyu has some feelings for close friends, but also she is a vampire and seems to feel no strong feelings for those outside her inner circle. She allows dozens of people, if not more, to die before taking action against the Shinma. Is she slow to stop the Shinma because she needs proof or because she just doesn’t care? This series is pretty episodic and fans of Gasaraki and Lain will miss the “flow” and “transition” from episode to episode. This is from the golden age of anime and I am glad we are getting a chance to showcase this to new viewers.
The Vampire Miyu TV series contains quite a bit of violence and gore. In the very first episode, the giant iguana-like shinma is sliced clean in half by Larva.. providing us with a very gratuitous shot of it’s insides, blood, intestines, etc.. spilling and gushing out. Miyu also has a habit of lighting them on fire, and burning them alive. (This is the method in which she seals them) Also, Miyu could care less about humans, and shows no compassion when they die gruesomely. This will get no complaints from fans like yours truly, but parents of young children may not take too kindly to these scenes. So we reach the bottom line. Is it worth your money? If you’re a fantasy fan and liked the darkness in Lain, this may just be for you. With beautiful animation, music, and storytelling, this series is well worth the bucks. Even after all these years, its still THAT good.