Vampire Princess Miyu

Vampire Princess Miyu (1988)
Extras: Image Gallery, Trailers and Previews

I am certainly not an expert in the field of Japanese animation but there are a few genre entries that I do enjoy. "Vampire Princess Miyu" is one of them, the enchanting tale of a spiritualist on her quest for truth, who is repeatedly confronted with a young vampire girl until she is able to unravel her secrets. This is one of the few Anime releases I have truly been looking forward to and finally the disc arrived on my desk, giving me the chance to see how AnimEigo has been able to turn this four-episode piece into DVD. At the same time, this is the first AnimEigo DVD I have ever seen, so at the same time I was also interested to see how the quality of their releases compares to those of Hollywood majors and their immediate competitors in the field.

"Vampire Princess Miyu" is a four-part series of 25 minutes each, taking viewers into the mystic world of vampires in the Japanese lore. On this first DVD, AnimEigo is releasing the first two episodes of the series with the remaining two to be released at a later point.

In the first episode, "Unearthly Kyoto," spiritualist Himiko is called to help a family whose daughter has fallen into a coma. Throughout the city, people are found dead, emptied of blood and it appears that a vampire has taken home in Kyoto. Soon into her search for the origins of the deaths, Himiko meets a mysterious young girl, Miyu, and her silent companion. Is she the answer to the coma and the deaths?

In the second episode, "A Banquet Of Marionettes," Himiko is researching strange disappearances at a local high school. Girls are missing and only marionettes found in their stead. Once again, Himiko stumbles into the mysterious, childlike Miyu while investigating this case. Only this time, Miyu is a student in that particular school. However, not Miyu, but a different force seems to be the answer to these missing schoolgirls.

Although "Vampire Princess Miyu" is one of the cruder Anime films, the animation style is fully sufficient for the purpose. Simplistic animation, static images with motion only achieved through a moving camera are frequently encountered in these films, but the lack of animation is easily made for by the captivating imagery that conjures up the world of Princess Miyu. Without being too flashy or too spaced-out, "Vampire Princess Miyu" is also one of the more accessible entries in the genre, as it requires very little knowledge about the Anime genre or Japanese lore to understand. Many other films, such as "Ghost In The Shell," or even "Akira," can be hard to understand for genre newcomers as a result of their furious pacing and the sometimes radical shifts in their narrative. "Vampire Princess Miyu" is much easier in that respect, in that it focuses on Himiko as the protagonist, telling the story entirely through her eyes only.

AnimEigo is presenting "Vampire Princess Miyu" in the series’ original <$PS,fullscreen> version on this DVD. The print that was used for this DVD is beautifully clean and without blemishes. There are one or two damaged splines in the print, but other than that, the transfer is free of defects. The colors of the transfer are bold and clean, painting a vivid rendition of the films without noise or grain. The transfer is also mostly free of edge-enhancement, creating sharp outlines that never appear over-emphasized. Color balance and contrast are very well balanced to create a pleasing image. The compression of the video on this DVD has also been done very carefully without introducing any compression artifacts despite the somewhat challenging nature of the image material.

The DVD contains an English dub as well as the original Japanese language track in Stereo. The disc defaults to the English dub upon insertion, but the quality of the track is so inadequate that I can only recommend to switch to the Japanese language track, and turn on the subtitles as soon as the program rolls. The high-pitched, overly exaggerated and affected voice-over in the English language version is enough to make anyone squint.
Technically, the audio is also in good shape, though, with a clear production that is free of noise or problems. The frequency response is good and natural sounding and the music or sound effects never drown out the dialogues.

As extras, the disc offers a self-running image gallery with images from the films, as well as some cover artwork. In the Preview section of the disc you can find the music video "Rock Me" from the Bubblegum Crisis series, as well as previews for "Oh My Goddess," "Crusher Joe," "Kimagure Orange Road," "Bubblegum Crisis" and a number of other Anime films.
The DVD also contains some insightful liner notes, which explains a few things about the movie that may not be common knowledge to all viewers.

With a running length of only 50 minutes and 2 more episodes to come in the series, one wonders why AnimEigo didn’t include all four episodes of "Vampire Princess Miyu" on a single disc. Considering that as of this writing the release of the remaining two episodes is in limbo, for all fans of the series, this would definitely have been a more preferable option. Nonetheless, "Vampire Princess Miyu" offers some striking Japanese Anime horror that is presented in an enigmatic way. The quality of the DVD convinces on all ends and once again proves that the suppliers of Japanese animation in the DVD arena are very concerned about the quality of their releases. It is obvious that this is a release that has been handled by very capable hands and minds and with that in mind, I whole-heartedly recommend this release to all fans of the series as well as anyone who would like to take a look at vampires Anime style.