This is the longer 26 episode TV series chronicling the adventures of Vampire Princess Miyu, the Guardian whose destiny it is to banish stray shinma (demons, shapeshifters, vampires etc.) back to the darkness from whence they originated. She is accompanied by Larva (a European shinma) and a rabbit whose right eye can actually see supernatural things. Vampire Princess Miyu is one of those dark anime that is unique because it leaves you feeling haunted. This anime has always stuck to me as one of the anime you can never forget. It is not one of those sugary anime and not every one gets a happy ending. Each episode are mainly stand alone and contained but do give a bit of a character development between the main characters Miyu and Larva.
While the title character’s eternal task of hunting stray demons lends itself to a “monster of the week” structure at first, Vampire Hunter Miyu reveals itself to be a fascinating character study. The teasing glimpses into Miyu’s heart and past are fully satisfying in the final few episodes, making the anime far more rewarding than the mundane (though equally pretty) OVA. While I would have appreciated less of the episodic approach, it does give a feel for the “daily grind” of hunting creatures of the night that prey upon the weaknesses found in humankind. The high school sequences are lighthearted, but retain some shade, through Miyu’s bemused detachment. Miyu seems destined to view her human “friends” from a distance, and a careful viewing brings out her constant melancholy. She is morally colorful, or rather, exists outside moral ethics. After a while it got really boring. The only excitement was trying to guess what form the shinma would take. There was reuse of a lot of the frames and the plot got repetitive and predictable, which made this less exciting than the OVA.
A first impression of this series when viewed by a veteran anime fan is that the animation is…economic. It is apparent that the studio needed to make this show on the cheap as the viewer will lose count of how many times a character goes off model, Miyu speed lines into an enemy, and the characters don’t so much as walk but hover awkwardly while each of their legs appear in front of the other. Animation-wise, the show is a mess. Its old which may excuse a few aesthetic choices but few anime have aged so poorly. For example, Cowboy Bebop, a show which has aged extremely well, was aired a year after Vampire Princess Miyu. The art is a step above the animation. The character designs are distinct enough to stand out making each main character extremely recognizable. The scenery is colored to give the mood of foreboding and despair which is very fitting. The Shinma are each unique and distinct and it is always the highlight of each episode to see them transform into their monstrous forms.
The soundtrack. While many anime fans may not put so much stock in a soundtrack, that may be because, with some exception, anime is accompanied by instrumentation meant to support the action on the screen rather than stand on its own as a musical piece. The soundtrack from Vampire Princess Miyu is amazing. Each track is beautiful and fitting. The opening is unskippable and the ending gives the viewer a somber yet satisfying conclusion to their episodic adventure. The orchestration is dramatic and lush and the vocals range from a slow pop ballad to a children’s choir. If anything, an anime fan should experience the soundtrack for themselves.
New anime fans should steer clear until they develop their genre preferences and decide they want to experience this bit of early anime. The action scenes are interesting, but are clearly meant to complement the character moments, not the other way around. With tinges of nihilism and a taste of inevitable suffering, I found this series had a fairly moody tone. I recommend this one for the patient.