For those people who are familiar with the anime series Vampire Princess Miyu, the graphic novel (manga) series allows another look at Miyu's world, her role as guardian of the Japanese Shinma and her relationship with Larva. The New Vampire Miyu series gives readers a deeper look at Miyu's and Larva's past and their lives from before Miyu became a vampire. Introducing a number of Western Shinma, we are introduced to more people from Larva's past including his cousin - Carlua, and Lemures' younger brother - Lemunia.
From the very beginning of this first of five parts, readers are drawn into Miyu's life from her human world self to the guardian of the Japanese Shinma. However, even more than Miyu, readers learn more of Larva, Miyu's servant. From the anime, he is primarily a silent presence by Miyu's side, but here, readers are treated instead to a more in-depth look at his character's quiet self. Even more than Miyu's character, I find Larva's character the more intriguing possibly because of the "tall, dark and oh so mysterious" impression he leaves.
The story in this first part introduces many of the characters whose story will be told as well as the initial plot line. While Miyu's, Larva's and Carlua's characters quickly take shape in this first volume, the other characters' personalities are somewhat less clear. As this volume introduces the story concept as well as the many characters, the story is somewhat limited overall, although there are strong hints of where the story will proceed.
The art work overall is quite nice being somewhat minimalist and less reliant on framed shots, there is a more free-flowing feel to the artwork. Between the Japanese and North American releases, there is a slight drop in picture quality for the North American version. Even so, Kakinouchi's art work and lines are most expressive in their simplicity. The artwork is most effective in carrying the overall feel and emotional undertones to the story even more so than the dialogue. Backgrounds tend to be quite empty with the white space working to create a dark, barren atmosphere.
While the graphic novel is published in usual English left to right format, surprisingly not all the pages have been flipped. Rather, close comparison between the English and Japanese versions show that some pages and some individual scenes have been left in their original orientation. Extremely sharp eyed readers may notice certain instances where parts of a frame have been restored to their original orientation; however, this is highly unlikely. Rather, what some readers may notice is that some of the background words (usually those words depicting background sound effects) lettering seems to be a touch unusual or oddly placed. It appears that in some instances, the original Japanese lettering was left in place and incorporated into the English words as well as possible. Otherwise, overall, the dialogue in the North American version flows well and is reasonably close to the original. While there are some differences in nuance, the translation is generally well done and accurate.
All in all this first part makes an intriguing beginning to the story with some good background information on Miyu's and Larva's characters. Larva's character story is especially intriguing for readers providing a glimpse into the mystery surrounding the character. Touching on story aspects mentioned in the anime OAV series, the story in the New Vampire Miyu series continues in much the same vein as the OAVs. Left on a cliff-hanger, readers are left very much wanting to know what happens next.
- JYN, 2002.07.17