I have to admit, I'm a fan of the occult and horror in general, and really enjoyed the original Vampire Princess Miyu OAVs. So when the TV series was being released on video, I'd started picking them up. However, the original OAV and the TV series are not the same. Not to say that the TV series is bad or anything, but it isn't the original OAV.
The opening scenes of this first scene start off interestingly enough with some good music and atmosphere introducing Miyu and clearly setting her apart from normal humans. With glowing golden eyes and the ability to disappear into mist, there can be no doubt that she's not human. Machiyama's character design strikes viewers as that bit too smug and annoying. The know-it-all who takes pains to make sure that everyone knows he's intelligent and is bored with the world in general. I have to admit that watching Machiyama watch Miyu is a bit like watching someone being stalked although who's stalking whom...
Although the story starts off interestingly enough, unfortunately the direction and the voice acting don't come together very well resulting in a lack-lustre episode. Normally stories tend to be limited in the first episode due to character introductions as well as initial story set-up, but that isn't so much the case in this first episode of Miyu. Rather, while we are introduced to Miyu, Larva, and Shiina, the remaining characters strike viewers as being ephemeral and belonging only to this one episode. Truly there is a strong sense of "shinma of the week" to this episode. The story could happen anywhere anywhen and it wouldn't do anything. Very much a filler episode, it doesn't do much as an introductory episode to the series.
Reading through the liner notes, this first episode indeed has nothing to do with the rest of the 25 episodes and was created as a pilot and is meant strictly to introduce the main characters of Miyu, Larva, and Shiina. Likewise, there are a number of other comments regarding the ending of the episode, which explains the why's of certain events. In that sense, episode 2 looks like it will be the true beginning for this series.
The choppy rendition of events and the overall lack of flow further weakens this episode. The voice acting doesn't help matters very much either. There are times when the seiyuu feel uncomfortable with their characters and their lines come across as just that, lines. While decently acted, I'm finding Larva's voice a bit difficult to get used to in this first episode. Nagasawa Miki, who portrays Miyu on the other hand, while generally okay at portraying her character occasionally comes across as bored. A problem when portaying a quiet, a withdrawn character.
The animation is very typical of TV series. With lots of stills and pans, and limited shots, the animation is somewhat limited in scope. However, there is some nice detail shown in the background of the still shots. Also, the animation isn't very smooth either. I foung some of the character designs a bit unusual when it came to people's expressions.
The music is a mixed bag. With some interesting moody melodies including an interesting opening theme, it does a good job of setting the atmosphere. However, it is generally only effective in combination with the animation. While I do like the flute melody, and the overall minor key to most melodies, it's not grabbing me enough to want to pick up the soundtrack.
Overall, this makes an okay beginning introducing the main characters and the basic "Guardian of the Shinma" concept. However, this first episode serves little purpose beyond introducing the main three characters in a "defeat a monster a week" story line. Neither particularly unique nor interesting, it does little to stir interest. Given the slow paced story development, there is the possibility that this episode will prove to be too lethargic for some people and end up boring them to sleep, particularly if they aren't in the mood for a slow show. Definitely a one shot episode, it doesn't make for a strong introduction to the series.
- JYN, 2001.05.28