Vampire Princess Miyu

Good horror titles are an unfortunate rarity in anime. Most "horror" titles like Demon City Shinjuku or Vampire Hunter D rely too heavily on saturating the viewer with gore and violence. However, there are still the occasional gems like Vampire Princess Miyu which prove that you don't need gallons of blood or big, nasty beasts to evoke some chills. One thing Vampire Princess Miyu excels at is atmosphere. The art is deliberately dulled slightly, with wonderful uses of shading. Scenery was equally captivating, with some sinister shapes taking twisted, human-like forms. Beautiful stuff. Even city scenes felt slightly ominous and not quite "real". The music helped add that final punch to the sinister effect generated in this anime. Melodious tunes would sway in the background, creating a wonderfully gloomy feel. Heck, this anime is worth watching for the atmosphere alone. But of course, atmosphere can only go so far without engaging characters and an interesting story. Fortunately, Vampire Princess Miyu has those as well. The title character is Miyu, an ageless vampire in the guise of a thirteen year-old girl. She is one of the creepiest characters I've seen. Every so often she'd cock her head to one side and let out an innocent giggle, yet her darker nature is readily apparent. But if Miyu is creepy then what do you call Larva. Larva, Miyu's silent companion, is simple one of the best conceptual designs I've seen. The flowing, dark cloak along with the vacant mask and slender, gloved hands combined to create a truly amazing looking character. Rounding out the main cast is Himiko, the human spiritualist who attempts to uncover Miyu's dark secrets. Each of the four episodes tells an individual tale while at the same time conveying a larger story line. The first episode introduces Himiko, Miyu and Larva, and presents the groundwork for the series. Miyu has assumed the role of protecting the Earth realm from evil beings called "Shinma". Himiko learns of mysterious deaths from what appears to be the work of a vampire and starts investigating Miyu. Himiko is eventually confronted by Miyu and begins learning the truths behind Miyu's actions. The second episode, "Banquet of Marionettes" was my personal favorite. It was a somewhat tragic tale of a girl with the unusual ability to turn people into lifeless marionettes; puppets under her control. It was a very haunting episode, coupled with a somewhat chilling, yet oddly happy ending. The third episode revolves around a Shinma in the guise of a suit of Japanese armor, although there is a brief insight into the origin of Miyu, as well. The episode was fairly tragic, particularly the ending. The final episode wraps up the series nicely, with a detailed flashback of Miyu's origins and delightfully chilling finish. The story line can be a little confusing at times, especially given the manner in which it's presented, but it's certainly worth paying attention for. For an unconventional touch of horror, I definitely recommend this title. It's not a traditional vampire tale, but one well worth watching. The Verdict: * * * * (good)

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