Now, the animation can get choppy at times, but that’s not very often. Considering that this was made before the wide-spread use of computers to smooth things out, these small flaws can be expected. However, they don’t plague the series, and when it counts, the animation is as smooth as anything we see today.
This is a very difficult anime to judge. Billed as a horror story, the anime (made in 1988) offers a whole lot more than that, and it’s probably one of the best vampire stories I’ve ever seen, period! I don’t like vampires (I’m a werewolf fan, myself), but Miyu’s story is enduring, tragic, and invokes a sense of awe.
Himiko is a spiritualist who arrives in Kyoto in order to exorcise a girl whose parents believe to be possessed. Tied in with this odd case is a rumor of people whose bodies have been turning up completely drained of blood. While trying to solve the strange case, Himiko encounters Miyu, a vampire in the form of a young girl, probably aged thirteen or fourteen. She can survive in broad daylight, is immune to crosses and Holy Water, and even sports a reflection!
Himiko learns from Miyu that the girl in question has invited in a Shinma, a supernatural, demon-like creature, into her soul, and that it’s Miyu’s fate to hunt down every last Shinma and seal it back in the Dark from whence it came. After the inciding with the girl, Himiko becomes quite obsessed with the vampire and seems to stalk her, with the pretense of protecting the humans she preys upon, of course.
It may seem dated, but the anime’s artwork is still very beautiful. It’s a wonderful display of stylized Japanese gothic art. The character designs are flawless! Miyu, while looking quite innocent, still manages to invoke a certain creepiness. Larva, her faithful servant, is quite an interesting site. Most of what we’ll see of him is a dark cloak and creepy looking mask, but when we do see him without it, there’s a nasty tendency to draw rabid fangirls to his side.
As for Himiko, the nice thing about her is that she doesn’t look like an adorable anime heroine. Nope, she looks like a serious, professional working woman. Trust me, anything more than that would be untrue to both the character and story’s setting itself.
Speaking of the setting, the backgrounds for this anime tend to lie between average and awesome. When the characters are interacting in the normal world, the world looks very plain. There’s really nothing interesting to say about it at all; but when we get glimpses of the Dark, you can’t help but feel unnerved. The primary colors used to portray it are red and black. Seeing Miyu, with her innocent-looking kimono and large, golden eyes, standing within the Dark makes it even more unsettling. Seeing Larva there makes it look just plain creepy!
The animation for this series is quite subtle, just as it should be. Since the series doesn’t rely on gratuitous amounts of blood and gore to induce shock, instead opting for a much more subtle approach, the animation is quite subdued.
The nice thing about this anime is that the fight scenes aren’t really fight scenes. Rather, they’re nicely choreographed sealing rituals that are as frightening to behold as they are beautiful. Miyu’s movements are rather graceful, elegant, and almost like a dance. When Larva is with her, their movements almost appear as one. Watching the pair of them is probably the most amazing, yet simple, piece of animation this anime offers.
The only action in the series is what the story allows for. Sorry, but we’re not going to see an amazing showdown between Miyu and Himiko with Larva acting as referee. It just doesn’t work that way. Most of the episodes appear quite uneventful, the only “action” being the ritual used to seal the Shinma away, but that, as I mentioned earlier, looks more like a dance sequence than anything else.
As for the music, some people seem to really enjoy it, others not so much. Like most every other aspect of this anime, the music is quite subdued. It’s haunting, and it would be great background music to play at your house while expecting trick-or-treaters, but it’s probably not something I’d want to listen to on a regular basis. I leave it up to anime like Escaflowne for that!
Still, some of the music is quite enduring, and it does have its moments where the music really draws your attention. All in all, it’s not bad, but it’s not astounding. Or rather, to quote Animal Crossing DS, it’s “more than milk, but not quite a milkshake.”
There’s quite a bit of character development, too, but you’ll have to wait for the second half of the series. No, that’s not a long wait, considering that it’s only four episodes long. A lot is explored in those last two episodes, but that’s what we watch it for, right? To solve the big mystery that Himiko seeks to dismantle: who is Miyu? How did she become a vampire, and why does the burden of sealing Shinma fall on her and her alone? This will not disappoint!
The stories for each episode are all intertwined to create a grand masterpiece that rivals even Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire. This is story-telling at its best, and it’s a shame that it lasts but a mere four episodes. I could have sat through many more if the quality wasn’t compromised!
The tone is naturally quite dark. It’s definitely not for kids, although they probably wouldn’t understand it anyway. The Shinma are cruel creatures, and Miyu herself isn’t much of a hero, either. In fact, Miyu can be almost as monstrous as the Shinma she hunts! She has very little regard for human life, and just about everything she does, she does for her own purposes, and I don’t mean that in a Lina Inverse kind of way.
Dubbing? To be perfectly honest, I’ve never heard it. Nope, not once. Instead (so this section isn’t wasted), I’ll comment on the Japanese voice acting. Miyu’s voice is downright creepy. You can’t not be scared by that creepy little giggle of hers. Larva’s voice is also quite amazing, but in some ways he sounds like almost every other bishounen anime character. I personally thought his voice needed a little more edge, but there were other Shinma with gentle voices, so it’s not like it was totally out of place. Himiko also had a great voice, but it didn’t stand out, seeing as she was supposed to be a normal character surrounded by supernatural ones.
This is more of a translation note than an actual voice acting flaw, but it sounds to me like Miyu is saying Lava, perhaps “Lover”, instead of Larva. I don’t hear the “r” sound, nor do I hear the Japanese equivalent. I haven’t looked at the katakana for it, though, so I’m not certain. If it was, indeed, meant to be said as Larva, then the actress for Miyu should pronounce it more clearly. My best bed would be that is says ”ラーバ” or ”ラバ”, which means “Raba”.
Do I recommend it? I certainly do, especially for fans of the genre! As I said, vampires don’t usually interest me, but I really got hooked to this show. It’s great for fans of horror, and also for a good drama/soap opera thing. The artwork is amazing, and the actors really seemed to give it their all. Some people might find it boring, since it’s really not about action, but if you’re patient, you’ll find a great story within.
Now, I’m going to talk about any objectional/controversial content in the show, and it will have a Christian bias, but don’t let it turn off anyone who isn’t a Christian. This is more like a parental guide in case any of you have kids and want to know what’s okay to show around them. Remember, it’s up to you to decide what you and your kids can watch, this section is just a heads-up to anything that might be considered inappropriate.
I don’t recall hearing anything that really offended my sensitive ears. There’s very little in the way of foul language, and as far as content goes, there’s nothing sexual at all. There is a small amount of smoking (Himiko is a smoker), but who hasn’t seen that on TV?
Now, it is a vampire show, complete with disturbing images that may appear demonic in nature. The Shinma, for the most part, and more complex than the demons Christians know, but it’s still hard to swallow sometimes. Even more disturbing may be the fact that Miyu isn’t really a heroine. She has little regard for human life, even those whom she hasn’t chosen to feed on, and even when her motives are made clear, they’re hardly anything to clap about. Himiko is actually the moral compass for the story. I wouldn’t shy Christians away from the show, but be warned that this content exists and some may find it disturbing.
So go check it out. I’m pretty sure you can find episodes up on youtube, just make sure you start at the beginning instead of trying to jump in at the middle. Also, remember that this is the OAV, not the TV series, which I will be reviewing next.