Thoughts on “Vampire Princess Miyu”

So, the other anime that I managed to finish was “Vampire Princess Miyu”. Like “Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok”, this is an anime series that I first saw parts of when I had access to an anime network on cable where I could watch episodes on demand, and found it interesting. So when I saw it in a local anime/manga store I decided to buy it and give it a try … and then didn’t watch it. This time I got through it and I have to say this about it:

It’s probably the most depressing show I’ve ever watched.

There will be spoilers for the show after this point, so be warned.

To be fair, what makes it depressing it also what made it interesting and work as a horror anime. The basic premise is that there are a number of evil creatures called Shinma out there who prey in some way on humans, usually by granting them some kind of desire that allows them to feed off of them and that leaves them usually dead or in fates worse than death when they are done with them. Miyu is a good Shinma and the Guardian, which means that it’s her job to defeat these Shinma and protect humanity. She arrives a new town with her allies Larva (a European Shinma that she defeated at some point) and a mascot-type creature called Shiina to do so, and ends up going to school and meeting some new friends Chisato, Hisae and Yukari. Another, more ambiguous Shinma named Reiha is also around and alternatively helps Miyu, with commentary from her talking doll Matsukaze who doesn’t care at all for Miyu. There are character threads and backgrounds for pretty much all of these characters in the anime, which will lead to an issue that I’ll get into in a little bit.

Why the show is generally depressing is that in order to build up the horror the show needs to gets us attached to the human victims, so that we feel the horror that they are being threatened with. However, the show goes a step further and has it be the case that things rarely, if ever, turn out well for those victims. One of the earliest episodes has the viewpoint character getting a beauty makeover by a Shinma who turns her into a mannequin. Her and all of the other women that the Shinma did that to remain buried as mannequins and it is implied that they are aware of what is going on as you can hear them whimpering in the dark, underground chamber where they are hidden. In fairness, that they did that was one of the more memorable things from when I watched the show the first time, but that sort of outcome is the rule, not the exception, which is one reason why the show is overall a pretty depressing one.

That they need to develop the plots and characters more to pull off the horror but also have a lot of backstory and character arcs means that the episodes tend to be a bit overstuffed, which means that the end resolutions often seem to be a bit rushed, and also make Miyu look weak. What usually happens is that Miyu confronts and reveals the Shinma, they banter a bit, it attacks, Miyu calls in Larva to attack it, and then she sends it back with her fire spell. There are relatively few cases where Miyu is the main combatant, which one would expect the Guardian to be. But after developing the horror and potentially things about the backstory, there really isn’t that much room to do anything more, which thus makes the confrontations a bit anti-climactic and disappointing.

All of this stuff, though, only adds to how depressing the series is because nothing turns out well throughout the entire series. Here’s where the big spoilers come it:

With Reiha’s arc, we eventually find out why she allies with Miyu even as she wants to kill her, and literally wants to kill her herself and not allow anyone else to do this. This is because Reiha’s father sacrificed his own life to protect the Guardian’s, who is Miyu. We also find out that the doll represents her dead father to her because her father told Reiha that it would protect her now that he couldn’t. We find this out something like five minutes before the doll is destroyed protecting her, which makes that a complete gut punch even taking into account that neither of the characters were all that sympathetic up to that point. And this is a major plot and character arc for the series.

But the worst is what happens to Miyu and her friends. Chisato gives her a friendship bracelet thing early in the series, and this represents their growing bond throughout the entire series. It’s even used to help defeat a Shinma later, with the claim being that its representation of friendship is what was responsible. The series also portrays Miyu making friends and fitting in as part of human society as character growth for her. Later, Chisato’s brother comes home and is revealed to be Shinma empowered by a cult or family of Shinma that are trying to kill Miyu. In defeating him — which she acknowledges will devastate Chisato because she cares for her brother so much — she ends up revealing herself to Hisae and Yukari, ending on a cliffhanger. At the start of the next episode Hisae has been killed mysteriously — which annoyed me because she was my favourite character in the series — and there is a debate over who did it. Yukari, then, is killed as well, and it is revealed that the murderer was Chisato, who in reality is a Shinma of the group that’s trying to kill Miyu, which she then proceeds to try to do. After a big confrontation, Miyu finally defeats Chisato, but the other two friends are dead and Chisato gets locked into a dream world — that the series established earlier that Miyu could create by having her lock some of the tortured humans into it, which places them into comas — where she is human and not a Shinma. Miyu and Larva then move on to the next town, alone again.

So, yeah, depressing.

Still, for all of those issues, it’s still fairly entertaining, if you’re in the mood for or can handle being depressed. Despite the fact that they killed off my favourite character, this is a series that I might watch again at some point.

2 Responses to “Thoughts on “Vampire Princess Miyu””

  1. natewinchester Says:

    It’s probably the most depressing show I’ve ever watched.

    Thank you! I keep telling my friends – “dudes, you have no idea how much of a downer it is.”
    “Don’t you like Elfen Lied?”
    “Yeah. Worse than that.”

    Nice to know someone else agrees. I think I’ve heard of like… 3 other anime that may qualify as more depressing, and one of those is Grave of the Fireflies.

    • verbosestoic Says:

      I’ve never seen it, but looking at the plot summary for Grave of the Fireflies at least there’s a bit of a happy ending there, which Vampire Princess Miyu doesn’t have. So it might even beat that one [grin].

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