In the shadows of society lives the one named Miyu- a vampire girl fated to be the Guardian, the one who must hunt down stray demons known as Shinma and seal them away- no matter how benign they might be in their co-existence with humans. It is a difficult burden to bear, and one that Miyu struggles with, but when the alternative is to be hunted down even as aggressive Shinma prey on the weak and innocent, what other choice does she have?
Monster-of-the-week series are ten-a-penny, and for the most part they serve as little more than a distraction from the more serious business of watching decent anime. Nonetheless, every so often the genre (such as it is) can throw up something that is more than mild, throwaway entertainment- and Vampire Princess Miyu is one such example.
That’s not to say that Miyu is a particularly inspirational work of great originality- it still follows the same set pattern of introducing a monster, then having Miyu go after it and seal it away with a fire attack that failed to make any impression on said monster mere moments previously (or get help from one of her allies in sealing it since Miyu seems oddly weak for a Guardian). The real draw lies in what comes before the inevitable battle of the week, the individual tales of drama interwoven with the supernatural; from a cat demon that causes women to become obsessed with treating it like their child to a confrontation with especially evil Western demons (can’t trust those gaijin), most of the tales have an appeal that fans of Requiem of the Darkness and its ilk will almost certainly latch onto.
Unsurprisingly, there comes a point in the series when we start to learn more about Miyu herself, with several episodes devoted not only to her back story and origin, but to that of the other recurring characters that surround her. Although this does lead up to a rather standard “final boss arc” conclusion, along the way we get some solid character development which is always welcome for elevating the cast beyond their initial well-defined but none-too-deep status.
With over a decade under its belt, the series does show its age a bit with regards to the animation, with the typical ugly monsters and re-used attack animation of the era; that being said, named character designs are attractive if not outstanding. The music is handled by Kenji Kawai, who creates a haunting and ethereal set of themes that are reminiscent of but far superior to the majorityof his work on Fate/Stay Night.
A series that takes the standard monster-of-the-week format and polishes it into something actually worth watching, Vampire Princess Miyu remains ahead of its peers. If they haven’t done so already, fans of supernatural series should certainly add it to their viewing lists.