Vampire Princess Miyu-Volume 5: Dark Love (1998)

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Released 15-Jan-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Gallery-Shinma sketches
Credits-Japanese opening
Trailer-Madman Propaganda (4)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 127:59 (Case: 125)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (76:47) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Toshiki Hirano
Studio
Distributor
TokyoPop Anime
Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Kenji Kawai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Titling
English
Smoking Yes, infrequent
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Vampire Princess Miyu is a dark and gently sad series, but compelling. Volume 5 makes things even more confusing by offering us more information: we learn more of Rei-ha's background, and more about the history between Rei-ha and Miyu. This does not clarify the situation more the contrary.

If you haven't come across this series before I suggest you start reading the reviews from the beginning: volume 1, volume 2, volume 3, and volume 4. Volume 1 held only three episodes, while volumes 2 and 3 offered four episodes; volume 4, and this volume, hold five episodes. By this pattern, volume 6, which is the conclusion, should hold six episodes... (yeah, I know, it only holds five, bringing the total to the expected 26).

The episodes on this disc are:

Number Title Description
17 The Moray Boat A shinma is living quietly, supporting an aspiring novelist is there anything wrong with that?
18 City of Illusion Buildings are turning into sand and vanishing what has this to do with an aging man and a Buddha statue?
19 Love of the Dolls It is simple to make beautiful, lifelike, dolls you just have to love them
20 Butterfly Enchantment Miyu makes friends with Ruri Sone, a girl everyone avoids, and discovers a strange situation in a greenhouse full of butterflies
21 Flag of Shinma In a strange village Miyu and Rei-ha confront three shinma brothers who are demanding the village chief's daughter in marriage

The stories are becoming more and more ambiguous, and Miyu is growing aware of this. Her calling is much less obviously benevolent, even when she approaches with the best of intentions. More and more, the closing theme's doubts are echoing through the entire episode.

Rei-ha and Matsukaze (Rei-ha's doll) are arguing more openly, but the only intimation we get of Matsukaze's origin makes this even more difficult to understand. The previous volume saw the antagonism between Miyu and Rei-ha come closer to the surface; now it gets an open declaration, especially as we get hints of Rei-ha's past and what has happened between them.

The dark moody feel is emphasised by the dark and moody backgrounds, and exquisitely (but sparingly) drawn characters. There are sequences that are deliberately repeated, emphasising routine, and depressing, downcast, sameness. The music accentuates this. It's series like this one that reduce one's taste for more conventional animation.

I do love the way that the artists change just one letter of any brand name they show. The first episode of this disc has a woman working at a service station with the name FSSO. The very first disc showed an electronic gadget labelled SQNY. You get the idea...

Don't buy this series for children if they understand it, they'll have nightmares; if they don't, they'll be bored. Keep this one for yourself, but be prepared for the strange and unusual this is not a simple show.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

The image is clear, and quite sharp, with no significant film grain, and no low-level noise. Shadow detail is not a real concern in this kind of animation, but there are some delicately drawn dark scenes, with generally excellent separation of dark tones.

Colour is superbly rich and well-rendered. There are no colour-related artefacts.

There are a few very tiny film artefacts, but fewer than ever before, and barely visible.

There is quite a bit of aliasing or dot-crawl on the black lines that delineate the characters, but it's at a low level, and never distracting. There's no moire, and very little shimmer. There are no MPEG artefacts. There is some interlacing, but it's only visible when you are advancing a still image frame-by-frame it's not otherwise noticeable.

There are two sets of subtitles in English - the first set only subtitles signs (useful when you're listening to the English dub), the second are full subtitles (for the those listening to the Japanese dub who don't speak Japanese) these subtitles are yellow, easy to read, and apparently well-timed. The setup screen makes it easy to select the combination of subtitles and soundtrack you want any combination is possible. Note that the subtitles do not match the English dub the dub has been adjusted to better match the character mouth movements, as is standard in really good dubs.

The disc is single-sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change comes at 76:47, again exactly between the third and fourth episodes on the disc it is the perfect spot for it. I commented in my review of Volume 4 that there was a pause before the closing credits. I now understand that what they'd done was removed the Japanese credits. I'm pleased to report that they have been reinstated.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The soundtrack is provided in English and in Japanese, which is ideal (you can listen to whichever soundtrack suits you). Both tracks are Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround-encoded, at 224 kbps. I listened to the whole of the English track, and to three episodes of the Japanese track. They sound a bit less mono than before, with slightly more frequent stereo imaging. The music spreads around the sides to the surrounds if your Dolby ProLogic decoder is on. Both soundtracks are good quality, eminently suited to the visuals.

The English dialogue is clear and easily understood, even Miyu's soft voice. The Japanese sounds clear, but I can't tell you if it's comprehensible.

Kenji Kawai's music is moving stuff. There are themes for sets we see repeatedly (like the school), but they aren't thrust down your throat. The music is marvellously atmospheric, increasing the impact of the show (try watching it with the sound off it is nowhere near as good).

The subwoofer is not used by this straight 2.0 soundtrack, but there's some serious bass in the music if you have set your front speakers to small, your subwoofer will see some use. The surrounds may get funnelled some sounds if you have the Dolby ProLogic decoder on, but not otherwise.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

The menu is lightly animated, with music. This disc's menu features Miyu and Moru (a butterfly). The same image is used for the jacket image that shows if you press Stop and your player supports jacket images.

Japanese opening titles (1:37)

The opening titles in Japanese. Exactly the same as on the previous discs. This makes it quite clear that the opening credits on the episodes have been converted from the NTSC the drawings look quite jagged on the episodes, but they are beautifully smooth here.

Gallery - Shinma

Just seven pages of images this time, showing sketches of Ayu, Moh Chi, Kai Rai, Maji Kan, and Genji, Genzo, and Genta.

Trailers

More Madman Propaganda, and different this time:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 1 version of this disc has the same episodes, but has different galleries (it has three galleries, apparently), and no trailers. The transfer sounds like it is equivalently high quality. I think you could easily be happy with either version of this disc.

Summary

Five more episodes of eerie, but compelling, anime.

The video quality is very good.

The audio quality is very good.

The extras are quite limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, January 20, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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