Vampire Princess Miyu-Volume 6: The Last Shinma (1998)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Trailer-Madman propaganda (3)
|Year Of Production||1998|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (76:45)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Toshiki Hirano|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, next episode teaser|
I was really looking forward to, and dreading, this disc. I've really enjoyed Vampire Princess Miyu, with its dark and somewhat melancholy story. I wasn't sure if I wanted it to end, but if it had to end, I was sure that I wanted it to end in an appropriate way. I didn't want a wimpy ending — I wanted something fit for such a show. I got my wish.
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, volume 4, and volume 5. I was wondering how it was that volume 1 holds only three episodes, while volumes 2 and 3 hold four each, and the final 3 volumes each hold five episodes. I think I've worked it out — it is to do with keeping related episodes together. These last five episodes had to be on the one disc — it would have been quite wrong to have it any other way.
The episodes on this disc are:
|22||Once Upon a Time||In the beginning Miyu seemed like a normal little girl...|
|23||Confrontation||A major show-down between Miyu and Reiha — we discover the truth behind Matsukaze|
|24||The Boy Who Returned||A youth returns, seemingly little changed, from a long trip|
|25||The Last Shinma||What happened to Hisae?|
|26||The Eternal Sleep||With Larva carefully decoyed away, Miyu faces the strongest shinma alone|
Every episode in this volume is intended to address loose ends, and answer some of our questions. The answers may not seem satisfactory, but that's our problem, not theirs.
The first episode on this disc is very interesting indeed — it begins with a completely different set of opening credits (in untranslated Japanese), which is ironic, for this episode explains two images we have seen in the normal credits at the start of every other episode: the pinwheel and the mill wheel. This episode explains Miyu's origin, and gives us further insight into Rei-ha. Very important stuff.
The second episode brings things between Miyu and Rei-ha to a head. The third is stage-setting for the last two episodes, which are presented separately, but are really a double-episode story. The double-episode contains some major shocks, which surprised me, because I thought we'd seen it all — I was very wrong. Don't try to anticipate what's happening — just let it happen, and try to roll with the shocks.
This dark and moody series comes to a dark climax, totally in keeping. Don't watch this show if you want happy endings for everyone.
I've said before that this series is not for children — that M rating is completely appropriate, even more so for this disc. The first episode on this disc is enough to give children nightmares, and the closing double-episode could well put them into therapy. Heck, I won't even recommend this to adults who don't think they can handle disturbing images. It's a shame though, because there is much about this series which is quite beautiful. Strange, disturbing, thought-provoking, yes, all of that, but beautiful. I'll be watching this again in a while, and thinking about it between times.
This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced.
The image is a touch soft, particularly on mid- to long-shots, but quite clear enough. There's no significant film grain, and no low-level noise. The separation of dark tones is well-realised, serving the same purpose that excellent shadow detail serves on live-action photography.
Colour is beautifully intense, with an unusual colour palette rendered well. There are no colour-related artefacts.
There is an occasional tiny film artefact, but not a single one worth calling out — you'd be highly unlikely to spot any.
This style of animation, with strong black lines delineating each character, brings with it an near inevitability of aliasing and dot-crawl. These are rarely troubling here, even though they are often visible. There's no moire, and very little shimmer. There are no MPEG artefacts. There are next to no troubling interlacing artefacts.
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 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 76:45, which is less than a second too late (a fraction of a second earlier and it would fall between the third and fourth episodes). As it is, it is rather obvious, because it interrupts a chant.
The soundtrack is provided in English and in Japanese, so you can watch your anime in the language you prefer. Both tracks are Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround-encoded, at 224 kbps. I listened to the whole of the English track, and to most of the Japanese track. Both soundtracks are excellent, but there's not a lot of width to the sound — it's mostly a central affair.
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. As I've found commonly with anime, there are a couple of tiny slips in the sync of the Japanese dialogue, but none in the English.
The music remains excellent; haunting and eerie. Kenji Kawai's music is moving stuff. The opening and closing themes are melodic and melancholy. The music that closes the last episode is spooky stuff. Just this once we hear the closing music only once — the English credits roll in silence, rather than repeating the closing music — that's quite apt. (I should mention that the English credits roll over a black screen on this disc, rather than over a static image, the way they do on earlier discs).
The subwoofer and surrounds are not provided for by this straight 2.0 soundtrack.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu has an initial transition, with music. This disc's menu features Miyu and Shiina. The same image is used for the jacket image that shows if you press Stop and your player supports jacket images.
The opening titles in Japanese. Exactly the same as on the previous discs.
Eight pages of images this time, showing sketches of most of the shinma, but missing the last one — that's good.
Madman Propaganda again, but a different (and rather short) selection this time:
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 (released mid-2002) has the same episodes, but has different gallery content, and no trailers. Once again, it sounds as though the transfer on the R1 is at least as good as this one.
I think you could easily be happy with either version of this disc.
An impressive conclusion to a compelling and beautiful anime series, presented very well on DVD.
The video quality is very good.
The audio quality is very good.
The extras are few.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|