Vampire Princess Miyu-Volume 3: Illusion (1998)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Credits-Japanese opening credits
|Year Of Production||1998|
|Running Time||102:24 (Case: 100)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||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|
This is the third volume of the Vampire Princess Miyu series. You'll find my review of the first volume, and introduction to the main characters, here. I recommend you read that review first. If you want to read my review of the second volume as well, it certainly won't hurt.
These episodes are an interesting assortment — it's good to see that we're not going to get a monotonous series.
The episodes on this disc are:
|8||Red Shoes||A young girl can suddenly sing beautifully, but only when wearing a special pair of red shoes|
|9||Your House||A young couple adopt a cat after its previous family are victims of a murder/suicide|
|10||Swamp of Promises||A young boy must stay in a swamp to protect it - he promised!|
|11||Supple Face||A man awakens from apparent death with a new face and a second chance|
The Red Shoes sounds reminiscent of the Moira Shearer film, but it is a very different story — that film doesn't feature a shinma who is half-horse in appearance. This episode reveals something I hadn't seen in earlier ones: a shinma isn't limited to a single form (you'll see what I mean). Miho's song is the same whether you listen to the English or Japanese soundtracks — it is in Japanese, subtitled — it's is quite lovely, and I think they made the right choice by not trying to replace it with an equivalent song in English. This episode marks the first time we see Shiina join in combat with Miyu and Larva.
In Your House the cat (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) is evil and manipulative — in this case because it is a shinma — I have friends who would argue that this is normal for all cats...
Miyu's character is still developing — in Your House she cannot invite Chisato to her house, because the closest thing she has to a house is the cemetery wall we see her sitting on while talking to Shiina. Fortunately, Chisato's generosity of spirit overcomes this, and she invites Miyu back to her house. Chisato continues to be an important character, much more so than Yukari and Hisae. In Swamp of Promises she is an important part of discovering the situation. Reiha reappears in this episode, and is something of a nuisance (although her doll Matsuzake is the one with the bad mouth!) — sometimes I wish Miyu would turn on Reiha and let her have it!
Miyu is convincingly old — it is easy to believe that she has been around for a long long time. Her calm is difficult to disturb, and her gentle melancholy is only really affected by Chisato's friendship — that is clearly more unfamiliar to her than any shinma (her smile is small, but pretty). Her idea of mercy is interesting...
The music is marvellous — evocative and sad, but with underlying strength — the music is a vital part of this series. Miyu's bamboo flute is part of her personality.
You know, in ways this series feels a bit like The Twilight Zone: small stories of supernatural happenings...
Just in case I haven't emphasised it enough in previous reviews: don't buy this series for children — that M rating isn't decoration. The stated reasons are "low-level animated violence, supernatural theme" — that could describe an animated version of Harry Potter! I'd add "adult concepts", meaning ideas that children may not be ready to absorb: things like murder / suicide, and stories that don't necessarily have a happy ending. However, I recommend this series for late teens and adults who are ready for a more mature storyline.
This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, as you might expect for a TV series. It is not 16x9 enhanced.
The image is sharp and clear, adequately detailed for animation, but not a work of art. Shadow detail is meaningless in animation, but there's considerable shading in the drawing, and night scenes are portrayed realistically. There's no low level noise.
The colour is very good — there's a wide colour palette. I noticed a slight touch of colour bleed on one player, but not on my review system — there are no other colour-related artefacts.
There are some film artefacts, but they are tiny, momentary, and not bothersome.
The same problem areas continue: there's a lot of low-level aliasing, and some interlacing artefacts (interleaved frames) — the interleaving is hard to spot if you aren't single-framing, though (it may come from NTSC-to-PAL conversion) — there's still some dot crawl on the black edges that define the foreground characters, but it feels a little less troubling this time. Despite all this, the picture is really quite pleasant to look at.
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 set are full subtitles (for those listening to the Japanese dub who don't speak Japanese). The subtitles are yellow, easy to read, and seem 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.
The disc is single-sided and single layered, so there's no layer change. With just over 100 minutes of episodes on the disc, that's not a problem.
The soundtrack is provided in English and in Japanese, which is ideal for anime. 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. Both tracks sound mono most of the time. If you switch on Prologic decoding, your centre channel will get the vast bulk of the sound, with occasional moments of stereo imaging.
The dialogue is clear and comprehensible (assuming you speak the language of the soundtrack...). There are no obvious flaws in audio sync, not that animation makes this easy to judge. I continue to find it amusing how the English dub seems to match the mouth movements better than the original Japanese does — this seems to be common in anime.
Kenji Kawai's score is excellent. It is one of the highlights of this series.
The surrounds and subwoofer are not used by this strictly 2.0 soundtrack.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is subtly animated, with music. Nice stuff, and easy to use.
The opening titles in Japanese (in the main feature they are in English), just as on the previous disc.
Thirteen pages of images showing sketches for the shinma in these episodes: Kyo Koh, Han Ki, Jya Ka, and Oh Shu. The sketches aren't systematically labelled, which makes them less useful.
Labelled Madman Propaganda (as usual), we get only two trailers on this disc (one less again than last time — soon we'll get no trailers!):
The Region 1 version of this disc sounds pretty much the same as ours, but without the gallery or Madman propaganda. I wonder if the R1 might be free from the interlacing artefacts? Intriguingly, one report says the R1 is widescreen, but not 16x9 enhanced, (but the same source reports every other volume as full-frame...) while another reports it as full-frame. Ours is definitely full-frame, which is what I'd expect.
Even more episodes of Miyu, an interesting series, on a DVD that's not quite as good as the last one.
The video quality is fair, but there is some mild aliasing, some dot crawl, and some quite minor interlacing artefacts.
The audio quality is very good for a 2.0 soundtrack.
The extras are limited, and getting fewer (disc 1 had four trailers, disc 2 had three, this one has two...).
|DVD||Sony DVP-NS905V, 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|