Vampire Princess Miyu (吸血姫 美夕 Kyūketsuki Miyu?, also read as Vanpaia Miyu) is a Japanese horror manga series by Narumi Kakinouchi and Toshiki Hirano, as well as an anime adaptation by the same creators. The anime was originally presented in a 4-episode OVA (Original Video Animation) licenced by AnimEigo in 1988, and was later adapted into a 26-episode television series licensed by Tokyopop and released in 1997. The furigana for the title indicate the pronunciation as Vampire Miyu or Miyu the Vampire. The kanji are a play on the Japanese word for "vampire" (吸血鬼 kyūketsuki, lit blood sucking demon?), replacing the last character of "kyūketsuki" (鬼 ki?) with the character for "princess" (姫 ki?). This also leads to the title sometimes being called Kyūketsuki Miyu.
Its central characters are a vampire girl named Miyu and her demonic companion Larva. Miyu is the daughter of both a human and a shinma (demon) and as such she was awakened as the guardian whose destiny is to hunt down all stray shinma and send them back to the darkness.
Most locations in the series are evocative of traditional Japan.
- Miyu (美夕 Miyu?)
- A beautiful girl who appears to be around 13 (in the OVA) or 15 (in later volumes of the manga) years old but in fact is much older, being a vampire. In Japanese, "Miyu" means "beauty of the evening", "beautiful evening" or "evening beauty". She can teleport and use fire attacks (which also come in handy when sending a Shinma to "The Darkness").
- In the OVA, she is the child of a human father and a vampire mother in post-World War II Japan. In the TV series, on the other hand, her mother is human and her father is a shinma guardian in pre-World War II Empire of Japan. In both cases, Miyu becomes the Guardian (also referred to as the "Watcher") after losing her parents. In the OVA, Miyu is depicted as childlike, manipulative and playful, and very flamboyant in talking, especially when having a conversation with Himiko, while the series' Miyu is more reserved, straightforward and composed.
- Even though she is a vampire, Miyu is not harmed by sunlight, holy water or crucifixes, and her reflection can be seen (Similar to that of a Daywalker). Although she needs to drink blood to survive, she chooses her 'victims' carefully, since she apparently cannot take blood from others unless they actually give it to her willingly. So, Miyu picks people whom she believes to be "lovely" (either in looks or personality) who have usually suffered a tragic loss, and offers them their greatest wish – to be with their lost loved ones, at least in their dreams – in exchange for their blood. These people live an endless dream state, which she calls "being in happiness" in the OVA. Miyu is protective of Larva and has great concern for him.
- In the TV series, when posing as a human, she goes by the name Miyu Yamano (山野美夕 Yamano Miyu).
- In the OVA, she is seen to wear different clothes in every episode she appears in. For example, in the first OVA, she wears her typical short kimono that is familiarized by all fans, and in the second, she wears a uniform during her stay at school, and wears a bright red yukata when speaking to Himiko and confronting Ranka. In the third OVA, she wears a winter kimono, which seems to cover her body more than the other two garments. Finally, in the fourth OVA, she wears a very heavy black kimono and also wears a mask. However, in the TV series, she only wears two types of clothing, the typical uniform and the kimono known by all fans and that is shown on box covers.
- Larva (ラヴァ Rava?)
- A Shinma from the western world. In the OVA, Larva comes to prevent Miyu's vampire blood from awakening, but it does anyway, for she drinks his blood when he drops his guard. As a result of this failure, Larva's face and voice are sealed behind a mask for all eternity. In the TV series, Larva faces Miyu after she has become the Guardian. After he has struck her down, she drinks his blood. In both cases, Larva starts out as an unwilling ally, but later pledges to be by Miyu's side because of her sorrow, something he was able to glimpse at during both blood-bond scenes.
- Larva can use his nails to slash things and (in the TV series) he can also wield a scythe. He is very powerful, as he is seen to win against every shinma without getting mortally wounded.
- Unlike in the OVA, in the TV series and Manga, Larva can speak and will occasionally remove his mask. The name "Larva" is taken from Roman mythology, which like "Lemures" refers to a restless spirit of the dead. Many of the Western Shinma appearing in the second manga series also follow a naming convention drawn from various European demons and spirits. Larva's name and signature mask may also have been inspired from the white, ghostly Venetian Carnival mask "Larva," also called "Volto." In Volume 1 of the TV series, Larva was called Lava in the English dub and subtitles. The following volumes referred to him as Larva.
- Shinmas are god-demons that take advantage of human souls for their own gain. Escaping from a dark world, they hide in the human world, and Miyu seeks to return them to it.
- Himiko Se (瀬一三子 Se Himiko?)
- She is a beautiful, cynical spiritualist who encounters Miyu during a job. Their paths cross throughout the series as Himiko searches for her, convinced at first that she is just a monster without any redeeming qualities, but later coming to know more about her and Larva. At the end of the OVA, Himiko is shocked as she remembers meeting Miyu when she was a child. Equally shocking is the implication that Himiko herself may have vampiric characteristics from that same encounter with Miyu, which have yet to manifest; apparently, Himiko is the first human who exchanged blood with Miyu, right after she became the Guardian.
- Miyahito (都人?)
- Appearing in vol. 1, Unearthly Kyoto. He is a handsome Kyoto youth whose girlfriend, Ryouko, was murdered by a "vampire" in front of him. Miyahito, upon being unable to protect Ryouko, heavily blames himself and tells Himiko that he wants to kill the "vampire", not knowing that it is a Shinma. He is ultimately so crushed under his grief that he later accepts Miyu's offer to exchange their bloods, and Himiko is a witness of this. During the end of the episode Miyahito is seen in a catatonic state, his mind in a sort of dream-world; Miyu, disguised as a schoolgirl, tells a group of girls to not worry for him, since he's "living in happiness".
- Ranka (爛火?)
- Appearing in Vol. 2, A Banquet of Marionettes, she is a shinma who places the essences of her victims into life-size dolls. She fell in love with a very handsome school boy named Kei, who Miyu was also interested in. Kei wishes to be with Ranka even after she used him, since he gave himself to Ranka voluntarily and she came to fall in love with him as well, and Miyu is forced to banish them both after Ranka transforms Kei into a creature like herself at his own request. Ranka is portrayed as an ally of Miyu in the Manga, however. She is one of the shinma of the second tier, and is quite powerful, as seen in the fifth volume where she tears the quarls apart with her light strings that she uses to control her dolls.
- Shiina (死無?)
- A Shinma who looks like a cute pink bunny. Her name means "undead", being a shinto character, the guardian of the dead. Her right ear covers a bulging, bloodshot yellow eye which enables her to see great distances and dispel illusions.
- Reiha (冷羽?)
- A child-like Yuki-onna (female spirit of snow), her name means "cold feather". She carries on her forehead the first kanji of her name, meaning "cold". Her powers including floating, teleportation, and manipulating wind and snow. Reiha's father was the head of a group of shinma protectors whose task was to ensure that a guardian (in this case, Miyu) would emerge during the Taishō period. When Reiha's father was struck down by the Bird Shinma, Black Kite, he called out Miyu's name instead of Reiha's before he died. Reiha has never forgiven Miyu for this. After the death of her father, she discovered her ice powers upon encountering a feasting Shinma. From that day, she's been Miyu's rival who seeks to destroy shinma, believing Miyu is not fit to do the job. She is less sympathetic than Miyu, and is known to kill innocents who get in her way of destroying shinma. At some point, Reiha ended up freezing the city which led to a final confrontation with Miyu. After Matsukaze's sacrifice, Reiha unleashed a blizzard that was overwhelming Miyu before Larva broke free and beheaded Reiha. Her body picked up her head and left to go look for herself and vowing to return to defeat Miyu someday.
- Matsukaze (松風?)
- Reiha's talking doll companion. His name means "wind of the pines", which in Japan represents an unshakable force, fidelity, conjugal love. He doesn't hide his contempt for Miyu. He is in a sense Reiha's surrogate father into which she has projected all her hostility and anger towards Miyu. In the final confrontation, Matsukaze used his ice abilities to trap Larva in an ice barrier so Reiha could fight Miyu; he later sacrificed himself to protect Reiha from Miyu's flame attack.
- Chisato Inoue (井上千里 Inoue Chisato?)
- One of three schoolgirls who befriend Miyu during her trials. Her name means "close friend", indicating her strong relationship with Miyu. Early on in Episode 2, she buys two keychain charms as tokens of friendship for Miyu and herself. Near the end of the series, it is revealed that Chisato is in fact the strongest Shinma, whose purpose is to destroy Miyu. During the fight, she uses a weapon that was left for her by her brother.
- Yukari Kashima (鹿島由加里 Kashima Yukari?)
- Miyu and Chisato's slightly tomboyish classmate.
- Hisae Aoki (青木久恵 Aoki Hisae?)
- Miyu and Chisato's bookworm classmate.
- Maiko Yanagihara
- From the first episode, "The Fang Knows". She was a teacher who kept a very strict class. However, one rainy day she wanted a chocolate bar but didn't have enough money to purchase it, so she shoplifted one. As bad luck were to have it, three of her students, who shoplifted for fun, caught her but did not turn her in. As a reminder of her moment of weakness, though, they sent her small "gifts" that they shoplifted instead. Her despair caught the attention of a Shinma called Ga-Ryu, which hunted the girls by draining them of their blood in the same manner a vampire hunts. After Ga-Ryu was defeated by Miyu, Maiko gave Miyu her blood.
- Miho Arisawa
- From episode 8, "The Red Shoes". Miho was a shy girl from Miyu's school, with a gorgeous singing voice and crippling insecurity issues. She became a teen idol after her manager gave her a pair of red shoes that supposedly were a good-luck charm; in reality, the man was a Shinma who wanted to control Miho through the magical red shoes, which drained her of her life energy. In the end, Miho gave Miyu her blood so Miho would live and stay in her own dream world. She was last seen in a hospital.
- A Chinese warrior-priestess, featured in episode 16, "Warrior Priest". Her family, her lover Yang, and her master Chang were killed by the Shinma Koh-Waku and now she is seeking that Shinma out, hoping for revenge. Her weapon of choice are two sai. She ran afoul of Miyu whom she mistakened for Koh-Waku. After denying Miyu's help, Yui-Li finds a note behind a portrait left by her master stating that Koh-Waku will depart from Japan on the night of the New Moon. When Yui-Li encountered Koh-Waku, the Shinma used his shadow clones of Yui-Li's loved ones to mess with her until Miyu and Larva arrived. After Koh-Waku was vanquished, Miyu left Yui-Li to live out the rest of her life as she regains her locket.
- Yuma Koizumi
- Introduced as a main plotline character in Manga volume 4, she was a human who fell in love with a shinma, whom Miyu not long after returned to the darkness. She later teamed up with other shinma, friends of her "love" and tried many times to kill Miyu in revenge.
- Unearthly Kyoto
- A Banquet of Marionettes
- Fragile Armor
- Frozen Time
- Miyu: Naoko Watanabe (Japanese), Pamela Wiedner (English)
- Himiko Se: Mami Koyama (Japanese), Stephanie Griffin (English)
- Larva (Ep. 3): Kaneto Shiozawa (Japanese), Zach Hamner (English)
- Ranka (Ep. 2): Mayumi Shou (Japanese), Belinda Bizic (English)
- Mika Kanai - Shiina
- Kiyoko Kishida - Narrator
- Shinichiro Miki - Larva
- Miki Nagasawa - Miyu Yamano
- Megumi Ogata - Reiha, Matsukaze
- Kokoro Shindou - Hisae Aoki
- Mayuko Shirakura - Chisato Inoue
- Chiharu Tezuka - Yukari Kashima
Principal Voice Actors
- Ryan Alosio - Larva, Male Attendant (ep. 17), Male Teacher (ep. 20), Reporters #1 and 3 (ep. 19)
- Kimberly J. Brown - Miyu Yamano (ep. 1-6)
- Anjuli Cain - Chisato Inoue
- Francesca Catalano - Shiina
- Emmanuelle Chriqui - Hisae Aoki
- Dorothy Elias-Fahn - Miyu Yamano (ep. 7-26)
- Julia Fletcher - Narrator, Maiko Yanagihara (ep. 1), Mrs. Oshima (ep. 5)
- Stephanie Griffin - Yukari Kashima
- Wendee Lee - Reiha, Girl at Subway (ep. 2), Nami (ep. 13-14), Reiha's Mother (ep. 23), Ruri Sone (ep. 20), Saori (ep. 9), Yamanouchi (ep. 1)
- Mona Marshall - Matsukaze, Chisato's Mother (23), Fat Lady (ep. 22), Hisae's Mother (ep. 25), Maki's Mother (ep. 12)
- Kirk Baily - Father (ep. 4)
- Catherine Battistone - Old Woman (ep. 4)
- Susan Blakeslee - Michiko (ep. 9), Ja-Ka (ep. 10)
- Steven Blum - Barrow (ep. 13-14), Bus Driver (ep. 15), Maki's Father (ep. 12), Ryuji (ep. 11), Saori's Friend (ep. 6), Yui-Li's Father (ep. 16)
- Richard Cansino - Kouichi Shigere (ep. 3), Street Vendor, Train Announcement (ep. 2), Taxi Driver B (ep. 6)
- Frank Catalano - Maki (ep. 12), Male Student (ep. 22)
- John DeMita - Young Man/Ro-Sha (ep. 2)
- Mari Devon - Housewife #2, Little Girl, Middle-Aged Woman, Yasuhiko Takichi's Wife/Moh-Chi (ep. 18), Mrs. Shigere (ep. 3), Mrs. Yaguchi (ep. 17), Woman/En-Jyu (ep. 4)
- Brian Donovan - Boy in Swamp (ep. 10)
- Doug Erholtz - Toshiro (ep. 15)
- Melissa Fahn - Lilith (ep. 13-14), Shizuko (ep. 15), Mei-Fah (ep. 16)
- Laurie Faso - Doll/Kai-Rei (ep. 19), Genzo (ep. 21)
- Rebecca Forstadt - Morishita (ep. 1), Yuko Shigere (ep. 3), Yuki (ep. 19)
- Cedering Fox - Doctor/Oh-Shu (ep. 11)
- Sandy Fox - Daughter (ep. 4), Kayo (ep. 7)
- Jerry Gelb - Cop #2, Shinma (ep. 23), Bird's Voice (ep. 24)
- Jess Harnell - Takashi Kashiwabara/Kyo-Koh (ep. 9)
- Lex Lang - Ryosuke (ep. 5)
- Michael Lindsay - Man on Bike, Man #2, Policeman (ep. 18), Street Vendor/Shidon (ep. 25-26)
- David Lodge - Kyoichi Yaguchi (ep. 17)
- Dave Mallow - Gas Station Manager (ep. 17), Yasuhiko Takichi (ep. 18), Galerie Owner, Reporter #2 (ep. 19)
- Michael McConnohie - Mr. Shigere
- Paul Mercier - Genji, Village Chief (ep. 21), Old Man (ep. 18)
- Lara Jill Miller - Miho Arisawa (ep. 8)
- Matt K. Miller - Nobuo Matchiyama (ep. 1)
- Zilah Hill Mendoza - Yui-Li (ep. 16)
- Colleen O'Shaughnessey - Woman with Cats/Ko-Jyoh (ep. 12)
- Bob Papenbrook - Iguana/Ga-Ryu (ep. 1), Kamen (ep. 3)
- Tony Pope - Black Kite/Tonbi, Music Man (ep. 22)
- Jamieson Price - Kitjutsushi (ep. 22), Cop #1 (ep. 23)
- Derek Stephen Prince - Cat/Han-Ki, Yasuhiro Takashima (ep. 9)
- Michael Reisz - Kiyoshi (ep. 7)
- Roger Rose - Garline (ep. 13-14)
- Philece Sampler - Aquarium Director, Housewife (ep. 15), Kanno (ep. 8), Miyu's Mother (ep. 22), Yoko (ep. 11), Yui-Li's Mother (ep. 16)
- Joshua Seth - Helmsman (ep. 13), Yang, Koh-Waku (ep. 16), Young Maki (ep. 12)
- Brianne Siddall - Mayumi Takahashi/Ayu (ep. 17)
- Michael Sorich - Captain (ep. 13), Chang (ep. 16)
- Ellyn Stern - Housewife #1 (ep. 18), Moru (ep. 20), Sato (ep. 21)
- Barry Stigler - Old Man (ep. 5), Taxi Driver A (ep. 6)
- Doug Stone - Genta (ep. 21), Man #1, Policeman (ep. 18)
- Terrence Stone -
- Kirk Thornton - Ryu (ep. 13-14), Youichi Oshima (ep. 5)
- Paula Tiso - Kisumi Kimihara (ep. 19)
- Dave Wittenberg - Announcer, Salarie Man, Train Employee (ep. 23), Tokiya Inoue/Hiyoku (ep. 24)
AnimEigo originally released the OVA series on two VHS tapes, each containing a sheet of liner notes related to the series. The liner notes were eventually redone for the DVD release and included in Volume 1. The Volume 2 DVD contains a card with a humorously worded message stating that the complete liner notes are available in the first volume, and that if some form of insert weren't included in the second, consumers would undoubtedly start complaining.
The first DVD volume of Tokyopop's release of the television series is notable for cutting the ending credit sequence from the first episode, the beginning and ending credits from episode two, and the opening credits from episode three. This practice, which was fairly common in the VHS era of anime releases, apparently received a significant amount of criticism as the remaining five DVDs were released with all episodes featuring the opening and ending credit sequences.
- Official AnimEigo site
- Vampire Princess Miyu (OVA) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Animetric reviews OVA and TV series