Volume 5 of Vampire Princess Miyu starts off with the surprising implication that Reiha was once human and that her dislike for Miyu is more than just whim. The first few episodes explore the uncomfortable tension between human and Shinma, and drop hints about the grim relationship between Reiha and Miyu.
Midway through the volume we hit the episode that launched a thousand creepy lesbian doll stories. Well, okay, maybe not a thousand, but it certainly launched one of mine, Nina. In this episode we meet expert doll-maker Kimihara Kasumi, whose dolls appear to be alive. This woman makes boy dolls of such beauty that she has becomes obsessed with one, fancying that they are lovers. (Not entirely impossible if you take a moment to think about it.)
The gallery owner, who has a thing for Kasumi but has a thing for the money she brings in more, hires a caretaker for her, a young woman by the name of Fujiwara Yuki. Kasumi begins to suspect Yuki of trying to steal her lover, and ultimately finds Yuki expressing her love to the doll. In a fit of jealousy, Kasumi destroys the doll only to find that it actually has been inhabited by a Shinma. Miyu destroys the Shinma, and Yuki consoles Kasumi in her decidely not doll-like embrace.
The next glimpse of Kasumi and Yuki is at new doll-designer Fujiwara Yuki’s show – in which all the dolls are now beautiful girls. Miyu’s classmates whisper the scandalous information that Yuki and Kasumi are lovers, it’s said – and we can see that they are. They are touching, after all.
The girls express shock and disbelief, and Miyu mutters about the unhealthy illusion that this human has now bought into – that horrible illusion they call love. And the episode ends with us supposed to be thinking how awful and unhappy they will be in this hateful situation, with dolls that are clearly raring to be possessed.
Only, Yuki and Kasumi look really happy in each other’s arms. There’s nothing in their expressions or body language that can really be mapped to “this is bad.” So we, the Yuri audience, have to think that Miyu is not condemning lesbian love particularly, but love generally as a miserable affectation of humanity. Well, okay then. ^_^
The rest of the volume goes back to the usual formula of Miyu kicking Shinma butt, sometimes with the help of, and sometimes despite, Reiha’s presence.
For the typical Miyu episode, which usually ends ambiguously at best and miserably most of the time, the creepy doll and lesbian episode actually comes off as practically cheerful. I can’t think of another episode off the top of my head where the characters end up with more of a healthy non-Shinma infested relationship than they started with.
Art – 8
Story – 6
Characters – 7
Irony – 7
Yuri – 6
Service – 2
Overall – 7
It was with immense satisfaction that I rewatched this volume. It was sufficiently disturbing, pleasantly lesbian, mostly creepy and surprisingly happy all at once. Everything one could ever want from Vampire Princess Miyu.