Okay, so I’ve de-boxed the Vampire Princess Miyu doll, and I want to give you the full report on how the Full Action Doll Series works.
I may need to get her a new outfit that’ll match the hat better. (I found her some black pants to wear so this shirt/dress wouldn’t be quite so revealing. No idea where they came from, though. From the creases, I think they were part of someone’s stock, but I’m not sure whose.)
Semi-random aside: I think whenever I re-body Yeolume, I may also paint her lips a little. I like the rest of her face-up, but her mouth sort of melts into her face. (Um, that sounded nasty.)
Another thing I noticed in taking these pictures: Kaiko really needs new eye chips. These are totally wrong for her; they’re not even blue. She needs more anime-style chips. And a slightly more slender body, so her coat will fit. (A Monster High body would be ideal, if they made them in her skin tone, but they don’t. Maybe an Ever After High body would work?)
Okay, now that I’ve shared the cuteness, I’ll get on with the full report on the Tsukuda Hobby Full Action Doll Series Vampire Princess Miyu doll. I checked it out, and the Toy Box Philosopher hasn’t done a review of this line (not surprising, really, since it’s sort of…uh…low profile in the US), so I’m going to try to cover some of the same bases, though I won’t pretend I can match her quality.
So, a while back, I got a couple of dolls from the Full Action Doll Series from Mandarake. At the time, I only opened Kanna, leaving Miyu in her package, a decision I regretted pretty quickly, given the interesting nature of the Full Action Doll Series’ body.
For those unfamiliar with Vampire Princess Miyu, you’re probably better off consulting Wikipedia than listening to me, but I’ll go ahead and present the few facts I remember. (It has been quite some time since I revisited anything but the soundtrack.) The heroine/title character, Miyu, became/awakened as a vampire when she was about fifteen or sixteen, and she both hunts and is hunted by a type of demon called a Shinma. Her only companion is the super-sexy Shinma Larva, who is sort of her servant and sort of her lover. (Okay, technically, it’s more that he’s implied to be her lover, rather than that there’s any ambiguity in their relationship. They know where they stand with each other, but the audience (in the anime, at least) is left a little uncertain.) Though the concept of a vampire is a very Western concept, Miyu is a thoroughly Japanese character; her standard outfit is a (shortened) traditional Japanese kimono of some variety (I suspect with funerary overtones, given the color), before she became a vampire, she was an ordinary Japanese girl, and so forth.
Those are the facts that remain constant from version to version.
There are three versions I know of: the original manga, the OVA, and a television series. I have not read the manga, so I can’t say what it’s like, but I would expect that it’s somewhere in between the OVA and the TV series. In the OVA, Miyu is a mysterious figure, and the actual lead is a woman who’s like a detective or a reporter or something. (As I said, it’s been many years. Even more years in the case of the OVA. I don’t even have it on DVD, just on a few old VHS cassettes.) The lead is convinced that Miyu is evil, and yet Miyu frequently steps in to save the day, but in such a way that the lead’s convictions are never entirely disproved. Technically, Miyu isn’t really very likable in the OVA, but I liked her anyway, because she reminded me of Sierra from Suikoden II. In the OVA, Larva was cursed by his fellow Shinma when he turned on them, and he can neither speak nor remove his mask, so he only speaks and we only see his face in the one episode that gives a flashback to how he and Miyu met.
In the TV series, Miyu is the heroine as well as the title character. Because we have to spend the whole series with her, she has a very different personality, much warmer and less mysterious, though how much of that is an act and how much of it is character growth is up to the viewer. She spends most of the series disguised as a normal human girl, and in the process of attending high school, she makes a few friends, one of them a particularly close friend; they exchange BFF charms and everything. (And yet, I don’t remember the friend’s name. At all.) In the TV show, Larva’s curse is not so harsh, and he can remove his mask and speak. He is also not Miyu’s only companion; there’s another Shinma helping her.
I don’t remember the little rabbity-thing’s name, but I’m pretty sure that the eye hidden under his folded-over ear was big, round, creepy-looking, and had the ability to…see…something. I don’t remember what, but something. Probably to see through illusions or to find Shinma, or…I dunno. Something that was going to help Miyu without helping her too much. I can’t even remember if he was already working with Miyu and Larva from the beginning, or if he joined them in the first episode. Anyway, the show mostly fell into the “villain of the week” mold, though some episodes were multi-parters, alleviating the routine a bit, and there was one Shinma who was sort of Miyu’s opposite number: she looked like a girl about Miyu’s (apparent) age, or perhaps a little younger, dressed in traditional Japanese clothes, but she had ice powers instead of sucking blood, and she wasn’t clearly evil or clearly good, but she was definitely less concerned about the fate of the humans who happened to get in the way than Miyu was. But like many television anime — particularly those who have to make up an ending not present in their source material — it fell into the trap of “sudden dramatic ending.” It’s one of those many shows where if/when I rewatch them, I just stop before the last few episodes, because the show doesn’t really need an ending, and the ending provided doesn’t entirely fit the show (though that’s less the case here than in some others) and is entirely unsatisfying.
Okay, now that I’ve filled you in on most of what I remember about Vampire Princess Miyu, let me get on with the doll review.
The TV anime opens with Miyu playing a haunting melody on her traditional Japanese flute. If you’ve ever seen the show, you probably hear it going through your head every time you look at this doll. (Goodness knows I do!) I had some difficulty getting her to hold the flute up to her mouth, though. (I’m using the package insert as a photography backdrop because it seems so appropriate a setting for her.)
A close-up of her face. The facial sculpt is really nice, and the hairstyle is spot-on…but I’d still be happier if it was spot-on with actual hair instead of being molded plastic. (Though I suppose that hairstyle would be hard to reproduce with hair…)
And here’s a good look at the front of her costume. Not the best sewn outfit I’ve ever seen on a doll, but I’ve seen much worse, too. That place where it looks like part of the pink bow was accidentally tucked under the purple part of her obi was no accident, or if it was, it was a complicated one: it’s actually sewn in place like that.
Looking at the back view of the doll, I can’t help but feel that the big bow on the back of her outfit was a bit less, um, what’s the word I’m looking for? Well, the one in the anime didn’t feel that…stiffly massive. In wouldn’t have been that stiff, in any case, even if it was just as big. It was definitely just as long, but I think the tails hanging down may not have been quite so wide. No, scratch that, I just looked at a picture, and it was totally just like this. Only not so stiff. These ribbons are very stiff.
Speaking of ribbons…
This was really hard to tie in place. And I definitely messed it up.
I’m not sure if those spots on the back of her heels are staining from the packaging, or if something inside is staining from within. But I suspect the former.
This is all they provide in the way of instructions to get that ribbon tied correctly. Even if I spoke Japanese, I doubt they’d have helped me much.
Maybe I should call him “Max.”
In case you were wondering what those spiny things you could just see the tips of were, they’re his tail. Or maybe his tails. There are nine of them, so I suppose he’s related to the nine-tailed foxes. (The tail, btw, fell off so many times I eventually got frustrated and glued it in place.)
I was pleased, in undressing her, to learn that all those bows were sewn into their bows, and that her clothes all attached with nice, easy to remove, easy to replace velcro. I was not looking forward to trying to re-tie that pink bow.
I was a little surprised to see that Miyu doesn’t have nipples; Kanna had distinctly defined nipples. I guess because Miyu is underage (or was underage when she stopped aging) and Kanna is over 18. (Though I don’t know by how much.) Anyway, it may look like she has no joints in her torso and her legs, but that’s not the case. Both torso and legs have a rubbery vinyl covering to hide the joints.
I have no idea what that is sticking out in the middle of the small of her back. Something gone amiss inside the rubbery covering, I suppose. It’s probably the same thing that makes an unpleasant cracking, snapping sound every time you move her torso joints, or one of her arm joints.
This is about as far as the basic arm lift goes. One arm’s a little higher than the other because it had been rotated a bit. A lot of poses for her left arm are hampered by her braid. (That’s why her head’s turned a bit away from the window.)
You can pretty much only turn them when they’re flat at her side, but rotating her arms at the shoulder socket allows her pretty much 360 degree arm movement.
She does pretty good front splits. (This is about the point in the photo session where I suddenly started fervently hoping my neighbors couldn’t see in through my window…)
Her side splits are not so good. (I had to lean her against that gelato jar(?) to keep her upright.)
This is the best shot I could get to try and show the range of motion allowed by her hidden torso joint. Bizarrely, though she can bend and twist a lot further than this, she won’t hold the pose as soon as you let go, and she reverts to only this level. You’ll notice, of course, the crease on the side of her stomach. I think that was caused when I first bent her torso joint, while she was still dressed. But since she was still dressed at that time, I can’t be sure; the crease may have always been there.
It’s not very ladylike, but she can sit on the ground fairly well.
Sitting in a chair is hampered by the fact that I could not figure out how her knee joints were supposed to work. Most doll knees have their own peculiarities, and if you don’t understand them, it can be difficult to get any kind of bend out of them. Since I couldn’t see the knees, due to the coating to hide the joints, I couldn’t get them to work properly. It is possible, of course, that they never would have worked very well anyway.
I wanted to show a close-up of the palms of her hands. They’re fairly detailed…even though the other side is not. The hands both came out of their sockets at times during the photography. I think they’re supposed to, but the left hand is actually broken; it fell off frequently, and even when in place, tended to fall limp. It was already that way in the package; it would flap around inside as I moved the box. (Sort of like she was waving underhand. Kinda creepy.)
A side-by-side with Kanna, to show the difference in their sizes. Also, to show how different their hands are. And their stands. In addition to their stands having different bases, Kanna’s came with about four or five different doll-grips, whereas Miyu’s only came with the one.
And now, more comparisons. Because.
Made to Move Barbie is showing off how easily she can not only hold the flute to her lips, but hold it in more or less the right way. Even though the Barbie stand (which actually belongs to the doll that came in that outfit, appropriately enough) is at least twice as tall in the base as Miyu’s, look how much taller Miyu is!
Rena looks more like she’s sniffing the flute, or maybe trying to use it as a mustache. (After the Barbie one, I just couldn’t resist having all of the comparison dolls try to play Miyu’s flute. (How unsanitary of me!) That meant that using Rena was a mistake, because her wrist joints are fused and can’t bend. A different Pullip would have been better for posing with the flute.) Miyu’s hand is in that position because of the broken joint I mentioned above; it just kept flopping down like that, no matter what I did. (I should have changed the position of her arm so it wouldn’t look so weird…)
I thought Gracie might be the best match for Miyu, in terms of size, but she’s just as dwarfed, too, at least in the body area. (Her head adds quite a bit of height…) She couldn’t even begin to play the flute, on account of not having working elbows. (And you have no idea how hard it was to get the flute to balance on her wrist like that!)
Okay, I knew Operetta was going to be utterly dwarfed. I just wanted to see her playing Miyu’s flute. I knew she’d be a natural at it.
Yup. This is definitely one of the better photos I’ve taken in a while. (Gawd, that sounded arrogant!) This is a really pretty Operetta, I think. She’s the one who came with Draculaura and the Die-ner, I think, the Walmart exclusive version. (I’m not positive about that, though.)
All right, and that’s the end of my photos.
I think I want to re-body Miyu. It’s not a bad body, but it’s an odd one, and it feels too large for Miyu in every respect. It’s also not flexible enough. Most of what I think of as Miyu’s signature poses could never be reproduced with this body. I’m not sure how easily her head can be removed for placement on a new body, though, and even if it can be, would I be able to find a body that matched her head’s skin tone, and could wear her clothes? Probably not. And yet, I still want to. (I wonder if a Made to Move Barbie body would work?)
As I said, though, the body’s not a bad one, and the head sculpt is really quite good, so I certainly won’t be avoiding this line if I see another of a character I’d like to have. But I won’t be paying much more than $20-25 for it, either. (Fortunately, Miyu and Kanna were both in about that price range, so I don’t feel at all like I got ripped off.)