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[3x3 Eyes box art]
AKA: Sazan Eyes
Genre: Fantasy horror action
Length: OAV series, 4 episodes, 30 minutes each
Distributor: VHS and R1 DVD from Pioneer / Geneon out of print.
Content Rating: 16+ (violence)
Related Series: 3x3 Eyes 2
Also Recommended: Mermaid Saga, Ninja Scroll, Vampire Princess Miyu, Curse of the Undead Yoma
Notes: Based on a manga from Takada Yuzo (Blue Seed, Nuku Nuku).

The 3x3 Eyes Perfect Collection compilation in the United States is actually a release of both OAV series. The first (subtitled "Immortals") is what this review will be discussing. 3x3 is pronounced as three-by-three or three-times-three, never three-ex-three.
Rating: Three StarsThree StarsThree Stars

3x3 Eyes

Synopsis

Pai may look like a cute little girl, but she's actually the last of a powerful, long-lived race known as the Sanjiyan, whose powers manifest when they reveal the third eye located in their foreheads. Her greatest wish, however, is to become human. Unfortunately, this isn't so easy, as many seek to use her powers to their advantage. In the crossfire: Fujii Yakumo, a normal high school student who dies, and is turned into a "Wu", an immortal servant whose life is linked inextricably to the person who creates him.


Review

It seems like a good idea. Cute girl with strange powers. An immortal servant who protects her. Demons and fighting and lots and lots of action. Even a bit of comedy. This should be a classic, right?

Well, not really. You see, the 3x3 Eyes anime suffers from this nasty ailment I call "Greenwood syndrome". It tries to retell a story that has already been told as a manga (which I've only read bits and pieces of), and the animators obviously did not have enough time to tell you the entire plot. So therefore, they animated what they thought were the best parts of the manga (or manipulated them to fit an OAV timeframe), and then compressed it together to form a short series. It didn't work for Greenwood, it didn't work for Akira, and it doesn't work for 3x3 Eyes. The plot often jumps (without adequate transitions) from point to point, and while there was some attempt at narrative exposition, I still felt like I had no idea what was going on by the end of the series. I guess if you really want to know what's happening, I'd recommend reading the manga first.

That being said, this is STILL good anime we have here. While the original episodes of this title are over a decade old (and starting to show some age in the character design style), the animation is still fluid and competent, with very gory and detailed fight scenes, and rather exceptional amounts of suspense and atmosphere. While Yakumo is immortal, he still has a human body. So he "dies" spectacularly, often, and in full bloody detail on the screen. I'm not sure how many times I squirmed at the thought of having to reabsorb my guts after being bloodily disemboweled by a demon, but it happens. The squeamish need not apply, obviously. (Now we know for sure where Detatoko Princess pillaged the idea for Kohaku, the Shield of Meat.)

Thankfully, the leads aren't just gimmicks, but well-developed and well-acted characters. Yakumo is persistent, spunky, and quite likable, and Pai's dual-natured character (a great role, or pair of them, for Hayashibara Megumi) is wonderfully rich, going from cutesy to creepy at the drop of a hat. The side characters are capable, though the villains (with one major exception) are pretty much there to get toasted. Extra points for Pai's "pet" beasties.

Again, the main disappointment of 3x3 Eyes was the disjunctive nature of the plot, but the ending was anti-climactic and very disappointing (but a good excuse for a second OAV series to occur), and it was often hard to tell where events were actually happening at times. (Am I in Japan? Hong Kong? Whaaaat?) Plus the predictable "I'm-a-human-sacrifice-watch-me-wriggle-in-skimpy-clothes" scene, which made me laugh much more than it had any right to.

While not a bad series, 3x3 Eyes would probably have been better served as a television series. Perhaps with more time and context, the comedic bits wouldn't have seeming as jarring as they did alongside scenes of Yakumo getting literally ripped to pieces by bad guys. As it is, it's a good taster for the manga, and still enjoyable in its own right as an action fantasy anime. Just be sure to wipe the blood off your screen when you're done.

Gory, action-packed anime that could've used more of the plot that the manga originally had.Carlos Ross

Recommended Audience: While the well-traveled children of sci-fi convention-goers didn't freak out at this title, I would not recommend 3x3 Eyes for the squeamish or the very young. This is a fairly gory title, and there's more violence than the normal Pioneer release. No nudity (though there's a bit of fan-service of Pai), and no sexual content to speak of.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (4/4)
3x3 Eyes © 1991 Takada Yuzo / Kodansha / Bandai Visual / King Records
 
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