3X3 Eyes is the story of a young man named Yakumo Fuuji, who through a strange series of events becomes the immortal slave of the last of a race of 3 Eyed demons. The demon absorbs his soul to save his life, making him immortal in the process. Now, he begins a journey with the female demon in an attempt to find a way of becoming human. Of course, there are many complications along the way, not the least of which being that the demon is a female with a split personality, one achingly cute and the other being no-nonsense destructive power, and the romances that develop between.
3x3 eyes is originally a supernatural manga series of the same name, which spans over 40 volumes, but this OVA made in 1991 gives us a taster of the manga by covering the first two volumes. And they do this quite well, firstly by not falling into the trap of trying to give us a conclusion and neither does it rely on previous knowledge of the manga, which many short running OVAs of long running mangas do. It does exactly what it should do, introduce newcomers to the world of 3x3 eyes and let fans already of the series get an idea of what an
anime adaption of the whole series would possibly (and hopefully) look like.
3x3 eyes is about Yakumo, a sixteen year old student, who is working in a gay bar, as a cross-dresser in order to make ends meet. He meets Pai, an immortal, who has been sent by his estranged and now dead father from Tibet to help her become human. To really make sure he follows through with this, Yakumo is turned immortal himself and the only way to turn back is by helping Pai. This is the first episode and the basic premises of the plot has been set, you are already pulled into the supernatural world of monsters, immortals and magic with Yakumo. Usually something like this would come off a bit unnatural due to the fast pace of the story and all the elements being introduced so quickly, but somehow it works, especially when you watch all the OVA. The four episodes gives you a good idea of what type of story of 3x3 eyes is and also leaves you on a bit of a cliffhanger at the end just to leave those who haven't read the series to want more.
I thought what was quite well done is after their little adventure in the first episode was how Yakumo still found the whole thing quite unsettling, since he couldn't just get up and leave his whole way life like that. It is realistic for anyone in his position, as it isn't the easiest thing to go off and leave your friends and your whole way of life to go off on an adventure with someone to become human. Most series of this kind have the protagonists suffer this kind of dilemma, but they related it very well to a major point of the series: what's so great about being mortal, or better said what's so great about being human? They tie this in quite nicely.
The art is quite nice and has certainly stood against time and each character is realistic looking, Yakumo actually looks like a Japanese boy. How many times do you get a Japanese boy actually looking like, well, a Japanese boy in anime? Yakumo's eyes is a good example of this, they are mostly closed since they are supposed to be slit eyes, you know the eyes Japanese actually do have. The animators uses the art also to show the split personalities Pai has, by making her have more gentle features to represent her cheerful and child-like personality. The second personality is not only distinguished by the opening of her 3rd eye, but also alter her whole face expression to represent her arrogant and cold personality.
I'll give a special mention to the background of Hong Kong, I loved it! The grittiness of the markets in the final episode is tastefully done.
There is very little to say about the sound, nothing too out of order. A bit dated, but typical of its time, 90s background music with synths thrown in for good measure. It suits the mood of the anime, as it's quite dark, especially the main theme.
Our two protagonists are both interesting characters, who don't fall into the trap of cliché anime characters. Yakumo is a good-hearted sixteen-year-old, who means well. It was nice to find an anime character, who I thought I could actually be friends with. He is just very likable. (Seriously people, most of characters in anime do you think you could actually handle them for more than 10 minutes in real life?) Pretty much by the end of the series, most of his body has been broken in some kind of way, good thing he's immortal, isn't it? So you'd want to like him.
Now, Pai really is up there with one of the most original characters in anime, a schizophrenic girl: one personality is sweet and innocent, the other is stoic and ruthless. Both have their merits and neither of them irritate you, even the colder persona grows on you, unlike another schizophrenic in another series I could mention! Her multi-personality is also reference to the Hindu deity of Parvati, since firstly that's the name of her second personality, who was known to have several personalities. This was another favourable aspect of the series since they used some culture background to help create characters and certain plot devices, but neither wholly relied on it that you suddenly needed to start picking up textbooks or wikipedia -(ing) on the Hindu religion.
The other characters each proved their worth and were all likable. I had a little soft spot for Lee Ling Ling, deputy editor for an occult magazine, but doesn't believe in the occult and just uses it as a vice to make money. And she can really kick ass!
So why did I give it 8 instead of something higher, well, the problem was 3x3 eyes isn't my cup of tea. So why all these positives you may ask? It did everything well and everything I've stated here is the truth, but you see it still does not make me want to go off and read the manga. 3X3 eyes is quite a classic and is something every enthusiast of anime and manga should read or watch at some point, as it's the first to use this storyline and do it better than most. I did want to know some more at the end of the series, since the audience is left on a cliffhanger and I'll definitely go and watch the second set of OVA, but I'll spare myself the manga. This is simply something to do with my taste of anime and manga rather than with the series. I would recommend a watch (it's only 4 episodes long) and see how you fair this!
The 3x3 eyes OVA gives us a good idea about what to expect from the manga and the producers use the 4 episodes to introduce the series quite well without trying to outdo itself. It does what it set out to do and you couldn't ask for anymore than that!
Thanks to the fast forward button I skipped parts that tried to show the characters' emotions like gritting their teeth in anger, opening their eyes when something more dramatic occurs etc etc. It is just a badly drawn anime. If you can put up with the drawing then you can enjoy the plot development. I, however, couldn't bear it. Also note the second installment, Seima Dansetsu has improve its Art dramatically.
This anime looks old and sounds even older. Although the animation and sound quality both come off as rather dated, the former is still quite pleasant whilst the same cannot be said for the latter. The voice acting is also quite unrefined by today's standards, but the sound track absolutely kicks ass, sporting a range of different tracks from oriental style instrumental pieces to jazzy, upbeat vocal songs.
The contents of "3x3 Eyes" reminds me slightly of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", as it involves a couple of people going around killing weird monsters, but it's more bloody than Buffy. The action scenes are pretty awesome, but
the storyline's pretty thin: they slay monsters in order to obtain this statue of humanity thing. And then in the next episode, the statue gets lost again so they end up having to do it all over. Yeah... not exactly the most intricate of plots. Just to top it up, it had a pretty crappy ending too. I didn't really like the humour contained in the anime either. The anime's saving grace lies in its central pair of characters - they were very likeable and it was interesting watching their relationship grow.
That pretty much sums it up I think - there's really not much more that can be said about an action heavy OVA that only has 4 episodes. :P
It all starts off with a good amount of intrigue, some good music, and a bit of excitement before really going in-depth, so getting hooked isn't difficult at all. From there, it moves rather smoothly back and forth between more intriguing story development and more action, maintaining a pretty nice balance between the two. The progression of the story all seems relevant to the overall point, which is especially nice since it was only four episodes. My slightly lower rating for character is perhaps a bit unfair since it only had four episodes, and it still did portray characters I liked for
sure, but they weren't exactly groundbreaking. All said by the time I was finished watching it, I could hardly believe it was so short. It felt as though they had done more with four episodes than many shows do with several times as many.
Do you have an older game console sitting in the cupboard, basement or attic? Perhaps it's time to dust it off, plug it in and start enjoying it once again. We're about to discover some fascinating retro games based on anime franchises we've grown to love over the years.