Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: C+/B+
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: A-
- Extras Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 64.95
- Running time: 270
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: 3 X 3 Eyes
3 X 3 Eyes
By Chris Beveridge
September 05, 2002
Release Date: February 27, 2001
3 X 3 Eyes
What They Say
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Legends whisper about the ancient Sanjuiyan, powerful three-eyed demons that possessed the secret of immortality. Yet their fascination with humanity led to their slaughter by one of their strongest leaders, Lord Kaiyanwan… today, humanity’s blind arrogance has built a civilization that believes only in itself and we preserve our sense of security only by refusing to see the shadow-world lurking beneath the surface of our own… One man, Yakumo, will be forced to confront this hidden world and discover the curse of immortality. What he finds will force him to embrace the demon world to find not only its humanity, but also his own…The Review!
The 3X3 Eyes show has had something of an interesting release. The show was originally released in Japan back in 1991-1992 for the first four OVA's and were quickly brought over by Streamline. When Streamline went out of business and Orion picked up the titles (distributed under MGM) the next two OVA's came out that were released in Japan during 1995. At some point after that, the licenses seemed to be in limbo until late 1999/early 2000 when Pioneer acquired it for all seven episodes. This DVD set contains in full all that's been released, which is pretty minimal compared to the actual length of the (ongoing?) manga. Having it all in one collection however is a really good thing.Audio:
The Pioneer release is the first time that this show has been available in Japanese to US fans. The English dub was completely redone using a pretty wide ranging cast of actors. The original Streamline dub isn't anywhere to be found (you decide whether that's good or bad). Throughout the show, both language tracks sound really solid. There's a fair amount of directionality in both dialogue and action scenes for a stereo show. No disappointments here at all.Video:
Right from the opening sequence, this show is definitely starting to show its age. During the opening there's a lot of nicks and scratches visible. During one of the later sequences on the first disc, there's a lot of scratches, dirt and even a few hairs that crop up. Throughout the first disc is a strong element of grain which, depending on what you're watching this on and how much of it is something you see, will either really bother you or not be noticeable at all. The grain on the first disc really kept my eye focused on it while my wife didn't notice it much at all. This is all in the source material though and no so much the actual encoding. I can only imagine what it would have been like if Pioneer hadn't made this 120 minute disc dual layered. The average bit rate on the first disc is around 8.8, and dual layered for four episodes is just rare unless you want to throw a less compression at it.
The second disc fares a lot better as it's the second OVA series done during 1995 and looks to have been stored a bit better. There's hardly a nick or scratch to be found and very little grain overall. The only noticeable problem with this disc is some jaggies that are fairly persistent along characters faces and other edges throughout, but I find them to be far less distracting than the grain on the first disc. Packaging:
Right off the bat I was pretty pleased with how this was packaged. While I do enjoy the various box sets Pioneer has put together such as Tenchi OVA's and Fushigi Yugi, I was really curious how they'd handle a double disc set. The case is a typical double alpha! Yay! The front cover has a great looking logo with a menacing looking Sanjiyan staring out, definitely eye-catching. The back gives a little rundown on the setup of the world and lists all the episodes and goes into a lot of detail for the creative team credits. The insert provides a nice handy list of chapter selections.Menus:
The animated menus for this show are very nicely done and very in mood with the series. The animation and sound are done in such a way that it doesn't slow down the loading of the main menu or accessing of the submenus much at all. Selections are accessed pretty quickly and the general layout is very well done. Good stuff that looks great.Extras:
Presumably for the first pressing only, there's a removable tattoo included in the keepcase of the logo and the third eye. Extras on the disc are pretty minimal, focusing mostly on line art and image galleries on both discs. The other extra, though it's one that I'd really love to become standard, is the voice credits pages. These pages are primarily for the English dub actors, but do include a few of the original Japanese cast. Each actor has their own page (which is why you won't see this done often, due to the cost) with a headshot photo of the actor and a few pictures of the character(s) they play. It also lists the other shows they've been in, which with the English dub cast is pretty interesting. This is something that may be hard to do with the Japanese actors (acquiring photos, approval, getting their credits) but may be a bit easier on the English side of things. I really really liked it.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
My original viewing of 3X3 Eyes via the Streamline dub many years ago was definitely in the non-favorable group and proved to be something that pushed me more into the subtitle fan category. This made my viewing of the full series somewhat amusing in that my first choice for watching the show was in English again, and not Japanese.
The show, based on a long running manga, revolves around two central characters. Yakumo Fujii and Pai. The show starts off with Yakumo being late to his drag job. What better way to earn extra money while in high school! As he's racing his scooter throughout Tokyo, he ends up running right into Pai with it. Through this and a few other grisly accidents, Yakumo becomes gifted in a sense with immortality from Pai. Feeling sorry for initially causing Yakumo's death, she absorbs his soul into her body, allowing him to regenerate to full health over time from just about any accident. While this does bond the two together quite well as Yakumo cannot die until Pai does, it also gives the author a chance to do some truly nasty things to Yakumo throughout the series.
But how does Pai give Yakumo this power? As we learn through the show, she's actually the last surviving Sanjiyan, a race from China that grew powerful with magics and immortality. Pai, we learn, has been traveling for three hundred years or so looking to become human. While traveling through China, she came across Yakumo's dying father, who instructed her to go to him in Japan and he'll help her become human.
Once Yakumo begins to accept what's happened, he and Pai head off into Hong Kong to look for a statue that will be instrumental in helping her achieve her goal. From this we meet other varied characters who have their own plots (presumably gone into more detail in the manga whereas they're glossed over more here) and things take on a fun paced adventure show with lots of blood splashing everywhere.
3X3 Eyes boasts a fair mix of adventure, romance and grisly horror that it will appeal to a lot of people. The show doesn't date itself too much for being based off of an 80's manga, and the animation for the first set of OVA's isn't that bad at all, though it looks more like TV animation at times compared to today's stuff. The second OVA series does boast some much better looking animation while still staying true to the original set.
The areas where things really tend to shine here is during the fight sequences, notably in the second series. While Yakumo in the beginning isn't always sure about what he's doing or how he's doing it, he manages to get in some good hits here and there but still ends up a bloody pulp. The Yakumo in the second series, which takes place four years after the first, is much more self assured and powerful. His entire change during the four years provides some of the better moments of the second set, as seeing a confident yet grounded guy simply do what needs to be done without the flash. His fighting is only for his love of Pai and his job to protect her.
This is one of the things that I really do enjoy about the show. From the first frame to the last frame, all the characters grow and change. Neither Pai nor Yakumo from the opening of the show are the same as they are at the end of it, each has grown quite a lot and changed.
Having gone back and watched the show again in Japanese, I find myself liking the English cast even more. It's rare that I watch an entire series in English first and then prefer it even after hearing the Japanese cast, but stranger things have happened.
3X3 Eyes is a really fun romp with fairly decent closure of the arcs it goes through. It's unfortunate that there's no true conclusion though understandable as the manga hasn't finished. I hope it gets made into a TV series once it does, as that may be the only way to really get the full feeling of it across with it's long arcs and sizeable cast.
For the first big release of 2001 from Pioneer, they've done a top notch job with what they had available to them. This show definitely has replay value and will be one that we'll make the time for to watch again. Good stuff.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Line Art,Image Gallery,Voice Credits
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers