Mania Grade: B-
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: 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 Jason Hicks
July 06, 2002
Release Date: February 27, 2001
3 X 3 Eyes is divided into two very distinct parts, one that came out some time around 1989, and another that came out later, around 1995. This should be obvious when you see that the OVAs come on two disks, one with four half-hour episodes and one with three 45-minute episodes. The two parts are so drastically different that I feel they should really be judged separately. The grades above are actually a sort of average of the two, as the older episodes are vastly superior in terms of story and voice acting, and the later ones are better in terms of art. I'll try to break it down for each disk as I go through each section.
The English dub was completely redone for this release, much like they did for the new release of Akira. It's supposed to be more faithful to the original Japanese than the old version. Having never heard the old version, I have to judge this on it's own merits, and I think it does astoundingly well. The acting is fantastic in the older episodes, and the story is easy to follow despite the myriad of demons and monsters you have to keep track of. The second disk is a little off, however, as the voice actor who does the lead girl's voice, Pai, seems to have forgotten what makes her tick. She's comepletely lifeless at times, and at others her excitement seems downright forced. I spot-checked the Japanese audio, and it seems to be in order. If the subtitles are any indication, I would say the dub is indeed pretty close to the Japanese. I have no serious sound system, because that's not something I'm generally interested in, but I heard no significant problems on my meager setup.
When I first put disk one in my player, I literally said "yikes!" The old episodes look ancient, with bare-bones animation, classic anime style, and all kinds of scratching and grain. I was surprised at how quickly I forgot about it though. With all the anime I've seen recently that focuses almost entirely on the video elements (Blood: The Last Vampire, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, Samurai X OVA), something like this really stands out, but after a while, you kind of forget about it. The older episodes do so much else correctly that you forget about the graininess. The second disk is a different story all together. It looks a lot better, with much more fluid animation and brighter colors, with just a bit of jaggies around the edges in some spots. Of course, everything else about the disk is so terrible that you get a headache anyway.
I really like the cover art, with the three-eyed Sanjian. The disks are easily accessible and the case is just a bit thicker than a regular DVD case, so it won't stick out funny on your shelf. The back describes everything you get in detail. The disks themselves though look a little bland, I thought. They each have a stylized drawing of three eyes, but they look like someone just drew them on with a felt marker. They could have been better.
The menus are pretty much the same for each disk. They have some nice animated rain, and a thunder clash that sounds when you pick something. It's easy to navigate and see what you have selected, and I didn't notice any pauses at all.
There's a fairly typical art gallery and a sketch gallery on the first disk, and an art gallery on the second, but they are both pretty short, with fairly small pictures (with ample frame--I think they could have framed them differently so you could better see the art, but maybe that's just me). I suppose it's better than nothing. Voice actor credits are included, which seems a nice gesture. My disk also came with temporary tatoo of the show logo and a "third eye," I'm assuming for cosplayers who want to be a Sanjian. Neat idea, but mine will probably rot in the case.
As far as the basic plot goes, a girl who is part of an ancient race of demons accidentally gets a young boy killed, but as he dies, she takes his soul into her body, saving him and forever binding them. The older episodes were originally brought to the US by Streamline Pictures, who also brought over Vampire Hunter D, Fist of the North Star, Golgo 13, and others. If you've seen any of these, you sort of know what to expect... lots and lots of blood, and maybe some fanservice if they can fit it in. The older 3 X 3 Eyes episodes follow this to a certain extent, but have the voice acting and story to make it work. Sex is minimal at most, and most of the violence either has a point or is done in the first episode to illustrate Yakumo's newfound invinciblilty. All of the characters are believeable, which says a lot for a show about demons and magic. There's a lot of interesting ideas tossed around, like the rammifications immortality has on your social life and what it means to not have a soul any more, but the most interesting aspect of the plot is Pai and her personality. She and her split personality carry the show. Pai usually acts naive, almost to the point of being emotionally stunted, usually running around and giggling like a child, but at the same time, there's always a dark overtone to everything she says and does, because when her third eye opens, she's strong, forceful, intelligent, and quite often deadly. She also refers to Yakumo as her "slave" when her third eye is open, which adds some hostility to what would be an otherwise friendly relationship. The uncertainty about Pai/Sanjian, and how you could love a person with such an obvious personality split, is what makes the show worth watching. In the last episode of the first disk, when Yakumo finally realizes he loves Pai, does he mean the childlike version or the controlling one? Or both? I think it's telling that the first and only time the two sides make a decision together marks the final action of the last episode.
The second disk is another story all together. Pai has lost her memory, and is going to school with some new friends. The majority of the second disk is spent trying to get her memory back. With Pai changed so drastically, the show really falters. Yakumo is left to carry the show by himself, and his brainless fawning over Pai makes no sense. The episodes are longer, but seem to contain less information, so they really drag on. a lot of new characters are added, and almost none of the old ones even get a mention. The new characters are all pretty much generic, cookie-cutter characters, with no dramatic growth at all. The style of the show changes a lot too, with a lot more forced drama and boring school-girl-writing-in-diary kinds of scenes. It's really painful trying to watch this second disk, especially since the first disk is so good, story-wise. Not to mention, all of the fight scenes in this disk seem to involve summoning a demon of some sort (of the "Pikachu, !
I choose you!" variety), making you wonder why Yakumo doesn't fight for his love on his own for once. All in all, the second disk is very disappointing, and I think it's a shame that it got packaged with the old disk.
27 inch Sharp TV, Hitachi DVP-315U DVD Player