Samurai Deeper Kyo Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Release Date: Sunday, June 01, 2003
Translated by:Yukiko Nanamura, Dan Danko
What They Say
It is 1604, four years after the Battle of Sekigahara, Japan's greatest civil war. Yuya Shiina, a beautiful bounty hunter, mistakes a traveling medicine seller, Mibu Kyoshiro, for the legendary wanted man "Demon Eyes Kyo." As they travel together, Yuya enlists Kyoshiro's aid in capturing a gang of wanted criminals. When Kyoshiro is cornered and beaten senseless by the criminals, his eyes turn blood red. The peaceful Kyoshiro draws his sword and transforms into Demon Eyes Kyo, the legendary killer of a thousand men. Kyoshiro and Kyo: Two vastly different spirits inhabiting one body.
Kyoshiro is an easygoing traveling medicine peddler carrying an unusually long sword. Yuya is an intelligent and greedy bounty hunter with a 3-barrelled gun. She's disappointed to learn he isn't Demon Eyes Kyo who has a bounty of one million ryo on his head, but Kyoshiro's got a 100 mon bounty on him, and 100 mon is a hundred mon. She uses this as leveredge to get him to essentially be her servant and help her find bigger, more profitable bounties.
Arriving in a village, they find it littered with bodies. The villagers come out of hiding and attack Yuya and Kyoshiro. Fortunately, it's a misunderstanding on the villagers part. They had just been attacked by two brothers who laid waste to their village. One is Touji, a tiny man with extraordinary speed. The other is Banji, a giant of a man with incredible strength. They are demanding the village's money or everyone dies. Yuya, seeing an opportunity to make some money, offers her services as a yojimbo, or bodyguard. When the brothers appear again, they bring with them some help. Yuya is having a harder time with them than she thought. Kyoshiro defends her and gets beaten senseless for his efforts. But as he's being beaten, he keeps warning them to stop or they'll die. When his life is in mortal danger, he draws his sword and become Demon Eyes Kyo. Kyo is fearsome in battle. He quickly disposes of the small fry, then takes out first Touji then Banji. Kyo enjoys battle. Moreso, he enjoys killing. With no more opponents, he turns on Yuya. She tells him to go ahead and kill her. She has a mission to find a man with a scar on his back. If she can't find him, then she might as well be dead. Kyo finds this interesting and tells her he'll spare her so she can finish this mission, but if she strays from her path, he will kill her on the spot. At that moment, Kyoshiro regains control of his body again. He's unaware of what's happened, but he's aware of Demon Eyes Kyo inside of him.
As they travel to Tokyo, they meet Izumo no Okuni. She's a true Yamato Nadeshiko, a stunning beauty with long black hair in a very revealing kimono. She claims to be Kyoshiro's lover, despite the fact that Kyoshiro has no idea who she is. It's quickly revealed that she knows Kyoshiro's secret. She's after him because of Kyo. They also meet the town's Daikan, something of a police officer who's supposed to take care of the Ochiudo, or fugitive samurai who have a secret village in the forests outside of town. The Daikan, though, is little more than a theif, taking bribes and getting fat off the people. We also meet, Jimon, a handsome swordsman who works for the Daikan. He nearly engages Kyoshiro in battle but stops short. He's seen his eyes and knows it's Demon Eyes Kyo. He once saw Kyo at the Battle of Sekigahara. Kyo didn't fight Jimon, but left him as if Jimon wasn't even worth his time. The insult made Jimon dedicate his life to killing, and to getting his revenge on Kyo.
While in the forest searching for the Ochiudo, Izumo no Okuni explains why she's so interested in Kyo to Yuya. Kyo is primitive, and cold-blooded killer who shows no mercy. Her face contorts in orgasmic bliss and she talks about how beautiful that Kyo is. Meanwhile, Kyoshiro finds a girl being threatened by wolves and protects her. His wounds are taken care of by her father, one of the Ochiudo. It turns out the Ochiudo are no threat to anyone. They're little more than farmers trying to eke out a living like everyone else. The townsfolk. led by Jimon, make their way to the Ochiudo village for a battle, while Izumo no Okuni watches from a distance. The volume ends with Jimon and Kyoshiro about to do battle.
At first glance, Samurai Deeper Kyo would appear to be like any other samurai manga. Fierce swordsmen, impossibly powerful opponents, beautiful women and plenty of blood and dismemberment. But Kyo leavens it with quite a bit of humor. Yuya and Kyoshiro are a great team with plenty of comic potential between them. Yuya's ability to hold her own in most situations makes her be more than the helpless victim. Kyoshiro's split personality helps to make him more interesting, too. If he was just Kyo all the time, he'd be boring. Giving him the kind-hearted, goofy and slighty ecchi Kyoshiro makes him far more sympathetic. Izumo no Okuni is the beautiful, dangerous woman whose scheming adds conflict to the story.
The art is strong and powerful, with great humorous moments. The battles are fast-paced but always easy to follow. The art reproduction appears to be a bit dark at times, but screentones look fine. The dialogue is smooth and appropriate to the characters. Honorifics are kept, and many cultural words and concepts are included, with a glossary at the back to explain everything. There are a few pages of extras from Kamijyo and his assistants. There's also a page asking for fan art and questions from the readers, using an image of the ever-orgasmic Izumo no Okuni, Kyoshiro and Yuya.
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Orientation: Right to Left