Samurai Deeper Kyo Vol. #02 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Release Date: Friday, August 01, 2003
Translated by:Takako Maeda
What They Say
Yuya discovers that the man before her is no longer Kyoshiro, but Onime-no-Kyo. Kyo defeats the Bantouji brothers easily and viciously and turns to face the last person alive: Yuya. Kyo spares her, promising to watch as she hunts for her brother's killer and to kill her if she fails. Once he puts his sword away, Kyo is gone and the spirit of Kyoshiro returns to his body. Kyoshiro leaves the town before the spirit of Kyo can harm his friends, but Yuya insists on traveling with him. (After all, there is a huge bounty on Kyo). As they head West, they are watched by a mysterious lady who has her own plan for Kyo ...
The cover art features the same artwork of Demon Eyes Kyo as the Japanese release, only for this English release he is placed in front of a rice paper wall with the shadow of Black Scorpion behind it. The Tokyopop logo appears at the top, which I find much more stylish than the giant “KYO” logo found on the Japanese tanks. Volume number appears on a blood drop in the lower left corner, and the creator name is in the lower right. The back cover features an illustration of White Crow. It’s a great looking cover and I like the original artwork and logo from Tokyopop.
The volume contains all the “Kamijyo Circumstances” at the end of the appropriate chapters, where Kamijyo writes funny little strip comics about the creation of this manga. At the back of the book is a glossary of terms and an Honorifics Guide. There is also a one page extra asking fans to send in their Kyo artwork. A nice presentation overall.
The character artwork is definitely a strong point as Kamijyo had a lot of fun with the designs, especially with the San Sai Chu. It gives the manga it’s own attitude and each character his/her own personality. I was worried about how the difference between Kyo and Kyoshiro would be handled, and I was impressed with how just changing the eye shading and eyebrows clearly distinguished the two from each other.
For fans of the well drawn female figure, there is some nice artwork here for you all. No, there aren’t any nipples (there are a few nude bums), but there is a lot of ecchiness in the designs and Okuni is dead sexy. The fights are well done with fast artwork that is a little rough in spots, but for the most part pretty clean. There are a few awesome one to two page spreads featuring the big moments in a battle that are pretty impressive.
The SFX are left untouched and are not translated, with no glossary, and that is about my only gripe. Honorifics are left in place. All the cultural terms are also left in tact and a glossary is provided to help explain. All the special moves are also left in romanized Japanese, but also with the English translation after it in the dialog bubble. I thought this really helped keep the historical and cultural aspect intact, which really heightened my enjoyment overall. The dialogue is clear and fits the personalities of the characters quite well. There are quite a few instances of foul language that I thought fit the characters rough personalities and cocky attitudes. Very good job.
Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
The action picks up right where the last volume left off with Kyoshiro in the middle of a battle with Jimon, as Kyoshiro and Yuya are trying to protect a small village of Ochiudo, or fugitive samurai. The battle puts Kyoshiro’s life in danger, which triggers Kyo to awaken and take over the body to fight Jimon. Jimon is not a likeable character one bit, so it is very easy to root for Kyo in this battle, even though Kyo is a pretty hard character to like. The battle spends a good amount of time with posing and trash-talking, but the action is fast and the pace through the battle never drags. After Kyo defeats Jimon, he then turns his sights on Izumo No Okuni, who was getting all worked up in a sexual fervor while watching Kyo awaken and begin his killing. Okuni is a mysterious woman, and a sexy one at that, who knows a lot of information that she is keeping secret. It also seems as though she was a part of Kyo’s past, but at this point it is not too clear. Okuni disappears, Kyoshiro returns in comical fashion as the sword is sheathed, and him and Yuya continue on their way.
The second part of this volume is a nice mini-story involving mostly Yuya as she protects a young pick pocket from a group of thugs who have enslaved the young boy named Kouta. What I liked about this section was that Yuya finally got some time to shine without getting bailed out by Kyo. Seeing her run around and fight on her own, pulling off fantastic moves all while maintaining control of her gun and hidden daggers, is a lot of fun and I couldn’t help but be impressed. There’s no real information about the ongoing plot revealed here, but it is an enjoyable read to see Yuya in action.
The last part of the volume sets up a longer story arc involving the San Sai Chu, or Three Colors Gang. Kyoshiro and Yuya arrive in a small town and immediately come to the aid of an old woman who is being threatened by a bunch of thugs. They want to take the land on the mountain where the old woman lives because of a legend of some great treasure. Obaa-san, the old woman, takes them in and lets the two stay at her house as protection, but Yuya really just wants to find the treasure. After not being there too long, Kyoshiro comes under attack by members of the San Sai Chu, who are named White Crow, Black Scorpion, and Red Tiger. There’s lots of fights, but Kyoshiro still remains himself even while he fakes to be Kyo, hoping to scare off Black Scorpion but instead excites him to fight even more. The fights are quick and well done while keeping the story moving forward. It’s fun to see what special moves each assassin will try as Kyoshiro plays the idiot savant and “luckily” dodges each and every attack.
Even though this may seem like a standard samurai manga, there’s a lot of freshness injected by Kamijyo that keeps my enjoyment level high. First off, the humor is great and well-timed. Most of it is on the ecchi side, and involving breasts, but I never really felt like it was forced or overused. The timing is just right in order to maximize the most laughs possible. There’s also a couple random moments of humor that had me rolling on the floor, including a scene with Kyoshiro being shot out of a cannon in order to catch a bandit. The gags also stay fresh and don’t become tired, I get a chuckle every time I see Kyoshiro tied up and hanging from a tree after Yuya brings the smack down on him, usually for doing something perverted.
What also adds to the freshness of this manga is the edgy characters and the fact that people die. There’s a lot of parallels that can be drawn with Kenshin, especially with the pick pocket story here, but one main difference here is that it is much more violent and people die frequently, even at the hands of our main character. The attitude is also much more rough and punk-ish, which I enjoy. There is a lot to enjoy here and I can’t wait to continue on this journey.
Samurai Deeper Kyo is a title that for one reason or another always ended up on the bottom of my pile with the deluge of manga coming out these days. After going back and reading this volume, I am now completely regretting not jumping on the Kyo-wagon earlier. Badass samurai with even more badass weapons and special moves, rough attitudes, fast and furious fights, well-placed ecchi humor, and sexy women, remind me why haven’t I been reading this again? Even the filler story with Yuya was very enjoyable to read.
The release is also handled with a lot of great care. The translation is done very nicely with honorifics and cultural terms left intact. The artwork feels a little dark at times, but otherwise looks great. The bottom line is that Kyo equals fun. Action and samurai fans will love the fight scenes and special moves, fan service fans will love the sexy women, and the comedy helps break up all the fight posing and cocky attitudes. Fun stuff and very much recommended.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Orientation: Right to Left