Samurai Deeper Kyo Vol. #04 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 1-59182-249-1
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Samurai Deeper Kyo Vol. #04

By Jarred Pine     May 08, 2005
Release Date: December 01, 2003

Samurai Deeper Kyo Vol.#04

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Akimine Kamijyo
Translated by:Takako Maeda
Adapted by:

What They Say
Tournament of Scoundrels

Ieyasu Tokugawa, recently instated shogun of all Japan, is holding a tournament in the capital city of Edo and the fiercest warriors in the country are converging for the fight. The winner walks away with a fortune in gold, the shogun's blessing, and a pardon for any criminal history. The losers ... well, the shogun isn't one to hand out consolation prizes. Demon Eyes Kyo has entered the tournament, but it's not fame or fortune he's after--he wants the head of Ieyasu himself!

The Review
The cover art features the same artwork from the Japanese release, with Kyo, Yukimura, Benitora, and Yuya posing for everyone. I noticed on this cover that the artwork is slightly blurred and not as clean as previous volumes. 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 a background illustration of Mahiro.

This volume has one page of “Kamijyo Circumstances”. At the back of the book is a glossary of terms and an Honorifics Guide, now combined into one page. Extras include character profiles of Kyo and Kyoshiro, which are quite funny to read in the Q&A format. There are also 4 pages of fan art, including a guest piece from Mashima-sensei, creator of Rave Master. The page quality to me seems to have dropped a bit, and because of that the tones seems to be slightly faded in areas. It seems that this volume has taken a small dip in its presentation quality.

Character designs continue to be the strong point with Kamijyo’s artwork. They are strong, clean, and detailed. The good guys and gals are sexy, and the bad guys are ugly and scary. There are a few naked bum shots of Yuya, for those interested. The fan service still retains that mature sexy appeal that I enjoy much more than the pandering type.

Even though there is a tournament, there is not a whole lot of action in this volume. The best action sequences are the ones with Mahiro and her spiders. There are still some great full page panels that look great and heighten the action. The background art is increasing, but it is still not at the level I would like to see it at.

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, although it is shortened this time around. One thing I did notice is that sometimes one-time terms are translated in the margins rather than the glossary, which might be a result of the shortened glossary. The dialogue translation continue to be clear and fits the characters. There is occasional foul language, but it never really becomes pervasive and feels appropriate. One error I did notice is that Hideyoshi, the famed general that took on Tokugawa, is spelled as “Hedeyoshi” throughout the book.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
The always scheming Yukimura Sanada has a proposal for Kyo, participate in the Shogun’s Tournament and bring back the head of Ieyasu Tokugawa in exchange for information of where Kyo’s body is hidden. Kyo doesn’t like being Yukimura’s pawn, so he declines. However, after a meeting with a woman from his past, Mahiro, he has a change of heart and wants to clear his name.

At this point of the story, I started to get a little disappointed. Another clichéd tournament? No thanks, is what I initially thought. But once again, Kamijyo comes through with a twist on the whole tournament cliché and fills the story with mysterious characters and political motivations. While reading through the tournament section of this volume, which does take up most of the page count, I honestly forget at times that there was even a tournament going on. Yukimura shows up disquised as a woman so that his identity isn’t revealed to Tokugawa. But Tokugawa knows that Yukimura is there and has plans of his own as he sends out his spies to keep an eye on all the participants. The tournament is not just a battle to win the Shogun’s favor, but it’s a scheme by Tokugawa to cleanse his kingdom of all those who might threaten his throne.

Kyo’s thoughts are not on the battles in the tournament (he defeats all his block opponents at once), but are consumed with Mahiro and a tragic past that those two share. There is a little bit of info revealed, but most is left for another meeting that will happen later. This new bit of info about Kyo’s past is interesting, and once again attempts to humanize Kyo who is becoming less and less that threatening demon as he was portrayed as early on. Yukimura also has to deal with his own past as he meets his very own brother during battle, who has now become a spy for Tokugawa. The one thing that I really found disappointing with this volume is that Yuya has pretty much been pushed to the sidelines, and Benitora is not getting as much time as I would like.

As soon as it seems Tokugawa is losing control of his tournament, he plays his trump card and ambushes all the participants with armed soldiers. It is now Kyo, Yukimura, and Benitora against a small army, and the only way out is to fight with their lives on the line! There’s a great scene featuring the three of them posed and ready to fight, and I fully admit it, I got goose bumps when that happened. Once again there is another cliffhanger ending that has me itching for that next volume, as a critical bit of info is let out right on the last page.

At first I thought this volume was going to travel down familiar, clichéd paths as the tournament started. I give Kamijyo a standing ovation for completely destroying my preconceptions and instead turning the tournament into a political and intriguing battleground. I completely forgot that a tournament was even taking place. There are a lot of players here who’s motivations are unknown and are slowly revealed as the story moves on. Watching everyone maneuver each other and deal with their pasts is pretty fascinating. The pace stays quick and doesn’t drag through the battles, but it also is not in a hurry to show all its cards at once. There is a lot more hidden behind the scenes still, and I cannot wait to peel back that curtain as the story moves on. Lots of fun and very much recommended.


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jnager 3/13/2012 3:51:12 PM

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