Japanese history with an interesting twist.
What They Say
During the epic battle of Sekigahara, two samurai fought separate from the rest of the battle. As Kyoshiro and Demon Eyes Kyo, two samurai who had their own agendas, duelled, a shooting star slammed into the Earth during their battle, engulfing both of them. Four years later, a bounty hunter named Yuya runs into that same Kyoshiro, who has apparently become a travelling medicine man. However, it quickly becomes evident that something very strange happened to Kyoshiro four years ago, and when Yuya brings him into a new battle, Kyoshiro's personality vanishes and is replaced by that of the demon Kyo.
For this review, I listened to the Japanese track. In a standard 2.0 format, the sound comes through clearly and concisely though I did notice a couple of moments on a few episodes where the sounds didn’t match with the subtitles – fortunately it wasn’t horrendously noticeable but still something to note. The audio comes out well though without any signs of muffling or distortion – checked the English track as well and again no problems, despite the lack of 5.1.
The video’s only problem I had is as said, the fact that the timing between the sound and the subtitles was a little off in a couple of episodes. Other than that, the video is very vibrant and comes through well on the screen especially considering the samurai scenario combined with the after effects of some of the techniques used in the show. There were no problems with the video being broken up or distorted and it flowed through fine.
The menu is very basic, with an easy selection box of play, episodes and languages easily selectable. The menu has the selections all set on a scroll in a dark like image which actually made it a little difficult to see what selections could be made at first. Also, there is no scene selection which can be a little awkward. No problems with selection and reverting back to the main menu.
A couple of neat extras come with the first disc of Samurai Deeper Kyo – the textless opening and ending being there is always nice, but the big extra is a 10 minute interview with the director for the Japanese release of Samurai Deeper Kyo, Jinji Nishimura. It’s quite informative as he talks about how he used the manga and how he deviated from it, how difficult it was to condense to 26 episodes, developing the lead characters, the relationship between Kyo and Yuya and how he worked with a lot of well known names in the seiyuu business. It’s fun and straight forward, but also quite informative.
Samurai Deeper Kyo is another series that surprised when it got a UK licence, considering it was released in the US in 2003. Going through a traditional samurai story with some very liberal use of creative licence, we get 7 episodes on one disc which at times felt like a chore to get through, but once Kyo finally reveals himself, everything gets interesting.
We start off with a flashback sequence between two legendary warriors, Demon Eyes Kyo, a demonic human being and a legendary samurai, Mibu Kyoshiro. Other samurai try to aid the battle but before we see the conclusion, we move to the present day, seeing another young man also named Mibu Kyoshiro, a local medicine man 4 years later after the battle. He suddenly spots an attractive woman named Shiina Yuya, who is a bounty hunter – and she tricks him as apparently he has a bounty of one million ryo, and get’s ready to trade him in. However, it appears that other’s are following his apperance, namely the other samurai from 4 years ago – Sanada Yukimara (based on the real life Yukimara, winning many battles despite a small army during the 17th century) a feminine looking samurai who wishes to take over Japan and a young warrior named Sarutobi Sasuke (a ninja based on fictional story books in the early 1900s), and Yukimara has Kyo’s sword. As Yuya prepares to collect, she hears a weird sound and suddenly a zombie-like samurai appears, where Yuya’s bullets don’t affect him. He turns into a demon called a Kenyou to finish them up, but suddenly the wimpish Mibu suddenly turns his eyes red, and whilst his appearance doesn’t change, his personality does as it is revealed that the soul of Demon Eyes Kyo has been stored within this body.
From there, it’s a combination of battles, some predictable, and new characters that join or hinder Kyo depending on their situation. Kyo does revert to his normal state after defeating the Kenyou, whilst Yuyu joins him supposedly to try and sneak on him to get the bounty one of the days, but it appears that she also a purpose – to find a man with a cross shaped scar on his back who murdered her brother. It doesn’t take long for Kyo to full take over Kyoshiro’s body, and with that both pleasant and unpleasant company, as other Kenyou try to kill the legendary Demon Eyes, whilst an intriguing woman by the name of Okuni seems to be tracking them and giving them information albeit in a mysterious way, and a clownish man named Benetora, who is based on another Japanese legend, Tokugawa Hidetata, a son of the first shogun and a spear fighter.
There are a number of battles, most of them predictable if Kyo is involved, fighting other Kenyou and warriors of the Junishinsho, 12 warriors sent to protect Oda Nobunaga, a general who apparently has connections to Kyo’s sealing. A lot of them have grudges against Kyo, and some survive depending on their reason like Mahiro (who thought Kyo killed her sister but was used by a general Genzo) but mostly, Kyo disposes of them without remorse. It’s a bit predictable through 7 episodes, however there are some interesting moments, such as when there is a local tournament where Benitora and Kyo fight, and also the discussion of the Muramasa, some legendary weapons where Kyo wields one, and when Sanada faces off against his brother Noboyuki in the tournament. There are a vast number of characters, and they are all just interesting enough in different ways and also get enough screen time each that it doesn’t become a chore waiting for Kyo inevitably winning the day.
Samurai Deeper Kyo is an interesting interpretation on real life Japanese history, turning it on it’s head and then some. The characterisation is decent, though Kyo seems to be a jovial killer looking for revenge, you can tell there is something that will be brought out within him and his control of Kyoshiro. All the other characters have their moments and whilst the majority of the fighting is predictable, it does a decent job of having an authentic samurai experience if you combined in with might and magic. There’s definitely more to be explored and I look forward to it.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Interview with Director Jinji Nishimura
Toshiba 37C3030 - 37" Widescreen HD Ready LCD TV – Tangent Ht-50 Home Theatre System Multi-Regional DVD Players/Speakers – Tangent Subwoofer 50-150 Hz, Impedenced 8 OHM.