I wouldn’t say the plot thickens, but it certainly ripens.
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.In these episodes, Demon Eyes Kyo enters a Shogun tournament to compete for a powerful but cursed Murasama sword. However, Kyo's opponent, Benitora, is determined to win the sword for himself.
For this review, I listened to the Japanese track. In a standard 2.0 format, the sound comes through clearly and concisely without any problems between subtitles and audio – a show like Samurai Deeper Kyo with it’s action though would have really benefiting with a 5.1 Sound. 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 minor problems that I found in the first disc I didn’t notice this time round, 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.
Another nice extra comes with the second volume of Samurai Deeper Kyo as this time around we get an interview with the character design for the show Manabu Fukuzawa. He talks about how he wasn’t familiar with the manga, and how when he got introduced to it how he was inspired to create the legitimate generals of the past to life in animated form, how the design concept occurred regarding Kyo and Kyoshiro, how he created the Kenyou, and how important it was to focus on the eyes in the show. It’s just under 7 minutes long and for a brief piece gives us quite a decent amount of background information so definitely a good piece for anyone interested in character design.
Dropping down an episode, Volume 2 of Samurai Deeper Kyo continues in it’s battling way, and other characters begin to show their true colours, as little bits of the past are revealed more and more to begin to fix the jigsaw puzzle this series really is.
We are in the midst of the Shogun tournament with Yukimura now realising that he is in fact facing his brother Noboyuki, and has a big hatred for Kyo brings in a few interesting revelations, along with also how Benitora fits into the picture in regards his father, and his role in the party (aside from comic relief). More Kenyou are revealed in a number of the episodes which allows Kyo to let loose, but the main focal point of Yukimara and his brother is that after Noboyuki’s defeat, is that Yukimara can send Kyo to find his original body, frozen in the forest of Aokigahara. This leads to the revelation (via flashback) of the finale of the Kyoshiro/Kyo battle which begins to see how Kyo’s bloodlust occurred from the rare taste of defeat.
A character briefly shown in the first disc however suddenly appears to become a focal point – a blind warrior named Akira, a former warrior under the command of Kyo now living his separate life. However, he more than takes an interest in the group, both on a professional level and a personal level (namely with his interest in Yuya) – he’s quite skilled in ice, is easily able to defeat Benitora and also reveals something shocking to Yuya in regards to her brother’s killer…
As Kyo is ambushed by several goons, Yuya sees the scar that represents her brother’s death on Kyo’s back. Yuya so far has been shown as both fanservice and not someone to be taken seriously, but this put her back in the frame as she has to choose between stating with her beliefs with Kyo (both on her work and possibly of a greater interest) or shoot the man who may have murdered her brother. It’s quite interesting how Kyo deals with this, letting Yuya make her own decision (after a classic fake out by Kyo who is mellowing out a little) during a battle with one of the Nobunaga’s goons Kubira, and how Yuya takes it as well is interesting. Even Benitora gets his moment in the spotlight, when he was deserted by a fake master, and is attacked by someone who uses the same arts as he does and seems to be completed outmatched, but is finally able to use the mythical spear, the Hokuraku Shimon, another weapon made by Muramasa. One good thing about Samurai Deeper Kyo is how all these little plots and characters get their moments to be linked together throughout the series.
The finale leads into trying to find the location of Kyo’s body in the Sea of Trees, and they encounter more members of the Junishinsho, the main protectors of Nobunaga, such as the amusing Antera, who is a several hundred year old woman in a child’s body who uses giant hammers as a weapon, and the large muscular yet rather effeminate man Bikara. Whilst seemingly comic relief, they are quite dangerous and do cause the group problems, though the end of the battle is predictable, Akira’s last minute surprise in kidnapping Yuya brings a whole set of new problems…
On the whole, it’s definitely got promise – half way through the series and the characters, plots and fights are all interlinking nicely and coming through to hopefully will be an excellent conclusion. The main problem is the show drags a lot of what happens along – this is necessary in a number cases explaining the relationships of various characters and how their mind works via flashbacks – however, it does get harder to keep track what is going on at first. It is able to explain how everything is linked in the end so it does get marks for that, but at times, it can appear quite dull, whilst other times the show is extremely intriguing, draws you in and visually appealing with the ancient scenarios. The characters, whilst many, all have their flaws but also their good things – Kyo is showing less and less of his bloodlust (though still can be quite a violent person) and more understanding of his groups perils, Yuya is no longer Miss Useless and now we see what makes her tick, new character Akira is definitely intriguing and you want to see what his role is in everything, Yukimura has that ever present smile but also with his role with Kyo you know there’s going to be trouble brewing, and Benitora initially as comic relief, seems ready to take the plunge with his new abilities regarding the Muramasa.
Samurai Deeper Kyo can seem a chore to get through a times, but it’s mostly worth it. Everything is beginning to become clear, as all the little hints in this disc combined with the appearance of Akira means more can happen with this series aside from the Kenyou and Junishinsho battles. Everything is beginning to have a meaning and the puzzles are fitting into place – it’s how we get there which will determine if this is a good or a long ride for the show. Intriguing and worth a rent, especially if you’re into Japanese history.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Character Designer Interview
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.