3x3 Eyes

OAV - 7 episodes

A supernatural adventure show that doesnít get mentioned nearly enough among anime communities, 3x3 Eyes is a real underrated gem.

When Yakumo Fujii literally runs into a young waif by the name of Pai he doesnít realise just how much the girl is going to change his life. Sheís been sent to him by his father, a demonologist who was convinced that Pai is the last surviving member of the Sanjian Unkara, a race of divine tricloptic demons who held the secret of eternal life. It turns out he was right, and when Paiís guardian demon runs amok, impaling Yakumo in the process, a grief stricken Paiís third eye opens and absorbs his soul, making him her immortal Wu. Now incapable of dying until Pai does he finds himself her companion as they try to make her human, and as her Wu that would also make him human again. The trouble is that the artifact they need is much sought after, and Paiís hidden Sanjian personality does not seem to take to Yakumo as well as her innocent outward self.

This show is a really classy piece of work, split into two arcs each made several years apart. The story, as absurd as it may seem, is deeply involving combining visceral horror, drama and some very sweet romance. The show is a good mix of light and dark elements, but the dark aspects are very heavy, since being immortal Yakumo can have absolutely anything done to him. He gets stabbed, run over, sliced up, crushed, pummeled, blasted and even eaten as he tries his best to protect Pai. That is one of the greatest things about this series actually, we get to watch as he goes from his inept first attempts, using himself as cannon fodder, on to learning how to fight back against the demons they face, and eventually become an exorcist of no small skill. Likewise we see him slowly get more and more attached to Pai and the other members of this varied but never stereotypical cast. The characters are all believable as real people, not just cut out regulars or character types, and they bond in some welcome and occasionally surprising ways. This show, for all its gore and violence, has real heart.

This is most certainly not for the young or the weak of stomach. Poor Yakumo gets put through all kinds of bloody and graphically violent trials, and the high quality of the visuals makes it all seem that much more real than most animated gore. Itís not as bad as some and there is a level of taste to it unlike some horrors, but there is an awful lot of blood here, and it makes his fights seem all the more important when heís been so badly bloodied and still tries to fight on. There is also some bad language here and some small amount of nudity, but if you can deal with the bloodiness of this you can deal with everything else it has.

This is a very nice looking show. All the character designs are attractive while not seeming too overly unnatural and beatific, the colours are superb whatever the atmosphere, and the fluidity of the animation is probably second only to fully fledged feature animations. The second three episode arc looks better than the first four episode one, but Iíll assume thatís due to the time gap between the making of the two seriesí. The fight sequences in particular look gorgeous, being very well choreographed and still both tense and filled with impact. Iíd watch this show just to see Yakumo square off with the dolls in the first episode of the second arc even without everything else this series has to offer, and Iím not usually a fan of martial arts shows.

The music is also great, with a very memorable main theme for Pai and Yakumoís relationship, and the Japanese cast boasts several of my favourite Japanese voice actors. Even so the dub still manages to be one of the better ones out there, being well above average. I know I can be lenient to some dubs when they donít work badly, but this really does deserve the credit because the actors all do their jobs well. They actually come across as being the characters for the most part, rather than just playing them. Itís not up to the standard of Cowboy Bebop for example, but itís one thatís worth watching dubbed. They do take some liberties with the script, but itís well written and intelligent for a change, playing up all the showís strengths while hiding its few narrative weaknesses such as occasional over-explanation, and it means that they never have to rush their lines.

This show gets an unconditional recommendation from me. Beautiful art, heartfelt story and characters and very arresting use of the combat and violence. This is what so many horror and action anime should be, and it does it all along with a good, believable cast and some welcome romance to boot. It lacks the character cliches and typical hooks that make so many other series more memorable than this one, but itís one that instantly reminds you how worth while it was getting when you finally get around to watching it again.

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