Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Review: 3 X 3 EYES

Of course, Hunter x Hunter is still quite well-known for an old-school shonen series.  Today's review covers something that's quite a bit more obscure these days.

3 X 3 EYES (Sazan Aizu), by Yuzo Takada.  First published in 1987 and first published in North America in 1995.


Yakumo was on his way to work one day when he came across a young woman getting beat up by thugs. He fends them off, only to discover the woman, Pai, was looking for him in the first place.  She delivers a skull and letter from Yakumo's father, explaining that Pai is the last of a supernatural race of people and it is up to Yakumo to keep his promise to make her human.  Yakumo is skeptical at first, but after a harpy attack the two are off to Hong Kong to begin their quest.


3x3 Eyes doesn't have much in the way of originality beyond its use of Chinese mythology, but it's still competent and entertaining enough to hold up even today.

Well...maybe not everything holds up.  For example, Pai comes off as something of a crude stereotype of a Chinese person right down to the pidgin English she speaks.  In comparison, Yakumo is as blandly heroic as they come.  What does work is the story hook itself.  The story begins with Pai's quest to become human, and Yakumo's stake in her quest becomes a lot more personal after an incident with a harpy that leaves him in a less-than-human state and dependent on Pai's safety for his own.  Sadly, that's the highlight of the volume, as it quickly settles into a globe-hopping take on the monster-of-the-week format interrupted only by a nosy, exposition-spouting tabloid report named...*sigh* Li Ling-Ling.  The fights aren't bad, as they rely a lot more on physical grappling than the sort of mystic beams and other sorts of magic you might expect.  It's just not quite enough to keep 3x3 Eyes engaging.


Takada's art is pretty obviously influenced by Rumiko Takahashi.  While his characters aren't quite as bobbleheaded as her and his faces a little more varied and lively than hers, they share the same short, long-legged proportions and blobby black hair.  He also has a more visceral approach to violence, as the fights here are big, messy, and chock full of speedlines and gore.  His art is also fairly tame for the time, as what few bits of fanservice can be found are largely confined to the chapter splash pages.  I normally don't have much to say about font choices, but I will say that I do like the thick, calligraphy-like one Dark Horse used for the possession scenes, as it adds to the ominousness of the words being said.


Like most older Dark Horse books, this series is flipped.  It's also had the sound effects translated and redrawn, but it's been done so skillfully that it would be hard for the average reader to notice.


3x3 Eyes isn't quite compelling enough to declare it a classic, but fans of old-school seinen may find its exotic trappings and bloody fights worth a look.

This series was published by Dark Horse.  This series is complete in Japan with 40 volumes available. 9 volumes were published and are currently out of print.

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