3×3 Eyes by Lady Sage

Also Known As: Sazan Eyes
Genre: Action/Comedy/Drama/Romance
Format: 4 OVA
Allegiance: Kodansha/Bandai Visual
Director: Nishio Daisuke
Vintage: 1991-1992
Intelligence Agency Report by: Lady Sage
Yakumo has been alone ever since his father ran off to study demons in Tibet four years ago. Then one day on the way to work, he comes across Pai, a mysterious girl who presents Yakumo with his father’s skull, along with a note from said father. It explains that Pai is a Sanjiyan, an immortal demon, and the last of her race. He asks that Yakumo aid Pai in her search for the Statue of Humanity, which can turn Pai into a human.

Field Agent Report by: Lady Sage
Overall 7.25

The original 3×3 Eyes manga was a little bit of everything: action, comedy, drama, horror, and romance. The manga was quite long, and there was time to fully explore and develop all these disparate elements. The anime tries to do the same and unfortunately, because of its brief running time, is nowhere near as successful.

The characters were… okay. Two hours does not allow for really ample character development. Yakumo is easily the most developed character, and the easiest for the audience to sympathize with. His entire life is thrown into turmoil and he has to leave behind everything he ever knew and although he has some trouble dealing with it at first, he manages to go on with a minimum of angst. Secondary characters, on the other hand, suffer. They rarely stick around for any longer than absolutely necessary and are frequently defined by a single character trait.

3×3 Eyes actually functions fairly well as a plot-driven anime. It moves at a brisk pace and doesn’t dwell on anything for very long. There are a few interesting twists, but it’s a straightforward story. However, many of the more subtle plot points were lost in the translation from the manga. The romance between Pai and Yakumo, for example, is practically nonexistent until the last episode, and then it feels incredibly abrupt.

Technically, 3×3 Eyes has held up well even though it’s over a dozen years old. The pudgy-faced character designs are closely imitate Takada Yuzo’s original manga designs, and their cuteness belies the show’s dark nature. The show’s OVA budget serves it beautifully and though it’s not quite theatrical-quality, the animation is quite fluid and dark. The music is mostly lovely orchestral pieces, the sort that you never have to worry about becoming dated. The ubiquitous Hayashibara Megumi does double-duty as the dual-faced Pai, and plays both sides with her usual adeptness.

3×3 Eyes is a hard recommendation to make. It definitely has its positive qualities, but those are almost completely overshadowed by its negative qualities. Overall, it’s best for fans of action or plot driven anime who think of character development as a nice extra, not an absolute necessity.