Manga Reviews

Monday, March 06, 2006

Samurai Deeper Kyo

Samurai Deeper Kyo
Licensed by Tokyopop

Topic: Historical, Action, Shounen

Warning: Mild Nudity, Extreme Violence

Set after the end of the Japanese Civil War (around 1600 AD), this manga tells the story of Yuya Shiina, a bounty hunter who's looking hunting for the legendary killer, Demon Eyes Kyo and his 1,000,000 ryo bounty. Kyo was rumored to have slain 1000 people during the war but after it, he vanished. She mistakenly captures the easy-going chemist, Mibu Kyoshiro, because the two resemble each other. Even though Kyoshiro claims to prefer love and peace, Yuya remains suspicious and decides to keep him in her sight.

Her suspicions pay off when the two of them are hired to defeat a pair of notorious bandits (well Yuya's hired, and she ties Kyoshiro up to act as bait). The bandits try to kill Yuya, and Kyoshiro's other side awakens, revealing Demon Eyes Kyo, who defeats the bandits in a flash. But after the battle Kyo acts as if he's being supressed by Kyoshiro, and then reverts back to Kyoshiro.

As the story progresses (over 33 volumes in Japan as of now) the reader begins to learn that Kyoshiro and Kyo are two different people. But how did they come to inhabit the same body? And what is the past between them? To find out the truth, Yuya vows to follow them and learn everything she can. However on their journey, she begins to learn that there are darker forces at work in the world, and perhaps Kyoshiro and Kyo are the only two who can stop it.

The art for this series is gorgeous. The characters are well drawn and expressive and the backgrounds are elaborate. The fight scenes are well done and well paced, allowing the reader to easily follow the battle without words. I will warn the squeamish that there is a lot of blood flying in the battles, but I personally find that it's done elegantly and that it's necessary for Demon Eyes Kyo to maintain his persona.

The plot is decent, with plenty of twists and turns. The author continuously hints are events in the past, whether between Kyo and Kyoshiro, or between one of them and others they slowly encounter. Yet these events are never revealed, leaving the reader longing for more details. For the most part this is well done, although some of the revelations could be timed better and a few are rushed. Nonetheless, the level of intrigue in the plot keeps you hooked.

Unfortunately, the characters themselves are not well developed. This is in part because of that sense of mystery mentioned before. If they were fully developed, the readers would know too much about them, and that aura would be gone. Even so, this manga goes through a very high number of "main" characters, and most of these characters have their own backstories that are never revealed. Unless the author begins tying up some of the loose ends soon, there will either be several volumes dedicated to tying them up, or those questions will never be answered. Overall, I enjoy this manga a lot as it's well paced and continues to interest me. I have high hopes for it's plot progression, but mild worries that it may end up with a rapid conclusion leaving many questions unanswered.

Rating: 8.0/10.0


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