samurai deeper kyo anime 1It has been four years since that crucial battle in Sekigahara in 1604. Kyo became a legend as the ‘killer of a thousand men’. But, he is still alive…

…inside the medicine man, Mibu Kyoshiro. When Kyo awakens within Kyoshiro an unknown history will unfold.

Yuya Shiina is a bounty-hunter by trade. Pushed forward by her past, Yuya searches for the killer of her older brother. When she captures the wanted Mibu Kyoshiro on charges of food theft, she is drawn into a world dominated by two men: Mibu Kyoshiro and Demon Eyes Kyo. Both souls share the same body. Both souls are fighting one another for complete control. But when the outside world discovers that Demon Eyes Kyo has returned, someone is going to have to die.

Samurai Deeper Kyo had the potential to be a great series. It starts out with the correct amount of action, humour and suspense. An intriguing storyline is unveiled and an interesting cast of characters are assembled.

But somehow it fails to grab you. When you finish one episode it doesn’t seem to demand that you immediately watch a second. Part of this for me was the way action sequences were handled in this title. Fights would be invariably short, and much of the action would happen in still shots – as if the animation director was purposely trying to save himself some work. Also, the title being rated 13 meant that little or no blood was ever spilt. So the supposed viciousness of the attacks never seemed quite so vicious. I’m not saying there should have been more blood, but more could have been done to emphasize the power of the fight scenes.

The story also fails in that too many twists and turns are thrown in. Characters are forever battling someone, and then the very next episode will have switched loyalties. Also, characters would often perform actions that are completely out of character for that particular person. It sometimes became frustrating when someone was doing something and you are thinking that they would never have done it because that’s not the type of person that they are.

Still, the characters were all pretty cool in this show. Credit must go to the character designer. A credible group of fighters and supporting characters were developing, each with a unique personality and style. From the carefree Benitora (Hidetada) and Yukimura to the dark Shindara and Demon Eyes Kyo.

It was nice to see the story kind of center on the character of Yuya Shiina, even though she turned out not to be integral to the plot. In fact, when looking back over the story, her only usefulness appears to have ended after the first couple of episodes.

The animation is very nicely done. The characters all have very clean lines and are nicely animated. A very vibrant selection of colours are used throughout the series. The numerous and varied characters reflect this, each being instantaneously recognisable when standing in a group. CGI light effects were also nicely employed throughout the series, but care was taken not to overuse these.

The voice cast were okay, though Yukimura’s voice was a bit misplaced. Although he is meant to be a military general, his voice is Unmistakably that of a woman.

The soundtrack to the series on the otherhand is really good. Good songs and beats add to the tension of the battles and the drama, but you get a feeling that the sound director didn’t know when to stop. Often a battle would long be ended but the music would be continuing. Small things like that lessened the overall impact that the scene might very well have had.

Overall, this Samurai Deeper Kyo wasn’t a bad series. It just could have been so much more.

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(Historical Note: This was written back in May 2003. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

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