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3x3 Eyes: Legend of the Divine Demon Anime Review

3x3 Eyes: Legend of the Divine Demon Box Art

3x3 Eyes: Legend of the Divine Demon

3 stars / OVA / Drama / 16-up

Bottom Line

A very different sequel, but a solid, moderately creative adventure.

It’s Like...

...3x3 Eyes gets a darker late-'90s makeover.

Vital Stats

Original Title

3x3 EYES 聖魔伝説

Romanized Title

Sazan Eyes - Seima Densetsu

Animation Studio

Studio Junio

US Release By

Geneon Entertainment, Pioneer Animation


Supernatural Action Horror Drama

Series Type



3 50-minute episodes

Production Date

1995-07-25 - 1996-06-25

What's In It


Look For

  • Kung-fu Fightin'
  • Beasties
  • Demons n' Devils
  • Possessed Schoolgirls

Objectionable Content

  • Violence: 4 (heavy)
  • Nudity: 2 (moderate)
  • Sex: 1 (mild)
  • Language: 2 (moderate)

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Plot Synopsis

Four years have passed since the events of the first series. With Pai mysteriously missing, Yakumo has trained himself into a competent demon-fighting warrior as he searches for her. When he finally finds her, living quietly as an average high school student in Tokyo, he's shocked to find that she has no memory of who--or what--she is. Almost as shocked as she is to have a stranger who for all intents and purposes looks like a wandering lunatic insist his life has been devoted to finding her! But not as shocked as either will be when the forces of darkness bear down on them, and leave them with no choice but to seek out a way to finally end the war that begun hundreds of years earlier, a journey that will take them into the wilds of Tibet and across the paths of treasure-seekers, both friend and foe.

Quick Review

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This sequel series takes up four years after the previous one abruptly ended, and was produced about the same amount of time later. The changes, both in production values and story, are numerous. Amusing supporting cast is largely gone, and Pai and Yakumo have reversed roles--panicky but sharp normal girl and competent demon fighter. The much darker story is more coherent and evenly paced, but still suffers from some of the same mythology overload for those watching it for the first time. The changes all make sense within the plot, but they're more than a little jarring. Visually, however, Divine Demon builds on the strengths of the original, adding sharp kung-fu action, imaginative backgrounds, improved art and character designs, and some creepy horror scenes to the creativity, grit, and gore of the first series. The acting lacks the variety of the previous series, but replaces it with much meatier drama and some impressive performances.

In all, this follow up series presents a darker, more coherent plot with more emotional depth, but it's still a little confusing and blunt with the moral. Backed up with a few rollicking action scenes and the same gore and drama as the first series (and even a little of the humor), 3x3 Eyes: Legend of the Divine Demon is a solid, watchable adventure.

Read the full-length review...

Full Review

Switch to Quick Review

Note that this review is specifically of the second 3x3 Eyes OAV series, Legend of the Divine Demon. While packaged together with the first series now, it was produced four years after the first series and is quite a bit different.

This sequel series takes up four years after the previous one abruptly ended, and was produced about the same amount of time later. It is a decent chunk of action-horror, but is so closely connected as a sequel that it shouldn't be left to stand alone. The stylistic and story differences are major, however, so I'm going to make a number of comparisons.

Things certainly haven't stagnated--almost everything from the previous series has changed. Due to time elapsed, Yakumo is more mature and jaded, and has developed into a competent demon-fighter. Pai is... well, a totally different character, thanks to amnesia. In a role-reversal, she's now the one wrestling with demons in her past (literally). While I missed Yakumo's good natured take on the mess surrounding his situation and Pai's awkward adjustment to human life, the characters have more emotional depth, a significant improvement.

The quirky supporting characters from the first series are nowhere to be found (although a couple of less broad ones are introduced), a bit of a disappointment. Making up for it, the villains are much better--they actually have some personality and are significantly scarier.

Without giving too much away, this series is distinctly darker than the first one, and sadly not as original--more standard action horror than the unusual mix of humor, normal life, and demonic plots that 3x3 Eyes started with. Almost all the subplots of the first series have been completely dropped, which is more than a bit disappointing. Another negative is one thing that hasn't changed--the moral of the story is still heavy-handedly shoved into the plot at times. That moral, speaking of which, has shifted focus from what it means to be human to an emphasis on facing destiny and doing the right thing rather than the easy thing.

One significant positive is that the plot doesn't try to cover nearly as much ground, and as a result feels more coherent and well-paced. There's also plenty of international (and supernatural) flavor as the characters travel into the depths of Tibet and beyond, though in a bit of a disappointment almost nothing is done with the language barriers that played heavily into the manga.

Unfortunately, as if the demon-related backstory weren't confusing enough to begin with, there's much more detail in Divine Demon, and it introduces several new twists that keep things a little too complicated for their own good. There's substance to it if you're familiar with the manga or watch the anime a few times, but as a first-time viewer I was left feeling bewildered by the time it was all over. Speaking of which, the end is probably the weakest part. The last episode is dramatic and has some good twists, but goes overboard with the tension and gets bogged down by it. The very end, though creative, is also a little weird and rather unsatisfying. I can't go into detail without spoiling it, but the manga was nowhere near finished at this point and it shows (rumors of a third haven't thus far panned out).

Visually, Legend of the Divine Demon is a big improvement over Immortals. It takes the strengths--relatively good art and animation, character designs with potential, and good, gory action--and builds on them to produce a fine-looking show. For example, the character designs are significantly improved while still faithful to the originals--Yakumo is recognizable but less strange looking, and Pai has a slightly sharper, more attractive look, a style shared by the new characters. The art is crisp, clean, and attractive, and the backgrounds are much better--quite nice, in fact (including some commendably realistic Tokyo scenes in the first episode).

The horror scenes have been cranked up a couple of notches--creepy dolls, desolate wastelands, that sort of thing. Not spectacular, but good enough to comfortably qualify as action-horror. And that brings me to the biggest improvement: the action scenes. The sense of space is drastically improved, the animation is smooth, and (thanks in part to a more competent Yakumo) there are a couple of highly cool kung-fu style fights. To top it off, it still retains the gore and grit that distinguished the first series.

The Japanese voices are again populated by an interesting collection of actors with a distinctive variety of voices. Pai has changed enough that her voice is no longer a stretch for Megumi Hayashibara (or nearly as distinctive), but there's more than enough full-bodied dramatic acting to mark hers as the standout performance again. Yakumo also has some interesting drama for Kouji Tsujitani to work with this time around. The treasure hunter MacDonald is the standard loud-mouthed Westerner, but well-enough acted by Houchu Ohtsuka. The English dub, based on a quick look, is about on par with the first series.

Kaoru Wada is back for the music which, like the art, improves on the strengths of the first series--sparse but surprisingly good, with some particularly nice creepy themes toward the end. There's also a beautiful, wistful flute theme reminiscent of his theme for Gunnm and Joe Hisashi's work on Miyazaki's movies.

In all, this follow up series presents a darker, more coherent plot with more emotional depth, but it's still a little confusing and blunt with the moral. There are also enough character changes to make this feel too much like a whole new series for my taste, and a less original one on top of it. The changes aren't unreasonable or unexplained, but they are jarring nonetheless. Still, backed up with a few rollicking action scenes and the same gore and drama as the first series (plus a little of the humor), 3x3 Eyes: Legend of the Divine Demon is a solid, watchable adventure.

Looking at the two series (to date) as a whole, you have a story that starts rough and slowly evens out as it works through several surprising and dramatic twists and turns. Its strengths are a few substantial characters, a sense of humor about itself, emotional force that builds slowly up to the end, a liberal sprinkling of tense action scenes, some cool kung-fu fighting later on, and an involved plot. Its weaknesses are that same involved (read: convoluted) plot, a lack of flow between episodes, heavy-handed drama and "messages," a rocky start (particularly visually), and generally unsatisfying conclusions. In all, I found the series worth watching and relatively enjoyable, but it never quite lives up to the potential of the manga.

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Related Recommendations

It's more straightforward horror action, but the closest matches are probably still those in the light-action-horror category: Blue Seed, Ushio and Tora, and Battle Royal High School. Other series worth at least a note are some of Go Nagai's more serious stories, Shuten Douji and DevilLady.

Notes and Trivia

Based on the manga series by Yuzo Takada. The manga, now concluded, consists of 40 volumes published between 1987 and 2002; this series is based on the second story arc ("Book of the Legend of the Divine Demon"), spanning volumes 3-5.

The manga is also available in English from Dark Horse, first serialized as part of the now-discontinued Super Manga Blast anthology, then in compiled book form. They've apparently ceased translating it as of book 8, however. Way back in the mid-'90s Dark Horse also published a few issues in the more traditional US comic format; it was one of their earliest manga translations.

The title, for those wondering, is something of a pun. "Sazan" is the way you say "three times three" if you're reading the multiplication tables in Japanese, which fits how its written. It also sounds the same as the Japanese pronunciation of the English word "southern." This is apparently not a coincidence, as the author is said to be fond of the band "Southern All Stars" ("Sazan Ooru Sutaazu"), very popular in Japan since the late '70s.

In addition to the two OAV adaptations of the manga, there were a number of video games produced throughout the '90s, none of which are available in English.

US DVD Review

The DVD set includes all 7 episodes of both OAV series on two discs (one for each series) in a double-sized clamshell case. To start with, it includes the expected English and Japanese (both stereo) dialogue and a subtitle track. The video transfer is fine, although the first series does look grainy and a bit harsh (probably because the source material wasn't great, and the high-quality video brought the flaws out). The audio is better; even the older Japanese track sounds crisp. The animated menus provide chapter access to sections of each episode, and a small collection of goodies.

The extras on each disc consist of some black and white character design sketches, a gallery of color art from the creator of the manga, and a list of the cast. The cast list is actually pretty cool--it includes a photo of most of the voice actors, a small picture of the character(s) they play, and a list of other roles they've been in. Most of the cast covered are from the dub, but the second disc includes a few of the Japanese actors as well. The credits, of course (this is Pioneer), cover both languages in their entirety, though oddly they threw the voice credits over some dialogue at the end of the first episode and left the Japanese credits intact (probably because there was an image under them--if that's why, I commend the choice, but it'd have been better to have left the actual production alone).

It was later re-relased on a stand-alone DVD volume, sold separately from the sequel series.

Parental Guide

Pioneer rated it 16-up, appropriate on account of the gore and somewhat mature themes.

Violence: 4 - Little actual death, but Yakumo still gets ripped up in graphic detail several times and there's plenty of harsh violence.

Nudity: 2 - Some scantily clad Pai and a naked female monster.

Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Light mature themes.

Language: 2 - Nothing particularly strong.

Staff & Cast

Original Japanese Cast

Pa-bo Ayanokoji/Pai/Sanjiyan: Megumi Hayashibara
Yakkumo Fujii: Koushi (Kouji) Tsujitani
Benares: Akio Otsuka
Naparva: Nobutoshi Hayashi

Episode 1:
Old Monk: Ryuji Kai
Doll Demon: Maria Kawamura
Grandpa Ayanokoji: Kohei Miyauchi
Grandma Ayanokoji: Akiko Takamura
Dawn: Michie Tomizawa
Ken-Ken: Junko Hagimori
Additional Voices: Yasunori Masutani, Ayako Ono, Mariko Onodera, Manami Nakayama

Episode 2:
Tinzin: Ryuji Kai
Jake MacDonald: Yoshitada Otsuka
Choukai: Yusaku Yara
Hong Nyang/Ran Pao Pao: Yuko Nagashima
Fei-oh: Nobuhiro Masuda
Additional Voices: Jun Shiichi, hiroshi Kamigaya, Hitoshi Masuda, Mikiko Enomoto, Makiko Omoto

Episode 3:
Choukai: Yusaku Yara
Jake MacDonald: Yoshitada Otsuka
Tinzin: Ryuji Kai
Hong Nyang/Ran Pao Pao: Yuko Nagashima
Dawn: Michie Tomizawa
Ken-Ken: Junko Hagimori
Fei-oh: Nobuhiro Masuda
Additional Voices: Yoshinori Masutani, Yasuhiko Kawatsu, Shinichi Yamada

English Dub Cast

Pa-bo Ayanokoji/Pai/Sanjiyan: Brigitte Bako
Yakkumo Fujii: Christian Campbell
Benares: Earl Boen
Naparva: Yuji Okumoto

Episode 1:
Old Monk: William Katt
Doll Demon: Elisa Gabrielli
Grandpa Ayanokoji: Edward Asner
Grandma Ayanokoji: Rosie Taravella
Dawn: Dina Sherman
Ken-Ken: Lesley Boone
Additional Voices: Taliesin Jaffe, Greg Rainwater, Ralph Lister

Episode 2:
Tinzin: William Katt
Jake MacDonald: Greg Rainwater
Choukai: Ralph Lister
Hong Nyang/Ran Pao Pao: Dina Sherman
Fei-oh: Taliesin Jaffe

Episode 3:
Choukai: Ralph Lister
Jake MacDonald: Greg Rainwater
Tinzin: William Katt
Hong Nyang/Ran Pao Pao: Dina Sherman
Dawn: Dina Sherman
Ken-Ken: Lesley Boone
Fei-oh: Taliesin Jaffe


Executive Producers: Teruo Miyahara, Takashi Mogi, Hidetoshi Shigematsu
Producers: Yoshimasa Mizuo, Shigeru Watanabe, Koji Shimana
Director: Kazuhisa Takenouchi (ep 1,2), Seiko Sayama (ep 3)
Supervising Director (ep 3): Kazuhisa Takenouchi
Screenplay: Yuzo Takada, Kazuhisa Takenouchi
Character Designs/Animation Supervisor: Tetsuya Kumagai
Art Director: Hiroshi Kato (ep 1,2), Yusuke Takeda (ep 3)
Director of Photography: Hidetoshi Watanabe
Art Design: Akihiro Hirasawa, Satoru Fujishiro (ep 1)
Assistant Animation Director: Akihiro Taniguchi
Associate Animation Directors (ep 3): Osamu Horiuchi, Wataru Abe
Assistant Art Director (2): Taturo Izeri
Assistant Director: Yoshinori Kodaka (ep 2), Masashi Abe (ep 3)
Associate Director (ep 3): Hideaki Hisashi
Storyboard: Naori Hiraki, Kazuhisa Takenouchi
Music: Kaoru Wada

Produced by Kodansha, Bandai, King Records
Animation by Tavac Co, Studio Junio


Formerly available in North America from Pioneer (Geneon) on a single hybrid DVD, and prior to that on a hybrid DVD set that includes the second OAV series as well. Going farther back, it was available on subtitled or dubbed VHS from Pioneer. Note that this second series was never released by Streamline--it didn't even exist at the time.

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