3x3 Eyes Anime Review
Now, I may have a slightly biased viewpoint, being a big fan of this series, but I think Makosuke went a little too hard on it in places. To keep in with the way he structured his reviews, I will write mine in two parts as well:
I just plain love this series. It's gripping, it's warming, it's funny, it's even reasonably scary once they move in the really nasty monsters like Gesu and Ryo-ko, not to mention Benares. Unlike Makosuke, I was really satisfied by the balance between comedy and horror in this series--it didn't play serious scenes for laughs until the tension had already been broken (such as when Ling-Ling is enjoying herself burning down a 30+ story hotel) and the comedy was quite down to earth (if there's one thing I cannot stand it's silly comedy in an otherwise serious anime).
As for the story, I must admit that the pacing was a little unsettling, especially how fast the first episode moved compared with the second. Fans of the manga (like myself) will note that the plot sections that made up the first two episodes were a lot slower paced in the manga. On the other hand, there was a lot more beating around the bush which made it harder to read, while the way the anime jumps in feet-first introduces you to the characters while the action is happening all around (and often to) them. Character is covered fairly easily, background is worked almost on the fly--the Sanjiyan, Yakumo's friends and so on. Now, this isn't the best way to do things, but it still worked plenty good enough for my liking. On the second count, I had virtually no trouble following the plot--the only trouble I did have I can now attribute to the inaccurate translation of the Streamline dub (more on this below). The concept of the value of humanity was somewhat underused apart from the bit on the ferry in episode 1 and the brief conversation between Yakumo and Ling-Ling in episode 4. This was mildly irritating, but it was somewhat rectified in the next series, albeit rather cornily.
Animation-wise, I actually really liked Immortals. Yes, the animation is dated, dark and somewhat grainy, but it was good for its time and I think it survives today simply because it matched the style of the series so well. The subdued colour palette kept the mood dark, as did the lack of lighting in the more dramatic scenes such as the house in ep. 1 and the sacrifice in ep. 3. The character designs are good, if not exceptional, although it would be nice if Yakumo opened his eyes a little more often. The monsters rock--from the deadly Tochao and the brutal Fuquai to the nasty Gesu (a very traditional anime demon) and the sadistic Ryo-ko. They're possibly my favourite mix of anime monsters, original and scary. The action scenes are good enough to match with some really good rumbles happening, especially the rooftop battle and Yakumo's final showdown with Ryo-ko. Believe it or not, the violence has been immensely toned down from the manga--I knew you wouldn't believe it!
Overall, 3x3 Eyes: Immortals may be old, but it is fantastically entertaining and well worth your time.
Legend of the Divine Demon
The first thing you notice when you watch the second series of 3x3 Eyes is the change in animation, especially character design. Much richer colours are used, the lines are clearer and the characters seem somehow, I don't know... larger than in Immortals. But this new style of animation heralds a new direction for the series--more funky, as it were. Yakumo is now a kickass demon-buster and Pai has changed from a ditz to an airhead (someday I really must get around to defining the difference between the two) and is no-longer a schizo three-eyed demon, at least not for most of the series. More This means a drastic redesigning of the character's roles. The most fundamental change is simple--Pai is now the storytelling character with Yakumo being her main plot point, whereas in Immortals it was the other way around. Yakumo now becomes the active leader of the two, while it's now Pai who is being dragged along in a state of bewilderment, getting thrown into one encounter after another. Normally I would say this makes a nice change from the norm, except that this is the norm--it was Immortals which broke original ground by having Yakumo simply doing his best in a world where he is totally outclassed. But Divine Demon is still greatly enjoyable despite this. The story, although much slower than Immortals, is still fascinating, although the second episode gets frankly too slow for my liking. They pick up, in the last episode, the forgotten ideal of the problems and values of being human, although they lay it on a little thick. However the comic aspects have been largely lost and the one joke which does immediately spring to mind is actually badly out of place. I miss the humour quite a bit, but to compensate, Divine Demon is, if anything, even darker than the first series. The climax of the series especially is great and actually managed to surprise me. However virtually the whole plot of Immortals is gone--all the characters, the Ningen No Zou, Madam Houan's plot--everything. This bites, but the new OAV should bring it all back, so I suppose I can forgive it.
The animation in Divine Demon is a real drawcard--even I, who really loved the old-style animation of Immortals, can't deny that Divine Demon looks quite purty for its time. Although I wasn't big on what they did to Pai--it made her look too sweet for her own good--Yakumo actually looks like a respectable fighter now and the only other old character, Benares, looks as neat as ever. New characters are actually much more original than in the first series, especially Tinzing, and Honnyan is just so kawaii! The backgrounds look a lot nicer too, and as Makosuke said, there is a much better defined sense of location. Unfortunately the demons are a bit of a let down, largely because there aren't as many of them. The puppet demon from the first episode appeared to be inspired by Ranko from the Vampire Princess Miyu OAV and wasn't bad and Lan Pao Pao was pretty cool too, but the only other demons were Fei-oh and Choukai, neither of which were worth much in the monster stakes. This was a shame as the action was even better than in Immortals, but you can't always win.
Little known fact--there are actually two dubs of 3x3 Eyes--the new one by Pioneer and an old one which I'm pretty sure was by Streamline. I can only compare them with regard to Immortals, but it's a pretty close thing. The Pioneer dub is much more accurate than the Streamline one, but less fun appears to have been had with the dialogue, resulting in the loss of many of my favourite lines. Okay, they shouldn't have been there in the first place, but the Streamline dub was eminently quotable and the Pioneer dub isn't really, although listening to Ling-Ling sing a twisted version of 'Fire, Water, Burn' as the hotel goes up in smoke is worth the money by itself. As far as voice acting goes, the two are kind of even--the two Yakumo's are virtually identical, as are Ling-Ling, Madam Houan, Mei-Shin, Natsuko and Benares. The new Pai is a lot less annoying than the old one, but the annoying was part of the character and, annoying or not, the old actor actually had more talent. Then again, the new script means that Pai talks in the third person again, just like in the manga, so it isn't all bad. Unfortunately, a lot of the new voices are worse than the old ones, especially the bad guys--Chou, Gesu and Ryo-ko--and none of the new voices are noticeably better. However the translation makes a big difference, so the Pioneer dub is probably the better of the two.
In all, I love this series, both of them. I prefer Immortals to Legend of the Divine Demon, but they both rock. 3x3 Eyes is one of those anime which, even when you're perfectly aware that it's not the greatest thing ever made, you just find it supernaturally enjoyable (pun intended). Recommended.