3×3 Eyes (pronounced Sazan Eyes in Japanese) is a manga created by acclaimed manga artist Yuzo Takada, and is his most successful series. It spans 40 volumes, beginning in 1987 and ending in 2002. It was serialized in Young Magazine. In 1993, it won the Kodansha Manga Award for shōnen. The English-language manga was being published by Dark Horse Comics, but was canceled before the release of volume 9 in 2005.
There are also two anime OVA series based on 3×3 Eyes and were first released in 1991 and 1995. The first consisted of four half hour episodes and the second consisted of three forty five minute episodes. They cover the storyline up to volume 5 of the manga. Originally published by Streamline in the US in 1995, the two OVAs were eventually re-dubbed and released in 2001 by Pioneer LDC in a collected set.
Sazan is the Japanese word for 3x3, as in multiplication tables. It is also the nearest possible transliteration in Japanese kana of the English word "southern", and Takada's favorite music group happens to be Southern All Stars.
3x3 Eyes follows the adventures of Pai, the last remaining Sanjiyan Unkara (三只眼 吽迦羅, sometimes translated as triclops), and her new Wu (Chinese reading of 无; an immortal companion), Yakumo, as they desperately try to find a way to make Pai human so that she can forget her troubled past. Pai travelled to Tokyo searching for the artifact, but shortly after she arrived, a thief snatched her backpack and cane from her. A teenage lad, Yakumo, tackled the crook and managed to get the pack back for her, though the thief escaped with the cane. Yakumo took her to his work, where Pai was able to get cleaned up, and where she discovered that he was the son of Professor Fujii, an archaeologist she had met in Tibet four years prior. The Professor had been researching the legends of the Sanjiyans and had befriended her and offered to help her find the Ningen, only to fall ill and die. Pai had his last letter to his son in her backpack, which asked Yakumo to help Pai with her quest. Although he didn't believe his father's tales of Pai being a monster, he agreed to assist her.
Their discussion was interrupted by news reports of a giant monster flying over the city. Pai recognised the creature as her pet Takuhi, who must have been released from his home in Pai's cane by the thief, and who was now looking for her. Pai set out to retrieve him, with Yakumo close behind. However when Yakumo saw Takuhi fly towards Pai, the lad mistook the beast's welcome for an attack, and shoved Pai out the way; immediately Takuhi ripped into the lad, fatally wounding him. Unwilling to lose the boy she had been hunting for and just located, Pai's third eye opened, and she absorbed his soul. This restored his body, but tied him to her as her undead servant. Linked to her, he can only become human again when she becomes human. In the way of this goal are hordes of monsters and demons from the Shadow World, some desiring Pai's powers, others who seek the Ningen for their own. Yakumo can again become mortal and end his constant need to protect Pai because if Pai dies, then so will he. Along the way, they encounter many followers of the now-dead demon god Kaiyanwang, all of whom wish to kill Pai or siphon off her power in order to resurrect their deity and/or gain immortality.
- Pai Ayanokōji (綾小路 パイ Ayanokōji Pai?) / Parvati IV (パールバティー四世 Pārubatī Yonsei?)
- Voiced by: Megumi Hayashibara (Japanese), as well as Rebecca Forstadt and Alexandra Kenworthy in the Streamline releases, and Brigitte Bako in the Geneon release (English)
- The last surviving Sanjiyan Unkara who was discovered by Yakumo's father in Tibet. Yuzo Takada sometimes calls her the three-eyed elf girl from China, but she wears traditional Tibetan clothes. As is typical with members of her race, she developed a split personality as she grew older in order to cope with the problems of an exceptionally long life. However, Pai is the only Sanjiyan ever shown that has true multiple personality disorder. Her first personality, called Pai in the series, has the appearance of a normal human and is that of a cheerful and naive girl. The second personality, that of Parvati IV, usually arises when Pai is defenseless, endangered, or emotionally overcome.
- The presence of the Sanjiyan in Pai is distinguishable because the normally invisible third eye in her forehead opens when Parvati awakens. Most characters refer to her as Sanjiyan when she's in that state. Sanjiyan is more rigid and stoic than Pai and is able to use powerful magic, unlike her first personality. However, using those powers is draining to the Sanjiyan and requires them to rest, leaving them exposed to danger. Her split personality is a possible reference to the Hindu goddess Parvati, who had many identities, each with their own personalities. Volume 32 introduces a clone of hers, named Kali. In Hindu mythology, Kali was an immensely powerful and bloodthirsty battle goddess and one of Parvati's many identities.
- Pai can absorb a human soul to do her bidding, transforming the person affected into a nearly invulnerable servant. She has other mystical powers usually manifested along with the appearance of her third eye, and used by her Parvati identity. Older Sanjiyans often become evil, decadent and uncaring; younger ones tend to have split personalities. Three hundred year-old Pai is an example of a younger Sanjiyan: her Pai personality is somewhat flaky, but caring and cheerful, while her Parvati personality is more arrogant and ruthless. The two personae are aware of one another, and sometimes talk between themselves.
- Believing herself to be the last of her kind, Pai seeks to become human through the use of the Ningen no Zō, the Statue of Humanity, which reputably has the power to turn a Sanjiyan into a mortal, by transferring the powers of two of the race into a third member. The Ningen, incidentally, is how the other members of her kind reputedly became human and thus died out.
- Yakumo Fujii (藤井 八雲 Fujii Yakumo?)
- Voiced by: Kōji Tsujitani (Japanese), with Eddie Frierson in the Streamline release and Christian Campbell in the Geneon release (English)
- The primary male protagonist, he became Pai's Wu and companion when a rampaging Takuhi, Pai's demon friend, fatally wounded him. Before he could die, Pai merged his soul with her own, transforming him into a Wu, which in turn made him immortal as long as Pai lives. He can feel pain but he won't die, and he will regenerate from any wound, no matter how severe.
- His father, Professor Fujii was an archaeology professor and would-be monster hunter, who visited Tibet to research the legends of the immortal Sanjiyans. There he met Pai, a relatively youthful member of that mythical race, and he made a promise to help her become human. However he fell ill while trying to depart the Chinese province of Yunnan, and died shortly after completing a letter to his son, asking him to take over helping Pai with her quest. Yakumo tries to keep that promise
- Takuhi (橐[非巴][n 1] or タクヒ?)
- Parvati's pet bird that's responsible for the events that led Yakumo into becoming Parvati's undead Wu. He's killed by one of Kaiyanwang's followers while they're trying to find Steve Long and Mei Ling Ling.
- Jake McDonald
- A treasure hunter looking for the secret of immortality that Sanjiyans keep.
- Haan Hazrat (ハズラット・ハーン Hazuratto Hān?)
- A magical merchant who offers various magic for sale, he's a human of Pakistani descent, and uses various magic to defend himself against demons. He first appears in volume 7 of the manga to settle a debt with Yakumo Fujii. Ends up romantically involved with Yōko Ayanokōji.
- Yōko Ayanokōji (綾小路 葉子 Ayanokōji Yōko?) / Hōashio (化蛇?)
- The snake demon that was sealed within Parvati's body from volumes 3-5; she returns in volume 12 with a new body and identity. She's a water-based demon with the power to manipulate water at will, with deadly results. Ends up in love with Haan Hazrat.
- Kaiyanwang (鬼眼王 Kaiyanwan?) / Shiva
- The strongest Sanjiyan. His ambitions drove him to wage war against the rest of the Sanjiyan Unkara, which ultimately led them to their fate. He was sealed away by Parvati IV after a bloody struggle. While the names Shiva and Kaiyanwan are normally used essentially interchangeably, more correctly, they represent two aspects of the same individual. The Shiva personality sacrificed itself to prevent Kaiyanwang from killing Parvati centuries prior to the main story.
- Benares (ベナレス Benaresu?)
- The Wu of Kaiyanwang. He assumed command of Kaiyanwang's demons after his master was sealed away by Parvati. He's spent the last 300 years searching for ways to revive Kaiyanwang from his sealed prison. Before becoming a Wu, Benares was a powerful dragon monster who consumed various holy demons. This allowed him to absorb enough intelligence to eventually transform himself into the humanoid being we see today. Even before the Wu transformation, he was tremendously powerful, with the added power he became virtually unstoppable. Benares is a highly powerful figure within the demon world physically, magically, and politically, and strikes fear into even the bravest of souls.
- Chen Aguri (陳 亜栗?)
- The chief editor and founder of Yougekisha. He's turned into stone after getting a little too close to the demon world, but is revived later. His main interest is to study the Sanjiyan Unkara so that he can write a great article for his magazine.
- Lee Ling Ling (李 鈴鈴 Ri Rinrin?)
- Yougekisha's editor in Chen Aguri's absence. At first, she's reluctant to believe in the occult, but traveling with Yakumo and Pai has led her to change her attitude. She's since become extremely interested in the subject—if only to make money off of publishing material for the magazine.
- Long Meixing (龍 美星 Ron Meishin?)
- The sister of Steve Long, she meets Pai and Yakumo when looking to save her brother from kidnappers. She's an excellent martial artist. Was to be a sacrifice in episode 3.
- Steve Long (スティーブ 龍 Sutību Ron?)
- A Taoist and a regular human, he's quite skilled at using paper charms, and can sense demonic energy.
- Chōkai (呪鬼?)
- A servant of Benares that commands a sizable range of demons including Hong-nyang, to whom he refers as Ran Pao Pao. He knows how to fight using magic talismans enchanted with celestial calligraphy, demonstrating explosive attacks and imprisoning spells. Chōkai is also a skilled martial artist, despite his chunky size, and possesses two forms. The first is a normal Chinese human with a whisker-like moustache, donning a heavy trench coat with a fedora hat and round dark spectacles. His other form is a larger, muscular demon (though he still keeps his glasses and whiskers) with long teeth who can devour others by opening his body exposing the tentacles and negative space within. Because he has knowledge on using magic circles, Benares charges Chōkai with finding and destroying keys and entrances (named Konron) into the world that the Sanjiyan inhabited, the seichi (literally translates to "holy land"). In the anime, Choukai has a disturbing chuckle.
- Ran Pao Pao (狼暴暴?)
- A demon enforcer under Chōkai's command. Normally appears as an Script error: No such module "convert". tall muscular and pale skinned woman with flared red hair, long teeth, and completely red eyes. She can also grow an extra limb from underneath each of her arms and can deceptively change form into a small child that resembles a super deformed version of her normal form. After Chōkai's death Ran Pao Pao becomes one of Pai's servants.
Music for both OVAs was composed by Kaoru Wada. Music for the series was performed by a group calling itself the Takada Band.
The following Original Soundtracks and Drama Albums have been released in Japan based on the series.
- 3x3 Eyes -Ten no Maki- (Heaven Volume)
- 3x3 Eyes -Hito no Maki- (Mankind Volume)
- 3x3 Eyes -Chi no Maki- (Earth Volume)
- 3x3 Eyes - Dai-ichi Shou (Chapter I)
- 3x3 Eyes - Dai-ni Shou (Chapter II)
- 3x3 Eyes - Dai-san Shou (Chapter III)
- 3x3 Eyes - TAKADA BAND
- 3x3 Eyes - Seima Densetsu Matsuei Fudanshi
- 3x3 Eyes - Seima Densetsu Matsuei Fudanshi II
Various games came out based on the 3x3 Eyes manga on the Japanese SNES, Satellaview (BS 3ji no Wide Syou), Saturn, PC Engine (3×3 Eyes ~Sanjiyan Henjyo~), FM Towns, PC 98, PC, Sega CD, PlayStation, and the Game Boy. They featured new characters, music and artwork. Volume 40 of the manga, the last volume, has been published in two versions, one of which includes a PC game.
A TV series was being considered at around the time the manga ended in 2002. However, due to the then-recent Japanese censorship laws, it wasn't made.
- This kanji consists of 非 on the top and 巴 on the bottom. It does not exist in Unicode.
- Joel Hahn. "Kodansha Manga Awards". Comic Book Awards Almanac. Retrieved 2009-07-14.
- 3×3 Eyes (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- 3×3 Eyes (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- 3×3 Eyes Seima Densetsu (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Animerica review