I have seen more pain and sorrow through these eyes of mine than I would deem possible for any living creature to endure and still keep its sanity. But I have also seen love, hope and happiness, and now, as an outside observer, I find myself able to better understand the miracle of life.
For now I dwell in the ways of the undead, fulfilling my duties as a Wu, the immortal guardian of one of the last of an ancient and powerful race of magicians, the Sanjiyan Unkara. And so shall I do until the day when I will earn back my right of final rest, either along with my beloved Pai's right of being human, or with our souls' final transmigration."
Yakumo Fujii is just an ordinary high school kid... with a runaway mom and a missing anthropologist father and the resulting need to hold down a part-time job as a "waitress" in a gay bar. Then a mysterious Tibetan girl named Pai shows up, claiming that his now-dead father sent her to Yakumo to "help her become human." Yakumo is not inclined to believe his dad's last message, to the effect that Pai is the last of a race of three-eyed demons called the Sanjiyan Unkara... until a thief accidentally unleashes her "pet", a giant bird-monster that goes on a rampage ending in Yakumo's death.
Except Pai isn't about to allow that to happen... as a third eye opens in her forehead, and Yakumo's soul is sucked out of his body and into hers, turning him into her Wu, or "undead" protector and slave. Now, their fates inextricably bound, Pai and Yakumo must navigate the perilous occult underworld in search of a way to change them both into true human beings... and to foil the world-conquering plots of Kaiyanwang, "Demon-Eye King" of the Sanjiyan, and his own Wu, Benares. Not to mention the Eleventy Zillion or so other demons and monsters seeking to gain immortality by drinking Pai's blood.
Created by Yuuzo Takada, the author and artist of Blue Seed and All Purpose Cultural Catgirl Nuku Nuku, 3×3 Eyes (pronounced Sazan Aizu) ran in Young Magazine from 1987 to 2002, was collected in forty manga volumes of which nine were translated by Dark Horse Comics, and spawned an OAV series adapting the first five. Plans for a 2003 TV series were scotched by Japanese censorship laws.
The anime series has become a cult classic in the US, and was a staple of anime viewing in The '90s. It was dubbed twice into English. Streamline Pictures dubbed the original 4-episode OVA series in 1995 and released it to VHS. When they went out of business, Orion Pictures picked up the 3-episode sequel series and dubbed the first two episode with the same cast before they went under. Pioneer finally picked up both series in 2000, redubbed them with a new star-studded cast, and released them to VHS and DVD with all the episodes intact. All of these releases are out of print, but Pioneer's DVDs are still pretty easy to find on the second-hand DVD market.
In 2009, Yuuzo revived the series, making 3×3 Eyes Gaiden: Yggdrasil no Yadorigi, in which despite the Gaiden title, it really is a sequel set 7 years after the original endingnote , the series still is ongoing and details are scarce, as Yuuzo pretty much made only 3 introdutory chapters and put the series on hold, no bigger plot was introduced aside Yakumo and Pai helping a girl from her Power Incontinence, it just showed a little bit of the characters life-style now after 7 years.
Character sheet under construction.
3×3 Eyes provides examples of the following tropes:
- 108: Referenced through a demon that needs 108 paper talismans to bind it into the world.
- All Your Powers Combined: Kaiyanwang's consciousness and power is made up of the souls of all the Sanjiyan that were sacrificed to him. Yakumo and Pai/Parvati later invokes this as well by joining physically with the souls and minds of humanity in order to defeat him.
- Art Evolution: Yuuzo has come a long way in the 40 Volumes run, the last few volumes really shows a great evolution in his style; then 7 years later he came back with 3×3 Eyes Gaiden: Yggdrasil no Yadorigi, and his style evolved again. To elaborate, the first volumes had sketchy art and more realistic-looking character designs. The last volumes has much cleaner lines and more rounded anime-ish character designs.
- Badass Grandpa: Connery, a.k.a. Bem Madurai, Benares' one and only pupil. At one point, he took over Yakumo's body and shows us ''exactly'' what the latter should be capable of as a Wu. The Training from Hell he gave to Yakumo is one of the biggest leaps in the latter's ability.
- Badass Normal
- Ling Ling, who's arguably (she's got unusually long ears, so it may be possible there's some demon blood in her) an entirely normal human who solves problems with Kung Fu and guns. She simply Can't Catch Up as the story goes on, unfortunately.
- Special mention goes to the muay-thai boxer who would have killed Yakumo many times over in one hit if he didn't have his Healing Factor. Heck, his apprentice managed to knock Yakumo out in 3 moves.
- Back from the Dead: Haan. In volume 32, part of his spirit returns in a clone of himself. His soul, trapped in his original, mostly destroyed body, later joins his clone's body at the end, making him complete again.
- Batman Gambit: Parvati's plan to finally destroy Kaiyanwang for good involves her soul/consciousness being absorbed by him and bringing about the apocalypse. Her physical self and other personality later joins into the stream of consciousness released in the process along with Yakumo's corpse and basically turning invincible while drastically weakening Kaiyanwang at the same time. This works because many of the souls Kaiyanwang assimilates do not join him willingly, and the process that sets up the end of the world also weakened the bonds between his physical body and the souls he absorbed. As predicted, they all scrambled to get out at the only opportunity they have, taking almost all his power with them and transferring it all to Parvati and the newly revived Yakumo. Also helps set up a reset button to the whole apocalypse thing.
- Berserk Button
- If a Sanjiyan is directly harmed or their life is in danger, their Wu's strength and powers will temporarily increase tenfold and become limitless, all to protect their master. This has worked both for and against the protagonists.
- Also, do not create naked illusions of Parvati and send them at Yakumo while the real deal is watching ...though that's exactly what they wanted.
- Bleached Underpants: The picture between chapter 1 and 2 clearly hints at the fact that Takada Yuuzo used to draw hentai manga.
- Blood Knight: Benares lives to fight — and obeys Kaiyanwang, since he gave his fights and therefore his life meaning. And in the end, he looses when he chooses to fight an invincible (not just immortal) Yakumo instead of protecting Kaiyanwang, since he just couldn't resist the temptation of such a battle...
- Body Horror: A lot, but most horrifying when it comes to the Hyouma Tribe and pregnancy...
- Boy Meets Ghoul: Well, more like Girl Meets Boy and Makes Him Ghoul.
- Brought Down to Normal: Yakumo, shortly before the end. "Normal" meaning not immortal and without Healing Factor, which also means he can't cast as much spells as usual, not being able to regenerate his energy as fast as usual. Also, his summons are sealed by Amara.
- Calling Your Attacks: Mostly averted, except for summon magic, which the Wu have to call by their name to use.
- The Cameo: The Natsumes (Nuku-Nuku, Kyōsuke and Ryūnosuke) can be seen in a crowd shot in one panel of the manga.
- Cast from Lifespan: The Juuma. They consume the life energy of the ones that summon them. Since the Wus are immortal, it's more of a case of Cast from Hit Points for them.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Salrama, the magician who fused her body with Kalki whose last parting word to Yakumo and friends is "I shall see you when the world ends." Guess what happens.
- Chick Magnet: Yakumo tends to attract the attention of many females he met in his adventures, human or otherwise, friend or foe.
- Cursed with Awesome: Wu are technically undead, but have all of the advantages with almost none of the disadvantages, except for Turn Undead hurting like hell. Unusually for this trope, they're aware of this in-universe, and one race of monsters even utilizes it to make otherwise-fatal childbirth safe for them.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Happens a lot, but the results are haphazard — there's no telling whether the foe will do a Heel–Face Turn or a redeeming Heroic Sacrifice.
- The Determinator: Yakumo, after having lost his immortality and Healing Factor, being helplessly outmatched by Benares and Shiva, and getting the offer to be spared from the end of the world so he can live together with Pai... just keeps fighting.
- The Dragon: Benares, Kayan Wang's Wu, also known as "Dragon God" or "Dragon King" — Not only a dragon to Kaiyanwang, but a literal dragon as well.
- Everybody Lives: With the exception of those already dead before the final arc and a certain ancient Sanjiyan. Even Kaiyanwang is implied to live on in the cloned Parvati's body, and Benares with him/her, though they are shown to be more benevolent this time around.
- Everything Trying to Kill Pai: Being the last Sanjiyan means she's a magnet for every creature seeking immortality. Fortunately, Yakumo can simply step in the way, since Death Is a Slap on the Wrist for him
- Extra Eyes: The Sanjiyan Unkara possess a third eye.
- Eyes Always Shut: Yakumo, although seeing them open isn't necessarily a sign that you should run away. When Pai's third eye opens, however...
- Genki Girl: Pai and Hua Shi, who posed as her for a while. The personality stuck.
- Good Thing You Can Heal: Yakumo takes an amazing amount of punishment; fortunately he has a...
- Healing Factor: A Wu can regenerate any amount of damage up to and including complete vaporization.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Happens to Yakumo and Parvati a couple of times. Reverse Hahn got the worst of it thanks to Cloning Blues.
- Implacable Man: Pick a Wu, any Wu. Pierce their vital spots? The wound will close up in a matter of minutes. Cut off their arms? The severed limbs will stab you in the back. Decapitate them? The rest of the body will grapple you and fire an attack at point blank range. They can even dismember themselves on purpose to accomplish a combat strategy. Granted, there's a limit to how many times they can regenerate in a row, based on their stamina and strength. And even then, threaten their Sanjiyan, and their regenerative powers will become even more powerful, pulling themselves back from total disintegration before your eyes. Not to mention they can now cast spells pretty much indefinitely.
- Important Haircut: Pai, after Haan's death, to steel her determination to destroy Kaiyanwang. It grows back quickly.
- Lethal Chef: Pai's idea of cuisine is to gather a bunch of ingredients and use magic to fuse them together... into a rampaging building-size food monster, no less.
- Levitating Lotus Position: This is the default position for Kelarla whenever she appears, floating above the ground.
- Magikarp Power: Kuuyon, Yakumo's cutest and most useless looking summon, also happens to have the ability to eat any kind of magic. In a universe where magical stuff forms a large part of the action, this ability tends to be extremely useful.
- Masquerade: subverted; demons and monsters hold humans in utter contempt, and have been in hiding only because of Kaiyanwang's orders to that effect. The masquerade begins to break down when Kaiyanwang is believed to have been killed, and by the end of the series the situation has devolved into a worldwide supernatural war.
- Meaningful Name
- The Sanjiyan are all named after (or, seeing as how most of them are many thousands of years old, probably inspired the names of) Hindu gods — Parvati, Shiva, Ratri, Ushas...
- Sanjiyan can be translated into 'three eyes' in Mandarin. One of the opening chapter arts also refers to Pai as a Trinetra, which is Sanskrit for three eyes.
- The Mole: Shunkai poses as the benevolent Ms. Huang, financial backer of Yougekisha and patron of our heroes, for five years. (Not a spoiler, as the readers know this from the moment she first appears.) Not so much a conventional Mole as much as hedging her bets with both sides — she's a member of the 3-eyed king's cult, but he's been missing for generations and if he's really dead our heroine is the rightful heir. In any case, she ends up Becoming the Mask.
- Mons: Juuma (Beast Magic) creatures, apparently created by Benares as combat familiars; however, they're mindless servitors rather than fighting "partners". Bonus points for actually being able to show up as cute little critters in certain situations.
- Mood Whiplash: SD Pai performs mansai (classic Japanese comedy) right in the middle of a highly serious arc.
- Multinational Team: Pai is from Chinese Tibet, Ling Ling, Steve, and Mei Ling are from the then-British colony of Hong Kong, and Yakumo Fujii is from Japan. They are later joined by the Pakistani Hahn and the British Connery's family. This is not counting the demons.
- Must Not Die a Virgin: Yakumo and Parvati slept together before Parvati leaves for the humanization ritual.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Kaiyanwang learns that the "truth" he yearns for is nothing but the evil amalgamation of the Sanjiyan race's basest desires.
- My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: Has a justification here: A Wu's power increases when his Sanjiyan is threatened, so Yakumo and Benares keep inadvertently powering each other up. This develops into something of a cat-and-mouse game.
- Not So Above It All: Parvati takes a liking to nightclub life after spending 4 years as an amnesiac Pai.
- Not So Stoic: Parvati again. Especially after the Lotus-Eater Machine incident and soon afterward when Yakumo's soul is taken from her. Yakumo himself had to make sure it was her crying on his shoulder while hugging him instead of Pai. Quite jarring given that readers have only been shown how aloof she is up to that point.
- Our Souls Are Different: Wu retain their personalities and humanity (if they had it to begin with) despite having had their souls removed and "stored" in their Sanjiyan partners. One could argue that they're operating their bodies by remote control.
- The Power of Friendship: Pai is very, very devoted to the concept. Parvati... not so much. This is also the reason for their Pinocchio Syndrome — Humans built a civilization by working together, something that demons are stated to be incapable of to this degree.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Benares stays far away from Stupid Evil. He doesn't punish his underlings for failure if they're doing their best to carry out his orders, and manages a careful balance between coercion and persuasion when he needs Yakumo's cooperation.
- Really 700 Years Old: Pretty much anyone who is not human. Benares seems to be the oldest guy in the series.
- Revival: Yuuzo brough Sanzan back in 2009 with 3×3 Eyes Gaiden: Yggdrasil no Yadorigi, set 7 years after the original ending, which also is the real time between the last original manga ending publication and the begining of this new one.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Kaiyanwang, within the Seima Stone. Benares was this two thousand years ago, before Kaiyanwang freed him and made him his Wu.
- The Shangri-La: the Seichi (Holy Land/Sacred Land), a pocket dimension accessible through worldgates called "Konron." It can be a pretty dangerous place.
- Split Personality: Innocent Genki Girl Pai and haughty hyper-Tsundere Parvati the Fourth. A common trait of aged Sanjiyan or those wearing a Shiva's Claw.
- Time Skip: the four-year gap between volumes 2 and 3. There are several more shorter ones spread throughout the series' run. 3×3 Eyes Gaiden gives a big 7 years skip.
- Tomato in the Mirror: the snake demon Hua Shi, amnesiac, having taken possession of and believing herself to be Pai.
- Took a Level in Badass: Yakumo takes advantage of the Time Skip to take several... and goes on to take more. By the end of the series, he's pretty much unstoppable. Most notably when he melds with Amara. Even Benares considers him a serious threat at this point.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Three Dragon Generals, Uukai, D.D., and Talisman. (Nine is clearly too many for a Q.M.S., so their numbers were brutally cut in their first appearance).
- What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: When Yakumo asks Amara if he loves Ushas, Amara replies that he doesn't exactly understand the concept (he's a plant-based lifeform, after all) but his whole existence is devoted only to her safety. Yakumo decides that's close enough.