3×3 Eyes (pronounced Sazan Eyes in Japanese) is a manga created by acclaimed mangaka Yuzo Takada, and is his most successful series. It spans 40 volumes, beginning in 1987 and finally 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 is a story that follows the adventures of Pai, the last remaining Sanjiyan Unkara
(三只眼 吽迦羅), and her new Wu
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. 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 (パイ), Pai Ayanokoji (綾小路 パイ Ayanokōji Pai), Parvati IV (パールバティー四世 pārubatī yonsei) — 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. 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. Voice: Megumi Hayashibara, Rebecca Forstadt (Streamline), Alexandra Kenworthy (Streamline) Brigitte Bako (Geneon)
- Yakumo Fujii (藤井 八雲 Fujii Yakumo) — The primary male character, 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. His father had previously found Pai and promised to help her become human, so Yakumo tries to keep that promise. Voice: Kôji Tsujitani, Eddie Frierson (Streamline), Christian Campbell (Geneon)
- Takuhi — 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.
- Youko Ayanokouji (綾小路 葉子 Ayanokōji Yōko), Houasyou (化蛇 Hōashio) — 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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 — 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.
- 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.
- Benares (ベナレス Benaresu) — The immortal Wu of Shiva. He keeps trying to break the seal that keeps his master imprisoned and restore his original powers, for which he'll need the involuntary help of Yakumo and Pai. His true form, being a dragon, he's also known as the Dragon Emperor.
- Choukai — A servant of Benares that commands a sizeable 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. Choukai 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 Choukai 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 — A demon enforcer under Choukai's command. Normally appears as an 8-foot 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.
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 Super Famicom, Saturn, PC Engine, FM Towns, PC 98, PC, Sega CD, Playstation, and the Game Boy, for example 3×3 Eyes ~Sanjiyan Henjyo~
. 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.