Akimine Kamijyo’s Samurai Deeper Kyo (Samurai Dīpā Kyō) was serialized in Kodansha’s Weekly Shōnen Magazine from October 15, 1999 to May 10, 2006. Volume one includes the first five issues. It’s the first volume of thirty-eight.
The Battle of Sekigahara ended with a decisive victory for Tokugawa Ieyasu’s army. Good news for Tokugawa Ieyasu and the Shogunate. Bad news for the losing side under Ishida Mitsunari. The survivors are all wanted criminals.
None are more wanted than the crimson-eyed Demon Eyes Kyo, a samurai of unparalleled ferocity who single-handedly killed a thousand opponents at Sekigahara alone. The bounty on Demon Eyes could buy a prefecture.
Shiina Yuya is only sixteen but she has already made a name for herself as a bounty-hunter. She hopes that her job will help her find the man she believes murdered her brother. Her job is also lucrative, an added bonus.
Yuya consults a traveling herbalist and notices that he owns an outsized sword. She decides that he must be the fugitive Demon Eyes. Fame and wealth await!
Too bad that Yuya is wrong. Mibu Kyoshiro isn’t a demonic swordsman; he’s a sleazy peddler of dubious cures. She can’t expect a huge bounty if she catches him. But … Mibu did skip out on an inn-keeper’s bill and there’s a small bounty if he’s caught for that offence.
Yuya catches him, binds him, and sets out to turn him in. Too bad that her route takes her through hostile terrain filled with homicidal bandits. Too bad that some of those bandits have supernatural powers.
Demon Eyes is much closer to Yuya than she could possibly know.
The art in this is for the most part competent. In place it’s confusing; I had to reread some sequences to work out what had happened.
It would seem unlikely, but Yuya does survive her encounter with Demon Eyes.
Yuya is, however, sexually harassed1. I might have stopped reading right there if I hadn’t previously made yet another attempt at reviewing Kill la Kill, which features Holy Shit levels of gratuitous fan-service. I was prepared to cut this manga some slack, as not egregiously annoying.
Yuya comes across as a competent badass. She’s good enough at her job to be something of a legend at the tender age of sixteen. But she’s outclassed by her supernaturally-gifted opponents in these stories. Will this be the case for her opponents in the succeeding thirty-seven volumes? I hope not; I’d like to see her win.
This first volume establishes the setting and the basic story elements, while supplying enough light comedy and horrific violence to keep readers entertained. Perhaps the length of the series argues for some sort of complex story line, but this first volume is fairly straightforward.
Just don’t get too attached to any characters aside from Yuya, Demon Eyes, or Mibu.
1: Mibu Kyoshiro is an ogler and sexual harasser who is never more than an annoyance. I think he’s supposed to be funny rather than evil.