Because of meganbmoore
being an awesome pusher, I started the manga Samurai Deeper Kyo
. It's probably the most shounen manga I've read so far. You can't really get further away from schoolgirls in love than a story about a samurai trapped inside someone else's body who seeks revenge on his enemy.
My verdict? I LOVE IT. I am already four volumes in and it's AWESOME.
The 'Kyo' in the title of the story (which is set at the beginning of the Tokugawa Shogunate) refers to 'Demon Eyes Kyo,' a legendary samurai who supposedly killed 1000 men and has an enormous bounty on him. Our heroine, Yuya, is a bounty hunter who would love nothing better than to catch Kyo (if he is still alive). Unfortunately for her, the guy she mistakes for Kyo turns out to be Kyoshiro, a dopey medicine peddler. Kyoshiro might be annoying and a bit of a perv, but he is cheerful and peaceful, and doesn't fit Kyo'd description perfectly. They end up travelling together. But why does Kyoshiro carry the super long sword like the one used by Kyo? Yuya finds out the hard way when at one point, Kyoshiro is pushed to the brink, his life is threatened and Demon Eyes Kyo emerges. No, they are not different facets of the same person. They are two people trapped in the same body and up to four or so years ago were two individual people. Eventually, Kyo takes over the body but what he really wants is his own body back and revenge on his enemies (who they are we are yet to find out). He does not kill Yuya though he harbors no liking for her, but impressed (or amused) by her defiance (when she refuses to beg for her life) makes a deal with her. He will help her to look for the man with the scar on his back, the goal of Yuya's life. This man killed her brother. So they travel together, gathering various characters around them, including Sanada (my favorite other than Kyo), a deceptively laid-back leader of a defeated clan who wants nothing more than the Shogun's head to avenge his family, and a former bandit who becomes Kyo's follower.
One of the things I love about the manga is that the heroine is not a pushover. True, she is outclassed by Kyo and his allies/enemies but that's because they are borderline supernatural. Against ordinary fighters she is good. And she is rarely afraid and does not back down. In personality she is some sort of mix between Rurouni Kenshin's Kaoru and Full Metal Panic's Kaname (which is awesome as they are two of my favorite anime/manga heroines). But if you think that means Kyo is a pacifist like Vash or Kenshin, you are quite mistaken. Kyo is quite good and clear about being a good killer. In fact, when he spares Yuya's life he says she is only the second person whose life he's spared. And yet, I totally like him as a character. He is fun
. I much prefer him to Kyoshiro. I guess that means I like violent hotties with poor impulse control to good natured goofballs which I think says something worrisome about me but whatever.
Of course, another thing I like is that not everything is as it appears. When Kyo first appears, he acts exactly like a 'demon' who is a merciless slayer of 1000 men (and a cranky one at that). But as we go on, there seems to be something more complex going on. At one point he states that he kills those who fight him etc etc which seems a regular samurai thing to do, not a 'I will go and murder women and children for the jollies of it' (and so far, he has only killed those who fought him). And then there is the bit where he is capable of liking people (as he does the bandit follower he defeats), and the fact that the mere mention of the name 'Sakuya' (I think it's a woman's name, right?) gets him all verklempt. Most interestingly what struck me and convinced me that things must be much more complicated than they appear is the scenes with the ninja girl. A ninja girl appears, wanting to kill him. She used to love Kyo and now blames him for the death of her sister. During the confrontations with her, now only does Kyo not kill her but, interestingly, Sanada asks him whether Kyo won't tell her the truth. Basically, Kyo is innocent of the woman's death but doesn't bother to deny it.
And Kyoshiro, there is something more to him too, than the useless dopey peddler. Not only does he seem to be able to avoid attacks with great ease, but we find out he is the one who defeated Kyo and hid his body and 'imprisoned' him. Hmmmm.
I have not developed any ships yet (which makes sense, as this is not a ship driven manga) but I really really love it. And yeah, I can sort of see the very gradual possibility of Kyo/Yuya in the future, meganbmoore
, though not yet.
This being a shonen manga, the fanservice is quite amusing. I must say, Kyo's disparaging remarks about Yuya's bust size are LOL-worthy because unless he likes women who have trouble walking because of chest size, I think she is quite well endowed :D