During the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, the name of “Demon Eyes Kyo”, the Slayer of a Thousand Men, became a legend. However, he disappeared after a meteor hit him while he was engaged in battle. Four years later, Kyo has returned, trapped inside the body of another person, and is searching for his lost body to regain his full power and rise again as the legendary warrior… that is, if he manages to reach it before another power-hungry person does.
summary by Griveton
Highs: Atypical protagonist; some interesting character designs; good fight music
Lows: Mundane fights; poor animation for a more modern series; unsatisfying ending
Some will point a finger at Samurai Deeper Kyo and claim it to be a more modern Rurouni Kenshin, but that would be carrying things a bit too far. Both involve Japanese history and quite a bit of swordplay, but they differ strongly at many points.
The main character, Kyo, is essentially a samurai version of Dark Schneider from Bastard!!, minus the sorcery. Kyo first comes across as evil, but as time is given, he is gradually shown to be more good than most people would care to realize. While Kyo’s design comes off as being a bit bland, there are quite a few other characters that are just as interesting to look at. Most of these interesting designs are used on the Kenyou, but Kyo’s real body and Migeiya are just two which are a treat to check out. Just as good is the fight music. Despite the fact that the rest of the series lacks any punch with songs, the fight music is able to reel you into each clash and put you in the right mood.
The fight music may be good, but the clashes themselves are a complete contrast. They are predictable as far as who wins, and the general overabundance of talking in the middle of fights slows down the overall pacing. The factor that hampers them the greatest is the dirt-poor animation. For a series aired in 2002, I should not be reminded of Violinist of Hamelin. The sheer overuse of stills filled with motion lines and looped cels only helps to drag everything, and precious time is killed that could be better used for other purposes. This time could have been better used towards softening the impact of an ending that really is unsatisfying. The combination of a few last-minute plot twists only manage to confuse the audience and make the final fight less than thrilling. It did not end up as a complete disaster, but I felt that there could have been more done as far as dedicating time to certain events and not leaving a few question marks hanging over top of some important elements.
If you can look beyond the unimpressive fights and bad animation, there is quite some fun to be had with Samurai Deeper Kyo. However, this is not a replacement for Rurouni Kenshin.