A Review by Christopher Kinsey
This being my first review here, let me hand down some credentials. I became a Japanese animation fan when it was known as "Japanamation". Basically meaning the mid 1990s. I escaped into a world of sex and violence through the classics such as Cutey Honey, Devil Hunter Yohko and Ninja Scroll. With the beginnings of the anime market planted, Pioneer (Now Geneon) brought over a few hits from the east. The largest of these was Tenchi Muyo!
The basic plot of this little harem story goes as follows. Tenchi is the typical teenaged Japanese male, going about his business from his old timey Japanese estate. When finally, one after another, alien ladies drop in under different (and usually explosive) circumstances. These ladies then take a liking to Tenchi after they are forced to save the day together. Then they stay at his phat Japanese palatial estate. Oh yes, and fall in love with him. There are a few exceptions from this rule.
Not really an original concept there (Gee Dean, an original concept an anime? It'll never happen!). There was a glut of "My Alien Girlfriend" stories after Rumiko Takahashi's "Usurei Yatsura". Everyone was getting hot alien girlfriends. Or goddesses. Or fem bots. Or that time they dropped a copy of "Heavy Metal" magazine on Japan and someone decided to make "Outlanders" (Google it cretins!)
Also it was decided that there needed to be harem stories. Apparently to be really Japanese you must wade through an acre of ladies vying for your affections just to be with the one you really want. This of course is false. In Japan the only way to get a date is to be shy to the point of becoming a piece of furniture any time the opposite sex is in the same county as you. But the harem story didn't start with Tenchi either. "Ranma ½" (Damn, Takahashi got all the good ideas first...) was the big one. Sure, it had a lot of elements of action and comedy. But let's face it, it was all about the ladies.
So in a moment of Reeses discovery bliss, they got their alien girlfriend in my harem story.
And, according to the numbers, it worked.
And why not? I mean, on the inside the Japanese are PERVS!!! Watching "Real Sex" has nothing on the land of the rising sun! This show catered to every kink. Let's look at a little cast list, shall we?
Ryoko- This lady is a space pirate demoness who falls for Tenchi. This, right here, is what we like to call the "Wild foreign woman" kink the Japanese tend to have. They act rather unladylike, swill beer, and act like they're 40 sometimes.
Washu- The mad scientist of the group. She constantly wants to "Experiment" on Tenchi but has no feelings towards him. Again, a kink. Many Japanese men really want to experience a relationship built on cold, calculating... experimentation. I wonder if they ever get through a doctors visit without popping a hard-on every six seconds. Did I mention she usually spends her time about the size and form of a 12 year old kid? But that's not her kink niche'... That comes later.
Sasami- Oh, wait... there it is. Sasami is obviously the Lolita complex given form. Obviously 10 years old, mature for her age, and also in love with Tenchi. "In a sisterly way" of course... But that's just what papa wants to hear. It's like every Japanese man needs a rubber band around his left wrist. "Sasami's on again..." Snap. Snap. Snap.
Ayeka- A space princess. She's the docile, fawnlike, doe-eyed lady that every proper Japanese boy is supposed to marry. She's also probably, mostly... Tenchi's cousin... or sister... or something related. Either way... More kink! Hey, wait, Sasami's her sister too... More kink for your viewing dollar!
Ryo Oh Ki- This is the cute critter of the series. A cabbit. Part cat, part rabbit. Now, this was the mid 90s. The glut of cute sidekicks was in full swing. Hell, they made a show entirely about cute animal sidekicks. While annoying, I could have let this slide... Until they decided to have this character morph into a female form in one of the series and demand that Tenchi sire her a child! They've tagged them all. The furries can sleep easier knowing they're represented in Tenchi's universe.
Mihoshi- She is an officer of the Galactic police. A bubbly headed blonde member of the Galactic police. With a hyperdimensional device that turns into a powder puff tail too... Mihoshi actually doesn't have the hots for Tenchi. Instead they became friends after they were sent to reel in other members of the household.
Kiyone- This is Mihoshi's levelheaded partner. She also isn't hankering for Tenchi's man meat. Actually, out of everyone in the case I think she's the only one with a well-adjusted personality to boot.
All right, enough about all these fine ladies, animals, and children that want to sleep with this guy. Let's meet the real Tenchi Masaki.
Every harem story needs a lynch pin. In Tenchi Muyo it's Tenchi Masaki. A long time ago Tenchi's lecherous father had a close encounter of the third kind, slept with an alien princess, and she had Tenchi. And now he is of this noble blood and heir to the REAL ULTIMATE POWER of the planet Jurai. And that would have been pretty neat. Lost prince stories can be interesting, right? Pig farmer is the rightful king of all the land and his strength of character moves him to be a pretty interesting guy. You know, protecting the innocent, smiting his enemies with justice. Like Chuck Norris.
Tenchi is more like whomever Madonna marries. Just dragged along for the ride.
He's the most banal, uninteresting protagonist you'll ever meet. He's timid. He's the Charlie Brown of anime. Everything I have ever seen relating to this series follows this basic plotline.
- Some badass from space comes down to earth, more often than not wanting to "front" one of Tenchi's hot "Beyotches"
- The hot "Beyotch" don't want none o' that. So they drag whoever's around the house that can fight, and Tenchi, out into space to bust this badass down a peg.
- "Tenchi's Angels" begin a major ass whuppen on the badass, but the badass turns the tables and captures one of them.
- Tenchi's pissed, because he loves his lil' gals and would wish no harm to them, unless they're holding out on him. Then he'll pop them in the mouth, but hate to have to do it.
- Tenchi then pulls out his Deus Ex Machina drive since he's half alien, frags the badass, then jets everyone back to earth so the hijinks can ensue again.
Ya know, if it weren't for the fact Tenchi is such a tool, this might be watchable. But for all my hatred of Tenchi, I shall press on to part two...
Today's viewing: Tenchi The Movie 2: Tenchi Forever!
OK, this disc opens with a foreboding Camilla tree in space, complete with dying alien chick and male alien pining over this fact. Then spontaneously we cut to one of the two rules of anime movies based on a TV series.
- You must feature every character that's even made a cameo in the first seven minutes of the movie OR...
- You must repeat the show's selling point within the first seven minutes.
As it turns out, we get the latter. Tenchi and the gang are sweeping up the cherry blossoms around the Misaki estate. And, sure enough, Ayeka and Ryoko begin squabbling over something trivial, Tenchi asks them to knock it off, and then the pair turn it on him. Demanding to know who Tenchi chooses. Of course, he misdirects them, runs into the woods, and bemoans the fact that girls are always fighting over him.
As he walks he's enchanted by a siren song coming from a tree. He sees the face of the sick/dying/anemic alien female from the start of the movie. As he touches the tree, he disappears. Finally! The series might become marginally more interesting. Of course Ryoko and Ayeka run along just as he vanishes.
Now we cut abruptly to the rest of the cast. Washu is doing something scientific, while Sasami is heading back to her home planet of Jurai (And it's the only time we see that annoying Ryo-Oh-Ki thing, yes!), and Mihoshi and Kiyone are doing a kitschy job of breaking into some high tech installation. What happened? Little dialogue has to do with the fact Tenchi is gone or anything.
Then everything goes deep into bad daytime dramas. On a sunset lit train, Ryoko and Kiyone travel, as Tenchi's father and grandfather discuss the fact Tenchi is missing. This is the first time we find out time has passed, and that the father has finally contacted the police about the fact. That's good parenting there.
As it all turns out Ryoko and Ayeka are being helped by everyone to find Tenchi. They've tracked him down to an unnamed city, and to find him they have taken jobs at "Dennys" and gotten an apartment. Because, you know, looking up someone means you should set up digs. Of course, I'd spring for a P.I. Do you realize how hard it would be to find anyone in Japan?
Anyway, now that we've very... slowly... established the fact Tenchi is being looked for in a very haphazard way, we cut to what he's up to. He's let his hair grow out, he's a little more mature, and he seems to be living with the sick alien. She goes by the name Haruna and is just peachy keen. They have a quaint little Japanese house and she's cooking up breakfast while he has to get ready for college.
After four hours of tenderness and this perfect little life Tenchi has carved out here, we jump to Ryoko and Ayeka running about in the search for Tenchi, as well as them working at their job. Then we just jump back and forth to these tender moments Tenchi's having with Haruna and Ryoko and the rests' frantic search.
By the way, Tenchi fans? He gets laid. A bunch. By a hamadryad alien thingy.
More searching, more tender moments fit for a Hallmark movie your grandmother has to watch... Is it just me, or isn't something quasi interesting supposed to happen by now in a Tenchi flick? Like a catfight or an epic space battle? But anyway, Ryoko finally spots Tenchi. She springs into action and flies over (Why doesn't anyone notice Ryoko can fly? Can all Japanese fly?). They then spot Tenchi with Haruna, and of course lose him yet again.
So again we have to cycle between tenderness, searching, and vague dreams. At this point I glance at the clock. As it turned out, it only felt like 17 hours have passed. This movie is slower than the checkout line with the woman reading the bodice ripper and is paying with a check.
But finally, Tenchi and Haruna get a hankering to eat at the Dennys! The finally have their quarry! I'm expecting traditional space catfight! You know, Ryoko shooting out her laser things and the dryad using trees and crap while suburbia is destroyed in the background and Ayeka pulls Tenchi to safety? No. None of that. Tenchi just looks confused and gets a headache while the power of cheap animation effects pulls Haruna and Tenchi away.
At this point I realize two things. One is this movie will ever end. The other is that this isn't a Tenchi movie. It's an art film using the Tenchi universe and characters as it's medium. The only people who could like this movie are people who like to think they have taste and culture. And they wear turtlenecks all the time. And Berets. The entire dynamics that made the series popular in the first place are thrown out of the window to tell a French story of love and loss. Gah!
Finally, a breakthrough! In the Tenchi crime lab, Washu learns that Haruna is pulling Tenchi into an alternate dimension. Now each of the Tenchi ladies can do their part to pull the dimensions back into place so Ryoko and Ayeka can rip Tenchi away from the happiness he's found and put him back into the living blueball hell that is his life.
Now, as it all turns out this is all his grandfather's fault. He's a Jurian prince and Haruna is the woman he brought along for the ride. As it turns out, she died. But her tree was still intact (Jurians have life trees they are bound to. Knowing is half the battle.) So he planted it as he traveled through Japan in his youth. Now as her tree has surged to life, her spirit desired Tenchi for some reason or another. Why she didn't wait for grandpa, we'll never know.
Well, finally they lock the dimensions together. Tenchi is rather comatose at the time and Ryoko and Ayeka prepare for epic battle!!! Or talking. Yes, instead of the fabled fight that's required in movies like this, they talk about who has the most feelings for Tenchi. Well, at the end of the excitement, Haruna flushes them back to our dimension.
So now the movie didn't have it's climax and will never really end. Instead of searching/tenderness/searching we now set the movie to tenderness/dimension hopping/talking about feelings.
It's Oprah: The Movie.
Finally, Grandpa cuts down the tree with a lightsabre. Then flashbacks, the tree explodes, then resolution. Grandpa shimmers as a ghost in the other dimension, explains everything, Haruna is satisfied, and we end this movie. And everything goes back the way it was. The End.
Ow. Just ow. I try my best to review a typical piece of work in the series I'm reviewing. But this, this is an abomination! It was like drying my eyeballs with a steam iron. When a body sits down to watch a Tenchi movie, I can only assume it's to watch their favorite lady do something fun, peppy, and hilarious. Here I think there would have been a riot in the theater. No one does anything! I've seen Mexican soap operas with more zing!
Final Verdict: I didn't come into this liking Tenchi. This only served to galvanize my hate into a razor sharp sword. I mean, I thought the series was badly executed and unfunny. But when they tried drama, well that just didn't work either. There is a bright spot here, I don't own this, and my sister loaned it to me. Who got it for free. It was still too high a price...