TENCHI MUYO: THE MOVIE (1996)

(aka Tenchi Muyo in Love)

 

Format: 94-minute feature

Rating: PG-13 (BN, GV)

Type: Sci-Fi Action/Romance

American Production: Pioneer Entertainment (now Geneon)/Network

English Dub Production: Todd Ao Studios

Japanese Production: Tenchi Production Committee

 

Grading

 

Premise:

B-

Story:

B

Writing:

B

Character Design:

B

Animation:

B

Artistic Merits:

B

English Dub:

B

Musical Score:

B

Songs:

C+

 

 

Humor Content:

C+

Action Content:

B

Drama Content:

B+

 

 

DVD Presentation:

B-

DVD Extras:

C+

 

 

OVERALL:

B

 

Synopsis

      Super-criminal Kain, imprisoned for 100 years in the Galaxy Police Headquarters subspace network, escapes and head for Earth, where he travels back in time to 1970 to strike at his hated enemy – the Jurai bloodline – at its weakest point: Tenchi’s mother, Achika, as a teenager and before her Jurai powers are realized. This would cause Tenchi to vanish in the present and force the dissolution of the group that has gathered around him, so they all agree to allow Washu to send them back in time, where they must infiltrate his parents’ school and secretly protect Achika. There they are witness to the budding romance between Achika and young Noboyuke (Tenchi’s father) even as they struggle to figure out the nature of the threat to Achika and how to stop it.

 

Quotes

      “I won’t let you – touch my Mom!” (Tenchi, to Kain)

      “Time is short, but Noboyuke and I will live our lives to the fullest, I swear. That’s all that really matters.” (Achika)

 

The Long View

      This movie, which is in the same continuity as Tenchi Universe and effectively a sequel to it, is arguably the best of all the Tenchi material. It eschews most (but not all) of the silliness and slapstick of the series in favor of a more serious story that is a blending of romance and sci-fi action – only, in an unusual twist, the main characters are only observers to the romance rather than participants. The movie is, in fact, at its best when concentrating on Achika and young Noboyuke, especially its powerfully melancholy ending. The climatic battle won’t disappoint, though, and the sequence where Achika discovers her powers and puts them to use against Kain is an impressive one.

      The heart and soul of the Tenchi franchise has always been in its characters interactions, and fans of the series will be pleased to know that all the regular characters except the Guardians have at least minor (if somewhat subdued) roles. Ryo-Ohki fans may be disappointed, as there’s little here for the adorable cabbit to do beyond serving as Sasami’s pet, and Sasami herself doesn’t do much beyond just being cute. Ryoko and Ayeka are their usual combative selves, however, Mihoshi is still a complete ditz, and Washu is still the egotistical mad scientist. Kiyone comes across more as a very restrained team leader here, while Tenchi is given a bit more of a chance to show off his personality. We can see clearly that he is very concerned about protecting his mother and yet at the same time very eager to see her and surreptitiously be around her, since in the series she died when he was very young. Among new characters Kain is appropriate as the vengeful, ultra-powerful villain and Achika is well-crafted as the model Japanese mother-to-be: kind, gentle, still very much a teenager, and yet also fiercely protective of her future offspring once she realizes who Tenchi is.

      The biggest area where Tenchi Muyo in Love can be faulted is in its plot, which is so full of holes that is resembles Swiss cheese. (Where are the police and emergency personnel in the scenes at the tower at the end?) Logic has never been a strong point of the Tenchi franchise, however, so a suspension of disbelief is recommended. Just regard the story as a take-off on The Terminator and you’ll enjoy it much more.

      The technical merits on Tenchi Muyo in Love are pretty good for series standards but only average by movie standards. The English dub is as solid as it is for the series, however, and the musical score by Christopher Franke (best-known in the U.S. for his work on Babylon 5) is effective, although the closing song is a generic ‘90s adult contemporary number. The graphic violence in the movie is limited to a couple of bloody scenes late in the movie and the “brief nudity” applies to two brief scenes where you don’t really get to see anything, so a PG-13 rating should suffice. A mature 10-year-old who’s familiar with the characters would probably be fine watching the movie, however.

      For fans of the series, Tenchi Muyo in Love is a must-see. For anyone else, I recommend watching at least one of the series first. This is a movie made for fans.

 

DVD Extras

      The liner of the Special Edition includes a picture of the entire cast signed by both the English voice actor and the Japanese seiyuu for each role – a neat touch! Extras on the disk include various trailers for the movie, an interview with Christopher Franke about the musical scoring, and the original Japanese end credits. The mewling of Ryo-Ohki when shifting between menu options is an amusing little touch.

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Tenchi Masaki

Matt “Kermit” Miller

Achika Masaki

Grace Zandarski

Young Noboyuke

Andy Philpot

Ayeka

Jennifer Darling (aka Kristen Tanner)

Sasami, Kiyone

Sherry Lynn (aka Kate Ashley)

Ryoko

Petrea Burchard (aka Celeste Burch)

Mihoshi

Ellen Gerstel

Washu

Kate T. Vogt

Ryo-Ohki, assorted minor roles

Debi Derryberry

Katsuhito Masaki (grandpa)

Jay Hopper

Kain

Michael Scott Ryan

 

 

 

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