Tenchi Muyo is one of the best anime to come out of the 90’s, and to this day fans still love the franchise. It’s no surprise that demand would lead to a movie, but the fact that three came about is still amazing to this day. With the recent release of the Blu-Ray collection, do the films still stand up alongside the series?
First things first, a special note: the films entitled Tenchi Muyo in Love (don’t ask why they’re called that) are set in the continuity of the TV series Tenchi Universe, while the second film Daughter of Darkness is set in its own continuity that is sort of a merger between the TV and OVA series. And for the sake of this review, I’ll review each film in its own mini-review before talking about the Blu-ray quality and features.
Tenchi Muyo in Love
An eldritch monster, the criminal Kain, escapes from the Galaxy Police, decimating their headquarters. At the same time, our hero Tenchi finds himself starting to vanish. Investigation by the gang reveal that in 1970, something happens to Tenchi’s mother, changing history. Without further ado, Tenchi and the girls go back in time to protect his mom Achika while she’s in high school. But the clock is ticking, because Kain is coming, and it’ll take everything they have to save Achika and the future.
This is the definite ace of the collection. The animation and music are great, and the story is the perfect way to take Tenchi to the theater. The humor of the franchise is still there, but there’s a genuine air of foreboding throughout, and when the climax finally comes, it’s a suspenseful showdown that will surprise you at many turns. If there’s a flaw, it’s that the film is focused more on Achika’s safety, meaning we don’t get to just see the gang be themselves outside of trying to protect her.
Tenchi Muyo: The Daughter of Darkness
One summer day, as Tenchi and his extended household go about their day, a strange girl named Mayuka appears. She claims to be Tenchi’s daughter, which is quite a shock as she’s the same age as him. While the gang ponder what it could mean, and if she’s from the future, Mayuka continues to place herself among them, and strangely flipping between being a sweet, innocent girl and a slightly-crazed weirdo. And through it all, a strange feral child Yuzuha watches, her long-planned revenge about to come to fruition.
Just as well-animated and made as the previous film, the major difference here being that the threat is now among the group instead of something outside it. As a result, the focus is more among the well-known cast members as well as the new characters, making it a more personal saga. And like the last film, the climax is just an amazing thrill-ride.
Tenchi Muyo in Love 2
One day, Tenchi simply vanishes. 6 months pass, and the gang have scattered in the search for him: Sasami to her home planet Jurai, Mihoshi and Kiyone to the Science academy to help Washu, and Ryoko and Ayeka have moved to Tokyo in their hunt for the lost Tenchi. Meanwhile, Tenchi finds himself several years older and living the life of a struggling college student with a strange woman named Haruna, with no memory of his life before this. What follows is a story of what it means to love, both to be happy and sorrowful.
Honestly, this is the weakest one on the set. It’s not a bad story per se, with good animation and all that, it’s just a really bad Tenchi story. The strongest points of the franchise has always been its ensemble cast and their interactions with each other, its comedy, and its action. There’s practically no action, the humor is very little, and most of the cast are absent for huge chunks of the film, with the major focus being on Tenchi’s new life, and Ryoko and Ayeka’s search for him. Also, the new character designs just feel really out of place. The film drags on during its first half, and when you see how it’s finally resolved, you may share my reaction: “Why didn’t you do that earlier?”
Much like the OVA collection, the Blu-ray edition really shows these films in their best form, making the already great animation look even better, and the 5.1 surround sound for both language tracks is great. Speaking of the languages, again the quality of the English dub holds up alongside the original Japanese, with the one flaw being that the voice cast does change for a few characters across the films. And again, a criminal lack of features, with the only one being the Japanese theatrical trailer for the 3rd film. Also, as a warning, it really helps to already know a lot about Tenchi and his friends. The films are not very newbie-friendly.
Regardless, the first and second films are really good, and maybe you’ll like the third one. And of course, if you’re a Tenchi fan, they are essential to your collection.
[learn_more caption=”Review Results”][one_half]Pros:
- Well-animated, well-made films
- The first two films are amazing
- Essential for Tenchi fans[/custom_list][/one_half]
- The third movie is a real mixed bag
- Again, a criminal lack of features
To see where this review score falls in our scoring range, please read our review scale guidelines.[/learn_more]