Title: Tenchi Muyo: In Love
Length: 95 minutes
Format watched: DVD
Most people who know me know that Tenchi Muyo was the second anime I saw, knowing that it was a Japanese show (so not counting things like Cities of Gold I watched as a kid). I caught the end of episode 1 early one morning on sci-fi channel, and instantly realized it was a Japanese anime. I had recently watched the entire series of Guyver, and I was interested in seeing more anime. From there, I managed to get hold of VHS copies of the Tenchi Muyo Ryo-Ohki DVDs, and ever since then Tenchi has been one of my favorite anime titles.
Tenchi Muyo: In Love if the first of 3 Tenchi movies, and easily the best. The funny thing about Tenchi Muyo is that it has many different continuities. The Ryo-Ohki OAVs are a different story to the TV series, Tenchi Universe. These also seem to be a totally different continuity to Tenchi in Tokyo, the third series. On top of this, there are also the two seperate series of Pretty Sammy, a spinoff, which not only have no ties to any of the other series', but also don't relate to eachother. This first Tenchi movie doesn't seem to be based specifically on any one series, but in this case it really doesn't seem to matter.
Another thing about Tenchi Muyo is that no matter what continuity it is, the characters never change personality wise. The star is Tenchi, of course -- the average schoolboy, who it turns out isn't quite so average, since his grandfather is an alien prince who came to Earth in pursuit of an evil monster, Ryoko, 700 years ago. Tenchi has learned the ways of Jurai swordsmanship from his grandfather, and with the help of a Jurai powered beam sword (also named Tenchi) can hold his own in a fight. Tenchi has a pure heart, and is kind to everyone, always giving people a chance. Unfortunately, Tenchi's indecisiveness leads to many girls pining over him, while he can't choose one, not wanting to hurt their feelings.
The next major character is Ryoko, the evil demon/space pirate. This spikey blue-haired menace was created by a mad scientist, Washu Hakubi, and has an asortment of powers. She can fly, phase through walls, teleport, create beam sabres with her bare hands, throw energy blasts, split into two, and with the help of some special gems which draw on Jurai power, she is even able to summon demons. Ryoko was used by Kagato, a student of Washu's who basically kidnapped his master and stole Ryoko, to breach planet Jurai's defenses and attempt to steal Tsunami, the Jurai Tree who spawned the royal family trees, the source of Jurai power. Yosho, Tenchi grandfather, chased Ryoko all the way to Earth, removed her gems, and sealed her in a cave. 700 years later, Tenchi accidently releases her. This would be a really bad thing, but it turns out that during her imprisonment, her astral body was able to roam around, and see Tenchi grow. Luckily for him (I think..) Ryoko had fallen in love with him.
Next came the first Princess of Jurai, Ayeka. Ayeka is kind of snooty, especially when they first meet her. She was meant to marry Yosho, but he left to fight Ryoko and never came back. Because of this, she searched for 700 years to find him, only to find Ryoko on Earth instead. One thing lead to another, and Ayeka ended up stranded on Earth. She eventually learned that Tenchi's grandfather was her Yosho, but by that time, had fallen in love with Tenchi herself. Ayeka and Ryoko are considered the main contenders for Tenchi's heart, and can be found fighting fiercly in any of the Tenchi continuities. However, when push comes to shove, Ayeka and Ryoko seem to have a...strange sort of friendship -- Ayeka going as far as going out of her way to rescue Ryoko one time.
When Ayeka became stranded on Earth, she wasn't alone. The second Princess of Jurai, Ayeka's sister, is Sasami. Sasami is young (708 if I remember correctly) and full of energy. She loves to cook and play with Ryo-Ohki, Ryoko's cute, fuzzy spaceship. On the outside she seems pretty normal, but in reality, when Sasami was even younger, she once died, falling to her death in the midst of Ryoko's attack on Jurai. She landed at the foot of Tsunami, the oldest Jurai tree. Tsunami felt sorry for Sasami, and 'assimilated' with her. Tsunami and Sasami are now considered spiritually joined, and when Sasami is old enough, they will become one. Sasami, and therefor, Tsunami also, have a great fondness for Tenchi -- even saying that when they're older they might become his bride. In a lot of ways Sasami might actually be the best choice for Tenchi...but their relationship seems more like close brother and sister.
My favorite character of all is Washu Hakubi, the mad scientist who taught Kagato and Dr Clay, and also created Ryoko and Ryo-Ohki. Washu too has a strong history. She has always been a genius, and was once a student of the Science Acadamy. There, she fell in love, and had a child with a man who's family was very prestigous. Little is known about this man, or their child, but one day his family took them away from her because she was a 'commoner' to them. From that moment on, Washu took on the form of a child, as she believed children didn't have to deal with social stature and such things. Washu has the strangest relationship with Tenchi yet. I wouldn't consider her a serious contender with Ryoko and Ayeka, but she has gone as far as trying to get...samples from Tenchi ("I have magic fingers!" "I don't care!!").
The group is pretty much completed by the two Galaxy Police detectives first class, Mihoshi and Kiyone. Mihoshi is a bubbly blonde, who has the strangest form of bad luck in the universe. Bad luck seriously seems to follow her around, but a form of dumb luck comes with it that seems to protect her from serious harm -- leaving everyone around her in danger usually. She crash landed on Earth a while back, and originally seemed to have a crush on Tenchi, but has let up slightly over time. Kiyone is Mihoshi's poor, poor partner, who is almost a nervous wreck from working with this girl. Kiyone is capable of great things, if Mihoshi wasn't constantly dragging her down. A funny thing is, Kiyone wasn't even in the Ryo-Ohki OAVs, except for one episode where Mihoshi told a story, which may or may not be true...
The final character to mention is original to this movie. The villainous energy being, who destroyed many planets, ships and is 'suspected' of murder (...) is no easy enemy to defeat. The only name they have for him is 'KAIN', and it is unknown why he's called that. KAIN has many powers, one of them being that he's totally immortal. His only weakness is Jurai Power, so the Jurai Fleet and the Galaxy Police were able to combine all their power to trap him in the Galaxy Police subspace network. However, 100 years later, he breaks free. KAIN is an incredibly intimidating villain, and makes this movie what it is, really.
This movie has a great story. It all starts when a strange energy-like being escapes from the Galaxy Police subspace network, destroying GP headquarters in the process. The being flies across the galaxy, and upon arriving on Earth, dissappears into a temporal rift. At that very moment, Tenchi mysteriously begins to vanish! In fact, he would have vanished from history completely, if it hadn't been for Washu's quick thinking, and geniusly designed temporal shields.
Washu reveals that something has happend in the past to Tenchi's mother, Achika. Because of this, Tenchi was never born, and because of this, all of their lives will be altered too. In order to save Tenchi, not to mention the world they know, the entire group has Washu send them back in time to 1970, when Tenchi's parents were still in school, to try to stop this strange being from doing something terrible to her. Unfortunately, they have no idea who they're up against, or when he will strike.
The animation in this particular movie is some of the best I've seen. It's somewhat like that of the Oh My Goddess movie, only older. Bright colors and beautiful backgrounds are used a lot, just like in the series. While the animation is smother and crisper, the character designs are exactly like the series, which I'm very thankful for. Also, the effects used for things like Tenchi's beam sword and other special attacks are very well done, possibly computer generated, but not blatantly.
I've always liked the Tenchi Muyo dub. It isn't perfect, but it's good and consistant. The dub voices haven't changed once in any series/movie, ever since the originals -- and you really grow attatched to them after that long. Ayeka may sound like a chipmunk, and Mihoshi's whining might just be a little too realistic, but I just can't bring myself to watched the subtitled version yet. The dub brings me nostalgia!
The movie has good music, most notably the background music. I especially like KAIN's ominus feeling. Other than that though there isn't really anything worth mentioning here.
In conclusion, this will always be one of my favorite anime movies. It has everything you could want. Action, romance, sci-fi, scary near unbeatable baddy, and most importantly, all the characters Tenchi fans have come to know a love. And it has Washu! That makes it perfect! I'd recommend this movie to anyone, and you don't have to be a fan of Tenchi to really enjoy it, but it sure would help.
Review Score: 9 out of 10