Tenchi Universe Vol. #4 (of 8) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2000
Release Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2000

What They Say
Washu invents the "Dimensional Cause & Effect" controller that is designed to alter the world to the user's wishes. Unfortunately, her grand unveiling results in a mad-dash for the controls which leave Tenchi falling from one parallel universe to another, experiencing each girl's ultimate fantasy lifestyle!

The Review!
More fun and wackiness in the latest installment of Tenchi Universe, entitled "Time and Space Filler Adventures". This disc brings us up to episode 13, or the halfway point in the series.

Tenchi's got the usual gang of suspects here with the Japanese and English tracks (and once again, the Pioneer disc does not listen to my Pioneer players set preferences of Japanese with English subtitles). The music once again proves to be the highlight for both tracks and sounds the best. Dialogue is primarily through the center channel and sounds good, though there's a few very minor instances of some directionality. We didn't notice any distortion or dropouts during normal playback of the Japanese track.

Much like the third disc, I found the transfer on this disc to pale compared to a lot of other recent back catalog titles from Pioneer. Colors are spot on with no color bleeding or oversaturation. There's a significant amount of compression artifacts in a lot of the starry night/deep blue/black scenes that really detracts from the show at times. There were even a few instances where some of the characters clothing start to show some of the same symptoms. Rainbows were fairly minimal and relatively restrained to the character designs themselves and again, mostly in the hair where it causes some jaggies and pixellation.

With the episodes contained inside focusing on the characters travelling through time and into different situations, they cover does a good job of showing them in different outfits and styles, with plenty of exposure for Pretty Sammy on both the back cover and the insert (where's my Magical Project S DVD's dagnabit!).

No real shockers here, the menus are pretty standard static screens with a brief loop of the opening song playing throughout it. Submenus are quickly accessed and things are laid out pretty much as expected.

The extras are pretty minimal, but Tenchi enthusiasts will be pleased to see a 30 second Japanese promotional spot that was included alongside the character profile section as well as eight pages of some really great looking line art, especially the Ayeka costume.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
An unfortunate side effect of a TV series, depending on how tightly plotted it is, is that there will be filler episodes. Very few series escape this fate and Tenchi is no exception. The Time and Space adventures, though cute and amusing in some places, does nothing to advance the ongoing story or does much to bring about new facets to the characters.

The show starts off with all the women in Washu's dimensional hot spring. Tenchi's father is doing his best to get into there (with amusing results I must say when he finally reaches the surface of the water) while Tenchi's just trying to get through his day. Something goes wrong with the dimensional hot spring though, so everyone (including the grandfather) stomps off to Washu's lab to find out the result.

And it's bad news indeed. Washu's built a big machine that tampers with time and space to create new realities. Yes, yes, you can see exactly where it goes from here. Buttons are pushed, screaming ensues and next thing you know, the characters are in feudal settings with Ryoko as the devil Rasho-mon, or Ryoko and Tenchi are Bonnie and Clyde.

What is a real treat to see an appearance of Pretty Sammy, which previous to this was only in the separate universe continuity of the Pretty Sammy OVA's (ahem... not on DVD). Though this reality isn't gone into too much detail, it's great to see the transformation sequence again and how her arrows bring about the near kiss of Ryoko and Ayeka. You know you want to see it.

These episodes aren't bad overall, but they don't really get you anywhere. The stage is set for the next half of the series where things really do pick up and the series plot becomes apparent, but don't go looking for it here.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Tenchi Promo,Character Profile,Line Art

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tenchi Universe