Tenchi Muyo In Love (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, November 04, 2005
Release Date: Monday, October 04, 2004
What They Say
The merciless criminal Kain has escaped from his sub-space prison and has destroyed the Galaxy Police Headquarters! Deprived of his freedom by the Jurai royal family and the Galaxy Police, Kain's first priority is to exact his vengeance on the Jurai family. Meanwhile, on Earth, Tenchi's house has suddenly disappeared and Tenchi, himself, begins to vanish! Washu determines that something has happened to Tenchi's mother and everyone travels to 1970 to save the past!
Tenchi and the gang return for their what was their first big-screen, but somewhere along the way they've lost their appeal...
A good selection of audio options is available, with English 2.0, English 5.1 and Japanese 5.1 tracks all available on the disc. I listened to the Japanese track for this review. The movie's soundtrack was composed by Christopher Franke (of Babylon 5 fame) - he has a style of music & effects that is quite distinctive. While his style fit in well with B5 I'm not so sure it was the best choice for a show like Tenchi, but the background music fortunately isn't really intrusive. Heavy use is made of the rear channels right from the start of the movie for effects and voice placement, which adds a lot to the atmosphere.
In common with the R1 release, video is presented in 1.85:1 letterboxed widescreen. The video itself if of very high quality, thanks to the movie's theatrical roots - there's a high level of detail and slick animation while colours come across as bright and vibrant. There are no obvious encoding problems. However, if you're a sub fan there are issues. Subtitles appear in the lower letterbox border, so if you're using a widescreen TV you can't use the zoom feature to remove the black bars. Words can't express how much I hate that. There are also several instances where dialogue either isn't subtitled, or the subtitles don't stay on-screen long enough to be readable. Obviously these problems won't bother you if you stick to the English dub, but it's disappointing to see them nonetheless.
No packaging was provided with our review copy.
Fairly simple menus are used on this release - the main screen has an image of Tenchi wielding his sword on one side with the various options (Play, Scenes and Extras) on the other. The movie's closing theme song plays in the background. Static screens are used on the sub-menus - the scene select menu is split over five screens to squeeze in the very generous 34 chapters on the disc.
Along with the original Japanese theatrical and TV trailers, there are text interviews with Director Koji Masunari and Supervising Director Hiroshi Negishi, and a biography of and video interview with soundtrack composer Christopher Franke. While the interview with Franke is interesting, the video for the interview uses an unusually low framerate and is very jerky (almost webcam quality), making it quite off-putting to watch.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Somewhere in the depths of space, a powerful criminal known as Kain has escaped from his confinement, and after causing the headquarters of the Galaxy Police to simply disappear, he's out for revenge against the other people responsible for putting him away - the Jurai royal family. But rather than go after them directly, he has another method of attack in mind. Back on Earth, Tenchi begins to disappear. Wasshu works out that something has caused Tenchi's mother, Achika, to disappear 26 years in the past, creating the paradox that's lead to a number of strange effects in the present, including Tenchi's increasingly dodgy grip on existence. The only way to save Tenchi and return the timeline to normal is to protect his mother from whatever caused her to disappear, and so Wasshu uses her experimental, it-should-work-honest time machine to send the gang 26 years into the past.
Once they're back in the 70's, Ayeka and Ryoko sign up as transfer students at Achika's school, while Mihoshi and Kiyone take on the roles staff at the school. Wasshu's been able to pin down the event that caused Achika to disappear to a few days after the gang's arrival, during a class trip to Tokyo, but while the everyone gets busy trying to save Achika, she's busy discovering love with Tenchi's father...
After the OVA releases, the first Tenchi Muyo! movie has a lot to live up to for me - the OVA series was great fun and I quickly grew to like the characters while watching it, so on paper is a good thing that all of the regular cast return for this movie. There's also one character who is new to me - Kiyone, another Galaxy Police detective and Mihoshi's long-suffering partner. Kiyone first appeared in the Tenchi Universe TV series and is notable for being the most normal of the 'regular' characters.
The movie expects you to have prior knowledge of Tenchi Muyo! and the characters. There's no attempt made to introduce anyone or explain why they behave the way they do, so if you haven't seen either the OVA or TV series before this wouldn't be for you. Add in that missing knowledge, and there's definitely a bit of a buzz to be had from seeing the characters again. After that, though, problems begin to appear.
For a start, there are simply too many people being squeezed into not enough story. Even Tenchi himself suffers from a lack of real screen time, only coming into his own in the later scenes in the movie. The writers have tried to give all the regular characters their fair share of time, I suspect trying to keep everyone's fans happy, but in trying to do that they've created a large chunk of the film where nothing really happens. After the initial chaos of Kain's escape, it's the best part of an hour into the movie before events begin to pick up speed again, and by then I had pretty much lost interest. There's also less of an emphasis on humour than I was used to, which was surprising when that's Tenchi Muyo's real strength.
On the plus side, the movie is technically very well presented - it looks and sounds great, for the most part - but that's unfortunately not enough to save it from ending up as a mediocre tale.
Tenchi Muyo in Love tries to cover too much ground in not enough time, and in the process forgets to do what the OVA series was so good at - making you laugh. While it's good to see all the characters together again, in trying to appeal to everyone the movie ends up failing to really grab the attention. Definitely a missed opportunity.
Japanese Language 5.1,English Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles,Theatrical Trailer,TV Spots,Director's Comments,Interview / Biography of Christopher Franke
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.
Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: MVM Entertainment
Running time: 95
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen Letterbox
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tenchi Muyo