Tenchi Muyo: Daughter of Darkness (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Bryan Morton
Review Date: Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Release Date: Monday, January 08, 2007

What They Say
On a hot summer day, a fetching young girl named Mayuka appears to Tenchi, calling him Daddy! Jealousy and envy follow as Ryoko and Ayeka battle for Tenchi's attention with this new arrival. Who could the mother be?! Hiding in the background, Yuzuha, the Demoness of Darkness, is about to get her revenge against Tenchi's grandfather, Yosho, for a grudge Yuzuha has held for over 700 years! She begins her plan by using Mayuka to steal Tenchi away to the Dimension of Darkness. So it begins again, Tenchi must fight to save his friends and Mayuka, daughter or not!

The Review!
The final Tenchi Muyo! movie finally gets its UK release " and it looks like Tenchi's been up to no good while Ryoko and Ayeka weren't paying attention...

There are four soundtracks on this release, with both 2.0 and 5.1 tracks being provided in English and Japanese. I listened to the Japanese 5.1 track for this review, and it was a delight to listen to, with good use made of the available channels throughout, which helps add to the atmosphere of the movie. There were no apparent encoding problems.

This is a very clean transfer, with colours coming across very well and some nicely detailed backgrounds adding a lot to the atmosphere of the film. There's a slightly soft-focus feel to the transfer, but in general this is another good-looking Tenchi release. Subtitles are provided in two versions - the usual translation of the Japanese track, and a second "hard of hearing" track that goes along with the English dub. Unfortunately, my pet hate for letterboxed releases crops up here, as the subtitles are placed partly within the borders, so using the zoom mode on widescreen TVs isn't an option if you're a subtitle user.

No packaging was provided with our review copy.

The main menu features a static image of Tenchi in his battle gear, with light hawk sword in hand and a determined look on his face as fireworks burst in the background. Sub-menus are provided for scene selection, extras and language select. The movie's ending theme plays in the background. With no transition animations, the menus are just as I like them - quick and simple to use.

No much in the way of extras on this release, unfortunately " just the Japanese theatrical and promotional trailers (un-subtitled) and the original Japanese version of the ending sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
It's a fairly typical day at the Misaki home, with Tenchi being chased around by the women as usual " but the usual hi-jinks come to the abrupt end with the arrival of attractive young woman Mayuka, who despite appearing to be about the same age as Tenchi, claims he is her father. Naturally enough, no-one really believes her " especially Ryoko, whose instinctive jealousy kicks into high gear as soon as she meets Mayuka " but some tests by the ever-inquisitive Wasshu soon prove show that she may be telling the truth.

Sort of, anyway. Behind the scenes, Demoness of Darkness Yuzuha is plotting her revenge against Tenchi's grandfather. Many years previously, Yuzuha had tried to confess her feelings to Yosho, but a relationship between a furry little demon such as her and a member of the Jurai was never going to be a starter. Yuzuha's been nursing the pain of rejection ever since, and now, using Yuzuha as her tool, she's planning on getting her own back " and Tenchi's in the firing line.

Yuzuha's cloned Mayuka from her own and Tenchi's DNA " which is why Wasshu's initial tests show that her claims to be his daughter could be true. Strange things happen all the time in the Misaki household, so the possibility of a grown daughter coming back from the future isn't something that can be entirely ruled out " and while the rest of the gang are trying to figure out exactly what's going on, Yuzuha's got time to work on her scheme. Mayuka's an unwitting part of this " when Yuzuha's in control, she doesn't remember what she's been doing, so there's a lot of confusion when Ryoko catches Mayuka up to no good and Mayuka just feels she's being harassed.

She may have a point, too. For all that Ryoko's actions in this movie are at least partly responsible for saving the day, they also feel very much like the actions of a jealous, over-possessive brat. In Ryoko's eyes, Tenchi's her property " Mayuka's invading her territory by wanting to spend time with Tenchi, and she reacts by doing whatever she can to get her off the scene. The later realisation that Mayuka's a danger is entirely incidental. As a result, I really didn't like Ryoko in this movie " she's more spoilt child than serious character, and it does her no favours at all.

That's the only aspect of Daughter of Darkness that I have a real issue with, though " away from Ryoko's behaviour, it's a perfectly good, enjoyable story, although it's nothing I'd call outstanding, either. It's much lighter in tone than the other Tenchi movies, and that's no bad thing. Mayuka herself is an instantly likeable character, and you do begin to feel for how she's being used by Yuzuha " but such serious concerns never really get in the way of just enjoying what's unfolding on screen. There's also maybe a little sympathy for Yuzuha in the early stages, after you see how she was dealt with by the Jurai, but that soon evaporates as her quest for payback becomes nastier as the movie goes on.

Events build to a suitably dramatic climax, as Tenchi tries to break Yuzuha's influence over Mayuka to give his "daughter" a chance at a normal life, while Yuzuha simply refuses to give up. It's all paced quickly enough that there's no chance to get bored or to think too hard about what's going on, but with a story as straightforward as this that's probably a good thing.

In summary:
Plot-wise, Daughter of Darkness is probably the weakest of the three Tenchi movies, but in some ways it's also the most accessibly and easily enjoyed, because it's so easy to just switch off an go with the flow while watching it. That makes it worth the asking price, especially if you're a Tenchi Muyo! fan. Just don't let Ryoko's antics get to you too much...

Japanese Language 2.0 & 5.1,English Language 2.0 & 5.1,English Subtitles,Theatrical & Promotional Trailers,Original Japanese Ending

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: MVM Entertainment
MSRP: 17.99
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen Letterbox
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tenchi Muyo