Tenchi in Tokyo Vol. #3 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 18, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, April 20, 1999
In response to suggestions in the forum that I not give away quite so much in my reviews, I will now do my reviews in reverse order; that is to say I will review the technical merits of the disc first, before I discuss the program itself. That way, if you do not want to know anything, stop reading when I tell you to. I have already stated that I will not give away any "series killer" spoilers in these reviews (i.e. the true nature of Yuugi), but I happen to like discussing the episodes, and by definition, that would involve giving away some episode spoilers. One person suggested that I just give away what is written on the back of the box. If Pioneer had given a paragraph for each episode as it did on the back of the "Tenchi Universe" Laserdiscs, that might be a workable idea, but here Pioneer just gives us 6 lines of text for all three episodes; far too little for me to work with. But, if you're a Tenchi fan, and you liked the first two volumes of this particular series, do you really need me to tell you to get this one? I assume that you've already read that this volume has yellow subtitles on the News page; what else do you need to know?
Let me get the praise out of the way first: yellow subtitles, thank you Pioneer; excellent scene selection menu, thank you Pioneer. I also appreciated the commercial for the Japanese "Shin Tenchi Muyo" LDs, and the credits-free opening and closing sequences, included as bonuses. I have one question: in the credits-free version of the opening sequence, what happened to the sound effects when the Kanji for "Shin Tenchi Muyo" appear on the screen? Another thing (which was also on the first two, but I forgot to mention it in my previous reviews), for the first time ever, Pioneer has decided to subtitle the opening and closing songs. (Yes, I recall that Pioneer subtitled the Karaoke songs in episodes 6, "No Need for Resident Officers", and episode 16, "No Need for Hiding", of the first TV series, but the characters were singing those songs as part of the narrative, so it doesn't count.) What would I like to see included as bonuses in the future? The opening and closing sequences as they appear on the Japanese LDs, with the credits in Japanese, and the lyrics in Kanji and Kana at the bottom of the screen. Interviews with the creators and cast. And perhaps some more commercials with the Tenchi characters plugging other Japanese products (the same way that Crayon Shin-chan and Sailor Moon endorse Peyangu brand curry, for example).
However, unlike Chris, I did notice some problems with the video. Towards the end of episode 10, nearly every time that the shot changes, there is some white interference at the top right corner of the screen. (Someone in the forum noted a similar problem with the last disc for one or two shot changes. I saw it too, but it didn't happen often enough for me to comment.) Since it appears as a still image in the freeze frames, I don't think that it's a problem with my player. It must be a problem with the transfer process. I'd hate to be too critical; when you're dealing with animation cels inevitably some foreign objects will get into the frame. (I once spotted what I think was someone's necklace or wrist chain in an episode of "Ranma 1/2"!) But since it happens with every shot, you'd think someone would have noticed. Also, in the same episode, watch the eyecatch sequence going into the commercial when it's just the "Shin Tenchi Muyo" logo on a plain background, and tell me if the screen doesn't look frozen. For these reasons, I had to downgrade my video quality rating from A- I gave it last time to B.
Okay, for those of you who only want to read a technical review, stop reading here. See you in the review for Volume 4 (and on the message board)!
Episode 8 is "Tenchi Anniversary", which is the continuation of the story started from the previous episode. Sakuya has followed Tenchi back to the Masaki Shrine in Okayama prefecture, where the girls are celebrating the second anniversary of the day when they all came to Earth and met Tenchi. The girls stayed in the Masaki residence at first just to recover, but they all decided to stay. Ryoko isn't thrilled that Sakuya had crashed their party, but Ayeka decides that it would be a good opportunity to show Sakuya that Tenchi's off-limits. Meanwhile, for whatever reason, Yuugi feels pity for Sakuya, and sends down a monkey spirit to steal all of Tenchi's mother's crystals. Can the girls figure out that Sakuya's not to blame? I found Tenchi and Sakuya's SD expression, black dot eyes and visible question marks when Ryoko accuses Sakuya of stealing the gems very reminiscent of the SD used in "Marmalade Boy". Is Washu's "gem detector" supposed to resemble Einstein? And is the fan that Ayeka uses to whack Komabito a spoof of "Akira"? This episode offers some insight as to why Ryoko, the tough space pirate, cares about Tenchi, the shy, introverted temple kid.
The next episode is "The Guardians of Old". The girls see Tenchi, Mihoshi and Kiyone at an archeological dig in Okutama (the westernmost point you can go and still be within the limits of Tokyo-to; any further west and you'd be in Yamanashi prefecture) on television. An earthquake had uncovered ruins there three months before. Tenchi, along with classmates Tsuchida and Amagasaki (if you think Komatsu and Hatta from "Kimagure Orange Road", you'd not be too far off) fall into an underground chamber guarded by two other Jurai guardians (whom are a lot more trigger happy than either Azaka or Kamidake)! This is in fact where Yuugi had been imprisoned for the past few millennia. Why did Jurai choose to imprison Yuugi on Earth? And what had Yuugi done that was so terrible in the first place? These are questions which aren't actually answered in this episode, but might possibly have implications on where this series is headed. For "El Hazard" fans the high point of this episode is so obvious that I need not say what it is. Besides, if you don't know what I'm referring to, I'd be ruining it for you if I told you. There are many delicious jokes in this episode. "Urusei Yatsura" fans might get a kick out of "The Chuo Line of Love", the show which Ayeka is watching at the beginning, because that particular rail line is mentioned often on that show. And there's a hilarious pun right after the episode title screen: the commercial is for a product called "Denchi Muyo" or "No Need for Batteries"! When Mihoshi steps on some ancient dishes, Kiyone sports another "Golden Boy" style contorted expression. I've already commented (in both of the previous reviews, if I remember correctly) that more than one of the background music tracks sound lifted directly from "Urusei Yatsura"; now I think that I can add "Rurouni Kenshin" to the list. The scene where Tenchi and his classmates are fleeing the guardian has some background music very similar to a battle theme used on "Rurouni Kenshin".
The final episode of the disc is "The Big Date". Sakuya decides to ask Tenchi out on a date. Only one problem, Ryoko already has different plans for Tenchi. Kind of like an episode of "Kimagure Orange Road", only, while Tenchi does have many different powers, so far he hasn't manifested Kyosuke Kasuga's power of teleportation. What to do? Can Tenchi avoid breaking one (or both) of their hearts? This episode will, most likely, set the emotional pace for the next portion of the series.
This series is beginning to move away from the "Sailor Moon" style humorous demon-of-the-week battles of the first two discs towards the main story-arc of the series. Like a good "Sailor Moon" villain, the more we learn about Yuugi, the more mysterious she gets. As always the English voice acting is as good as a dub could possibly get. I have always liked Jennifer Darling as Ayeka; I think she's trying to blend upper-crust British and Southern Belle accents, and it works beautifully. One thing I especially liked in episode 10 was not one, but two cameo appearances by Pretty Sammy: on the photo-booth, and also, if you look closely, on the score screen in the Karaoke bar (along with her nemesis, Pixy Misa). Let's hope that this gives Pioneer a clue, and they decide to release "Magical Project S" on disc!
Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: A+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tenchi Muyo