Tenchi in Tokyo Vol. #8 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 18, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2000
Tenchi in Tokyo: A New Career is the seventh Tenchi in Tokyo disk, and this is my seventh Tenchi in Tokyo review. What an amazing coincidence! (I'm sure that Louis Farrakhan will have a field day trying to find the hidden numerical significance of this review. "Seven plus seven is fourteen. Times it by ten, as in TENchi, and you get one hundred and forty. Subtract this from Mr. Brandon's birth year, 1974, and you have 1834, the year of the anti-abolitionist riots in New York and Philadelphia. Something to think about.")
One continuing technical problem with this series is the white fuzz at the top of the screen, which often appears when they change shots. (As you may recall, this was identified as the glue that A.I.C. uses to splice together pieces of film.) In terms of the "white fuzz" problem, this disk is better than most, particularly during episode 21, where I'm hard-pressed to find any fuzz. (I think that A.I.C. put a little more time and effort in producing episode 21 because this episode looks gorgeous.)
In the "improvements that I should have mentioned last time but I forgot" department, the subtitles used here are now the same font as those used in Tenchi Forever. They're slimmer and much more eye pleasing that the old Pioneer DVD font, and they are now almost indistinguishable from hard subtitles. No longer do the subtitles look as though they are floating above the video image.
Otherwise, from a technical standpoint, this disk is pretty much the same as the previous Tenchi in Tokyo disks. The only extras are a few character sketchboards. Wow, these should prove useful when I animate my own episodes of Tenchi in Tokyo (wherein Tenchi dumps Sakuya and Ryoko and marries Kiyone, and Bounty Hunter Nagi makes a comeback)! Okay, Pioneer has updated their on-disk catalogue a bit. We now have visuals for Nazca. But did you know that there is a third Tenchi movie, Tenchi Forever, that has been available in stores since about September? You wouldn't if you get all of your information about Pioneer releases from the on-disk catalogue! (They should also add video previews.) I suppose that this is my final chance to ask Pioneer to put the video for Linda Yamamoto's "Yume wa Doko e Itta" (the opening song) and/or the audio dramas from the Japanese Shin Tenchi Muyo CDs onto volume eight. (I have volume two, which I bought from, of all places, London's Tower Records, but I can't seem to find volume one in stock anywhere, except for the bootleg Son May version! I stopped buying bootleg SM disks two years ago!) For my thoughts on any other technical issues, please read my past Tenchi in Tokyo reviews as anything I said there applies here unless I say otherwise. (Wow, this paragraph begins and ends with "otherwise"!)
This is the Spoiler Warning. I'm getting tired of writing spoiler warnings, as there are only so many ways that I can say "this is the Spoiler Warning" without repeating myself. It's too clunky switching gears from writing a technical review to writing a detailed analysis of the plot. So, for the year 2000, I'll divide my reviews into two parts: a technical review (with non-plot related thoughts) and a plot review. Sometimes I'll give the plot review a separate title (i.e. "Confessions of an Eva Skeptic" and "Twenty Thousand Words Under the Sea of Mystery"). Essentially, it will be pretty much the same as before, except I'll have my name and the title of the plot review instead of the spoiler warning. I'll see if I can get Chris to include some type of border. Treat them as though they are two separate documents; if you don't want to know anything about the plot, don't go south of the border! For my review of volume eight of Tenchi in Tokyo, I'll just keep to this format.
Episode 20 is "Old Friends". Kiyone and Mihoshi infiltrate Ryoko's pirate guild, wearing the pirate's hoods to conceal their identities. But just how stupid does Kiyone think that Ryoko really is? Meanwhile, Tenchi, Sakuya and the other high school students take their summer exams and then try to decide where to go on vacation. (Note: In Japan, the academic year starts in April, so the exams are not finals.) Do you remember what I said last time about my moral problem with episode 19? Ryoko just blew away whole squadrons of Galaxy Police officers without the writers providing any solid reasons why we should think that Ryoko wasn't responsible for those officer's deaths. Yes, Hotsuma is manipulating her. But aren't we all manipulative to some degree? (In the months leading up to Christmas 1998, I left newspapers and advertising circulars lying around open to pages advertising DVD players to drop not-so-subtle hints to my parents.) I see no evidence that Hotsuma has direct control of Ryoko's will. (In anime, when one character is being controlled by an external force, their eyes are often either dilated without pupils (think Utena, although that's pretty much how everyone always looks on Utena) or glowing (like when Galactor used the evil peacocks to take control of the minds of United Nations delegates on a certain episode of Battle of the Planets that scared the crap out of me when I was about six years old in 1980).) She just tells Kiyone that she never stopped being a space pirate. The Galaxy Police are a funny bunch. It seems that space piracy and robbing Juraian banks are the absolute worst criminal offences in space, yet if Ryoko kills a whole fleet of Galaxy Police officers, all that Ryoko deserves is a talking to from Kiyone, doing the Dr. Laura thing, trying to get Ryoko to admit that her actions are a result of being spurned by Tenchi. How does that absolve her from responsibility? If she had, say, mowed down a whole squadron of Tokyo police officers, I think that most of you would quite rightfully condemn her actions and be upset with the writers and producers for including that scene*. So why is it okay if they're space police officers? It seems that the only reason that Kiyone even bothers to go after Ryoko is because she wants to get the promotion. Since it is obvious to anyone who bothers to check the real facts of the case (and not the "facts" that the "Free Ryoko" movement presents as irrefutable "truth") that Ryoko shot Officer Faulkner with five .38 caliber P-Plus bullets which match the five spent shell casings found in the handgun which was registered to one Mumia Abu-Jamal... oh wait... wrong cop-killer. (For the record, I do support freeing "Jolly Jenkins".) I'll start over. Since Ryoko still seems to be in full control of her facilities, I'm afraid that I see no reason why we should see Ryoko as anything other than a cold-blooded killer. I have no problem with Ryoko looting from the planet Jurai (since the Juraians originally were nothing but a guild of space pirates themselves), but killing police officers is not funny, no matter what the situation. (I certainly do hope that the final four episodes will prove conclusively that Hotsuma is the only one responsible for Ryoko's actions in the past few episodes, because "She's just gone back to her old ways because she's upset that she saw Tenchi kissing Sakuya" is no excuse for murder.) Shikashi (however)... I did appreciate Mihoshi's new fire "ability", especially the obvious parody of Sailor Mars' "Fire Soul" when she needed to use the washroom. Kiyone and Mihoshi's stage act reminded me of a certain famous foreign film from Canada. ("Want to see the Northern Lights?" "You burnt yourself to death by lighting your fart! Hahahahahaha!" "I sure did, Phillip!" "Unclef-" uh... I'd better end this in-joke here.) And, El Hazard fans, you once again get to see Mr. Fujisawa's exact clone/identical twin, first seen in episode 9, "The Guardians of Old".
Episode 21, "Real Friends?", is the episode that you've been waiting for if you want to know more about Yugi's past. Washu comes out of hiding with some stunning revelations about where Yugi comes from. She goes to Tokyo to warn Tenchi that things are wrong, very wrong, but events seem to be conspiring to keep Tenchi in Tokyo. I'll save most of my discussion of what happens in this episode for my series wrap-up, since we are now getting to what I consider to be "series killer" revelations. One thing that I can say: remember how, way back in episode 9, "The Guardians of Old", I assumed that this the ruins were evidence that Jurai seeded Earth with life? From the time-scale of events given in this episode, I no longer think that this is indeed the case. The animation in this episode is significantly better than any other episode of Tenchi in Tokyo, in my opinion. Were they trying to make all of the characters extra sexy for this episode? Sakuya wears a very revealing swimsuit, and take a look at the new Galaxy Police uniforms (also seen on the back of the DVD case)! Tokoroten, which we see Ayeka consuming just after the episode title screen, is a type of noodle soup eaten in the summertime. It's spicy with mustard. (Okay, I'm just getting this from the subtitles. I could find absolutely nothing about Tokoroten in any of the reference books about Japan that I use in writing these reviews!) Hmm... didja notice that Tsuchida's shirt at 0:42:30 says "Guly", but, in the next shot at 0:42:31 it says "Guley"? ("July" with a really badly drawn letter "J", perhaps?) You gotta love the way Washu makes her entrance (and exit) in Tokyo in this episode!
Sakuya is snap-happy in episode 22, "Sakuya's Secret", taking photographs of Tenchi, everything that moves (including the viewer just before the episode title screen: why? I'm not there!) and then Tenchi again. But where did she get such a fancy camera? Are her parents rich? What do her parents do? Does she even live with her parents? (Why is Sakuya wearing a shirt bearing the name of Koji Masunari, the director of the original Tenchi Muyo in Love film as well as Oh My Goddess and Jojo's Bizarre Adventure? Okay, that question isn't quite as important as the others!) Why can't Sakuya answer a few simple questions about her past? In Okayama, Ayeka and Sasami figure out that the evil Yugi that attacked the temple and friendly Yugi that plays with Sasami, are indeed one and the same, even though Sasami has trouble believing it. Ayeka turns the Masaki residence into a bunker, booby-trapped so that no one can enter (even Mr. Masaki). In space, the other girls' bonds with Tenchi begin to reassert themselves. Ryoko tries to rob a statue from a village but has a change of heart right at the last minute. Even promotion-obsessed Kiyone begins to miss her life on Earth, watching Space Police Policeman with Mihoshi and the others. (Al Gore makes a cameo appearance in this scene, reprising his role from Starr's War Episode One: The Female Menace as "the Void of Space"... nanchatte (Just kidding)!) Did you notice that the chapter stop entitled "Visuals of Yugi" actually cuts in after the scene where Ayeka and Sasami are comparing pictures? Oops...
It is time, once again, for another installment of "Tenchi in Tokyo for the Japanese-Impaired". The comedy show that Ayeka is watching at the beginning of episode 21 has a sign which translates roughly to "The Laughing Tengu". The Nelson Kanji guide translates Tengu as a "long-nosed goblin" or a boaster. Gilles Poitras, in his book The Anime Companion: What's Japanese in Japanese Animation? (Berkeley, California: Stone Ridge Press, 1998. Paperback, 166pp. $16.95 U.S./$26.95 Canadian) points out that Tengu can take the form of either anthropomorphic (and for those of you in Rio Linda, that means "human shaped") birds or humans with long noses, who often wear yamabushi clothing and carry fans. They are spirits who protect certain mountains. In episode 22, when Ayeka's holding the picture of Yugi, the writing says "Ayeka ga" or "Picture by Ayeka" (duh). Sasami's happy view of Yugi says "Yugi-chan". As you should know (if you watch ANY anime in Japanese), "chan" is the diminutive honorific of which an American equivalent would be "li'l". (Most of the page-filler female characters in old Harvey comics that I read when I was a small child were "li'l" something or rather: li'l Dot, li'l Lotta, etc... Damnit, I paid to read about Richie Rich! I don't care about li'l Dot! Why is she wasting 5 pages that could easily be filled with Richie showing off his ostentatious wealth to Freckles, the white trash kid? Actually, come to think of it, that was the plot of every second Richie Rich story.)
It is now 3:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve, 1999. (Wow, Noa Izumi will fight the Black Griffon in just a few hours from now!) Presuming the Russian missles won't launch, see you in my review of volume eight, otherwise, I hope that you enjoyed Tenchi in Tokyo and, more importantly, life.
Toshiba SD-2107 DVD player, 27-inch Sony Trinitron KV-27S40 television using the set's internal speakers, standard red/white/yellow A/V cables ("Heavy Duty" "Gold", from Radio Shack).
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
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: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tenchi Muyo