Tenchi Muyo: Tenchi Muyo In Love (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 18, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, September 30, 1997
"Tenchi Muyo in Love" is one of my favorite Anime movies; right up there with "Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer" and "Kiki's Delivery Service". I consider it to be to the regular "Tenchi Muyo" series what "First Contact" is to "Star Trek: The Next Generation": they take established characters in a franchise series, and put them through an action-based storyline that has little in common with the regular series, but is highly enjoyable nevertheless. I never thought about buying the DVD of this one, as I already have the CAV Laserdisc version, and it's just fine. But I was so impressed with the quality of the "Tenchi Muyo Ultimate Edition" set compared to the LDs (and I had a coupon from an on-line store) that I decided to get it on DVD anywise.
This was one of Pioneer's first DVDs, made before the black plastic cases were standard, so the packaging is a cardboard sleeve over a CD-type jewel-box. I can't say that I care much for the sleeve, since it serves no useful purpose once you've taken the jewel-box out, but I like the jewel-box itself. I wish that CD jewel-boxes had become the standard packaging for DVDs. It's just so cool having movies share the same CD tower as music CDs, CD-ROMs and PlayStation games. Also, I have the American version of the "In Love" soundtrack CD and, since they both share the same cover artwork, the CD soundtrack and the movie itself look very similar. (The main differences between the CD and DVD are that the DVD has "Tenchi the Movie" in a different font, a red band announcing that the disk has been digitally mastered in THX, the familiar DVD logo and a white-plastic... umm, the part of the jewel-box that holds the disk.)
Pioneer disks usually represent the best quality that the DVD format has to offer. Unfortunately, I can't say that about my copy of "Tenchi Muyo in Love". The disk freezes in several places: first, during the Dolby AC-3 Sequence, the screen breaks up as the helicopter approaches the theatre, and then, the picture just stops as the "O" in "Dolby" is lighting up. During the interview with Christopher Franke, the picture freezes at exactly 1:03 minutes, in the middle of the line "but it tries to convey s-". During the Japanese theatrical trailer (the first one), the picture freezes and breaks up as Achika comes on to the screen. During the 30 second TV spot, the screen freezes (with lines across the screen) also when Achika comes on to the screen, it unfreezes briefly, only to freeze up again when they show Washu and the Time Cause/Effect Controller. The picture pixillates briefly during the 15-second TV spot. During the Kanji version of the "Alchemy of Love" closing sequence, the disk jumps briefly after the first chorus, and then freezes when "Hana Productions" comes onto the screen. I've noticed over the past couple of months in the "Anime on DVD" message forum that several other people have had the same problems with this disk. Perhaps it was just a bad pressing. This is all very annoying, but, since during the movie proper there is only one brief hiccup during the closing credits, and since I already have all of the Japanese movie trailers on both my Laserdisc copy of this film and also in the "Tenchi Encyclopedia" which was included with the "Tenchi Muyo Ultimate Edition" OVA Box set, it's simply not worth the trouble of sending the DVD back to where I ordered it to get a replacement. (However, should any Pioneer representatives read this review and would like to get in touch with me (Tenchi@canada.com) to alleviate this problem, I would be more than happy to write a supplemental review.)
Since I also have the Laserdisc version, I decided to do another comparison of Laserdisc versus DVD. You may remember that I tried this before, comparing the Laserdisc and DVD versions of the "Tenchi Muyo" OVAs. Unlike the OVA set (which looked absolutely gorgeous when compared to the Laserdiscs), I hardly noticed any difference at all between the Laserdisc and DVD picture. What little discrepancy there was between the visual quality of the LD and that of the DVD could be attributed to the fact that I had my Toshiba SD-2107 DVD player connected directly to my TV with A/V cables, while my Pioneer CLD-S104 was hooked up though our Panasonic VCR. This was a little strange, since I had read a review in "Diehard GameFan" that had basically stated that the DVD version was visually superior to the LD version. Perhaps the reviewer had compared the DVD to the CLV Laserdisc version; I have the CAV version. To be fair, I should note that the CAV version of "Tenchi Muyo in Love" was an exceptionally well-mastered LD, eliminating most of the "rainbow effect" which marred the original OVA LDs.
The DVD has a clear advantage over the LD in the category of sound quality. While the LD version also included Dolby AC-3 sound, it was only for the English dubbed version. The Japanese soundtrack was analogue and monaural, since they had to sacrifice one of the analogue channels to fit the AC-3 on to the disc. Obviously, on DIGITAL Video Disk, this isn't a problem, as DVDs can support several simultaneous soundtracks in multiple languages in full AC-3 and THX. The only problem I had with the sound was that the disk ignored my language presets, but this was easily remedied by selecting Japanese from the language menu. I must keep in mind that this was Pioneer's first effort at producing an Anime DVD; every other Pioneer disk that I have automatically plays in Japanese with English subtitles on my player. While we're on the subject of language, one very cool feature on this disk is full Japanese subtitles in Kanji and Kana. You can read along while they speak, which is an extremely useful bonus for someone trying to learn the language (such as myself). Also, the music, which was written by Christopher Franke and his Berlin Symphonic Film Orchestra, is very reminiscent of that used on "Babylon 5" (which they also did).
If you haven't seen this movie in the three years since its original release, I'd wager that you aren't a "Tenchi" fan, and are probably wasting your time reading this review. On the odd chance that you would like the "Tenchi Muyo" series, but, for whatever reason, haven't seen it before, I'd recommend that you watch at least the "Tenchi Muyo Ultimate Edition" box, as the film assumes that the viewer has prior knowledge of the characters. I don't need to give a lengthy plot synopsis. (Tenchi goes back in time to 1970 to protect Achika, his mother, from Kain, a criminal who had escaped from prison in sub-space.) Instead, I'll nit-pick the plot Phil Farrand style. (Phil Farrand is the author of several "Nitpicker's Guides" dealing with continuity and production errors in "Star Trek" and "The X-Files". Since I love tooting my own horn, I should point out that I'm credited on page 324 of "The Nitpicker's Guide for X-Philes" because I spotted a City of Vancouver trolley-bus behind Mulder's head in the episode "Tempus Fugit", the episode where Max Fenig died in a plane crash.)
-If Kain wanted to eliminate the House of Jurai, why didn't he go farther back in time, kill Azusa, and eliminate the entire current line? Or why didn't he go further back in time to stop the Space Pirates from establishing the House of Jurai in the first place?
-If the goal was to cause as little disruption as possible to the space/time continuum, why didn't Washu just send Kiyone back in time a few hours to prevent Kain from escaping from sub-space?
-I assume that Washu had something to do with getting Kiyone and Mihoshi jobs at the school, but why did she make Kiyone a janitor, while she made Mihoshi a substitute teacher? Why does Mihoshi say that the "demon of the Rashomon" is the fourth story in the collection of tales known as the "Uji Shui Monogatari"? It isn't. I checked.*
-Why doesn't Yosho/Katsuhito recognize Ayeka? I know that she isn't his sister in this continuity, but in episode 3 of "Tenchi Universe" he had no difficulty guessing that the strange girl that Tenchi saw on the stairs was Sasami. And If Washu is going to erase everyone's memories regardless, why didn't she get Yosho to help defeat Kain? Should Kain have succeeded in eliminating Achika, grandpa would have been the next person on his "do not let live" list.
-In scene 24, why is Kiyone clearly seen wearing her trademark orange headband at 0:53:53, not wearing it at 0:55:33, and then wearing it again at 0:56:00? I suppose that she had adequate time to take it off and put it on again, but you would think that she would have been paying attention to Tenchi, who was lying sprawled across the table, phasing in and out of existence.
-If Washu's timer is so precise then why do we see the timer jump from 201 seconds to 202 (at 1:15:01 on the disk) when it's supposed to be counting down, and then later (at 1:19:05) the timer counts down 122, 121, followed by 128 (and don't get me started on the numbers to the right of the decimal point)?
-As far as I'm concerned, the biggest unanswered question of this film is that if Kain had altered the original flow of time, how did Achika die before he had interfered? I know that the official answer was that Achika was always pre-destined to fight Kain, but if that were true, assuming that this film shares the same temporal mechanics as "Back to the Future", then Tenchi wouldn't have started to fade from the universe in the first place since the outcome of the fight would have already been determined.
-I was going to bring it up anyway, but in the forum other people have commented on the mysterious "KKK" on the box which contains Washu's memory erasing devices. I wouldn't attribute any sinister meanings, I think that the letter "K" was chosen at random, and it was repeated three times because there were three devices. What about the students who saw Ryoko and Ayeka use their powers on the Shinkansen (the Bullet Train), as well as during the climax in the Tokyo Tower? Do their memories have to be erased as well?
I'm looking forward to Pioneer's release of the sequel (which I've already seen, at Montreal's Fant-Asia film festival) on DVD on August 31st.
* Astonishingly enough, Concordia University (Montreal), where I'm a psychology student, actually has an English translation of this book in its library. (Mills, D. E. A Collection of Tales from Uji: A Study and Translation of the Uji Shui Monogatari. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. 459pp, hardcover.) I know that the story of the demon of the Rashomon is a very famous story in Japan, as it's also been mentioned in "Urusei Yatsura", but I can't find anything like it in the "Uji Shui Monogatari". The fourth story is actually something about a "Ban Major Counsellor" who has a dream about the Saidai-ji and Toudai-ji temples in Nara. His wife thinks that this dream means that he will "split in two from the crotch up", but the district governor concludes that the dream "portends high distinction" (Mills 140-141). If you're in the Montreal area, go to the Concordia library and check it out for yourself. (The book is at the Library Building of the Sir George Williams (downtown) campus of Concordia University, 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd W. (1 block east of the Guy-Concordia Metro station), 4th floor, catalogue number: PL 790 U4M5.) Even if you're not in Montreal, take a plane! The most important thing in the world is that you know that I am right.
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: C
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 95
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tenchi Muyo