Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: C
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 16 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 95
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Tenchi Muyo
By Justin Emerson
February 18, 2002
Release Date: August 31, 1999
If this is the last Tenchi Muyo! installment, AIC sure decided to go out with a bang.
First, let's all praise Pioneer for their simultaneous release of the DVD version of this film along with the VHS tape. Fantastic Pioneer! We hope you keep this up with future releases. (Now where's my damn Armitage OVA's? ^_^) The Video quality on the DVD itself is very good, however on my PC setup (Realmagic Hollywood+ and 5x DVD-ROM) I saw a few glitches, but on my set top player I saw no flaws what so ever.
As for the Animation itself, the film seems to be in a sort of limbo, not quite deciding what kind of framerate it's going to give you. At points in the film (such as when Kiyone and Mihoshi are placing the devices on all the trees) the framerate goes from poor to good to poor to excellent to poor again. This can be a little distracting, but the luscious background drawings make up for it. The scenes in the forest are breathtaking, as are the depictions of the cityscape where Tenchi is found. The facial expressions are absolutely wonderful. Nothing is better than watching Haruna switch from her evil gaze to her soothing demeanor solely through the use of facial movements. The lip-synch, however, is rather poor in some parts, while very good in others (this is on the Japanese track, of course). I'm still waiting for a modern Anime to match the prowess of Akira in this department.
AIC and the Tenchi Muyo! in Love 2 Committee made a bold move and changed the character design for this film. I'm not certain why they did, and I know it will receive mixed reactions amongst Tenchi fans. Personally, I found that the new character designs for most of the characters worked pretty well, but for some of them it seemed rather awkward and out of place. I almost didn't recognize Kiyone the first time I saw her, and the shape of Sasami's face looks too different from her original design.
The movie opens with a flashback to Yosho's arrival on Earth, then jumps to the present where Ryoko and Ayeka manage to corner Tenchi and ask the question that is on EVERY Tenchi fan's mind - Who do you choose? Tenchi manages to back out of it (with the priceless diversionary tactic, "Oh! A bear came out of hibernation and is airing out its futon!"), but then vanishes without a trace. Fast forward six months, and Tenchi is still no where to be found. Ryoko and Ayeka have searched all over Japan and have finally found the town where Washu says Tenchi is, only to find him and then watch him disappear again! For a little more in depth examination of the film, keep reading, I don't want to drone on too long without getting to the other parts. Oh yes, and they do basically answer the afore-mentioned question, although not outright, but it is made very clear. Go to the end to see my analysis of it...
The audio on the disc is very good, and it makes excellent use of all the speaker channels (when appropriate, which isn't quite as often as in the first or second Tenchi film). My only complaint is - Why did Pioneer remove the Japanese DTS audio track?! Wasn't that already in the Japanese version? It's not like it wouldn't taken a lot more work to just stick it on the Region 1 disc, would it? Oh well, just another one of those things that we English speakers get gypped on (like in the Tenchi OVA collection. I understand the Japanese version had 5.1 audio tracks for both languages as well as DTS mixes).
Most reviews don't talk about the music that much, and I must say that I really enjoy the music from this film. The incidental music as well as the score are very reminiscent of some of Yasunori Mitsuda's compositions (he's the composer for the video games Chrono Trigger and Xenogears) with it's mixture of Irish folk music and traditional Japanese instruments (although the accordion sounded out of place, I felt like I was sailing along the river Seine for a minute). The ending song is also very moving, and the lyrics have a special significance when viewed along side the scenes playing beside the credits, which I'll discuss later.
The packaging is a BIG improvement over the previous Tenchi films, since they came in the cardboard shell which only covered up a standard Jewel Case. This film comes in a standard DVD keepcase (although I personally prefer snap cases) with good artwork and information on it.
When one watches the film enough times (I'm at 3 so far, with at least 1 more to follow this weekend), you start to notice how deep the screenplay really is. The use of symbolism, motifs, and dialog are absolutely superb, but they are subtle enough that they don't jump out screaming at you, a true sign of a well written screenplay. So, I decided to do some critical analysis of the film and get into some of the real nitty gritty in the film (hey, I'm a literature student, I think its fun!).
When watching the film, pay close attention to the use of colors. Much like the film The Matrix, Tenchi Forever uses similar color schemes to represent the sort of artificial reality in which the main character inhabits. Also, colors are used to show mood - observe Haruna's dress as it moves between the light and shadow when Tenchi is drawing after they come home from the restaurant. Another symbol is the curtains. Pay attention to the colors and then how it affects the colors around it. Each main character also has his or her own color, creating even more complex symbolisms.
Other symbols include the Jurai Trees and their petals/flowers, the onion that Haruna is cutting (but never gets any shorter), and the two rings that Tenchi and Haruna wear. Other interesting things to note are the parallels made to previous Tenchi installments, such as Tenchi's diversion near the start of the film (similar to the way he escapes Ryoko in the first OVA episode), and then two similarities to Tenchi Muyo in Love, with the chase sequences and the whole "5 points to harness Jurai energy" spiel. The dialog of Ryoko and Ayeka is also very telling, with both of them referring to dreams. There is great irony when Ryoko even suggests this is all a dream, but Ayeka says "No dream could be as bad as this!"
As for why I stated that the person Tenchi chooses is rather obvious, there are lots of hints throughout the film (the drawings Tenchi makes, the honorifics he uses for the two girls, and whose name he says first when they both appear in the dream land and almost crash on top of him), but the final kicker comes at the ending.
Before the credits, we see the couple that I believe end up together. Then as you watch the credits, read the lyrics to the song and watch the action going on in the quasi-filmstrip next to the credits. Notice one of them dominates the images, while the other only appears, weeping, while the lyrics mention saying goodbye... I'm glad the writers finally decided to show who Tenchi will end up with, but they sure could have done a better job at making it clear. I can just see debates springing up all over the place as to what the fans think.
This also makes me certain that this will be the last Tenchi installment, and frankly I'm glad that they chose to end the series with such a touching and beautiful film. This is not only a movie that every Tenchi fans should see, but also a movie every Anime fan should see as a great example of a film which can be enjoyed universally by audiences male and female.
Great job Pioneer, may all your future endeavors be as much of a masterpiece as this film is.