Tenchi Muyo GXP Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tenchi Muyo

Tenchi Muyo GXP Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     July 10, 2004
Release Date: July 13, 2004


Tenchi Muyo GXP Vol. #4
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Seina and his crew find themselves low on power, low on rations, and even lower on morale. The only thing they have in abundance is trouble! A horde of blood-thirsty pirates are on their tail and after a mysterious box which Seina must deliver safely to Lady Seto, or die trying!

The Review!
While the supporting cast continues to grow, they're given a chance to shift around and grow themselves while Seina takes on some new tasks and gets to see much more of the galaxy.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for the series is quite good with a lot of directionality across the forward soundstage, generally in sound effects and less so for dialogue, that worked nicely in enhancing the show. With a lot of crashes and other moments requiring things to go all over the place, it's represented nicely here. Dialogue is clean and clear on both tracks and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions. English language fans make out well on this release by also getting a 5.1 remix, which added some noticeable clarity to the forward soundstage but we didn't listen to it enough to notice much to the rear channels.

Video:
Originally airing in 2002, the transfer here is presented in its original full screen aspect ratio and really looks slick. While the production values obviously aren't OVA level, they've managed to take the best aspects of the original series in its designs and maintain the continuity there, which means lots of bold bright colors. From the time spent on Earth where there's a number of lush looking backdrops to the excellent black levels in the space sequences, this is a transfer that just looked good all the way through. Cross coloration was practically non-existent from what I could see and aliasing was very minimal overall. The opening and ending sequences are done with alternate angles, so depending on how you select your languages will impact what version you get here, but thankfully the ability to change it is not locked and you can adjust it easily.

Packaging:
Continuing with the gray keepcases, this particular cover lets Seina show off his bad luck on himself while giving a shot of Kiriko alongside a few new additions to the show. Since the images look to be pastes from different sources they don't look to mesh all that well. The back cover provides a number of screenshots from the show that take up the top half of the cover while the bottom provides a summary that takes up most of the rest of the space along with the basic production and technical information. The discs running time and features are listed but a bit awkward to find in a few places making me wish that they'd adopt the "info grid" that's so very clean and useful. The included inserts front page is a slightly cleaner version of the keepcase cover that opens to two panels that talk about the individual episodes. The back panel is an advert for another FUNimation show.

Menu:
The menu layout is a static piece that takes the science fiction design nature and applies it here with half the screen given over to an amusing shot of Seina being 'abused' by a few girls of Lady Seto's. This is all set to some of the bouncy music from the show. Selections are right down the middle essentially and are quick and easy to access and the layout is essentially the norm for FUNimation. My main gripe with their menus continues to be in the audio section where nothing changes when you make a selection, so there's no real indication of what it's set at.

Extras:
The profiles section essentially covers some of the cast members as before as well as a few new ones to this particular volume but they're still fairly meager with a short paragraph each. In the songs section, we get the textless opening and closing sequences as well. These continue to be nicely done since you can select the three audio track or two subtitle tracks with it depending on what you want.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the series now at the half way point, I'm so close to saying that not only do I find the GXP show to be equal to the original OVA series but that I'm finding it superior in the long run. The relationship energy between Seina and the girls is similar to what we've got between Tenchi and his girls but with half the baggage and a much more interesting lead. The more that we get to see of Seina the more he becomes a better character. Tenchi tends to suffer from male pattern lead stereotype.

GXP really races through a number of changes in this volume with the three episodes that it's easy to really forget just how much progress is made. The opening episode is high on comedy as the crew has helped save someone stranded in space and Seina makes a commitment to help deliver the persons package. Since it relatively ties into his job as a decoy, it lets him move the ship across space to do it. But a lot of the pirates are after this particular package and they've even tagged Seina's ship so they can follow it. For what seems like weeks on end, Seina and the crew are on the run, food supplies are dwindling and their patience is running out.

Where things turn really fun is when the crew ends up on Jurai under the protection of Lady Seto. Using her influence and having Ryoko do her bidding, Seina finds himself at the whims of many of the women now and unable to resist. Things go in two directions here. The first is that the troublesome threesome of the bridge crew heads off to a new assignment. This is interesting since what they've actually learned by working with Seina and all the things they've experienced ends up making them rather good at what they do in the regular world and it lets them show off fairly well. Though I expect them to be under foot again ("We three comprise one character!") it's good to see them actually moving on their own a bit and getting some recognition.

A good amount of time is spent on the whole series of gags related to the number of women who are smitten by Seina. In a way you can chalk it up to his bad luck, as how many men would really want to have that many women after him at one time and in such close proximity? We also get some good expansion on the Ryoko character, building her out to be a bit more than just the former pirate and secretive comrade. The revelations of her lineage is amusing, especially when you take into consideration the average age of members of the royal family. Her being a regular part of the crew in her normal form is a welcome addition since she provides a good foil to Amane since she's so similar to her. This lets Kiriko stand out a bit more as well.

When all is said and done, Lady Seto gets things underway again by giving Seina a new mission, outfitting him with a new ship that's the latest design of the famous Professor Washu and getting his crew all set up. With the mission being that of protecting a young girl, a decoy apparently, from being captured they set out into space only to find themselves beset by the usual number of pirates. The introduction of the young girl, Neju, brings another new dynamic to the mix. Using her young girl looks and innocent charm, she takes to calling Seina her older brother and getting to sleep in the same bed as him as she's unsure of sleeping alone. Her masterful way of getting close to him and telling him that she'll marry him when she's older only serves to infuriate the others, Kiriko included.

One of the best things in this volume is the return of something you knew they couldn't keep out of the series and that's the cabbit. Yes, a cabbit graces the screen again in the form of a cute little guy named Fuku. His name apparently is the result of a few puns which go very poorly unexplained in the subtitle track here as it seems like it's something that really required a liner note to go over. Fuku's introduction in the series is an enjoyable piece and he quickly becomes adored by all. Just the cute scene of him in the inner tube at the beach bouncing along reminded me how much I missed such a beast. I'm surprised and impressed that it took almost thirteen episodes to bring a cabbit into play. That really says a lot about the show and how their goals of the story trumped introducing the mascot character earlier.

In Summary:
GXP moves along at a really good clip here, both in the stories that feature Seina working through his assignments as well as the stories where the women are trying to claim ownership over him. While I do think he's similar to Tenchi in that you wonder how he can attract so many women, his bad luck ability actually gives them something of a reason to work with. GXP hasn't quite managed to outdo the first six OVA episodes of the original Tenchi franchise but it's blown the doors off of the second half. These episodes only cement those feelings further as this is a great little fast moving action/comedy with lots of fanservice and amusing action. The only down point really continues to be the lackluster episode count.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Songs,Character Profiles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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