Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 75
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Tenchi Muyo
Tenchi in Tokyo Vol. #2
By Steve Brandon
February 18, 2002
Release Date: February 06, 1999
Tenchi in Tokyo: A New Friend is the second domestically released volume of the Shin Tenchi Muyo TV series which aired on Japanese TV in 1997
Episode 5 is "Money, Money, Money." My all-time favorite Tenchi episode is episode #6 of the first TV series, "No Need for Resident Officers", which found Mihoshi and Kiyone working several part-time jobs in Okayama City (all of which Mihoshi promptly gets them both fired from). This episode can almost be thought of as a follow-up, except now all of the girls are looking for work in Tokyo. Ryoko works at "Doremi" pizza, where she hangs up the phone on any customer who calls her during her naps. Ayeka becomes a waitress at a Japanese teashop. It's too bad that the only beverage that she knows how to serve is green tea! Mihoshi blows up the kitchen of a fast-food restaurant, getting herself (and Kiyone) fired yet again. (Is Kiyone joined to Mihoshi at the hip? Why can't Kiyone seem to land a job without Mihoshi getting hired as well? Why did Kiyone let Mihoshi drive a milk delivery truck? And why doesn't Kiyone send her C.V. to the building we see in the next episode (at exactly 29:47 on the disc) which is clearly marked "W.W.W.A."? Could this possibly be a branch of the "World Work Welfare Association"? If so, Kiyone would be highly qualified, since she has all of the best qualities of both Kei and Yuri!) Only Sasami and Ryo-Oh-Ki have any luck making money; Ryo-Oh-Ki makes a tidy profit for Sasami as a performing animal. Salvation seemingly comes in the form of a flyer distributed by Matori (one of Yugi's servants). All they have to do is glue rice paper on the frame of Daidara Boshi, a giant construction worker, to earn a million-yen! Of course, Matori has no intention of paying them! She's going to use Daidara Boshi to build a palace for Yugi. (Hmm... giant construction project, Tokyo Bay; why doesn't Yugi just use a Hishii Industries "Hercules" Series 23 Construction Labor?) I'd have to say the absolute most hilarious thing about this episode is the type of "palace" that Yugi wants built; it's not what you might expect!
Next is "Play Date". All of the girls try to steal the money that Sasami and Ryo-Oh-Ki earned in the previous episode. (As a Kiyone fan, I have to take issue with that scene. Kiyone would never steal from anyone; it's out of character for her.) Sasami escapes to Tokyo through Washu's Dimension Tunnel to find refuge in Tenchi's apartment. Tenchi has to go to school, but he finds time to show Sasami around the stores in Shibuya. Yugi disguises herself as a normal young girl to lure Sasami into an Antiques (or, as the sign says, "Antigues") shop run by Tsugaru, another one of her servants. Yugi takes Sasami through the looking glass to her world, where Tsugaru attacks them both. It's up to Mecha Ryo-Oh-Ki to save the day! Meanwhile, Sakuya asks Tenchi to go steady with her, but Tenchi says that he is not quite ready for that level of relationship, which breaks Sakuya's heart. This episode is very reminiscent of episode #18 of the first TV series, "No Need for a Ghost". The look on Sasami's face at 40:37 when Tsugaru attacks her with his fencing foil is right out of Sailor Moon!
The final episode on this disc is "The Day We Met". Tenchi returns to Okayama to celebrate the second anniversary of the day which all of the girls crash landed on Earth. Flashbacks show Ryoko, in possession of the "Jurai Light Stone", fleeing in Washu's ship, pursued by the Galaxy Police and Princess Ayeka. They are drawn towards Earth by a massive energy source, which emanates from a crystal that Tenchi wears as a necklace which Tenchi's mother gave to him before she died. Ryoko absorbs the Light Stone, which transforms her into a fearsome beast. Tenchi's crystal turns into a sword (which is neither the OVA's Tenchi sword, nor the 1st TV series' "Lightsaber" type sword) which manages to defeat the demon-beast Ryoko. Back in the present, Sakuya, still feeling a little dejected, decides to follow Tenchi home to Okayama-ken. This storyline will be continued on the next disc. Yep, this episode establishes that Tenchi in Tokyo is set in yet another different continuity, separate from either the OVA series or the first TV series. Some people may regard this as the producers flipping the bird (for those of you in Rio Linda, this means "to give someone the finger") to the hardcore Tenchi fans who would like to see a little continuity from series to series. I think that the only message is that this is a comedy series; you should not take it too seriously as Science Fiction. The highlight of this episode for some (wrong-minded) fans would have to be the fact that Washu wears pants that are several sizes too big; they have a tendency to fall off!
The episodes on this disc develop Yugi's character a little more. Yugi doesn't come across as quite the evil Queen Beryl-style villain I thought that she was going to be. While she does set the trap for Sasami in episode 6, she almost seems victimized by Tsugaru. I'm not even too sure why she wanted to trap Sasami in her world in the first place. Yugi seems more lonely than evil. Tsugaru is very effeminate for a man; perhaps he is, shall we say, the Shin Tenchi equivalent of Zoisite. ("Zocyte" for dub Sailor Moon fans; "she" was a he in the original Japanese version, just in case you didn't know!). While Sakuya Kumashiro was prominently featured on the first disc, in Volume 2 she is mostly relegated to the background, though I'm sure the scene where Tenchi told her that he was not ready for a romantic relationship advances will prove pivotal in future episodes. I'd say that this series' version of how they all met isn't nearly as satisfying as either the OVA series or the first TV series, but upon reflection it's also not nearly as far-fetched. The problem with the other two series' versions of how they first came to know each other is that it stretches credibility a little bit that all of these different alien girls should all coincidentally be attracted to the Masaki shrine where, shockingly enough, a boy lives who just happens to be the Crown Prince of the Planet Jurai. Here, they all come to Earth at the same time, and it is an artifact from the Planet Jurai that attracted their attention in the first place. In the other two series' it was strongly hinted at that the Planet Jurai seeded life on Earth in a type of "Genesis Project"; here it is all but confirmed. We also find out that Ryo-Oh-Ki doesn't turn into a spaceship in this continuity, so she has absolutely no link with Ryoko.
I was dead-on accurate in my previous review: one of the background tracks on this series sounds almost exactly like an oft-repeated piece of background music from Urusei Yatsura, with just a few notes changed for copyright reasons. One of the problems with the background music on this series is that they repeat it too often; sometimes they use the same track more than once per episode. I still don't understand why they didn't just use some of the dozens of background music tracks from the other Tenchi series'. I commented on the "Rednex"-like closing theme song "Yamerarenai, Yamerarenai" ("I Can't Stop, Can't Stop.") last time, so here I'll talk about the opening theme "Yume wa Doko e Itta?" ("Where Did the Dream Go?"). Linda Yamamoto's voice in this song is so deep that I originally thought that it was Masami Kikuchi (Tenchi) himself singing the opening theme. She's only an octave or two higher than Mr. Kikuchi's own singing voice. (I have several Masami Kikuchi songs on my imported Tenchi CDs.) Chris has mentioned twice that Sakuya's head looks jerky towards the end of the opening theme. Jerkiness is common in Anime when the angle of perspective changes. The same type of thing happens in the original opening theme sequence of "Marmalade Boy"; when the "camera" pulls back from Miki during the line "Is love like the bittersweet taste of marmalade on burnt toast?" Miki's head is noticeably jerky. It's a problem inherent in transforming 2-dimensional characters into the 3-dimensional world of animation. On the first disc, the opening sequence ended rather abruptly; on this disc, their heads are all pressed up against the screen for at least a second longer. This is probably where they displayed the company logo of the main sponsor (I assume Pioneer) just before the first commercial break.
I'd complain that this disc only has three episodes, but at least it is the same price as the subtitled videotape. The Japanese pay a lot more for a Shin Tenchi Laserdisc with only 2 episodes on it (though the episodes are in glorious CAV, which I still personally consider the "ultimate medium for the ultimate in animation") so you can't complain. I mentioned last time that I wish Pioneer would include a little more; I'll elaborate a little. One thing I'd love to see is alternate angle credits featuring the opening and closing sequences as they were originally shown on Japanese TV complete with the credits and the lyrics on the bottom of the screen in Kanji and Kana, so you could pretend that you are watching a Japanese Laserdisc. I'd also love to see AnimEigo-style cultural notes on one of the other subtitle tracks, and perhaps the entire Japanese script transcribed into roman characters. This would make an excellent learning tool for students studying the Japanese language. Also, there are occasions where there is an important sign shown and a translation is not provided. I can just use my copy of Nelson's Kanji guide to read the signs, but not everyone has this book handy. I mentioned previously that there is still some "rainbow effect" on the DVD discs, though it's not nearly as pronounced as on the Tenchi Laserdiscs. It's especially noticeable around magenta-colored objects (examples: Washu's hair, the Shin Tenchi Muyo logo) for some reason. The worst "rainbow effect" is on the DVD subtitle font itself; to eliminate this, they should use yellow subtitles with blue surrounding. One thing I did like about the DVD subtitles was that Pioneer managed to display overlapping subtitles, and the little blip between when a subtitle is displayed and when an overlapping one comes on the screen is just barely detectable, but hardly an annoyance. (This is one of the problems that AnimEigo cites as a major technical problem in doing DVD subtitles as opposed to subtitles embedded in the picture.) Chris noted that the Volume number on the disc is not displayed on the cover. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn't have noticed this if Chris hadn't pointed it out. As long as the episodes themselves are numbered, I don't mind too much. (Viz doesn't even list the episode number of each Ranma ˝ episode. Of course, Viz only sells two Ranma episodes per tape, so I don't buy all that many Ranma tapes even though I like the series.) One legitimate annoyance I found on the disc is in the catalogue of available titles from Pioneer; in the listing for the Tenchi Muyo OVA Collection, they state that the Tenchi Universe is full of "scantily clad females". This is only true in Ryoko's case, not for the rest of the girls. There are many Anime series out there where the T&A is the main selling point, but Tenchi Muyo is a complex series that appeals to a diverse group of fans of both sexes. I resent this gross oversimplification just to appeal to the lowest common denominator of Anime fans. I also hope that Pioneer will include some video previews of upcoming series like Nazca and Lain and not just have still pictures of the cover art on future discs.
What can I say, but bring on Volume 3