Mania Grade: A+
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- 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.
- 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. #6
By Steve Brandon
February 18, 2002
Release Date: October 12, 1999
Greetings to you Tenchi enthusiasts all across The Fruited Plain (and The True North Strong and Free, and The Land of the Rising Sun, and wherever else you have the Internet). The views expressed by the writer of this review may not be those of the operator of this Website, but if you think my views regarding Tenchi are controversial, just wait until I get my hands on the first DVD volume of Neon Genesis Evangelion! Another excursion into Anime DVD Review excellence dead ahead!
I'm pleased to say that the quality of the video has finally moved back into the A range. The "white fuzz" between shot changes (which is actually the glue from where the individual pieces of film were spliced together) is gone from all but a handful of places on the disk. Also, in ZOOM mode, the images appear to be a fair bit sharper compared to what I remember from previous volumes. The only reason that this volume won't get an A+ for video quality is because now I've seen Serial Experiments lain on my player, so I know how good a TV transfer can look.
One thing that you may or may not consider an improvement over past volumes, depending on how you look at it, is that most of the prominent on-screen Japanese text has been translated this time. The advantage is that I don't really need to write another installment of "Tenchi in Tokyo for the Japanese Impaired"! The down side is that the English captions are "hard" text, which means that they are part of the video image, so you can't turn them off like the subtitles.
For a change, I actually have a problem with the dubbing in this volume. When Yugi's floating in her... uh... place, it's a little hard to make out what she's saying. When Yugi speaks it's supposed to sound ethereal and dreamy, and... uh... whomever dubs the English version (presumably either Wendee Lee, Debi Derryberry, or Julie Maddalena, but I don't feel like looking up whom did what, although now that I've said it I'm sure that I'll receive 10 e-mails on the subject) does an excellent job, sounding almost dead-on like Akiko Yajima in terms of intonation. (Note to Pioneer: in the future, would you please give the roles for the dub actors as you do for the Japanese actors?) The problem is, the way that it's been mixed with the background music makes what she says quite difficult to understand compared to the Japanese version.
As before, "extras" are sparse on this disk. There are a few sketches (including one of Yagami, Kiyone and Mihoshi's ship from the first TV continuity!) and that's it, really. One of the sketches has the bottom of a ship mysteriously rubbed out, possibly to hide Japanese writing. (Uh, Pioneer, we know this series is Japanese; we really have no problem with seeing Japanese writing!) There's nothing else included, but, as I've said before, the only bonus that matters when it comes to anime on DVD is that it's on DVD. Everything else is just eye candy.
Standard spoiler warning. Choose to read ahead or not, depending on whether or not you want to know anything more than the back of the box gives about these episodes. I don't think I need to say anything else.
In episode 17, "Drifting Away", Ryoko is quite understandably feeling hurt and disillusioned by seeing Tenchi kiss Ryoko in the previous episode. We see her waiting forlornly in front of Shibuya station's Hachiko statue. (Hachiko statues are common meeting places at train stations in Japan. Hachiko was a dog who would wait for his master every evening at Shibuya station. His master died but Hachiko still waited for him each and every night for 11 years, presumably until the dog died. When you see an anime character waiting in front of a Hachiko statue, it often signifies that the character is waiting in vain.) Ryoko is attacked with ice needles by unseen snipers. She ducks into a construction site to escape the needles, and discovers Hotsuma's castle-like mansion (from episode 4). Hotsuma shows her that the needles were launched by Galaxy Police Bioroids (which look remarkably like the Trade Federation's Battle Droids from The Phantom Menace). Hotsuma blows away the Bioroids, and convinces Ryoko to follow him back into the world of space piracy as his "companion". Meanwhile, it's time for summer vacation! Tenchi reminisces about going to the beach with his mother when he was a small boy. (We see the older Achika, who bears little resemblance to the Achika from Tenchi Muyo in Love. Reconstructive surgery, perhaps?) Back at the temple in Okayama-ken, Ayeka is feeling a mite bit lonely and she also feels hurt as she thinks that Tenchi never wants her around again. Tsugaru comes to console her. I'll talk a little more about this scene later, as I plan on doing a whole paragraph on Tsugaru, the character who, as you may have guessed, intrigues me in more ways than one. Hmm... does Koan... oops, I mean Catsy... oops, I mean Matori, Yugi's female agent, actually do much of anything besides stand by Yugi? In the entire series thus far, she hasn't played much of an active role except to activate the various guardian spirits of the episode like Daidara Boshi in episode 6. I noticed something very curious: at 0:06:10 on the disk, the "camera" pans across a vista of Shibuya at night. As you may recall, Shibuya 109, a high-rise "fashion building" shopping mall, was featured on the cover of the previous volume. However, in this backdrop, it's identified as Shibuya 106! Presumably, the backdrop artists changed it to "106" here so that no one would think that they're advertising Shibuya 109, but why change it at one point in the series yet leave it intact at another? In the same vista, we see a giant advertising sign for "Cirk", which is basically the Coca-Cola logo altered for trademark reasons. Fair enough, but in the very first scene of the first episode of Tenchi in Tokyo, where Yugi looked down on two punks stealing money from a temple box, the background featured a prominent, perfectly legible (for those of you in Rio Linda, that means "easy to read") Coca-Cola sign without a single letter changed, so the same question applies. They had no problem identifying the telephone that Sasami uses as a Pioneer product! (Some might cry "product placement", but I love it when animators leave real-life product logos, such as the McDonald's sign in Megazone 23 or the bucket of KFC in All-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, intact because I feel that it adds to the realism.)
Kiyone and Mihoshi have finally been promoted in episode 18, "Game Over"! Far off in space, Ryoko and Hotsuma hatch a plan to rob the "Galactic Federal Bank Headquarters". In what seems almost like a parody of "Let's implausibly sneak around the impossibly high-tech security systems" American films like Mission: Impossible and Entrapment, the two manage to make their way to the doors of the central vault. The scene when Ryoko is trying to short the computer (which displays increasingly bizarre messages) is, in my opinion, one of the most classic comedy moments of this series. At 0:25:26, we see, at last, the still which Pioneer uses in its Tenchi in Tokyo/Battle Athletes Victory/Ranma 1/2/Magical Project S advertisements which they have been running in Viz comics since last winter! (Why is the background colour different from the ad?) You got to love the crayon rendering of Kiyone's promotion ambitions at 0:25:32! If you look carefully around the border (especially if your player has ZOOM), you can see actual photo-stickers that the Japanese like to take in those little booths! I assume that they're children of members of the production team. You also get to see a lot more of the Starfleet-inspired Galaxy Police control panels as seen in episode 11, "Moon Mission".
Ayeka sinks further and further into the cycle of loneliness and despair in episode 19, "The Lonely Princess". Ryoko has (seemingly) returned to piracy, Kiyone and Mihoshi are on Pluto, Washu's holed up in her lab, and, of course, Tenchi's in Tokyo. She and Sasami are the only girls left. Ayeka is the only one who senses that "heap big trouble" (a little Indian lingo for you there) is about to take place. (Washu might also realize that something is up, but she's currently too involved in her investigation, if that's what she's in fact doing, to say anything.) Tsugaru appears and tells her that a "storm" is coming, that he was sent by someone who cares about her, and that he would see her again before too long. Back in space, Hotsuma and Ryoko are fleeing the Galaxy Police. I hate to say it, but I have a bit of a moral problem with what happens next. For the benefit of those of you who don't mind some spoilers but who don't want to know absolutely everything that happens in these episodes, I'll write about my specific problems in a separate paragraph. Ayeka's nightmare about Yugi, where everyone else has turned to stone actually reminds me a little of Rei's prophetic dream from the first episode of Sailor Moon S (or episode 90 of Sailor Moon, if you prefer the overall episode count over the individual series episode count). On Earth, since Ryoko is missing, since Kiyone and Mihoshi are "far away" on Pluto (Is Pluto really all that far away, relatively speaking, for Juraians who are used to travelling between stars? Read the next paragraph.) and since Ayeka can't reach Washu, Ayeka decides to take action herself. She gets into Ryo-Ohki and flies off, earning a speeding ticket from Kiyone. Ayeka tries to persuade Kiyone that something is wrong, but Kiyone just wants to forget her time on Earth, choosing instead to go after Ryoko, who has resurrected her career as a space pirate. Ayeka phones Tenchi again to try and convince him at least that something terrible is going to happen, but I'll let you watch that scene yourself and see what happens. Is Sasami in shadow at 1:03:02 supposed to make me think of the humanoid version of Ryo-Ohki doing her "dance" from episode 13 of the OVA series? And, at the beginning of the episode, Tenchi and Sakuya take an elevator up to the 39th floor of a building in Shibuya. Is that supposed to be impressive? Montreal is a distant also-ran in terms of the skyscraper wars, but we still have a few buildings over 50-storeys high. And, in the Tokyo area, there are much higher buildings; in Tokyo proper, there's the 52-storey Shinjuku Park Tower and the 60-storey Sunshine City tower in Ikebukuro. Just across the border with Kanagawa-ken, in Yokohama, there's the 70-storied Landmark Tower, which Patrice Fusillo and Noriko Araki's "Open Road" Tokyo Guide calls "Asia's tallest building", but I think that it's been surpassed (even though the guide was only published in 1999) by those twin towers in Malaysia.
One of the storylines in these episodes involves Kiyone and Mihoshi being re-assigned to a new Galaxy Police station on Pluto. The universe in every Tenchi series uses that of Star Wars as its inspiration with typical everyday elements of Japanese life, such as a police force, thrown in as a frame of reference for the average viewer. For most of these characters, travel between star systems is as nonchalant as travelling on a commuter train between Yokohama and Shinjuku. Obviously, the many peoples of space have developed technologies hundreds of years more advanced than our current methods of space travel to bridge the distances between star systems in mere days or even hours. Apparently, there is enough space traffic through our own solar system to warrant the construction of a Galaxy Police station. (This is a little strange as, from what little we've been able to determine about how the various space governments (Jurai in particular) operate, Earth is supposed to be off-limits for regular travel. Where is the traffic going in our system? But I digress.) Assuming that the aliens have physiology that is basically identical to that of Earth-born humans, what would be the advantage of building a station on Pluto? I did a little research on the subject. Pluto is so far away from our Sun that the temperature isn't really affected by the Sun's heat. It's a chilly -240 degrees Celsius! If space people are no different from humans, including the need to preserve body temperature at about 37 degrees Celsius, then the heating bills must be astronomical! Some of you might say, "Well, Pluto is a lot closer to the other planetary systems than Earth is." The Earth is about 150 million kilometres from the Sun. Pluto is, on average, 5.9 billion (I'm using the American billion; one with nine zeros) kilometers away from the Sun, and at its furthest distance from the sun, otherwise known as its apogee, it's about 7.375 billion kilometres. So, at its apogee, Pluto is about 49 times further away from the Sun than the Earth is. I'm sure that this sounds like a lot to you. But the nearest star to our Sun, Proxima Centauri, is just over four light years away, or 38.4 trillion (one with twelve zeros) kilometres, 5.2 thousand times as far from our Sun as Pluto is at its apogee! To put it in perspective, my house, in Pincourt, Quebec, is about 520 kilometres north of Nikaku Animart in New York City (give or take about 10 kilometres); if I walked 1/5200 of the way to Nikaku, I'd walk about 100 metres, which wouldn't even take me to the south end of my street! My point is that, for races used to travelling the distance between stars in mere Earth hours, the distance between planets in our own system would be utterly insignificant. Perhaps it would take just a second or two to get from Pluto to Earth. It would make a lot more sense for an alien race physiologically identical to Earth humans to build a police station much closer to the Sun than Pluto is. Probably, if they want to avoid detection by Earthlings, they wouldn't build it on the Moon, and possibly not Mars, if they anticipate humans travelling there within the next century. But a station somewhere in the asteroid belt would be ideal as it's close enough to the sun to provide some light and heat, the materials to build such a station would be readily available, and, until we develop some type of warp drive as seen in Star Trek (and, if human ingenuity ever reaches that level, I think that the alien races would seek to make "official" contact with us, like the Vulcans did in First Contact), Mars will be as far as we will get. (Sources: Bormanis, Andre. Star Trek: Science Logs. New York: Pocket Books (Simon and Schuster). 1998. 310p.; Moore, Patrick. Atlas of the Universe. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. 1998. 288p.)
What moral problem did I have with episode 19? Just after the commercial break "eyecatches", Ryoko and Hotsuma are met by a fleet of Galaxy Police battleships. She says "A Galaxy Police battleship is no match for the great Ryoko!" and then "Drop dead!" Then she opens fire, reducing the entire fleet into space junk. How am I supposed to interpret this scene? Is Ryoko now a cop-killer, or is her will under the complete control of Hotsuma and Yugi? Her skin is now a purplish colour, which may indicate that Hotsuma has changed her in some way, or it may just be the lighting. But even if others have taken control of her body, is that an excuse for murder? When Mamoru (Darian)/Tuxedo Mask was under Beryl's control in the second half of the first season of Sailor Moon, he didn't hurt innocent people. Should we excuse Ryoko just because she was upset that Tenchi would seem to have chosen Sakuya over herself? Should Tenchi accept her back? And, more importantly, how is Kiyone supposed to react after Ryoko obliterated scores of her Galaxy Police colleagues? (Then again, I suppose that we don't know that these ships were manned. They may just be computer-controlled drones, but I can't find any evidence of this. The sketches included as a bonus on this disk show that the type of GP craft seen in this episode are larger than the Yagami, so I doubt that they're unmanned. Why couldn't the animators just have had Ryoko incapacitate the GP ships?) I sure hope that they answer some of the messy questions about this scene in future episodes.
Dadalup, dadalup, dadalup! Tsugaru Update! (Insert my official "Tsugaru Update" theme here: "I'm Super!" from the "South Park" movie soundtrack; if you catch my drift.) Surprisingly enough, Tsugaru seems to have some interest in Ayeka in these episodes! He shows Ayeka that Tenchi and Sakuya are now lovers, he gives Ayeka some glass-thing (I don't know what it is, but I'm sure that it will be important in future episodes), and he tells Ayeka that he will always be with her. But is he actually interested in romance with Ayeka, or is he solely acting on orders from Yugi to further divide loyalties among the Tenchi "family"? I'll just say this, he may indeed love Ayeka, but I wouldn't put money on it if I were you! I've noticed something even more interesting about Tsugaru. Check the frame at 0:50:34 where "he" is in full profile (sideway view; I know what you think that I'm going to say next, but I've already used that particular in-joke once in this review) with the moon as a backdrop. Is "his" physique, especially in the chest department, really that of a man?
Oh well, only two disks left to go.
Toshiba SD-2107 player, 28(?)-inch Sony Trinitron television (I still can't find the exact model number) using the set's internal speakers, standard red/white/yellow A/V cables ("Gold", heavy-duty, from Radio Shack).