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: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Tenchi Muyo
Tenchi in Tokyo Vol. #8
By Steve Brandon
February 18, 2002
Release Date: January 11, 2000
Well, this is it! The eighth, and final, volume of Tenchi in Tokyo! Can you believe that it's been a whole year since my review of volume one? I'm writing these words on January 28th, one year to the day after I originally submitted my review of the very first volume (according to the date listed next to my first Tenchi in Tokyo DVD review in Windows Explorer)! I was going to say that, from a technical standpoint, there's no compelling reason to read this review, but I do have a few minor issues with this disk. But it's still pretty much like the previous disks, only with different episodes (and four of them, as opposed to three episodes each for volumes two through seven). If you liked the first seven disks, you'll probably buy this disk. If, on the other hand, you don't like Tenchi Muyo in general, or you just don't like Tenchi in Tokyo, you won't buy this disk. (And, if that's the case, why are you even reading this review?)
For those of you that look specifically to MY reviews because you would like to know the status of the so-called "white fuzz" (the glue used to splice the individual pieces of film together), I'm pleased to say that Pioneer finally has the problem pretty much licked. If only this wasn't the final volume! Other than that, they're pretty much just staying the course as far as visual quality is concerned; much better than videotape, but not exactly Lain quality.
Regarding the subtitles: what happened? They've gone back to the "standard" DVD font, coloured yellow like they used from volumes 3 to 5. I considered this an improvement after the first two volumes' white "standard" font, but, since Tenchi Forever, Pioneer had been using a completely different font that was a huge improvement over the yellow "standard" font. The Tenchi Forever font, used for volumes 6 and 7 of Tenchi in Tokyo, had a much thicker border rendering it almost indistinguishable from the "hard" subtitles used on VHS tapes. I can't think any good reason why they went back to the yellow "standard" font, which looks crappy in comparison. They just look like they're floating above the image, they flicker a fair bit, and there's almost no border whatsoever, making it much harder to read.
The extra this time is a "credits free" version of the special closing credits sequence from episode 24. Frankly, I don't see the point, as the animation is only in a small square towards the left side of the screen; the credits themselves were superimposed on a gray background. ("Oh no Steve, you should have put a "spoiler warning"! Now we know that we're going to see "gray"! You ruined it for us!) I, for one, would have loved to have seen the actual kanji opening and closing credits, just to see the names of the cast and crew written out in Japanese.
I noticed a problem with the dubbing in volume six, and this volume has many scenes with the same problem: when they try and do echo type effects (e.g. when the characters think audibly, when they are speaking in a cave, etc...), it is sometimes very difficult to make out exactly what they are saying. It's the type of sound I hereby dub "box-o-phonic"; the same type of sound you often find in student films. It sounds almost like they're talking into a box! Otherwise, the acting quality is fine, as usual.
This time, there isn't too much need for a "spoiler warning". I won't do my usual detailed episode summaries, as I would be giving away far too much, even for the people that don't mind reading some spoliers. Instead, I'll save most of the discussion about these episodes for my "No Summaries Barred" series retrospective, and, for the major spoilers that I will discuss here, I will put them in white so that you'll have to highlight it to be able to read it.
Is it just me, or do they give away too much on the back of the case this time, especially the last line? After seeing the previous volume, I think that you'd have to live in Rio Linda not to be able to guess that a certain pair of seemingly unrelated characters are somehow linked, but this time the back of this volume all but gives away the fact that (and I shall put the rest of the sentence in white) Sakuya is, in fact, just another aspect of Yugi. To be honest, I've known the main spoiler of this series since the various Shin Tenchi Muyo Websites first went up towards the end of 1997, so it didn't affect my enjoyment of these episodes, but many of you pre-ordered this volume off the Internet several months ago from on-line stores that give the full text off the back of the box. (I suppose it's still better than having a box that tells you absolutely nothing about a series coffcofffushigiyugidvdset!)
Unlike the OVA series, this Tenchi series actually has a proper ending, although they leave a fair number of things unresolved. (Perhaps we can expect a Shin Tenchi Muyo theatrical film?) Personally, my favourite Tenchi ending is still that of Tenchi Universe, as Tenchi, Ryoko and Ayeka came across as being truly heroic, episode 26 was a full epilogue, and Ai (Ryoko) Orikasa's song "Dimension of Love" (one of my favourite Tenchi songs) gave the conclusion much more of an emotional punch. I have to admit that I have some problems with the resolution of this series. (I will put the rest of this paragraph in white.) Washu puts Yugi into some sort of cold stasis device so that Yugi can grow up and become a good person (grow back into being Sakuya). The problem is how is she going to grow emotionally without personal experiences? Wasn't "Sakuya's" problem that she had no memories? She'll just be as dysfunctional as before! Putting Yugi/Sakuya into stasis is actually a real cop-out ending. I think that I've said before that I'd love to see a final movie in this continuity. Now I can say that I would REALLY love to see a ending movie, set 5 or 6 years in the future, where "Sakuya" goes through being 15 (or whatever age she is supposed to be) a second time. Also, some people will no doubt notice the astounding parallels regarding the connection between Yugi and Sakuya and that of Yuzuha and Mayuka from Manatsu no Eve/Daughter of Darkness, the second Tenchi movie. (Actually, someone else pointed it out in their own "Alternate Angle" review of this volume. Dammit, I'm the only one who's supposed to write "Alternate Angle" reviews of Tenchi in Tokyo! Don't steal my thunder, eh... just kidding!) As both this series and Manatsu no Eve/Daughter of Darkness were in production at about the same time, and as I really don't know how much the people behind the various individual Tenchi projects keep in touch with each other, I really can't say whether or not one story influenced the other. If I had to make an educated guess, the idea for this series came first, and the producers of Manatsu no Eve/Daughter of Darkness decided to re-use some of the same ideas in movie form; exactly like how the Sailor Moon R movie owes something to the "Doom Tree" storyline. (Among Sailor Moon fans it is widely believed that Fiore comes from the same planet as Earl (a.k.a. Alan) and Anne, but that's another review for another day...) Finally, I wish that they hadn't killed off Tsugaru. I hope that they find a way to bring him back in the (purely hypothetical) Shin Tenchi Muyo film, just because it's so much fun finding new ways to hint that I think that he's gay in my reviews! (Of course, since he was just created by Yugi for a specific purpose, I suppose he's neither hetero nor homosexual.)
Nitpicking is fun! When Washu uses "Mr. Analysis" to scan Sakuya at 0:15:30, why does the cup that Sakuya's holding still appear, but not her clothes? And, why, when she does the "bio-wave" scan at 0:19:57, does Sakuya appear without her clothes (not "fan-service" as no details can be seen) but still wearing her "barrette" (hair-band)? Why, according to the Tenmangu High phone directory, do only a fraction of Tenmangu students actually live in Tokyo? I know that it is common for students attending college or university in Tokyo to commute by train from outlying prefectures in the Kanto area, but I didn't think that this was so common for high school students. Why hasn't Sakuya changed out of her Koji Masunari (in-joke: he was the director of Tenchi Muyo in Love) T-shirt that she was wearing in the previous volume? (Maybe she likes Mr. Masunari's work so much that she bought multiple t-shirts?) Pioneer ought to use "spelling and grammar" check (F7) more often: (0:36:44, Washu) "Yugi probably hopes to fulfill the dream she couldn't fullfil on Jurai." The first "fulfill" is correct! (The next "nit" contains a major spoiler, so I will put it in white.) At 0:44:06, after Sakuya has been re-absorbed by Yugi, we see Tenchi's tears fall on the picture of Sakuya and him taken by the fountain (from episode 21). The problem is, she disappeared Back to the Future style ("Erased... from existence") from the picture in the previous episode!
Unfortunately, my fears about the storyline, which I outlined in my reviews of the previous two volumes, seem to have come true: Ryoko killed a whole fleet of Galaxy Police officers in episode 19, and the only excuse given was that she had been distraught over having seen Tenchi kiss Sakuya. While I don't want to give too much away, at no point in these episodes is it revealed that she had been under the direct mental control of Hotsuma. He was manipulating her certainly, but, as far as I can tell, she was still directly accountable for her actions. I'm not going to repeat myself again as I made my feelings perfectly clear in the previous two reviews, but I'll say this: I know that the writers thought of that scene as a throwaway gag, but it really did leave a bad taste in my mouth as I don't think that killing police officers is EVER funny. (Then again, we don't know that the officers were killed; it's possible that they could have transported off their ships just before Ryoko blasted them. Any Ryoko fans want to e-mail me and discuss this subject?)
So, the only Tenchi left for Pioneer to bring out on DVD (aside from the Mihoshi Special, the Pretty Sammy OVAs and the Magical Project S TV series, of course) is the Tenchi Universe TV series. I know that they're considering a $200 S.R.P. box, but should they go that route, I'd hope that they'd also release the individual disks separately, for those of us who prefer not putting such big charges on our credit cards. (Alternatively, Pioneer can take note of Bandai's 12-episode box set of Eat Man '98 for just $39.99. I would hope that Fushigi Yûgi would be the first, and last, series sold ONLY (on DVD) as a $200 S.R.P. box set from Pioneer.) Even as a hard-core Tenchi otaku, my replacing my Tenchi Universe VHS tapes and LDs is far from a sure thing at that price (unless, of course, Pioneer sent me a "reviewer" version of the box set). Whether or not I buy a box set will depend on how much else is coming out as a box set over the spring and summer. With the $130 S.R.P. Magic Knight RayEarth set, as well as AnimEigo's $110 Urusei Yatsura set, a $200 S.R.P. Tenchi Universe box set would be a fairly low priority. As for Tenchi in Tokyo, I'll wrap things up in my "No Spoilers Barred" series retrospective which I will submit sometime this spring, after I've re-watched the entire series.
Toshiba SD-2107 DVD player, 27-inch Sony Trinitron KV-27S40 television using the set's internal speakers, standard red/white/yellow A/V cables ("Heavy Duty" "Gold", from Radio Shack).