November 02, 2014

No need for continuity! A Look at Tenchi Muyo: Part 2

So in my previous post I wrote about the OVA series and Universe, but I didn't mention any of the other Tenchi properties.  I cannot speak to Tenchi in Tokyo, GXP, or the War on Geminar simply because, in the case of the later two, I've never seen them, and I haven't watched the former since high school.  I fully intend to collect and watch them in time.  The other thing I didn't speak about were the movies.  Daughter of Darkness won't really be covered here as it lies outside the two continuities I'm discussing.  But the two Tenchi Muyo in Love movies are very relevant.  And are, honestly, the high point for the  Universe continuity.  And along with OVA 3 dragging down the OVA continuity, they are what ultimately pulls Universe ahead.  

Both of the Tenchi Muyo in Love movies are excellent, even though they are resoundingly different.  Tenchi Muyo in Love is simply a fun, enjoyable movie.  The good points are numerous.  The characters are all spot on.  Kiyone is her usual competent self although she doesn't have a huge role--really all of the girls roles are decreased slightly with the extra emphasis going to Tenchi and Achika, which isn't a bad thing.  Washu is also at her best at least as far as the Universe continuity is concerned.  Even Mioshi is less annoying than usual as she doesn't have her usual massive screw-ups.  But of the girls the highlights are Ryoko and Ayeka mostly do to their chemistry together.  This is possibly the first point in the Universe continuity where you actually start to see them as friends.  They are still clearly rivals and they have their usual fights and disagreements.  But they spend the bulk of the movie in each others company, and you can see a sense of camaraderie between them.  In addition, like many of the best parts of Tenchi, Ryoko has some good moments.  Perhaps my favorite scene of the movie is towards then end when Tenchi is fighting the effects of the temporal disturbance, and insisting on doing so without the assistance of Washu's device.  Ryoko places a hand on his back as he struggles, literally, to hold himself together.  You see her concern as she lends what little support she can, but allows him to take care of it himself because that is what he wants and what he needs at the time.  I love any chance that brash, loudmouthed Ryoko gets to show her softer side, especially done here with no words.  

The one main issue with the movie is Kain.  He is a rather poor villian overall.  He is clearly a threat, there is no denying that.  But there is no depth to the character.  He hates the Jurian power and wishes to destroy all sources of it.  That is all.  He's more of a force of nature than a character.  Which I suppose may have been the intention since he isn't on screen much.  He's the threat looming over the whole thing, and not directly involved until the end.  Then again, strong villains (character-wise not power-wise) have always been a weakness for Tenchi.  Ultimately, Tenchi Muyo in Love, is the best parts of the series in a 90 minute movie.  There is a lot to like about that.

Tenchi Muyo in Love 2, on the other hand, is a massive departure from the series' norm.  Where as the series is usually a comedy with some serious action elements, Tenchi Muyo in Love 2, basically drops both of those to instead focus entirely on the drama and the characters.  I would be lying if I said Tenchi Muyo in Love 2 was anywhere near the top of my favorite things about the series.  I enjoy it certainly, but it just isn't fun the way Tenchi is.  That said, again the interplay between Ayeka and Ryoko is good, which is good because it is the bulk of the movie.  Really, the main thing that Tenchi Muyo in Love 2 offers is a conclusion to the romantic element of the series when Ayeka bows out and admits that Ryoko is the only one who can get through to Tenchi which pretty much makes Universe unique among Tenchi continuities.  Apparently the original creator has self-published works where it is made evident that in the OVA continuity Tenchi ultimately ends up marrying them all.  But as he doesn't own the rights, it means that unless another OVA series is made that's all non-canon.

The last point I want to touch on is that the continuities work just well enough that you can shape your own continuity using both shows.  My personal Tenchi continuity more or less follows the OVAs up until the fight with Kagato.  Then after that, we jump over to Universe minus the first several episodes introducing everyone except Kiyone since we need to introduce her.  We have to make Nagi just a bounty hunter after Ryoko instead of a bounty hunter who is also Ryoko's arch-nemesis which takes something away from their battles, but ultimately it still works.  So under this timeline, Yosho, who we'll say is sustained by the combination of his Jurian power and his tree is older than he looks.  Ryoko and Washu are as well, in both of their cases it is do to centuries spent in stasis.  All other main cast members are their visible age.  We have two unrelated villains named Kagato, but we'll right that off as a coincidence.  Both of them are older than their visual age as well, but we can justify them easily enough.  At this point the biggest issue is that Tenchi and Yosho's powers are revealed during the Kagato arcs of both shows.  But I think we can still work it.  Katsuhito is revealed to be a Jurian royal during the battle with the first Kagato, but isn't revealed to be Yosho until the fight with the second Kagato.  All characters are powered at a level consistent with the Universe run.  No gods or extra-dimensional entities here.  There are probably a few other discrepancies, but I think this timeline works out most of the big ones.

Now is this hybrid continuity a top tier show?  Probably not, no.  It's probably near the top of my middle tier.  It's not quite punching with the heavy weights like Rah Xephon and Crest of the Stars.  But at it's best Tenchi is fun, humorous, with just a tinge of emotional resonance.  Still, Ryoko is and has always been one of my favorite anime females and has been long before I even knew who Lafiel or Utena were.  If only more shows had badass space pirate chicks who show definite emotional growth through the course of the show, the world would be a better place.  Well, maybe not, but it would be a lot more fun.

Posted by: Arson55 at 11:05 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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