-MONTHLY VHS & DVD REVIEW-
copyright © 2001 - 2004 VideoVista
Tenchi Muyo: Volumes 1 + 2|
directors: Hiroki Hayashi, and Kenichi Yatagai
300 minutes (12) 1992
MVM DVD Region 2 retail
reviewed by John Percival
OK, be prepared for lots of Japanese names. Schoolboy Tenchi defies his grandfather's
wishes and enters a forbidden cave. The cave is supposed to house a sleeping demon that
was imprisoned there after being defeated by a great hero long ago. Tenchi inadvertently
releases the demon and finds an unusual sword. The 'demon' turns out to be pushy but
pretty space pirate Ryoko. After escaping with his life, Tenchi soon finds that three
other women have joined the battle to capture Ryoko - two princesses, Ayeka and Sasami,
plus Galactic Police officer, Mihoshi. Tenchi's life changes even more when, after the
battle destroys the living spaceships of Ryoko and Ayeka, the four women all come to
live in Tenchi's house! If that is not enough along with the birth of a new fledgling
spaceship in the form of Ryo-oki, a kind of floppy eared rabbit-cat thing, then follows
the arrival of the evil Kagato. He wants Tenchi's sword and is powerful enough to make
Ryoko betray Tenchi. But each of the team's affections for Tenchi enables them to come
together and help Tenchi beat Kagato. Another surprise is the appearance of another
female, the genius Washu and after being pretty much stranded on Earth they settle down
with Tenchi, his father and grandfather all at Tenchi's aunt's retreat. Each of the
girls fights for Tenchi's affections and with that amount of hormone under one roof
something is bound to happen.
Tenchi Muyo may have the look and feel of a cartoon like Pokemon
but trust me, take heed of the 12 certificate rating and do not let your kids anywhere
near it. There is strong sexual content, which if not shocking definitely takes you by
surprise. I guess there are reasons for it and they are not always apparent to our western
mind. Anime is huge business in Japan, by young and old alike. Popular to the point that
some series are designed to go straight to the video market, just to feed the demand.
Straight to video is bad news in the west, in Japan it is good news at it gives direct
access to new anime and allows the studios to experiment with the product. So Tenchi
Muyo being one of the OVAs (original video animation), it has it sights set on older
viewers. It contains more traditional anime elements like sword-wielding warriors, beautiful
princesses, and the tragic love story. Also it has the recognised symbols of Japanese anime
such as large ground explosions, for example as the spaceships hit crash into the ground
they set off a huge explosion with a enormous fireball, that is symbolic of the effect the
events at Hiroshima had on the Japanese psyche. Just like the themes of transformation from
the explosion, which are shown by Ryoko finding an egg in the wreckage of the spaceship,
the egg hatches into Ryo-oki who in turn transforms into a large formidable spaceship.
Now the impressive love story, the great themes and pretty good animation
is let down by what is basically common garden smut. Shown initially by Tenchi's father,
proud that his son has a woman (Ryoko) in his room, climbs a ladder to his son's window to
watch the action, armed with a video camera! Later on, the same man turns peeping tom again
to watch the girls by the pool and then creeps up behind Ryoko and grabs her breasts. And
that is not all, Ryoko spends a lot of the time naked, Ayeka does the same although not
always by choice and Washu attempts to collect a sperm sample from Tenchi, the manual way,
as that was the only sample remaining from him she needed to get. Add this to add the
innuendo and liberal 'sake' drinking (watch for the drunken spaceship). All of a sudden
that 12 certificate could be a bit higher.
There is also a large amount of comedy; the best example of this is the
episode Hello Baby where the group looks after Tenchi's baby cousin. Although more
than a little sexist in that the girls automatically assume the role of babysitting while
the three guys (Tenchi, his father and grandfather) are all doing something else. Each of
the girls have problems looking after the child until the most unlikely, Washu, succeeds
and goes from being busy 20,000-year-old professor to substitute mother. We are supplied
with some of her background where she had to give up her own child to her partner's family.
Tenchi Muyo is certainly an interesting collection of episodes.
The story although not outstanding is certainly watchable with as much action as there is
comedy. However the sexual element of the collection is something that I was not always
comfortable with. How much of this is due my upbringing with western cartoons and different
tastes, I do not know. Then again we do have adult animations like South Park. Through
Tenchi Muyo provides a view on a different perspective of animation and the culture
behind it, for that it should not be ignored. But there are better examples out there.
Extras on the disc are very thin on the ground and only appear in the
form of trailers for other anime series.