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Tenchi Muyo vol.2
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Tenchi Muyo: Volumes 1 + 2

directors: Hiroki Hayashi, and Kenichi Yatagai

300 minutes (12) 1992
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
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.

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