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Tenchi The Movie: Tenchi In Love
voice cast: Matt Miller, Yuko Kobayashi, Megumi Kayashibara, Michael Scott Ryan

director: Hiroshi Negeshi

95 minutes (PG) 1996
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Shiraz Rahim
I've had very little prior subjection to anime films, and a movie like Tenchi In Love, sadly, was one that wasn't quite a great way to start my journey into the world of anime. The film, although having a seemingly interesting plot, left me confused. With a hackneyed script, a negligence of the importance of mood and drama, and a serious lack of explanation, Tenchi In Love originally proved to be a lacking and monotonous film but seemed to redeem itself and end with an interesting conclusion.

The story begins with a view of a space station being destroyed by a flying creature and suddenly shifts settings to show Tenchi Muyo (Matt Miller) and his friends as they sit happily watching home movies. All of a sudden, Tenchi starts to disappear, and a woman named Washu (Yuko Kobayashi) appears and tells Tenchi what happened. Apparently, a creature (the one who destroyed the space station) named Kain (Michael Scott Ryan) has escaped from prison and managed to travel 26 years back in time to attack Tenchi's mother Achika (Megumi Hayashibara). As the film progresses, we learn that Achika is one of the only remaining descendants of the Geraid dynasty, a powerful empire that was responsible for capturing Kain after he had destroyed several planets. Tenchi, therefore, must travel back in time with his friends in an effort to stop Kain, all the while making sure to remain unnoticed by Achika. Their path eventually leads them to a final battle against Kain in a space vortex.

If the plot seems confusing, that's because it is. So many of the aspects of the film remained untouched by the script so that most of the film seemed extremely befuddling. The movie seemed too stifled in building tension as the final battle against Kain nears that it completely forgot to mention why certain things are happening. Achika, at the start of this ordeal, is an innocent, unsuspecting schoolgirl who seems confused by the appearance of a large creature that wants to kill her. Within a matter of minutes, however, she transforms (literally) into a sword-wielding, kimono-wearing warrior who seems to be the only person fit to fight Kain. In addition to this very confusing turn of events, the film bears no heed to the importance of developing appropriate moods for each scene. In one particular instance, Washu speaks to Tenchi and the gang she sends back in time in an extremely foreboding tone, telling of the appearance of Kain and the danger that Tenchi will face in the coming days; immediately after finishing, she starts laughing and smiling and proceeds to make jokes to Tenchi's friends as though nothing bad is going to happen. This negligence to develop and then continue appropriate moods for each scene, I think, are meant to add comic relief and incite a laugh or two but fail in their endeavour and seem only to make the film worse.

A plus I can attribute to the film is that of the drama that builds between Tenchi and his mother. What I gathered from the film was that Tenchi barely knows his mother since Achika dies soon after Tenchi's birth, so the chance to see his mother again would obviously be a central focus to his actions in the film. Tenchi constantly tries to protect his mother from behind the scenes, careful so as to not be noticed (apparently, Washu claims that by noticing him, Achika will be confused, which would lead to massive complications). His love for his mother builds as he sees her and his father meet and fall in love, and this adoration culminates into a heroic last effort to save his mother as she becomes trapped in the space vortex with Kain.

So, with this in mind, I have trouble finally deciding exactly how much I liked the film. There are obviously many questions left unanswered in a film that seemed shoddily crafted, but the aspect of the connection between Tenchi and his mother seemed to redeem the film and make it at least slightly acceptable. Most of the questions I refer to appear early in the film, and by the time I got to the climatic battle against Kain, I found that most of these questions had left my mind, and I began to focus more and more on Tenchi and Achika. Obviously, for people devoted to great cinema and great anime productions, Tenchi In Love is not the way to go, but for newcomers to anime and for those willing to bear through a confusing introduction to get to what I would deem an interesting conclusion, this film isn't a bad choice.

As for extras, the DVD contains the theatrical trailer, TV spots, a commentary by director Hiroshi Negishi, and trailers for several other movies. For newcomers to anime, the commentary seems slightly interesting, though, compared to some of the commentaries I've heard, this one is not quite as fulfilling. As for the other extras, there really isn't much entertainment, I find, in trailers and TV spots, so the value of these extras relies entirely on each viewer.
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