Tenchi Movie Boxed Set

Starring (voice): Masami Kikuchi, Ai Orikasa, Yumi Takada, Chisa Yokoyama and Yko Mizutani
RRP: 29.99
Certificate: 12
Available 02 April 2007

Tenchi is your average kind hearted kid, who just happens to live with a harem of alien girls. Living in a Shino shrine with his father and Grandfather, Tenchi releases Ryoko, a space pirate, and Sasami and Ayeka soon follow to live with him. From an average life Tenchi is soon thrust into a world of galactic strife and a house full of women...

This box set represents the latest Tenchi offering and is excellent value, given the amount of extras on offer. The set consists of the three films Tenchi Muyo in Love, The Daughter of Darkness and Tenchi Forever, as well as version three of the Tenchi Encyclopaedia.

When the evil Kain escapes prison he vows to destroy Tenchi. The first thing our hero knows about it is when he starts to fade. When Washu realises what is happening he erects a temporal barrier to stop Tenchi disappearing altogether. Kain has travelled back in time and intends to stop Tenchi from ever being born; if Tenchi is to survive he must travel back in time to 1970 to protect his mother. Back To The Future anyone...?

Tenchi Muyo in Love (1996) was directed by Hiroshi Negishi, with music by Christopher Franke, who is better known for providing the music for Babylon 5 and displayed many of the attributes of the long running series. The main appeal of the show was always its light-hearted touch, both in its comedic sensibility and its attitude towards the characters. The story is Okay, nothing that's going to blow you away as the plot device has been used in numerous films before.

Audio on the disc is English stereo, 5.1 or Japanese 5.1, with subtitles. Picture quality is an excellent 1.85:1 print, with no noticeable artefacts. There is a nice set of extras, especially considering what you get on the bonus disc. There's the inevitable Theatrical Trailer, TV Spots, and six pages of director's comments. The interview with Christopher Franke looks like it was originally a web cast, due to the poor quality and that odd look that a poor frame rate gives you, but is still a nice addition.

Tenchi's life continues to be less than routine especially now that Mayuka, another young and attractive young woman turns up claiming that he is her father. Behind the seemingly bizarre turn of events is a seven hundred year old demon that is using the girl in an effort to enact her revenge on Tenchi's grandfather Yosho...

The Daughter of Darkness (1998) was directed by Satoshi Kimura and in tone, pace and animation quality is indistinguishable from the first film. For first time viewers it might all seem a little confusing. Tenchi's tortuous continuity meant that a lot of the films were relatively impenetrable to the casual viewer.

Balancing the shows plot gaps, and lack of context, are some fine moments of animation and an overall feeling of wild exuberance which the show oozes from every pore. The plot works well, especially in the character of Mayuka who remains an enigma for most of the show - never quite revealing if she is the threat to Tenchi which some of the others believe, or an innocent victim of an evil demon.

There is a nice selection of audio options with both stereo and 5.1 English and Japanese tracks provided. The picture is again crisp and clean with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The extras are par for the course in an anime release consisting of the theatrical trailer, a promo and the original Japanese ending.

Following a fight, Tenchi disappears into the forest. When he fails to return his father reports him as missing. Tenchi, meanwhile, has woken up as a different person, older and married; he dismisses his memories as fantasy and settles down to life with Haruna. With Washu's help, Ayeka and Ryoko enter into a parallel universe, but does Tenchi remember them anymore...?

Tenchi Forever (1999) was the last story in the Tenchi continuity. Directed once more by Hiroshi Negishi, this is an altogether darker piece than the preceding two films, you get the feeling that the bittersweet melancholy, that the creators must have felt about the ending of the show, has been transposed to the screen.

The movie has less goofy comedy and much more drama. The portrayal of Tenchi's loss on the other characters is very touching, as is Tenchi's more adult relationship with Haruna. So, although it remains a sad note to end the series, it still feels like a worthy one.

Audio on this disc is only in English or Japanese 5.1, with English subtitles. Extras are some line art and a couple of trailers. The films print remains of a high quality, in line with the other films in the set.

The main bonus in the box set is version three of the Tenchi Encyclopaedia. This is a massive database of everything Tenchi. From the main menu you can choose Personal Files, which consists of biographical data for twenty of the characters; two or three short animation clips of each in action; and a varying number of stills. Under Visual Records there are six commercials; four promos; four trailers; two music videos; an interview with Mayumi Iizuka; six issues of the American version of the manga; and three image galleries. The content is generally excellent except for the manga which is difficult, if not impossible, to read. After the plenty that was Visual Records, the Geographical Data is a bit of a let down consisting mainly of sketches of the original locations, not great but a nice addition. Lastly, we come to the Secret Files, which by the looks of it is mainly those bits that wouldn't fit into any of the previous categories. So we have some very interesting Pencil Test's and Japanese trailer for Tenchi in Love II, and some background information on the show.

To be honest MVM have really pulled all the stops out to make this set a must have for any Tenchi fan, and great value for anime fans in general. So the show is silly, but that was the point, an honest attempt to make a show that was amusing and sexy - without it being overly sexual - for a teenage audience.

Charles Packer

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