Along with TENCHI UNIVERSE, TENCHI IN TOKYO was a show I had last seen in 2000 when Toonami broadcasted it on Cartoon Network. This was something I knew, but the nostalgia I felt for this show was not there.
After beginning my re-watch of it the day I finished rewatching TENCHI UNIVERSE, I realized a few very important things about TENCHI IN TOKYO that you should bear in mind as I explain my reasons for not liking this show as much as its predecessors.
TENCHI UNIVERSE finished its Toonami run on August 24, 2000 and TENCHI IN TOKYO started on August 25, 2000. On the surface this fact is relatively meaningless, but it is very important when you consider how the ending of TENCHI UNIVERSE really hit me. Like the first time I saw the ending of COWBOY BEBOP, I felt sort of stunned and awed. I didn't really want to watch anything else like it because I knew nothing else could be quite as good. Or, to be more truthful, I wanted to watch something just like it but without worrying that one day that show might come to an end and that ending won't be anywhere as good.
But when TENCHI IN TOKYO started its Toonami run I began to think that maybe the TENCHI UNIVERSE was unfinished and that TENCHI IN TOKYO was a sequel to TENCHI UNIVERSE and not another retelling of TENCHI MUYO! RYO-OHKI. I mean, TENCHI IN TOKYO didn't start out with your typical "Tenchi meets harem" episodes that the last two entries in the franchise had done. At the beginning of TENCHI IN TOKYO, Tenchi is already living with his harem and that naturally lead me to draw the conclusion that this had to be a sequel to TENCHI UNIVERSE. I began to think "So this is what happens once everyone is back on earth after TENCHI UNIVERSE." I was pretty freaking excited.
But when Tenchi decided he was going off to Tokyo and that none of the events of TENCHI UNIVERSE were being mentioned at all, I began to scratch my head.
Well, what I eventually found out was that TENCHI IN TOKYO was completely unrelated to TENCHI UNIVERSE.
You see, the creators of this show put off the "Tenchi meets harem" episodes until about episode six or seven. Man, that's just mean and lazy. Seriously. I am still kind of pissed at Toonami for airing this show the day after TENCHI UNIVERSE ended without some sort of disclaimer. That may be good marketing for the first episode, but it also should count as cruelty towards children.
Anyway, that was thirteen years ago.
A couple of days ago I began re-watching TENCHI IN TOKYO knowing what to expect. Sort of.
The first episode starts off with Tenchi (with guidance from grandfather) deciding that he is going to go off to Tokyo for two years to train to become a Shinto priest. Naturally, this news strikes Ryoko, Ayeka, Sasami, Washu, Kiyone, and Mihoshi as fairly shocking. And it would strike anyone else who had just seen TENCHI UNIVERSE without knowing TENCHI IN TOKYO was a retelling as fairly shocking because this decision would make no fucking sense.
The girls, all of them suddenly becoming annoying stalkers, do everything they can to travel to Tokyo as often as possible to keep tabs on Tenchi and make sure he isn't sneaking around. This includes Washu creating a dimensional portal that leads from Tenchi's home in Okayama to Tenchi's apartment in Tokyo.
All of this stalking continues for a while and it only gets worse when Tenchi meets a girl in Tokyo by the name of Sakuya Kumashiro. Apparently, Sakuya has the hots for Tenchi and she wants to win him over. Ryoko and Ayeka certainly don't like that.
Meanwhile, an evil girl named Yugi and her three minions hover in the sky and watch over the hijinks with sinister grins on their faces. Her exact agenda is unknown until late in the series, but it is obvious from the start that she wants to cause chaos for the Masaki family and Tenchi's now separated harem.
And then we have our introduction episodes coming out of nowhere, but they aren't real introduction episodes because they are told in flashbacks. So there really isn't much choice but to watch the first few episodes in order and just deal with the drastic changes in some characters until we get a so-so explanation for why they changed so much.
The biggest character change is Ryo-Ohki. She is Sasami's spaceship and fighting robot suit in this series and no longer Ryoko's spaceship as she had been in the previous two series. While Sasami and Ryo-Ohki had always seemed close, I don't see the point in making her Sasami's spaceship. Ryo-Ohki is obviously not Jurian technology (at least not as we are familiar with it) so what's with the huge change all of a sudden? Is Jurai somehow vastly different than the previous two series, too? This seems like one of those things the creators did for kicks without really trying to find a reason for it. How the two of them met is never explained.
Another change I didn't care for has nothing to do with the characters and more to do with the animation. I don't really like super deformed animation and this series is guilty at overindulging in that. Some of the villains that Yugi creates are just so annoying. Yugi has a legitimately creepy vibe going for her, but her creations are super deformed creatures that are more annoying than anything this side of BOBOBO-BO BO-BOBO. Washu's creations are also more annoying than usual, too.
But if you can stomach to poor introduction to the series and the overuse of all things super deformed then you will start to be rewarded about halfway through the series. It does get better and bit more dramatic.
It's no TENCHI UNIVERSE, but the show as a whole is at least decent. I've certainly seen worse shows.
However, I would not call this show a "harem anime" because the harem is broken up the entire show. And the fact that Tenchi willfully broke up his harem and then even began dating someone outside of his harem... I don't really like that aspect of this show. One of the unique traits about Tenchi was his wanting to keep the harem together a family unit and not pursue romantic interest. Apparently, that's all thrown out of the window for this series.
That is the change I like least of all.
This show gets a high rank on the "meh" scale. Yeah, I liked it well enough, but there are parts that are just "meh" and/or completely mishandled.