Hello anime fans!
I purchased today's show back at Connecticon this year, and it was the last show I bought from that con I completed. It was perhaps the most conflicting thing I've ever watched, as it has many good things about it, along with some bad things as well. All together, this created for a fun, weird, and slightly uncomfortable experience. With that said, let's look at the 3rd entry in the Tenchi franchise, Tenchi In Tokyo, and see if it's as conflicting as it's legacy says it is.
Taken from the wikipedia page:
"On a bright and otherwise cheerful morning, Tenchi Masaki assembles his extended household in the backyard of the family home for a group photograph. To their confusion for the suddenness of this, Tenchi makes a shocking revelation: after careful thought, he has made up his mind to move to Tokyo for two years on behalf of his grandfather, Katsuhito, to train as a kannushi, so that he may better care for the family Shinto shrine. The reaction is a predictably devastating one, with Tenchi's father, Nobuyuki, even forcibly considered a replacement. His son's unyielding stance on the situation spares him the trouble, however, and with that the girls' come to terms with arrangements.
That afternoon, Tenchi and Katsuhito commute to Tokyo to meet with Dokuzen Tsuchida, the priest who the apprenticeship will be served under. After the two are sent to participate in an exorcism, which ultimately enlists the girls to perform, Tenchi goes to bed, ready to attend the school the following day. Much to the delight of Yugi, a supernatural child monitoring him high above the skies of the city, Tenchi takes a seat beside Sakuya Kumashiro, a girl who takes an almost immediate liking to him."
While this is a cohesive story like all the other shows, Tenchi In Tokyo moves along at a considerably slower pace. For example, you meet all of the girls in the first episode, and it isn't until the 6th or 7th episode when you find out how they all arrived at Tenchi's house. When you first meet the main villain (Yugi) of the show, you're only given tiny bits & pieces of her character. It's not until about halfway to exactly halfway through the show where you're given a clearer vision of her goals & background, and even then it's not until about a couple episodes towards the end when you fully learn about her. This is a disappointing aspect of the show, but it's not the only thing that disappoints me.
In a strange move, Tenchi In Tokyo remains mostly on Earth, both at Tenchi's house and the City of Tokyo. Tenchi's house, and the surrounding countryside, look's much like what you'd see from the previous series. The only exception to Tenchi's house is Washu's lab: you only get glimpses this time around, and from what I was able to see, it wasn't as out-there as it was in previous iterations. Tokyo looks & feels rather standard, but it's nothing ugly. There's more of a realistic approach to everything, and is actually kind of charming.
Again, this show mostly takes place on Earth, but there are some trips into space. Earlier in the series the group travels to the moon, and later on Ryoko has a journey in space with an new ally for a few episodes. The moon looks as you'd expect, but the episodes where you see Ryoko in space takes you to a variety of planets & locales. There's even an episode where she breaks into the Galaxy Bank, which is a rather behemoth structure.
Overall I was a little disappointed with the approach to the setting (I wished it was more like Tenchi Muyo/Tenchi Universe), but it's really nothing to pitch a fit about it.
Here is where I have the biggest gripe with the show. Like Tenchi Universe, Tenchi In Tokyo has changes within the cast's profile, but these are some of the biggest character changes I've ever seen in a show. For example, Tenchi** and his grandfather are not descended from Jurian royalty, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are the rest of the changes:
- Ayeka is no longer searching for her brother & is more emotional like Ryoko (Not this version)
- Ryoko is far more emotional than past incarnations, requires air to breathe when she's in the vacuum of space, and actually hires Washu to work with her
- Sasami is even more child-like than her Tenchi Universe incarnation, prone to fits of shouting when she gets angry or upset (She still retains her skills of cooking & cleaning)
- Washu is far more stable than incarnations from the past, has less of an ego (She still has her moments, but they happen nowhere near as often), and did not create Ryoko
- Mihoshi is still clumsy, but she now acts incredibly child-like, almost to the point where she could be considered a child
- Kiyone is more manipulative & gets angry more quickly at Mihoshi, and also seems to be more attached to Tenchi than she was in Tenchi Universe
Just about all of these changes are completely unnecessary. In fact, most of the changes have caused me to dislike almost all of the characters (Except for Washu, which is actually a pleasant change, and Sasami, but that's because I've always been a fan of her). I understand changing the characters a little with each iteration, but this is far too drastic a change.
There are also some brand-new characters in Tenchi In Tokyo. The main villain, Yugi, is highly mysterious, and holds a grudge towards Tenchi's family. Sayuka is another key player in the show, and is the girl that Tenchi falls for after he moves to Tokyo. She's very attractive and intelligent, but she's also incredibly emotional in ways that are good, as well as bad (She's very clingy, and can get rather upset if noone replies to her affections). We round out the new characters with Yugi's minions: Hotsuma, Matori, and Tsugaru. They all have their own personalities & features, but they are utterly loyal to their master. With perhaps the exception of Yugi, none of these other characters are interesting, but they do add some substance to the series because they're new.
The animation in Tenchi In Tokyo is pretty good! It's a minor improvement over the original OVA, and a big improvement over Tenchi Universe. Although the color palette seems to be roughly the same in terms of color variety, it doesn't quite have that grainy/muted look that the older shows had (Much more so with Universe than the OVA). Colors seem brighter, characters & things move more fluidly, and overall still feels like it was hand-drawn (The show came out in 1997, when computers started to take over the animation process). My only complaint about the show's animation is the faces. For the most part, all of the faces seem to look the same. This is much more noticeable among the female characters of the show (Especially among the main girls of the show), as the male cast of the show have faces that are somewhat different from one another. I wouldn't call this bad, but I would say that it's very noticeable, and maybe a little odd.
For the most part, the voice acting remains the same. Most of the voice actors you know from previous Tenchi entries have stayed along, with only three characters (Tenchi's Father & Grandfather, and Kiyone) have different voice actors. Bob Papenbrook is the new voice for Tenchi's Grandfather (And Tenchi's father.......lazy move, isn't it?), and Wendee Lee is the new voice for Kiyone. Wendee Lee does a good job with the role she was given, as she really embraces the character, but Mr. Papenbrook doesn't do as good of a job. The only difference between the two roles he was given is a slight change in pitch (Tenchi's Father sounds a little louder, while his Grandfather is slightly quieter), and I consider this to be nothing more than a money-saving move, and a bad one at that.
EPISODES & EPISODE LENGTH
Tenchi In Tokyo shares something in common with Tenchi Universe, and that's length. This show is 26 episodes long, with each individual episode running at about 22 to 24 minutes. Tenchi In Tokyo will last you for a pretty long, as this one took quite a while for me to view (More on this in a bit).
AVAILABILITY & PRICING
Like Tenchi Muyo & Tenchi Universe, Tenchi In Tokyo was re-released last year along with the two previously mentioned shows. You can find this show in places like Best Buy & FYE relatively easily, or online at places like Amazon. Currently on Amazon, the complete collection starts at 25 to 30 dollars for a new copy, which is actually pretty damn good for the amount of content on it. The older Geneon/Pioneer editions are harder to find, but not impossible. Every once in a while I've been able to find individual DVDs (From what I've seen, pricing usually ranges from about 7 to 10 dollars, and sometimes 12 to 15), but finding the complete collection from Geneon/Pioneer is relatively easy to find on Amazon. New copies start at 40 to 45 (More expensive than the Funimation re-release, but possibly worth it), while used copies start at the more respectable 7 dollars. I would highly suggest the Funimation re-release, but if you're interested in the older release, I'd say go for it.
The complete collection of Tenchi In Tokyo comes with a bunch of stuff, including commentaries, interviews, and trailers for other shows. It's a good amount of bonus content, and will definitely satisfy anyone who finished the show, but want something else afterwards.
GENERAL IMPRESSION & RATING
Tenchi In Tokyo definitely deserves it's reputation, but for me, it doesn't completely deserve it. At it's best, the show feels like the other Tenchi series before it (Charming, Goofy, Sexy, etc). At it's worst, it can either be above average. At it's very worst, it can be somewhat uncomfortable to watch. If you are willing to put some of it's problems on the shelf, then you'll find a fairly respectable show. As for me, I enjoyed watching the series, but Tenchi In Tokyo is the entry I enjoyed the least.
Tenchi In Tokyo gets a 6 to 8.5 out of 10.
See you next time, when I'll review a show that was easy to watch. Until then, stay Otaku!
I'll quickly tack this on: Tenchi for the most part has remained the same (Apart from not being Jurian), but there's a point where he becomes incredibly insensitive/asshole, and after that seems to return back to normal, but seems oblivious of the other girls's feelings, and is somewhat unstable as far as his emotions are concerned (Nowhere near as much as Ryoko is). If you haven't seen the show, watch it and you'll understand.