Forget everything you know about the TENCHI MUYO universe! Well, almost everything. TENCHI MUYO: WAR ON GEMINAR ditches everything relating to Tenchi and his gang of interstellar beauties in favor of a whole new cast of colorful characters and personalities. Up until now, I thought myself done with the TENCHI series and was hesitant to start what I thought to be another retelling of Tenchi's adventures with Washu, Ryoko, Ayeka, Sasami, and the rest. After watching WAR ON GEMINAR, I found my interest reinvigorated and by the end of the thirteen episode show, I found myself wanting more.
WAR ON GEMINAR is another spin off of the TENCHI series set after the very first OVA series, TENCHI MUYO: RYO-OHKI. Tenchi's half brother, Kenshi Masaki, is taken from Earth by a group rebellious thugs who have aspirations of capturing the throne of Geminar away from the newly crowned Empress Lashara. Armed with NEON GENESIS EVANGELION-style robots called Mechanoids, Kenshi is forced to assault Lashara's city ship and assassinate the young girl. Though formidable in combat, Kenshi flees, only to be confronted with execution by his evil masters. Displaying remarkable martial arts skills, Kenshi escapes his captors and falls under the employ of Lashara and her lovely entourage as they reach the Holy Land, a predominantly female academy where the royal elite are trained in Mechanoid combat.
Much of the entertainment and comedy is derived from Kenshi's attempts to assimilate within the academic structure of the Holy Land. At first, he is delegated to performing all sorts of maintenance and labor until he's given the opportunity to go to school with the rest of the girls. From this point, the classic high school comedy formula rears its head with the obligatory "summer vacation" and "school sports tournament" set of episodes. Before things get too predictable and formulaic, the action kicks into high gear with the appearance and subsequent invasion of Lashara's usurpers.
What made me really enjoy WAR ON GEMINAR more than any other TENCHI series (apart from the new characters) is that women play a pretty large and important role. They are students, teachers, commanders, priests, and mercenaries. This is a world in which women are in command and hold respected positions over the scant number of men. Although most women do get a little boy crazy around Kenshi, its not nearly as bad as the sheer desperation seen from Ayeka and Ryoko. That said, its a shame that the level of fan service on display is unabashedly over the top. WAR ON GEMINAR is not afraid to show off its love and appreciation of the female form, as their Mechanoid jumpsuits are skin tight and questionably revealing. The most ludicrous and overused pieces of "sexiness" are the instances in which women spring out of pools and baths with their white bathing suits sheer and clingy against their bodies and their nipples, though covered, threaten to poke out an eye or two. I won't bother going into the bizarre episode in which Kenshi's "massages" cause the women to experience spontaneous orgasms at the slightest touch. As for Kenshi himself, he proves himself to be just like his brother: a kind, gentle, respectful, and agreeable soul who experiences discomfort with overly affectionate women.
Having grown weary over the adventures of Tenchi and his friends, WAR ON GEMINAR's change of scenery and cast was a welcome departure. The rampant sexuality can be a little off putting sometimes, though I'd be a lying if I said I didn't think some of the girls were pretty cute, particularly Princess Aura and Wahan (for her love of building steam powered robots). Apart from the women, WAR ON GEMINAR is beautiful to watch, its animation rich, clean, modern, and great to watch in motion.
TENCHI MUYO: WAR ON GEMINAR is the perfect prescription for TENCHI fatigue. With very few ties to the original series, this set alone is worth a return to the franchise and a great place for newcomers to jump in.
TENCHI MUYO: WAR ON GEMINAR
directed by Masaki Kajishima, Koji Yoshikawa
322 minutes, Number of Discs: 8, Box set
Company Age Rating: 17+