Tenchi The Movie: Tenchi Muyo in Love

When I initially began my anime fandom, it didn't take long before I heard of this quirky series and its rather large fanbase. I was interested, to say the least, in seeing some of this series, especially since it was a product of the same creative team that brought about El-Hazard. And this movie certainly looked like a good place to start. Unfortunately, this is yet another example of series-turned-movie that is obviously geared towards Tenchi fans with previous knowledge of the series. Right from the beginning, there's no attempt made to explain who the characters are, the underlying plot lines from the series, and how everything fits together at the start of the movie. I had no idea what the Jurai bloodline meant, nor why Ayeka and Ryoko bickered all the time, or that Mihoshi's inane stupidity was actually supposed to be endearing. The plot itself is straight out of Back to the Future. A fiendish being capable of traveling across time and space, the arch-criminal known as Kain, escapes from the Galaxy Police Headquarters after years of imprisonment. He is fueled by one thought; one emotion; that of revenge against the house of Jurai. Over twenty years in the past, Kain targets Tenchi's mother, Masaki. If Kain succeeds in his quest to destroy her, Tenchi will cease to exist forever. Therefore, Tenchi must travel back in time to prevent anything from happening to his mom, and also make sure his mom and dad get together. Unlike Back to the Future, though, Tenchi's mom doesn't fall in love with Tenchi (which is just plain icky). Truthfully, I spent too much time trying to figure out certain plot elements (which Tenchi fans would probably be familiar with) to really enjoy it, save for the climactic battle at the end. I've said it before and I'll say it again: the Tenchi characters just don't appeal to me. Well, that's not entirely true. Sasami and Kione were pretty level-headed and were quite tolerable for the duration of the movie (although I find Sasami's cuteness a tad nauseating). However, Ryoko and Ayeka's bickering got old very fast, Mihoshi's dumb blonde routine made me cringe, and I just found Tenchi to be a bit dull for a hero. However, Kain was quite the villain, both conceptually and vocally, but I would've liked to see a bit more of him in the movie. On a positive side, the technical aspects of the movie were certainly well done. The art and animation were fairly eye-pleasing, and a definite step about the OAV series. The aural component was another high point, especially given that it was digitally mastered in THX sound. I must admit, it sounded very nice on a surround sound system. The voice-acting, though, wasn't overly spectacular, but got the job done. Tenchi fans will probably love this movie, regardless of what anyone says otherwise, so there's no point in trying to dissuade them. Anyone who hasn't seen Tenchi Muyo should probably watch the OAV series first, to get an understanding of how the characters fit into the series. And for those who don't like Tenchi to begin with, this movie probably won't change their minds. The Verdict: * * 1/2 (below average)

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