A sepia-coloured film rolls, and a beautiful school girl walks through a tranquil forest. When she sees the camera, she’s surprised, and playfully walks up to it. The girl in the picture is Lady Achika, Tenchi’s deceased mother. The man filming it is Nobuyuki, Tenchi’s dad. The 8mm film was shot when the two were still in high school, on a field trip to Tokyo. All of a sudden, the images of Lady Achika begin disappearing from the film. Tenchi crys in pain as he too begins to disappear.
Out in the far depths of space, the Galaxy Police headquarters is under attack from the inside. Class A criminal, identified only as Kain, has finally managed to break out of his prison of 100 hundred years. A being of limitless energy, he surges off into space, looking to begin his reign of terror against the hateful house of Jurai.
Washu arrives at Tenchi’s house in the nick of time. Already the house has aged into a shell of it’s former self. It’s as if it had never been repaired in its life before. The others who were watching the movie can’t understand what is busy happening. It falls to Washu to explain. While she was working in her labratory, she noticed a flux in the time continum surrounding the Lady Achika family. She believes that something, or someone, is attempting to get rid of Lady Achika in the past. If they succeed, then Tenchi would also disappear, because he would never have been born in the first place.
It falls to Tenchi, Ayeka, Ryoko, Kiyone, Mihoshi and Sasami to travel back in time to 1970, using Washu’s highly experimental equipment, to watch over Lady Achika and ensure that nothing happens to her over the next few days. Meanwhile, back in the present, Washu attempts to narrow the clues to find the exact time and location of Achika’s disappearance in the past. It’s a race against time to save Lady Achika before Tenchi disappears forever.
Tenchi Muyo in Love is based on the television version (Tenchi Universe) of the Tenchi story. It serves to introduce us to Lady Achika, Tenchi’s deceased mother. It is a nicely written movie, much in the same vein as the first OVA series. The comedy moments are nicely handled, especially between Ryoko and the easily riled up Ayeka. In fact, all the characters are pretty much handled just like in the television series. This means that the film is just that much more special for previous Tenchi Muyo! fans.
In fact, having said that, the film looks pretty much like the television series too. The animation is almost exactly the same as it was before. This isn’t a bad thing, because Tenchi’s animation has always been clean and smoothly produced.
The story introduces Kain, an energy based lifeform with a grudge against the house of Jurai. The story seamlessly switches back and forth between the past and the present, and it isn’t difficult to follow the plot at all. This is nice, because time travel films are usually difficult to handle in a way that is understood by all. It’s nice to see the Galaxy Police involved in the story as well, even if it is only to have their headquarters blown up in the first sequence of the movie. Also the inclusion of the misdirection character is well done, completely distracting a person’s attention from the real enemy of the movie.
The music score for this movie was done by the American Christopher Franke, and the music he came up with really helps the movie flow.
However, there is something that somehow makes this movie fail. Personally, I think it’s the reliance on the story of its action sequences. Tenchi Muyo!’s popularity has never been based on its action content, so the move away from the traditional storytelling mould means that some fans may be a little alienated.
Still, it always feels good to see characters you are a fan of on the big screen, so I would recommend this movie to Tenchi fans. To newcomers, you can watch the movie, but it won’t be as enjoyable to you. If you really want a good introduction into the Tenchi world, I suggest you watch the original OVA series.
Overall, as a Tenchi fan I enjoyed the movie, but I feel that for their first time on the big screen, a little more could have been done. I would have liked to see a little bit more of that classic Tenchi humour.
(Historical Note: This review was written way back in July 2003. Thankfully my writing has gotten a whole lot better since then!)
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenchi_Muyo!_in_Love