Tenchi Muyo! Daughter of Darkness Blu-ray Review
Didn't Tom Jones have a song about her?
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, December 14, 2012
: This film is currently available only in this set: Tenchi Muyo!: Movie Collection
Tenchi Masaki, the focal character of the huge Tenchi Muyo!
franchise, has never been a model of discretion or
smart thinking. One of the central conceits of the original set of OVAs which gave birth to a huge glut of various
properties was the fact that Tenchi openly disobeyed his Grandfather (not to mention disbelieved
opening a padlocked gate to a cave near his family shrine, and through a series of mishaps, letting out a sort of
demonic female alien named Ryoko who had been imprisoned there for 700 years. Now it's arguable that that decision
wasn't ultimately horrible
, as it set the Tenchi Muyo!
universe into motion, delivering several
alien females straight into Tenchi's harem, but it indicates the sort of impulsive behavior this young man
repeatedly demonstrates in many of the different offerings that Tenchi Muyo!
provides. So in a way no one
should be overly surprised when a blue haired young lass shows up one day at Tenchi's family shrine claiming to be his
daughter. Tenchi himself seems to be somewhat confused, though it's never explicitly stated whether or not he's been
sexually active enough to actually procreate. But we've already been let in on the fact that this ostensible daughter
may in fact be part of a larger revenge drama that is playing out across untold generations and which involves Yosho.
While that revenge drama lurks in the background and actually explodes into this rather short film's final act, a lot of
this installment in the Tenchi Muyo!
franchise tends to feel like a kind of warped version of Sister Wives
with various members of Tenchi's harem, notably Ryoko herself, not being all that pleased to have a new female in their
midst, even if that female is Tenchi's own daughter.
The opening few minutes of Tenchi Muyo: Daughter of Darkness
may be extremely confusing even to those well
acquainted with the sometimes lunatic world of this franchise. A bunch of quick cuts seems to be indicating some sort of
epochal battle evidently involving a bizarre furry character who looks kind of like a cross between a cat and a werewolf.
That 700 year trope that defined the original Tenchi Muyo!
OVAs rears its female alien head again when it turns
out this weird creature has been asleep for 700 years and has simply been dreaming of a long ago conflict. Her name is
Yuzuha and she obviously has revenge on her mind. She's able to divine the far away happenings of Tenchi and his
harem and decides that he's the perfect person on whom to exact her revenge, once again kind of echoing Ryoko's
motivations in the original OVA series.
That's when the action switches to Tenchi, who almost stumbles over the young blue haired girl, who is named Mayuka,
as he walks down some stairs near his family's shrine. Mayuka speaks in a little girl's voice and immediately calls Tenchi
"Daddy", which obviously confuses the young man. Tenchi is never one to turn away any
female, daughter or
not, as this franchise has proven repeatedly in virtually all of its many iterations. When Tenchi brings Mayuka back to
the house, he's met with a bunch of furious other women, most noticeably Ryoko, who flies off the handle in her usual
Tenchi Muyo: Daughter of Darkness
clocks in at barely an hour, and it feels more like a half baked "very special
episode" of the Tenchi Universe
anime series, for it tries to deal with a bunch of interpersonal relationships too
quickly and discursively to ever build up any momentum. The film also has a pretty uneasy balance between its
supposed heart string tugging moments and its flat out goofy, almost slapstick, comedic elements, comedy that is quite
reminiscent of a lot of that opening OVA series.
Ryoko, for example, has always been a kind of quasi-tsundere
character, a sharp tongued woman who takes no
prisoners. But here we actually see her crying in despair over having to "share" Tenchi with this new girl. It's an odd
sight and one that isn't completely in keeping with the character, though truth be told, the Tenchi
universe is so
wide and so varied that continuity has never been one of its strengths. This film also has a very
moment of Tenchi actually striking out and slapping Ryoko across the face, something distinctly at odds with the more
formal battles that the two have undertaken from time to time in their sort of squabbling sibling rivalry.
The weird dichotomy between the comedic elements (as when Mayuka attempts to bathe with Tenchi) and the dramatic
(as evidenced by the simmering tensions between Tenchi and his harem) makes the final showdown with Yuzuha all the
stranger. This sequence, which taken on its own is rather impressive, with some fantastic animation that's somewhat
reminiscent of the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence from Fantasia
and a really aggressive sound mix, just seems to be from another film,
partly because the whole revenge scenario is so poorly developed to begin with, but also due to all the kind of soap
operatic silliness that has come before.
Fans of Tenchi Muyo!
will probably be willing to overlook the manifest shortcomings of this film, for it does have
a lot of what made the original OVA series so enjoyable, including a lot of crazy comedy and some good interactions
between the principal cast. But this is probably the least effective of the three Tenchi Muyo!
feature films and
as such is most likely mostly for that diehard fan base.