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Tenchi Muyo in Love(1996)
No synopsis for Tenchi Muyo in Love.
For more about Tenchi Muyo in Love and the Tenchi Muyo in Love Blu-ray release, see Tenchi Muyo in Love Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on December 14, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Tenchi Muyo in Love Blu-ray Review
Back to Back to the Future.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, December 14, 2012
Note: This film is currently available only in this set: Tenchi Muyo!: Movie Collection.
Don't you just hate it when you think of a snappy comeback a little too late to make an appropriate impact? Something like that occurred to me after I watched Tenchi Muyo in Love, the first of three feature films in the long running and rather variegated Tenchi Muyo! franchise. FUNimation is releasing a glut of Tenchi Muyo! product, including the original Tenchi Muyo!: OVA Series. In that review, I had titled the "deck" (that little subtitle that goes underneath the product title) "Back to the Future", a reference to the show's kind of quaint nostalgic quality combined with its quasi-futuristic sci-fi setting. I should have waited to use that "brilliant" description for this first feature film, which I had never seen before. For Tenchi Muyo in Love plays very much like a long lost cousin to the Back to the Future trilogy, replete with Tenchi caught in a time travel paradox, and a certain kind of interrelationship between "current time" Tenchi and his mother from a couple of decades previous to the contemporary timeframe of the film that is in fact quite redolent of the Michael J. Fox enterprise. It can be a little daunting trying to keep track of all the various Tenchi Muyo! releases, especially since there hasn't been absolute continuity between various versions of the franchise. This first feature film has some salient difference from the original set of OVAs and is in fact more directly linked to the Tenchi Universe television series, which followed the last of the original OVAs and recrafted several characters and at least tangentially some major plot points. While it's not necessary to really have any grounding whatsoever in the Tenchi Muyo! universe (or universes, as the case may be), some reference points will probably help viewers to understand some basic ideas that populate this feature film. What may surprise some who are only familiar with Tenchi Muyo! through those original OVAs is how serious, even deadly, this film starts out. The OVAs, while certainly not shirking from action, had a kind of lunatic quality about them with an often outrÚ sense of humor, and while certain elements of that remain in this film, it's at least a slightly more somber affair.
For those completely unacquainted with the basic outline of Tenchi Muyo!'s story, it can best be summed up by stating that Tenchi is a relatively mild mannered young man who unwittingly frees a captive superpowered female alien demon named Ryoko who quickly becomes one of several female aliens who surround Tenchi in a pretty standard harem anime setup. It turns out that Tenchi himself has a few superpowers of his own, as well as a royal lineage, of which he had been unaware until he started interacting with Ryoko. This is just the barest tip of a what is a pretty large and labyrinthine iceberg, but it should suffice to at least make some of what follows a little more understandable.
Tenchi Muyo in Love doesn't seem to have much affection on its mind in the early going, as we get a bristling action sequence opening the film where mastermind criminal Kain breaks free of his subspace prison (shades of Ryoko in the original Tenchi Muyo! OVAs) and wreaks absolute havoc, destroying not just a galactic space station, but apparently Tenchi's own bloodline by traveling back in time. Tenchi has been showing some sweet home movies of his parents meeting long ago to Ryoko and his other female cohorts when he literally starts disappearing from view, at which point Washu (another member of the harem) notices that Tenchi's mother is disappearing from subsequent frames of the film while Tenchi himself seems on the verge of ceasing to exist. Washu erects a sort of electromagnetic force field that can temporarily keep Tenchi from disappearing, and the entire group travels back in time to 1970 to try to keep Kain from exacting revenge on Tenchi's mother which in turn may prevent Tenchi from ever having been born.
While this is ostensibly an at least slightly more serious iteration of the Tenchi Muyo! story, there's still a lot of fun to be had, especially as the misfit group surrounding Tenchi attempt to blend into the 1970 school environment where Tenchi's parents are both students. The funniest of these is undoubtedly Mihoshi, who against all odds tries to serve as a teacher, finding her inability to even communicate effectively a major drawback.
The film gets a little over convoluted as Tenchi's friends attempt to bring down Kain while at the same time keeping Tenchi from actually interacting with his young potential parents, as that would create an untenable paradox. Tenchi Muyo in Love probably takes a little bit too much time in its third act forestalling the inevitable, with Kain managing not only to escape, but taking Tenchi's mother hostage as well. The time travel aspect is handled reasonably well here, with a couple of "ping ponging" elements that get us back to "current time", but there's no really over intellectualized content here that pushes the boundaries of what this particular idiom often offers.
Tenchi Muyo in Love manages to offer the main characters in a somewhat new setting with a high degree of familiarity for those who have already experienced some iteration of the franchise previously. At the same time, while there's an undeniable dÚjÓ vu quality to the time travel aspect (whether intentionally ironic or not), the film branches out rather smartly and develops a new level of poignancy that wasn't always present in at least the original OVAs.
Tenchi Muyo in Love Blu-ray, Video Quality
Tenchi Muyo in Love is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.75:1. As with most FUNimation product I receive to review, I only have "screeners" in hand (i.e., discs only without the packaging), so I can't state with any certainty yet whether this is one of those "pre-upconverted" titles that FUNimation rather strangely lists as HD native. One way or the other it seems obvious that this is most likely not a true, newly refurbished HD master, though the image here is weirdly schizophrenic at times, with some sequences seeming really soft and looking upconverted, while others have at least relatively more definition and clarity to recommend them (look for example at the difference between the third and seventh screenshots accompanying this review). The elements here are in very good shape, though, and colors are very robust and well saturated. Still, this 1996 film looks a good deal softer than the older set of OVAs which I just reviewed.
Tenchi Muyo in Love Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Tenchi Muyo in Love features two Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mixes, one in the original Japanese and another excellent English dub. The English dub features a just slightly more aggressive mix than the Japanese, with a tad more amplitude and fuller low end, but otherwise these two sound fairly identical, save of course for the language being spoken. There are some great surround effects on display here, notably when the time travels swirl about in their high tech gizmo before they zoom off to 1970. A lot of the film, though, is relatively more restrained dialogue sequences which tend to be firmly anchored in the front channels. Fidelity is very good throughout the film, and dynamic range is quite wide.
Tenchi Muyo in Love Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
There are no supplements included on this disc.
Tenchi Muyo in Love Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
This first Tenchi Muyo! feature film is a fun exercise that may not exactly be as flat out crazy as some of the OVAs, but which manages to blend some effective humor with an interesting if somewhat derivative time travel story that also has at least a little bit of an emotional factor. This may in fact boil down to an anime version of Back to the Future, but there are worse films to emulate. This Blu-ray offers kind of middling video quality with above average audio, but there are no supplements to be found. Still, for Tenchi Muyo! fans, this is a must have and it comes Recommended.
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