Tenchi Muyo's second movie "The Daughter of Darkness" had a very lagging story that I couldn't wrap my head around. If you follow the Tenchi Muyo franchise, the stories portrayed aren't as much story central at times as they are character central, and in part that's characteristic of many harem series. Tenchi Muyo's franchise falls within the realm of sci-fi, action, and romance/harem that the original OVA actually did well with some characteristic flaws. Yet, this movie doesn't follow the series at the all and marks a great deviation from the original story that could just as well have been an alternate universe or a filler episode. I found it, overall, to be aptly annoying and the weakest installment among the Tenchi movie releases.
It focuses on Tenchi, Ryoko, Ayeka, Sasami, Kiyone, Washu and Mihoshi coming upon a girl named Mayuka, who claims to be Tenchi's daughter from the future. In reality, Mayuka's a pawn in a demon's (Yuzuha) scheme to gain revenge on Tenchi's grandfather. The collective cast warms up to her, but Mayuka's use as a pawn sets off a few warning signs and causes tension in the house.
The story itself pales in comparison to the peer Tenchi movies because of the weakly contrived "revenge" scheme and the introduction to a character that seemed rather weak even coming into the mix. Killer teddy bears and stuffed toys, a villainess who can't seem to get over her grudge, and Mayuka as a sexualized tool to pose as a "love" rival (even taking into consideration she's supposedly Tenchi's daughter)? All of the elements of the story bear no comparison to the original Tenchi francise, which was even stronger than what this movie had to offer.
I'll admit that I probably would have thought more of the movie if I allowed myself to just go along for the ride-Mayuka is a child in a teenage body and the way the gang warms up to her, in parts, does give the movie a pleasant atmopshere, but the way the movie uses Mayuka as a pawn (not to mention the humor makes Mayuka downright annoying-for example when she decides it's appropriate to take a bath with "Daddy"). I couldn't find myself liking this at all considering the sequence of events and the weak backstory.
I would advise those who enjoyed the Tenchi franchise to skip this one (apart from just a reconnection to the original Tenchi cast, as well as nice animation and music) and just watch the first and third movies, which had better focus on the main cast and had at least some growth in the characters. For those who are new to the Tenchi universe in general, stay far away from this one.
I'll admit that the animation for Daughter of Darkness was at least of note for its time and adaptation back in 1997-1998, and with respect to the designs of the Tenchi franchise, though some may be turned off by the There were some inconsistencies in character design I noted in some parts of the movies, some enough to put me off considerably, but if don't mind the design in watching former adaptations of the series, it won't bother you as much. Cel production was overall well done.
If you put this up against contemporary standards, however, the animation and fluidity of the action scenes are quite mediocre, even compared to other installments in the franchise.
The soundtrack of Daughter of Darkness was actually my favorite part of this movie, as it was, quite notably, above average. "Mayuka's Theme" is actually a very nice music box tune that compliments Mayuka's child-like demeanor (also the music that takes Mayuka into her demonic trance), and perhaps my favorite instrumental tune featured in the movie. "Startica" struck me as so-so as it tends to be a bit overdone in points, particularly with parts of the choral backing, but the melody itself is good. The movie's ending theme "Manatsu no Eve (Midsummer's Eve)" is a melodic, rather little known tune by Mariko Nagai, and among my favorite themes of the movie.
I didn't have any problems with the Japanese voice work or the English dub for the main Tenchi cast. I felt that in the English rendition, as trite as the overall story was, the newer character VAs (Yuzuha and Mayuka's) suffered the most because their vocal work wasn't up to par, and it didn't improve their characters much in my eyes.
I can't aptly judge the main Tenchi cast from this film alone, as the characters themeselves don't show as much growth from their normal antics and comedic punchlines. Tenchi is still pretty much the middle man who tries to keep up with all the girl's and protect Mayuka as much as he can pending the proposed revelations about her. Ayeka and Ryoko still play the jealous rivals, only this time they take an active aversion to Mayuka's intrusion. Sasami, Washu, and the rest of the gang are just side characters, though Sasami plays a more significant role because she gains a connection with Mayuka (in her childlike demenor) that the rest of the cast does not-and I would say that's probably the only, though small, character development the movie offers to the table.
Mayuka and Suzuha's characters, both new and unique to this movie, are quite weak to be honest. Perhaps I could have liked the movie a little better if the tension and the central conflict didn't have Mayuka as playing this "love" rival coming in as a tool to break the Tenchi gang apart. Suzuha's character only had a small bit of story to emphasize her quest for revenge, but it had essentially little focus and seemed, well, trite for lack of a better term.
Overall, the only redeeming factor about Daughter of Darkness was its animation and music. I'd recommend the soundtrack, but as for the movie, I wouldn't give it a second recommendation, only to those who "must have" all of the stories in the Tenchi franchise.
In this Tenchi Muyo! film, a young girl named Mayuka appears from the future, claiming to be Tenchi's daugher. Meanwhile, a demon tied to his grandfather's past meddles with the Masaki household. An emotional story, a wayward daughter, and a demon's vengance all fit together in this wonderful installment of the Tenchi Muyo! series.
I tend to be a fan of slice of life, dramatic and romantic series, but my palette is open to different series of a plethora of genres. I love watching series that engage my senses and imagination, and as a writer, I always appreciate a good story with a great cast of characters. I love when people give feedback on my reviews, because it helps me see things in a different lens, so I encourage you to converse with me if you have any questions, commentary or just want to chat about a series. ^_^
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