So about this anime, what I was looking forward to was tenchi muyo.
What I got was another 4 minute long anime, BUT! This one uses so long time on nothing, that there aren't even jokes in it.
In the first couple of episodes the climax is a panty shot and some ecchi. Nothing we havent seen before. This anime feels like it was made just to fill up space on a tv channel, but it wouldn't be fun at all for such a purpose.
You must see multiple episodes in a row to get any enjoyment, but that also means clicking next episode every 3 minutes. Ive seen animes that have been able to do the 4 minute thing right before, well, this is not one of them.
Before I even begin my review, a number of things need to be said first.
1. This series, first and foremost, was an advertisement series for the city of Takahashi in Okayama prefecture, making a statement like “Well this format doesn’t work” is erroneous, from the very beginning that’s what it was, curb your expectations.
2. The show is a 4 minute content series in 2014, This show production wise is 100% different than any other series in Tenchi’s filmography, because not only does it take place in its own continuity (which we’ll get to in the review) this is THE FIRST TIME, a Tenchi show has ever been done in this format, it does not have the same budget or production that any other series has had, check your expectations at the door.
With that being said, if you can get past both of those things, you will find that this is not only a decent anime series, but the best Tenchi series in 15 years.
In the initial announcement for the show, the staff were referring to the series as “a celebration of the franchise” and coming from a LONG time fan myself, this series was made 100% for Tenchi fans.
Above in the beginning of my review I said that the series is its own continuity. Some people seem to have a hard time distinguishing this due to the involvement of longtime Tenchi director Hiroshi Negishi, who directed Tenchi Universe, as well as movies 1 and 3.
While Ai Tenchi Muyo draws quite a bit from Tenchi Universe and movies 1 and 2, it also draws quite a bit from not only the Ryo-Ohki OVA (such as Ayeka and Sasami wearing their OVA Jurai garb later on in Ai), but also Tenchi in Tokyo, and even rare gems like the Tenchi Muyo! Sound File, and if you don’t know what that last thing is, then the show is already proving it was made for Tenchi fans.
The story is ultimately nothing really original, but where it shines is how simple it is to understand. I make that statement because the Ryo-Ohki OVA (and by extension Tenchi Muyo GXP and Tenchi Muyo: War on Geminar) is known for its overly-complicated and poorly written plots that are often times hard to follow. Ai Tenchi Muyo goes in the opposite direction, it makes sure that it’s simple enough so that often times the questions you asked in the previous episodes, are rectified the very same episode.
While the show does only have 4 minutes per episode to convey what is going on plot wise, the animation is almost perfect. We are definitely not talking about Sailor Moon Crystal here, haha. Very little 3D-CG is used, animation is fluid, backgrounds look great. The only reason I docked it from being perfect is that there are only a few points where the animation ever dips to low budget, and not every episode has a terrible amount of animation, other than that, spot on.
Much like the story, Ai Tenchi Muyo decides to keep everything simple and use as much of it’s few assets as possible, but that being said, the music is unique to Ai but still very much Tenchi Muyo! In spirit. My favorite piece being Washu’s ethereal, mysterious theme. I would have rated sound a 7 as well, but the background pieces introduced and used in the last 10 episodes fit perfectly.
More than any other category, a Tenchi Muyo show lives and dies by how good the characters are, and this is where Ai Tenchi Muyo! shines above the last 3 iterations released. Every single character in Ai is dynamic, likable, hate-able, understandable. The most important part though, and why the show gets a 10, is that these characters are introduced in a way that does not take away from the old characters, and the old characters must have been watching old tapes of themselves from the 90’s, because they haven’t been this good in a long, long time. New characters are introduced well and old characters are respected, not much more to say there.
Ai Tenchi Muyo! was an experiment. An experiment in whether or not a dead franchise (in the words of Hiroshi Negishi himself) could be resurrected and brought into a contemporary anime shell, and while the format is not my personal pick, and I think a few other things could have been changed, this show was made 100% with Tenchi fans in mind.
It may not look like the Tenchi you remember, it may not sound like the Tenchi you remember, but that’s because VHS are obsolete, OVAs don’t make money anymore, and Tenchi is a 22 year old franchise, but if you can get past the format, you'll find a gem of a series worthy of holding the name Tenchi Muyo!
How did I slog through this snoozefest. I still don't know. Nostalgia, I guess. I basically just registered to say I loved loved loved old school Tenchi and this show was terrible terrible terrible. Just absolutely terrible. AIC ought to be ashamed of themselves for making this.
And Holy Fan Service, Batman! And boring High School stuff that's in every other anime. And the girls beat up Tenchi routinely, wut? Like Tenchi would say, "Yeesh!"
I wish there was something that could make me recommend this story. Some touching episode. Some arc with substance. But no. There's nothing here. Do yourself a favor and avoid this ball of high school anime tropes and fanservice, you're missing out on absolutely nothing.
Meh! I would like to say it is a brilliant compelling story with sharp, strong, interesting characters but it falls short. While it tries to achieve that, it goes in unprepared and underarmed for the fight to reach the upper echelons of anime quality. Sure, the characters, when they bother to devote any time to them at all let alone developing them, look promising but they are never given a proper chance nor the time needed to truly shine. As episodes progress, more and more seemingly random characters are introduced so not only is there little time devoted to those intiially introduced, it is made worse because as more characters are added, less and less time of an already short set of anime episodes is cut even smaller. That is just poor planning on their part. Through it all it comes out very confusing, cluttered, and random such that it almost seems no one even wrote it and they either just started doodling to make episodes or took drugs which would explain how meaningless, confusing, and jumbled they are. I got lost a few episodes in not that I ever found the footing in this show in the first place, but I at least had a sense maybe I would be rewarded with a bit more story and character depth only to be let down. i do not know if or when that will ever happen as I only watched between 5 and 7 episodes but with the way things were going, I highly doubt it and this is made pretty clear by how frequently and how many new characters kept popping up to make it even more of a mess.
The whole strong bdsm theme thing may not be a welcome thing for all viewers and certainly not for younger viewers, but there is a very very strong bdsm thing and inappropriate student teacher relationship. Granted, it is not very logical, realistic, nor believable that that many underage students would have fun dominating a new teacher of unknown qualities let alone fight over him or that such a teacher would stand it without running or calling for intervention. Oddly enough the teacher looks a hell of a lot like the miain character from Parasyte. In fact, it could either be the exact same artist/drawings, or even a twin brother if not a close relation. The show randomly jumps settings, worlds, and time periods so it is very hard to keep up or even understand what is going on in the story. It goes from medieval, to modern, to space, with no set pattern or sense of what or why it is happening. There is a vague impression he maybe like time jumping or jumping dimensions from an alien ship or something, but that is not even made clear, and it happens so briefly it is hard to tell if it is a dream, relavant, or one of the many time/world jump sub stories the main is bouncing around in.
If things were a bit more cohesive and focused on fewer characters it might stand a chance to at least be consistent and entertaining. And it may still have some entertainment value, it is unlikely to make a lasting impression.