My familiarity with the Tenchi Muyo series has only been recent, with my first excursion being Tenchi Universe. Its been a series that I’ve overall avoided over the years, due to my inability to enjoy any facet of the harem genre of anime. Even with my distaste for it, I could see the reasons why people love Tenchi after seeing the first TV series, with its roots in a grand space opera setting and colorful characters. So once Tenchi in Tokyo came in to review, I surely didn’t know what to expect. Was it going to be full of the things that I hate in anime, or would it be filled with more surprises to make me enjoy an old anime franchise from the early 90’s? What I ended up getting was pretty much the former and to come to find out the Tenchi Muyo fans don’t even care for Tenchi in Tokyo, I was left to just sit there in awe and watch how far the series had fallen in this 1997 entry of the Tenchi franchise.
Tenchi in Tokyo is an alternate telling of the series and doesn’t really fall into all of the other OVA’s and TV series. With all of the girls already on Earth, we follow Tenchi Masaki as he decides to move to Tokyo to become a kannushi and help with the family Shinto shrine. Immediately, with the girls already being on Earth, a lot of the charm of them showing up or developing them just sucks a lot of the fun that the original had going for itself. While the series does eventually become part space opera later on, it doesn’t carry the dramatic weight as the original TV series, due to the missing character development. Instead, we’re treated to really goofy monsters that show up or or situations that are so absurd, that the series never feels like its treating these characters with any respect and really comes off as a crappy, corporate cash grab.
AIC has done some amazing work in the past, but they made some silly choices for Tenchi in Tokyo that make the series feel even more dated and look pretty crappy in this rerelease. The first two episodes are animated really well, but after these two, the quality just goes right downhill for the rest of the show. The video on this new rerelease from Funimation looks really poor on DVD and with it having a poor transfer as it does, it really doesn’t help that the animation is as bad as it is. There’s a nice illustration on the back of the DVD case that gives a sort of constellation map with all of the series and all the way in the upper left hand corner sits Tenchi in Tokyo, all by itself. There’s a reason for this and the only way anybody should be picking up a release like this is to chuck their original releases to save space or for pure torture.