Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 25 Dec 2005
A standalone story with a holiday setting that suffers from its short running time. In the US, this movie was retitled to Tenchi The Movie 2: The Daughter of Darkness, though it is not the sequel to anything. The “2” refers only to this movie being the second Tenchi movie released.
Long ago on Jurai, during the celebration of Startica (Christmas and the Japanese Star Festival rolled into one), a young Katsuhito meets a girl who is a demon-like creature, and they make a promise to meet again someday. This demon is being chased, however, and after being struck down by her pursuers, vanishes into the air. Years later, Yuzuha (the demon) creates a girl from her own and Tenchi’s genetic data, which she has taken from across the dimensions. Yuzuha has sent this girl named Mayuka to Earth posing as Tenchi’s daughter, with a mission to carry out revenge.
This is a very strange movie. First, it exists in its own continuity. This is nothing new where Tenchi is concerned, but if it were attached to an already existing storyline, it may have helped give it more of a foundation. Second, it is only an hour long. This is not a lot of time to introduce two brand new characters, develop them, and write them into a self-contained story. Midsummer’s Eve should have had 90 minutes to work with, which leads to the third frustrating aspect of the movie: it feels rushed. Previous knowledge of the Tenchiverse is required to fully enjoy the movie, since with only an hour, things have to get started from the get go. The story holds together, but there simply isn’t enough time to develop any of the plot elements.
As for the story itself, it’s not perfect. It’s not so much a case of plot holes, but more of a lack of material to work with. Yuzuha’s motivation is relatively unclear, which is unfortunate because that is what the entire movie is based upon. Without a clear conflict, just about everything else lacks focus.
Despite all of that, Midsummer’s Eve does have a good final scene. And ironic as it may be, the end credits sequence – a narrative using still sketches – is perhaps the most touching and cohesive part of the movie. It’s a shame that the journey to that final scene was a bit jumpy.
This movie simply needed more time and it could have been a much more satisfying story. Characters and events could have been fleshed out, and the storyline might not have been so choppy. Midsummer’s Eve is a fun holiday piece for Tenchi fans, but probably won’t win any new fans for the franchise as a whole.