Type: TV Series
Episode Count: 26
Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 31 Aug 2007
Though the Japanese title for this series is Shin Tenchi Muyo! – which translates to New Tenchi Muyo! – Geneon (then Pioneer) decided to give it the title Tenchi in Tokyo.
The second television installment of the Tenchi franchise has no ties to anything else with the Tenchi name. Only the characters remain; everything else has been reinvented from scratch.
Tenchi sets out for Tokyo to attend school while being trained in the Shinto arts to ensure that when he succeeds as head of the Masaki Shrine, he’ll be fully prepared. Tenchi’s many housemates are devastated that he’ll be leaving their home in Okayama, so Washu invents a way to let them visit whenever they want. Things seem to be working smoothly with all of the long distance relationships until a girl at Tenchi’s school named Sakuya decides that she and Tenchi are meant to be. Needless to say, this does not go over especially well with Ayeka and Ryoko. In the meantime, from space, a mysterious girl is keeping tabs on Tenchi and the girls; her intentions are unknown, and nobody knows that they are being watched from afar…
Shin Tenchi Muyo! is Tenchi Lite, in many ways. The story is interesting, but isn’t nearly as engaging as the original OVA or even the first TV series. Compared to the rest of the Tenchi franchise, this version often comes across as the most cartoony and more like a sitcom. To be fair, if this series had a different title and different characters, it would probably get more respect. Personally, I liked Shin Tenchi Muyo!, but in the Tenchi fan community, this is the installment which seems most often looked down upon. Why is this? It has mainly to do with the story.
The series begins in a very lighthearted manner. The animation standards are a notch or two below other Tenchi titles, and the characters act in nearly caricature versions of themselves. The plot is not connected to any other Tenchi story, however, and all that is needed to know beforehand are the basics of the main characters. Where this version of Tenchi really sets itself apart is with the main relationship in the story. Introduced is Sakuya, the new girl in Tenchi’s life, and scourge of the earth upon which is inflicted (unfairly, in my view) the burning hatred of a thousand suns by Tenchi fans everywhere. PersonaIly, I thought it was a good new piece of the puzzle. Sakuya is probably the most normal girl that Tenchi encounters, and the way that she introduces herself to him leaves very little to question. She’s also got the whole cute thing down, and visually she’s the ideal fashionable 1990s teenage Japanese girl.
One other plot point of contention is the villain Yugi who watches from space, whose intentions are unknown. This adds an almost Sailor Moon-like element to the story, with henchmen going to earth to do her bidding and whatnot. Definitely not a characteristic of Tenchi in the past, but it works reasonably well here.
So, while perhaps not the ideal way to dive into the many worlds of Tenchi Muyo!, if you know the characters and don’t mind seeing them in an entirely new situation, give Shin Tenchi Muyo! a try. If nothing else, it’s good for some casual sci-fi entertainment.