Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Anime Review: The Second Tenchi Muyo OVA

So after the success of the first OVA they did it again. Rather than a big overarching plot it's much more episodic, especially at first, mostly concerning itself with finding entertaining stuff for the cast to do. The opening episode serves to rejigger the new status quo after the last one's big giant space battle featuring stuff blowing up.  Yosho's been found and the villain defeated, now everyone is just chilling in a domestic comedy.

Overall the second OVA is nowhere near as good as the first, which felt like an legendary epic of old but it has it's moments. This show isn't really concerned about telling a story the way the first one was. It's more about giving the characters a space to play and interact with one another.

It's entertaining but also kind of pointless compared the narrative driven first one. The first one had a story to tell and knew what that story was this one not so much.

It does however have a lot of heart, everybody is likable and the tone is generally upbeat.  It helps that the show is actually funny, since the humor rather than the plot is the new purpose of the show. Both the voice actors and animation actually have pretty good comedic timing.

Still it's frustrating because it's clear the writers still had places to go hinting at various plot threads that seem to go absolutely nowhere. Most of these are brilliant and take off from the finale so let's do a run down.

  • So Yosho was more than just some legendary warrior he was second in line to the throne of a bunch of magical space elves. He's made it abundantly clear that he's content with the life he made for himself and just wants to do what he's been doing and lying low but the finale has blown his cover.  The fates have aligned to make Tenchi the guy who is to succeed him but to put it bluntly the dude is a country bumpkin. Most of the known galaxy doesn't know he even exists let alone that he's crown prince of Jurai.
  • So the Jurai Royal Power (the force) has basically been explained to be the will of the Juraian patron Goddess Tsunami. All of their tech is based off of this. If Ryoko could successfully attack Jurai it means that she has a power different from but comparable to Tsunami. What's up with that?
  • The quasi answer to the last one is Washu, who is basically Ryoko's mother. She was introduced mostly in the last episode of the first OVA so we know next to nil about her. What's her deal?
You want to know how I know all of these could  have been brilliant. Because of the one plot thread they did decide to tie up. 

So let me remind everyone of how the finale went down. Tenchi has the battle with the big bad and dies, or at least comes close to it. He's saved by the patron Goddess of Jurai who happens to reside in Sasami's sacred tree.

This takes some explaining.  Okay,  the Juraians are big on sacred trees everybody in the royal family eventually bonding to one as sort of a life pact. The trees then sustain their lives and allow them to travel through SP-A-A-A-CE.  Ayeka has one, Yosho has one. Them Juraians just can't get enough of those sacred trees.

For those who are not into anime think of this as basically being similar to the whole Athena olive tree thing except Athena turns herself into the first olive tree rather than just planting it. The sacred trees are what allow the Juraians to be magical space elves. 

During the finale Tsunami explains that she resides in Sasami's tree. At the time that's all we the audience needed to know because you know stuff blowing up. But it hints at something greater by panning the camera down to Tsunami's reflection and showing the visage of Sasami.

What's actually going on is explained in this OVA's second episode "Sasami and Tsunami".

Way back in the back story when Ryoko was laying waste to Jurai, Sasami was a tyke. Since everybody else as busy because you know stuff blowing up an unawares Sasami managed to make her way down to the Royal arboretum where she promptly fell and cracked her skull. Why don't aliens ever follow OSHA standards? She landed at the roots of Tsunami the ancient tree from which all others are descendants and it took pity. It or rather she bonded to Sasami. The show keeps it ambigous as to whether this was gated to happen.

All of this is a lot for an eight year old to handle. After the event Sasami's been thinking she's a magical clone. She's been doing a decent job holding it together because she didn't have to think about it, but the forced deus ex machina transformation last time around has made that roll around in her head again. For the last two episodes she's been walking around thinking she's Starman.

When the truth is closer to Princess Yue.

Since the first episode of this one didn't focus on it I didn't really notice it, but she's been brooding trying to gather the courage to tell everyone. The episode is heartwarming when her surrogate family accepts her as is even before everybody knows the full truth,

Tsunami appears and explains she didn't replace Sasami, but assimilated with her. Making the two destined to gradually merge and become one. Tsunami is what Sasami is destined to become and Sasami is basically a young Tsunami. All of this is echoed by Tsunami's design and voice acting.

And that sums up my duality of thought on this one. That one episode makes the entire experience worth it but it also hints at what the show could have been if there was actually a plot.

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