Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Anime Review: Tenchi Muyo War on Geminar

I really liked the old Tenchi Muyo series as a kid. My brain always wants to say it was Yu-Yu-Hakusho that wised me up to the story potential of Anime as a kid but if I'm really being honest it was Tenchi Muyo. But being considered one of the progenitors of harem anime I always felt people misunderstood why it was popular especially in the west. At it's bones it's a condensed rather charming version of the hero's journey, playing almost like a Japanese version of Star Wars, but different enough to stand on it's own, especially the TV show.  Well Jedi Knights are basically space samurai with the force being space Shinto. And yes, there will be a lot of space ______ talk in this review

But somewhere in there people confused the main draw for the male harem fantasies. Sure that was in the original but it was never really all that explicit mostly Tenchi for his part thinking of all the relationships as being platonic and being too oblivious or annoyed to realize how much the girls wanted him romantically. He just wanted to get his farm chores done without having to worry about spaceships i.e. the call crashing into his yard every other episode.

What made the romance work generally wasn't the wacky comedy, but rather the pursuit of the question, "What would you be willing to do for the well being of this person?" In the end Tenchi decides to save the space princess, and then and the space princess and the space pirate, and the space cop and the space professor, reciprocate together forming a surrogate family strong enough to hit the bad guys and save the galaxy. It had heart but more importantly brains.

This... this... this show just feels stupid. It lowers the bar in just about every way. The first half is entirely deplorable.

But after a while it reaches some sort of stupidity event horizon and becomes fun... and then I remember how damn spectacular the original was and want to beat it with wooden plank complete with jagged rusty nails.

I don't just hate this show, I absolutely loathe it for getting me in a brain space to forget that I hate it. After about four hours of nothing but toothless sex jokes my brain turned to mush. I heard that this originally wasn't a Tenchi Muyo spin off and I believe it.

The original Tenchi was a mild Marty Stu, but his temper and plot apathy kept him from being a complete tabula rasa. While generally a nice guy the craziness in his life would annoy him to the point where occasionally his top would blow and he could be a real jerk.

He had a distinguished personality.

This guy here though is not really a whole lot more than a walking penis the rest of the cast can faun over. Literally there are scenes that are as close to male prostitution as you can get without actually being male prostitution.

I've got X-2 flashbacks.

What happened to my space battles and space coup? There are always hints of an actual plot but it goes nowhere in favor of blatant pointless fan service. There are easier and less annoying ways to get T&A. Kenshi, the protagonist feels like a female fan service character but there is so much male fan service that the show seems like it would alienate both genders. The vast majority of women in this show are absolutely brainless. I'm a guy so I can't say that I know absolutely what women want in their media or as much as I hate to admit their mates, but Kenshi seems like someone's bad idea of what women want, and the show warps itself around that premise.

Look with all the cheesecake I've seen in male targeted media over the years I can't complain if women want the beefcake. If I can get Dracula 2000 lesbian vampires they can get Twilight sixpack werewolves, but once you cast the die in either direction you've made an assumption and choice about your audience.

The original did get a pretty large female audience, I know because a female friend was the one who turned me onto the show in the first place. In retrospect in a few ways yes it was targeted for a female audience largely due to the general "niceness" of Tenchi, but the dude also had enough juevos so that guys like me could look up to him. And I kind of think that the dichotomy between a nice guy who could and more importantly would put up a fight when the situation called for it is what actually made him a hero that girls liked. He was a decent Prince Charming, and well as froofy as it sounds when done right Prince Charmings can make for good and interesting role models for guys.

This mope on the other hand just lifts heavy stuff and gives back rubs. And I would be alright with that if he weren't a complete and total wuss. Tenchi Muyo was the first show I ever watched that took the concept of good is not soft seriously.  In other shows when the hero has to lay down the beat down his personality shifts, even Vash  the pacifist had a gameface when the going gets rough.

That's the same guy as this.

Not Tenchi, though. He acts heroically because he's a nice guy not despite it. That is something I needed to learn as a kid. You don't have to always choose between being nice and being strong.

Kenshi is a nonentity. If you asked my to explain anything about him I got nothing. He's the least interesting thing about this show but he's also the swirling vortex around which it orbits.

They keep hinting at a pretty interesting plot involving an invasion and some sort giant super mega robot or something. I don't know. This show made me not dig giant robots. I will NEVER forgive it for that! From Astroboy to Pacific Rim, short of sex, having a giant robot is the universal fantasy of every American and Japanese male! How many Gundams have we had damn it!? (By the way there is a reason for that comparison Gundam Wing is more or less the story of the second half done competently.) And this show manages to screw it up! How do you screw up giant robots!?

Well there was Trans...NO. It doesn't exist.

Even discounting the cool factor there are so many places a giant robot story can go. Heck there's even been giant robot noir. GIANT ROBOT NOIR!

The show instead chooses to go with the "Oh Kenshi's so hot thing". And while it's stupid I would go with if he had the personality to back it up but he is by far the most reactionary character I've ever seen in an anime. He does absolutely nothing without somebody else or the plot prompting him to do so. When he later has to give a speech proclaiming his free will to the villain I rolled my eyes through the whole thing.

Oh I get my giant robots  eventually but I have crawl through a seven episode river of feces to get there! And this is where things get weird, the last six episodes are actually okay, pretty mediocre and still stupid compared to the original but mildly entertaining. Kenshi grows a backbone and and stuff actually happens, but by then I was pretty numb.

Even then I had no clue on who's fighting or why? While the original Tenchi Muyo took awhile to get to its plot each of first couple of episodes were devoted to explaining the back story and highlighting the personalities of one of the female cast. By the time we get to SPA-A-A-A-CE we already know who they are, why and how they fight. You got Ryoko the pirate beserker, Washu the mad scientist, Mihoshi the crazy lucky ditz, Kiyone the beleaguered cop, Ayeka the princess, and Sasami the cute one (her actual deal is waaaaay more complicated). And all of them are related to the central conflict.

You know what instead of talking about Tenchi Muyo in passing it's next. I would much rather revisit it than this pile of crap.

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