Tuesday 7 October 2014

First Impressions: Ai Tenchi Muyo!

Ai Tenchi Muyo!

It's something that hasn't really come up at all on this blog, but I'm a massive fan of the Tenchi Muyo! franchise. It was one of my first experiences with anime at I time where I was old enough to recognise Japanese animation as a medium, and since then has firmly remained one of my all time favourite franchises...even if I'm blasphemous in thinking that the Tenchi Universe TV series timeline is superior to the more-convoluted but canon Ryo-Ohki OVA one. So you can imagine my excitement when AIC announced that they would be working on a brand new Tenchi series, which will be the first since spin-off series Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari (Saint Knight's Tale or War on Geminar as it was later released in the US) in 2009. Ai Tenchi Muyo is set to run for an impressive 50 episodes, the downside being that they're only going to be five minutes long each. Boo!

Sponsored by the city of Takahashi in Okayama in order to promote tourism there, Ai Tenchi Muyo will see Tenchi Masaki go undercover as a student in an all-girls school in order to prevent a catastrophe caused by Washu. Of course, Tenchi being Tenchi there's bound to be trouble coming his way.

It's been quite a while since we last properly saw the main cast of Tenchi Muyo!, so it's great to hear that most of the original Japanese voice cast will be returning to reprise their roles. This new show will also be bringing with it a bunch of new character designs, which your opinions may vary on. Honestly with only Tenchi appearing in this first episode it's a bit hard to judge these on static images, and I look forward to seeing how they turn out in motion.

As far as this episode goes though, Ai Tenchi Muyo didn't really get off to the best of starts. In addition to the five existing Tenchi girls (I guess Noike isn't going to be making an appearance?), this new series is going to be introducing a whopping SEVEN new girls. So with episodes only running for five minutes each, things are going to get crowded very quickly.  Unfortunately, it also looks like the established girls might be taking a bit of a backseat in favour of these newcomers.

The whole episode rushes through an introduction of the new girls and Tenchi's new position as a student teacher, without really giving context to any of the new scenario. The fact that the episode's centrepiece is also an upskirt/panty shot doesn't really do it any favours either. I honestly don't know enough about these new girls to make a fair judgement on them yet, but as far as introductions go this was scraping the barrel.

Good or bad this is new Tenchi Muyo! with the original cast, and I'm grateful for that alone. It's wonderful to see that there's still life in the franchise, and I really hope that one day Tenchi's story will be able to continue properly with a fourth OVA series. But for now, this will have to do.

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