Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tenchi Muyo – The Night Before the Festival (1993)

After wrapping up the six episode OAV (direct to video) series, the creators of Tenchi Muyo decided to make a one off episode that would bridge into the second series of OAV adventures for Tenchi and the girls. This would focus more on humor and the every day adventures of the alien gals getting used to life in Japan. But is this episode a misfire or the perfect mid meal drink to whet our appetite for more?

It appears that some time has passed since Tenchi (Matt Miller) and his pals saved the earth.  Summer is in full swing and Tenchi is spending most of his time working at the family shrine and planting carrots for the cabbit Ryo-Oki. This isn’t keeping the feisty Ryoko (Petrea Burchard) or the prim Princess Ayeka (Jennifer Darling) from attempting to seduce Tenchi. Sasami finds some romance comics and offers these as manuals for earth style dating. This leads to all kinds of shenanigans. Meanwhile Officer Mihoshi (Ellen Gerstell) must tear herself away from the fun to report in, and Washu (Kate T. Voigt) wants to experiment on Tenchi to further her research. All Ryo-Oki wants is carrots. Will Tenchi survive the day to have more adventures?

Good Points:
  • Gives us more time with the girls and another bathhouse scene
  • Has some of the funniest moments of the series in it
  • Wraps up some loose ends from the first series

Bad Points:
  • Lots of Ayeka and Ryoko bickering in this episode
  • Lots of cute Ryo-Oki antics
  • Tenchi is just as bland as ever

As far as this single episode can be judged, it’s a good bit of fun. Yes it gets a bit silly at times, but never threatens to derail the series. I also like how some closure is given to Mihoshi’s assignment and Ayeka’s spaceship. Worth catching for the sequence where Ayeka and Ryoko attempt to woo Tenchi using techniques found in romantic comics.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 3
Sound: 3
Acting: 4
Script: 3
Music: 3
Direction: 3
Entertainment: 3
Total:  3

In Depth Review

For a pure comedy episode, this is probably the funniest one of the entire OAV series from the ‘90s. In fact most people lump this episode together with Series 1, because it does act as the perfect epilogue. Series 2 really feels like it’s own beast, and doesn’t balance the humor quite as well.

As entertaining as this episode is, you also get the seeds for some of the more annoying traits that would end up hurting the franchise. Ayeka and Ryoko get really catty in this one. Sasami doesn’t do much more then look cute. Washu experiments on Tenchi in weird pseudo-sexual ways. Mihoshi seems a bit more clueless than normal. And Tenchi is just a prop in this episode. I like the series best when all the characters are working together and feel like they are doing more than playing up their traits. Yes humor is often mined from extremes, but the Tenchi Muyo series as whole would often take it too far.

It sounds like I’m coming down on this episode, and I’m not. It’s a lot of fun, and works fine as a finale for the first series. But this used to be my favorite episode of the series. Revisiting it has taken a bit of the luster away. A bit sad, but not completely unexpected. A second series of OAV episodes was created to continue the adventures of Tenchi and the gals.

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