It seems like an ordinary day at the Masaki shrine until Tenchi wanders into the forest and disappears. Six months later, the movie picks up with Ryoko and Ayeka's continuing search for him all over Japan. They discover he is in another world with a strange woman―but they have no idea who she is or how to reach him, or even if he wants to see them again. In the other world, Tenchi strives to capture the image of a woman that keeps coming into his mind. The two worlds finally connect―but to what end, none of them know.
Before the third and final Tenchi movie, Tenchi as a whole had been hit and miss for me. I enjoyed the first two OVA series but quickly grew tired of all the silliness and the lack of explanations with regards to various plot elements. It started to get stale after the harem cast had been assembled. My thoughts about the first two movies are very similar to my thoughts about the OVA. So, I didn't go into what's most likely going to be the last Tenchi anime I watch expecting anything other than the usual harem fluff, with a random, one dimensional villain thrown in
so that there would be a fight to end it with a sense of purpose.
It ended up surpassing my expectations by some distance. I found it to be emotionally moving and involving - I couldn't help but care about the characters. However, it isn't something for Tenchi fans; it's for fans of well written and executed films. It has a low MAL rating - on par with the Christmas special of a second film - and I understand why without even asking anyone: because it lacks the feel of the other Tenchi anime in existence. If what came before is classed as Tenchi for the younger generation, then this is most certainly Tenchi for adults.
To start with, the art differs from the art of the previous films, both of which looking like the OVA series. I wouldn't say the previous art looks cartoony but it doesn't exactly look realistic either. The intention was clearly to make this installment more realistic to go with the story, and they started by altering the art. The faces look more realistic, the size/proportions of the characters look more realistic... everything apart from the ears and eyes looks realistic. This is a weird complaint to have but the ears bothered me, Ryoko's bothering me the most. Instead of having ears, it looks like a number of characters have rectangles stuck to the sides of their heads. I'm not sure if Ryoko always had rectangle for ears and the different art style simply made me notice, but whoever designed the ears deserves to be shot. Repeatedly.
The music also differs considerably from what's gone before, changing to fit with the new direction. In the past fitting but uninspiring and unmemorable efforts good for comedy were used, but in this there are drama orientated instrumental pieces. Even 'Étude No.3' - the famous piano piece - plays towards the end.
...Anyway, getting back on track. The story starts in normal Tenchi style; with Ayeka and Ryoko fighting like cat and dog and Tenchi getting involved. But within minutes (literally), Tenchi randomly stumbles upon a tree and, enchanted by its beauty, walks toward it. He then gets taken somewhere by a mysterious woman who appears before him.
The plot then fast-forwards six months. Tenchi has been missing and his harem have split up to search for him. Ayeka and Ryoko, who have teamed up, have managed to find out the city he's living in thanks to Washu and they work as waitresses while living there to pay the bills. Ryoko has a watch that alerts her to Tenchi's presence but hasn't had any luck finding him.
It's soon revealed that an older looking Tenchi, complete with long hair, has been living with the woman who appeared before him at the start. The woman is called Haruna and Tenchi has lost all of his memories. And when I say living together, I mean they live together as a couple, doing what couples do when alone. It's normal for anything sexual in a harem to be used only for comical purposes, without any actual sexual intercourse taking place, but there's nothing comical about Tenchi and Haruna's relationship. They're shown together in bed, naked, with Haruna on top of Tenchi early on and later Haruna moves herself slowly up Tenchi whilst he lies down, grinding her body against his.
I'm mentioning this and going into detail because it highlights the different audience the film is aimed at. Sex goes from being childish to being handled in a far more mature fashion. That's quite a jump for what was, before this attempt, a simple and straight-forward harem story involving alien ladies.
Once it's clear how Tenchi's living, the plot starts moving slower. The first twenty minutes flew by - I was surprised by the pacing - but then everything slowed down for character development. Ayeka and Ryoko become more and more depressed with every glimpse of Tenchi happy; oblivious to their existence. Despite them being rivals for Tenchi's affection when down in the dumps, rather than fight over Tenchi, they support each other. Ryoko pushes Ayeka's buttons when she's on the verge giving up and Ayeka tries to do the same for Ryoko. It's fair to say their friendship and not the rivalry they're known for shines through in the film.
All of the other development is, as you'd expected, Tenchi and Haruna development, mixed in with some Yosho (Tenchi's grandfather) development because of his connection to Haruna. The other cast members basically just make cameo appearances. Tenchi comes across differently than the plain harem lead type from before; he's far more troubled and always deep in thought, drawing in an attempt to express himself and the memories that lurk in the back of his mind. Haruna, who is the villain of the story, tries to keep Tenchi ignorant in an attempt to keep him close to her and ease her loneliness. Rather than being yet another one dimensional Tenchi bad guy, she's well developed and by the end you can't help but feel sorry for her.
The important characters all receive lots of development, and the story even fills in some small Yosho related holes. The only serious flaw is that, as I mentioned before, it doesn't have the same vibe as the other Tenchi anime. It's very serious, focusing almost fully on drama. There are very few comedy scenes and the cast only gets together at the end. If I was someone who loved Tenchi for being light-hearted fun, I wouldn't be best pleased, so I can understand the problem people have with it... but I'm not one of those people and I respect those in charge for trying something different.
Overall, watching the film was an excellent way to end my Tenchi love affair. I was expecting to end it to end on a low note, but I ended up actually thinking highly of a Tenchi offering. To anyone other than diehard Tenchi fans who can't accept change, I strongly recommend it.
It's refreshing to watch a theatrical anime done by cel, now that every other anime is done by CG. Usually cel anime are pretty poor in graphics, but theatrical ones tend to be very good in quality, like the one we have here, Tenchi Muyo in Love 2. This movie is done in 1999, which is more than 10 years old by now, but it's a gem. I found the DVD lying around in a sale for $1 and honestly I didn't have high hopes for it, but the content far exceeds its price. Tenchi Muyo in Love 2 brought back the excitement I once
had for animation movies.
This movie is an original, meaning it's not a sequel/prequel to the TV/OVA whatsoever, borrowing just the concept/cast/background of Tenchi Muyo, which I like. The story's rather simple but intriguing, with an interesting twist. The pace of the whole show is set steadily and it gives a lot of room for thinking. The setting felt somewhat nostalgic and familiar. The tone is not as comical as the TV/OVA but a tad more serious.
The art of Tenchi Muyo in Love 2 is beautiful. I grew up with cel-art, but my generation belongs to CG, so I can appreciate both kinds of artwork, and the artwork is really really gorgeous. Environments are rendered realistically but it fits the mood and setting. The characters are also drawn in higher quality than in the series, with more care of the details and richer colour. There are a few new character designs that I think are better than the old.
I don't usually pay attention to the music/sound unless it stands out, but definitely the sound/music helped to create the magical mood/setting of the show. The ending song is very appropriate and soothing as well.
There are some new characters in the movie and I like the characters as they are and how they fit into the movie. The older characters didn't get so much air time but I think each character is given enough screen time to make a significant impact on the main character. The main character gets a lot of development and gets shown in a different light than usual. I felt like I got to know the main character a lot more from this short 1-2hours than the whole TV/OVA series.
I enjoyed it a lot. It's my cup of tea. The ending was done rather well, and the length of the movie is just nice.
Anyone who enjoys a good cup of a romance movie should try Tenchi Muyo in Love 2. It doesn't really matter if you watched the original series or not. Definitely a must watch for people who likes older anime and cel graphics.