Tenchi Muyo In Love 2: Tenchi Forever (Japan 1999)

Rating: **
Review Date: 10/18/99

Very, very different. This film pretty much wraps up the TV series and attempts to resolve the love polygon between Tenchi and the girls. One day, Tenchi mysteriously vanishes and the girls begin a desperate manhunt to find him. Ryoko and Ayeka take jobs as waitresses in the city where Washu believes Tenchi is in, Sasami goes back to Jurai to search for clues, and Kiyone and Mihoshi break into the Royal Science Academy and hack into their computer as per Washu's instructions. When we actually meet up with Tenchi, he's in his early twenties and living with a woman named Haruna, and has no memories of his past life. So, yet another girl is thrown into the mix and a huge battle for Tenchi's love ensues. Amazingly, it's Ryoko who is the key to unlocking Tenchi's subconscious, and she and Yosho ultimately save him. Even more amazing is how Ayeka and Ryoko bond in the film, and instead of constantly competing with each other, they realize how much they need each other. It's that aspect of the film that offered the greatest emotional impact for me.

As a big fan of the OAV series, the radically different approach of this film didn't do much for me. It's very well animated, but the character designs are decidedly different and all of the characters seem flat and lifeless (more mature, I guess). I didn't even recognize Kiyone when she showed up. The film has a much more adult feel to it than any of the previous material, and is constantly ambushing the viewer with dreamlike continuity and all sorts of stuff that you would NEVER expect to see from the series or the characters. As such, it really doesn't seem like a "Tenchi-Muyo!" movie. With a minimal science fiction element and essentially no action or comedy, all the film has to offer is romantic drama, and that by itself is not enough to sustain the film. All of the characters are tired and the series is starting to show wear. Interesting, but not overly satisfying...