Let me tell you right now, we were not disappointed. The Tenchi movie premiered on June 29 in its dubbed form, to a packed and anxious audience. The movie was also shown the next day in its subtitled form, which was vastly better (though the dub was bearable).
If the crowd's reaction was any indication, the Tenchi movie premiere was a huge success. If the cheers were loud at the dubbed premiere, then they were deafening at the subtitled premiere, which was announced at the last minute and caused me to run to the screening room praying that I'd get a seat.
This brand new Tenchi story is a departure from the typical Tenchi storytelling you might be used to. I found that the movie took the best elements of both the first and second OAV series and meshed them to create something greater. The full-length feature film captures the urgency of the last two episodes of the first OAV series and uses to great effect the character familiarity which was so prevalent in the second OAV series. Fans of the first series will appreciate the return of a serious plotline, and fans of the second series will appreciate the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) character interactions that makes Tenchi Muyo! more than your typical sci-fi fantasy anime.
The movie's plot takes Tenchi and the girls back in time to Japan in 1970, where they are on a mission to protect Achika, Tenchi's mother, from being killed by Kain, the time-traveling A1 criminal who seeks to destroy the Jurai bloodline. One should note that the movie is based on the Tenchi TV storyline, not the OAV storyline, as is primarily reflected by the inclusion of Kiyone in the Tenchi movie. Except for that (and a few other small details), however, one could say that the Tenchi movie stands well by itself and could be based on either storyline depending on how the viewer wants to see it.
The movie is a sci-fi action romance with a retro-Japan look, not to mention the always irrepressible Tenchi Muyo! sense of humor to keep things lively. There's always some sense of nostalgia when we look into the past, and the Tenchi movie captures the feeling just nicely, without being overly sentimental. The introduction of Achika and the "reverse" character development of Tenchi's father, Nobuyuki, adds even more color and emotion to the already detailed world of Tenchi Muyo!
The art was excellent, and it was a treat to see Tenchi Muyo! presented with movie-quality animation. The colors, character movement, and backgrounds were highly impressive, but it was the music and sound which truly blew the audience away. Presented in THX audio with 5 channels of discreet surround sound, the whole screening room literally rumbled during parts of the movie. The sound was tremendous, possibly better than any I've ever heard in anime. The music was cool, too, composed by Christopher Franke (Tangerine Dream, Babylon 5, Universal Soldier) and recorded in Germany. Though different from the usual Tenchi BGM, the music suited the movie perfectly and was undeniably Tenchi Muyo! in its flavor.
Pioneer truly outdid itself this time with Tenchi Muyo in Love. In terms of presentation, the movie was superb in all respects. In terms of pleasing Tenchi fans like myself... well, I was very pleased, and I hope you'll enjoy the movie as much as I did.
[12/16/04 Update: For further articles by Lawrence Eng, see his anime page.]