Vintage Review: Tenchi Muyo! GXP

 

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Tenchi Muyo! GXP follows the adventure of Seina Yamada who is the most unlucky boy in the universe. When visiting his friend Tenchi’s house he runs into Amane Kaunaq who, mistaking him for a member of the Misaki household, recruits him for the Galaxy police. Seina decides to join and the GP command quickly recognizes that Seina’s bad luck can be used to distract Pirates from valuable targets. He is helped though his training and duty by two beautiful women, a beautiful space pirate, and a young priestess. Yup, this is a Tenchi series. vlcsnap-2010-07-29-12h33m44s220

I wanted to avoid reviewing this series by comparing it to the past installments in the franchise. However the show is trying extremely hard to copy and rehash the Tenchi formula. In fact, that the majority of its failings vlcsnap-2010-07-29-12h26m20s139 come from an attempt to be Tenchi Muyo and not a work that stands alone. I tried extremely hard to like the characters in the show. Especially the three female leads because the show cannot work if you don’t believe these girls are in love with a 17 year old boy from Earth. Most of the development is shallow and the characters fall in love with Seina for no reason other than he is the star of the show. The protagonist, Yamada Seina, is a likable character but suffers from a lack of motivation. Starting from Episode One I found my suspension of disbelief failing apart because the character doesn’t blink at the idea that aliens exist and he has been recruited by a galaxy police force. He takes the fact that he is plucked from his home, family, and friends behind forever as the most normal thing that could happen. It is ridiculous.

The most difficult aspect of the show to stomach in the first few episodes is the music. There is a track that kicks in whenever Seina is having a large amount of bad luck that is completely out of place with the tone of the show. It’s meant to set a comical mood but the effect comes off as an obnoxious cue for the audience to start laughing. The ending theme, Anata ga Saitei, has this same tone.

The show has a constant fear that the audience will not understand that Seina has “cosmic bad luck” and feels the need to remind the audience with obnoxious audio cues and an awkward ending theme.

vlcsnap-2010-07-29-12h36m51s41The animation, while not terrible, is not representative of the time period. By 2002 the shift from hand drawn  animation to computer aided animation changed the way the medium looked. So in the same vlcsnap-2010-07-29-12h32m43s127year that the gorgeously animated Chobits was  released Tenchi Muyo! GXP winds up being unimpressive. Not only is the quality of the art and animation lackluster but the character designs are also bland. Seina looks almost like a carbon copy of Tenchi Misaki. When attempting to establish and new character and story line in the same universe as the original Tecnhi OVA it makes no sense to make your new protagonist look exactly like the old one especially when they meet and interact during the series. The background characters have much more interesting character designs than any of the main characters. In fact  the entire world around Seina and gang is beautiful. The intricate building and ship design of Juri are all represented wonderfully and most of the worlds and ships they encounter all have the unique, colorful sudo-japanese style that belongs to the franchise. The elements carried over from the original Tenchi Muyo! OVA are all represented in fantastic detail and quality. In fact in an episode around the middle of the show that features the return of the original OVA cast the animation is breathtaking. Clearly they blew a large portion of their budget to make sure they get the ten minutes where the classic characters are on screen correct.vlcsnap-2010-07-29-12h36m12s168

The show is, essentially, a comedy. There are some moments that are funny and there are others that are just insane. Many more, mostly involving the robot NB, are embarrassing. Because of the tone of the show all of the villains completely fail. I never once felt that any of these people were a threat. The arc when former Galaxy Police instructor and bumbling fool Seiryō Tennan became a pirate  captain and vowed to eliminate Seina from the universe felt untrue to what had already been established about the character. But, surprisingly, that arc was the only exciting and suspenseful moments of the series and it also where the series was at its funniest. When the show it trying to be serious, even by a little bit, it fails. vlcsnap-2010-07-29-12h34m10s223

Years after the last Tenchi series ended Tenchi Muyo! GXP emerged and captured the hope of millions of fans. The expectations were held even higher by the fact that Tenchi Muyo! GXP is the only of the many television series that shares it’s canon with the original OVA. However like most of the series that came after the original, Tenchi Muyo! GXP is only a pale shadow of the original. Tenchi Muyo! GXP suffers from a lack of direction. It takes the colorful universe created in the original OVA and fills it with all of the worst elements of the Tenchi franchise without bringing in any of the redeeming qualities. As a fan of Tenchi I’m just going to pretend this tragedy never happened.

Good

  • The original OVA cast appear for one episode!

Bad

  • Poor character design and development
  • Animation and music are terrible
  • Inconsistent characters, tone, and plots
  • Feels like a poor attempt to copy elements from the original Tenchi and place them into a new show.

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