I'll start by saying once again thank you to our translations team. I still haven't experienced it first-hand, but folks lemme tell ya, even from the sidelines I can tell it is a LOT of work: day in, day out, our boys kept at it, all while fitting in a convention, podcasts, regular forum activities and oh yeah real life on top of all that! It's something to be very proud of, and I'm proud for Nil, Crazed, Dagon, and Titan, and that much more proud of Tenchiforum as a whole for yet another major undertaking accomplished for the good of the fandom.
I was apprehensive at first. New character designs, let alone new characters themselves, along with an unorthodox format were enough to make any Tenchi fan jittery ("this will be garbage" at worst, "well, here's to hoping" at best). But with Negishi behind the wheel of this rig, I put my faith in an auteur who has proven himself numerous times with the franchise, buckled in, and sat back for the ride.
And a ride it was! As in, it was...oh, what's that word??? I can't quite remember, it's hard to pinpoint, since we're describing a new Tenchi series...oh yes, FUN! Remember that thing? Fun? I had to dust that word off and pull it off the back shelf, but there she is, plain and simple.
Since this was Negishi running the show, and this was a Tenchi series after Tenchi fandom, as it were, Ai knew the risks, what to tackle head-on versus what to dance around, and in the end proved it could run the gauntlet and prod every corner of the fanbase with impunity, because at all times it came from a place of mutuality with the fans; everything potentially taboo was broached in a facetious way, because as this series has definitively proven (I invoke bachelor's of film studies, auteur theory!), it was made by fans: it was produced, performed, and directed by people who know and love the subject matter.
On the note of one of the aforementioned risks, the new characters were introduced as seamlessly as possible considering it's Tenchi we're dealing with (whether it be Sakuya, Mayuka, or Noike, we all know the formula for fans: new girl = attack mode). The new girls weren't propped up. They weren't shoved down our throats. We didn't get our face pushed into it while being ordered "EAT THIS!" There was buildup (remember that, people?); though the episode (or rather, as Negishi suggests, "scene") length was short (as in hindsight the screen time for this entire series was short), we had time to get acquainted with every new character, learn what they were about, their relationship to one another, and eventually their relationship to Tenchi and the classic cast. (Do I want more? Yes! Could there be more? YES! Feeling that way after a series/novel/whatever is a GOOD THING, my friends! It means you cared about the characters because you were invested, as opposed to having large, irrelevent info dumps thrown into your lap.)
It took me years to warm up to Sakuya; still not "warmed up" to Mayuka, and I doubt I ever will with Noike. Amazingly, with screen time comparable to that of a feature-length film, Ai managed to endear an entire cast to me, a somewhat jaded, old-time fanboy. The trio of Hana, Hachiko and Touri were bemusing and surprisingly endearing; Beni's tough-gal personality with a soft side attracted me almost as strongly as did one Ryoko to my fourteen-year-younger self; Yuki and Rui (and Kumo-kun!)...forget about it, they're to-die-for funny; and Momo, the one out of all of them most susceptible to being a Mary Sue if ever there was one, was not only redeemed at several key junctions provided by the writing, but also redeemed herself through revealing and subsequently overcoming her own insecurities.
Looking at the larger picture, it's fantastic to think what Ai can do for Tenchi: revitalization for the old (present), introduction for the new (contemporary anime viewers), and if it garners enough interest and capital, possibilities for new projects down the road (including Kajishima's, potentially). But whether there's supplementary material or not, seeing the cast again, especially ending with shots taken right out of the conclusion of Universe, was more than I could have asked for from an advertisement series for Takahashi.
A wonderful opportunity for the franchise, and a nostalgic feels-ride for an old fan like me, albeit with a "new anime" veneer.
Borrowing the adage of a great film critic, in my book Ai Tenchi Muyo! is "art masquerading as popular culture."
Now more opinon is somewhat of a mixed bag that constantly changes on the daily but what I know for certain is that overall I really liked Ai Tenchi as a whole.(more thoughts later maybe) What I was the most urked about what was the new girl's and there being so many of them just made me at first and my opinion of them changed and jumbled around just about ever new episode but I really liked just about all of them surprisingly. I really hope we see more and maybe a full length show (i would like more detail and a slightly slower paced) but for a 4 min episode a day show... damn it did REALLY good.
The show itself...overall, I'd say I enjoyed the show. It took a bit of getting used to for sure. When nearly the first thing that happens is a panty gag, it kind of makes you worried. I'd say by the time we first saw Ayeka and Ryoko again was when I really started getting warmed up to the show. The new girls took a bit more to get used to, but that full week of Indiana Jones action really got me to like them all. Honestly, by the end the only girl I didn't really care about was Touri. It seemed to me that she had the least amount of depth to her character, All she really did was spout statistics and lust after Sasami...which was weird. My favorite of the new girls was Hachiko. Again, due to the running length we never really go to know the depths of her character, but she was very amusing and was great to see on screen.
My biggest issue with the show was hands down the lack of depth that the characters showed. We do not know what makes them tick. I chalk this up to the short running time and the lack of exposure for the characters. I can forgive it and hope that the novel adds a bit more to each character besides a personality trait. I also had an issue with the Feudal Ryoko subplot which never got aswered. I hope the novel addresses it, since I'm not sure what it meant. Still, it was worth it to see her old look and to have Mihoshi come and fight her.
Oh, don't get me started on that asanine filler that was the school fair. Sumo butt bumping...what the hell
If I had to pick my top 5 favorite moments, they would be this:
5) The end of the fair with Sasami cooking and all of the characters coming together. I felt it was a nice mixing of old and new.
4) The first episode with the old girls, just because we all missed em!
3) Mihoshi capturing Washu. God, that was such a great moment. I know Mihoshi betrayed the group, but still, that was fantastic.
2) The Indiana Jones episodes, for being a legitimately great run of consecutive episodes that told a great story.
1) Yakuza Ryoko. That swagger...that design...awesome.
I do have to give an honorable mention to the final episode, for just being so damn Tenchi. Ryoko sitting on the shrine, Mihoshi in plain clothes, Sasami cooking, Ryo-Ohki...what a great finale.
I'm going to miss this show and I hope that there is some kind of continuation in the future. This was a great little ride while it lasted. Thank you again Nil, Crazed, Dagon, and Titan. You all brought joy to our Fall.
In one of the Feudal Japan's episodes, Momo had used a power very familiar to the Lighthawk Wings. Momo was from the planer Jurai. She was supposed to play a major part in the history of the Masaki family. When Momo was sent to the present by mistake, the paradox was created. Tenchi was not fully aware of Momo's contributions because she was sent to the present. When Momo was sent by to the past with Tenchi's help, the timeline was restored.
I believed that Momo was one of Tenchi's ancestors. The Masaki Family had already existed in Japan before Momo's arrival on Earth. The first members of the Masaki Family were colonists from Jurai. The colonists were able to maintain contact with Jurai.
If AIC wants to do a longer version of the series, they will have to focus on the flaws of the series. They need to make sure that Katsuhito plays a vital role in the series. While his role will limited, Katsuhito can still inform Tenchi of how Momo is connected with the history of the Masaki Family.
The series did start out in the same way which Ryo-Ohki and Universe had started. The series became very series in one of the later episodes like Ryo-Ohki and Universe.