Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tenchi Muyo! GXP Anime Review

Tenchi Muyo! GXP
Funimation
Complete Collection - 8 discs
650 mins. - 26 episodes
$89.98 (2006)
$49.98 (2007) Viridian
$39.98 (2010) Viridian
$29.98 (2012) S.A.V.E.
ISBN 704400076008
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Shinichi Watanabe
Studio - AIC

Synopsis: Seina Yamada's bad luck has legendary status - if it can possibly go wrong then it'll happen to him.  Shunned by the general social populace Seina only has a small number of friends willing to risk bodily injury by being within two feet of him.  One of them is Tenchi Masaki and one day Seina accidentally crashes his bike near Tenchi's house.  Incredibly a spaceship lands and a beautiful girl appears to give him an application to join the Galaxy Police.  He fills out the application and is whisked off to the Galaxy Police cadet academy.
Where can I sign up for the Galaxy Police!?

It soon becomes apparent to his instructors that Seina is unlucky.  He also has a lot of determination and heart.  Making it through the first grueling trials of cadet training Seina goes through body enhancement (where he becomes super-strong and resistant to harm) which comes in handy for someone suffering constant bad luck injuries. 

His first assignment brings him in contact with space pirates led by the beautiful Ryoko (different Ryoko) where he proves his bravery and resourcefulness.  It seems Seina's bad luck makes him a magnet for space pirate attacks and the GP higher ups make him captain of a ship in the 'decoy fleet'. 

Two highly skilled (and very lovely) GP officers, Amane and Kiriko, become his crew on the Kamidake - which is powered by a 'cabbit' named Fuku created by Washu (from Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki).  Now he's armed with a powerful ship and able (hot!) crew, but must fight off all the pirates in the universe and withstand the combined onslaught of an ever-growing legion of jealous women!

Cast of characters:

  • Seina Yamada - the unluckiest (or possibly the luckiest) 15-year-old in the galaxy, despite his luck he possesses a valiant heart and quick wits, accidentally offered enrollment in the Galaxy Police
  • Amane Kaunaq - successful GP officer and former galaxy-renowned super-model, she is the cause of Seina joining the GP, gets demoted to become his instructor and crew member on the Kamidake, her family is incredibly rich, gorgeous blonde who can also kick butt, develops feelings for Seina
  • Kiriko Masaki - native to Earth and big sister to Seina's best friend, secretly a GP officer and protective of Seina, also demoted to serve as his crew member on the Kamidake, develops feelings for him and competes with Amane for his attention
  • Ryoko Balta - lovely pirate captain in the Daluma Guild, impressed with Seina as a foe and develops a major crush on him after his courageous exploits during their battles
  • Neju Na Melmas - two-thousand-year-old priestess of Melmas in a twelve-year-old body, has powerful telepathic or spiritual powers, she plays up her youthful appearance and adopts Seina as a 'big brother' as much as playfully telling the other girls she will marry him one day
  • Fuku - cabbit derived from Ryo-Ohki, created by Washu, power source for Kamidake II, infantile development stage and highly sensitive to stressful situations, comfortable around Seina
  • Seiryo - Seina's nemesis is a fancy-lad
  • Seto Kamiki Jurai - the 'Devil Princess of Jurai' is a high-ranking member of the Jurai royal family, notorious match-maker, politically backs Seina providing his wonderful toys (i.e. Kamidake I and II, crew members Amane and Kiriko), undying control freak
  • Elma - Wau (feline or canine hominid species) scientist who happens to show affection for Seina during his academy training days (despite the species gap), notorious subject of 'furries' doujinshi
  • Seiryo Tennan - Seina's physical education instructor before his body enhancement, thinks Seina is a washout, ends up being his first captain, neon pink hair (seriously?), becomes Seina's nemesis (that's a plot twist), monumentally incompetent
  • NB - helper robot issued to Seina, Amane modifies it for additional surveillance and accidentally turns it into a voyeuristic pervert 'bot
  • Tarant Shank - feared space pirate, member of the Daluma Guild, sadistic and personal enemy of Seina, not a guy you want to cross
Pros: Some tame fan-service, cameo appearances by all of the Tenchi characters, loved the episode where Seina finds/uses the mecha robot, great opening and ending theme songs, the whole 'Unko' thing was hilarious, longer episode count for the series allowed for more explanations of politics/relationships = better than Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, had a decent ending

Amane, Ryoko, and Kiriko - three lovely sharks eyeing Seina
Cons: A plethora of slapstick silliness (which may not be your cup of tea, unless it's your cup of tea), typical harem show with shy nerd protagonist miraculously surrounded by beautiful women, simple animation style, 8 discs - way to milk it Funimation!

Mike Tells It Straight: I loved the first Tenchi Muyo! OVA episodes back in the '90s, but watched the finale for the series (check out my Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki review) and was left scratching my head a little bit. My expectations were pretty low for GXP and I was ready for the worst - meaning a cheap knock-off of the main story.  Boy, was I wrong!  After finishing the series I was surprised to have enjoyed it more than Ryo-Ohki.  
Tenchi and Seina talk harem
The biggest benefit to GXP is the 26-episode length which allows for a better explanation/experience of characters/politics/relationships.  It's a side story to Ryo-Ohki and guest stars the entire core Tenchi cast in a couple episodes.  Seina's journey is different than Tenchi's (they look practically identical, but I guess they're neighbors) and he ends up being a worthy protagonist. 

GXP is still a harem anime and the overall tone is juvenile slapstick, but it ends up being quite endearing.  The ending worked and I wish the same could be said for Ryo-Ohki.  I really enjoyed the last five or so episodes.  You absolutely must have watched the first Tenchi Muyo! OVA before watching this series, but I would say watch GXP first and then Ryo-Ohki.  Seto's character was particularly jarring in the final episodes of Tenchi, but she and several other characters' origins are explained in GXP

Pleasantly surprised by GXP - if you love Tenchi and especially if you were disappointed with some of the myriad offerings (Tenchi in Tokyo, Ryo-Ohki, movies) then you'll dig this series.  I wish Tenchi could have used Seina's ending! 

TO BUY and Recommendations: