Aya HisakawapiratesSakiko TamagawaTenchi Muyo
Tenchi Muyo GXP
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2002
Director: Shinichi Watanabe
Writer: Yousuke Kuroda
Actor: Shigeru Mogi, Aya Hisakawa, Kumi Sakuma, Mariko Suzuki, Mitsuaki Madono, Nana Mizuki, Niina Kumagaya, Sakiko Tamagawa, Shinichi Watanabe, Tomoko Kaneda, Toshihiko Nakajima, Yukari Nozawa, Yuki Matsuda
Keywords: anime, SF, harem, comedy, rubbish, pirates
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 26 episodes
Series: << Tenchi Muyo >>
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=312
Website category: Anime early 00s
Review date: 22 September 2008
The best I can say about Tedious Morons GXP is that I didn't hate it immediately. Let me quote from my notes:
Episode 1: "Shameless. But also quite funny."
Episode 8: "I'm losing patience with this series."
Episode 11: "IT'S SO WORTHLESS! It manages to wring one slightly real moment from this week's stupidity, but even so it's still annoying and juvenile."
Note that this isn't even the halfway point. 26 episodes, remember? My opinion of the show didn't get any better, to the point where it surprises me to look back and find that it took me so many episodes to lose my rag. This is going to be a fairly savage review, but it's not just fanboy overreaction. This is the worst thing of any kind I've reviewed this year, with the possible exception of Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Yes, I am indeed saying it's worse than Warriors of the Deep, not to mention every single episode of Doctor Who ever made. Do not watch, even out of morbid curiosity.
If you're a hopeless Tenchu Muyo completist, check out the first few episodes, the conclusion and episode 17. That last one is the crossover with Tenchi, Ryoko, Ayeka and the rest of the gang. This is a spin-off, you see. It doesn't star the Tenchi family, but a classmate of Tenchi's called Seina Yamada who's forced by his family to join the Galaxy Police. It's a sequel to the OVAs, despite appearing before the third OVA series had finished, and it borrows some minor characters from that branch of the continuity for its regular cast. However even the people we haven't met before feel awfully familiar. It's telling the same jokes. It shares the same setting. Basically it's a cut-and-paste of Tenchi Muyo but with a different cast, presumably on the assumption that by that point they'd mined the main franchise to death.
Since I love the original, why is this so terrible? Answer: the cast.
The structural problem involves Seina, who's useless even by the standards of harem anime. It's not that he's merely bland and faceless. No, he's stranger than that. If most anime heroes are merely an unpleasant social disease, Seina Yamada is like some genetically engineered superbug engineered in a mad scientist's laboratory to destroy the world. Most harem shows revolve around a well-meaning null, designed to reassure the audience that entire armies of girls will fall hopelessly in love with any man who has no personality and no social life, or indeed in extreme cases actually runs away in fear at their approach. Japan is facing the world's greatest demographic time bomb, you know.
Seina checks all the obvious boxes. He's a sopping wet nonentity and yet irresistible to the terrifyingly-breasted female cast, to the extent that they start fighting over him. He's nice, of course. You'll like him, which is an improvement on his psychotically hormone-crazed co-stars. The women think with their groins. The men think with their groins. Hell, there's even a perverted robot. It's hard not to lose patience with all these sex-crazed morons, whose one-track minds are so blatant that it even ruins the fanservice. The naked girls in the title sequence annoyed me. Yes, you read that right. They're done in a skin-crawling way that'll make you beg for some nice wholesome porn. The show's full of "adult" (i.e. tediously juvenile) situations that don't go all the way and lots of desperately cartoonish gags.
That's not the worst bit. That's nothing out of the ordinary. What's truly mind-boggling is the characterisation of Seina, which revolves around his luck. Seina is unlucky. Wherever he goes, terrible things happen to him. This is actually hilarious in the first episode, which takes it to unrepeatable extremes and suggests that Seina must have pissed off the gods or something. In Tenchi Muyo, that's possible. However the long-term consequences are to nullify him as a character. His defining characteristic is passivity. He doesn't win through his own actions. It's all luck. Seina is a nice guy who endures bad things happening to him and doesn't complain. You might as well have a 26-episode series about the adventures of a bottle of water. And as for that "bad luck"... working in a wet dream fantasy environment with beautiful space-women throwing themselves at him for no reason, while nanomachines turn him into a superman who'll live for centuries and save the galaxy? Yeah, I should be so unlucky.
The relationships of the Tenchi family I can believe in. They're obviously ridiculous, but they work. Tenchi himself is one of the prototypes for the nice harem hero, but he's also capable of laying down the law to the others and being a bastard when he wants to be. You respect him. He's almost a father figure, which might be disturbing if you see Sasami as the family's surrogate mother. However this lot I couldn't believe in for a moment. Sex maniacs throwing themselves again and again at a man-shaped thing so passive that it's his defining trait.
This would have killed the show even if everything else were up to snuff. It isn't. It's stupid in other ways too. Occasionally the story actively attacks your suspension of disbelief, with a sequence of gags in episode eighteen so unbelievable that I couldn't believe in the show's fictional reality. These included parodies. Shockingly this is a series so poor that parodies actually raise the interest level, despite being the usual gag-free visual quotes with no attempt at humour beyond mere "point and look" familiarity. The plot is dire, with lame villains and a universe in which pirates and police appear to be practically the same job, with career fluidity allowing you to move from one to the other in either direction. This could have been interesting if they'd handled it better, although in fairness it is a plot point. The most notable thing about the Shank pirate guild is that they were previously villains in the softcore porn series Spaceship Agga Ruter.
It also takes us nine whole episodes to get past Seina's interminable bloody GXP training. Oh, and Amane's deep emotional dilemma in episode 19 is about whether to go back to her former life as a top model. Gee, the super-rich have it tough.
There are things I like. I was grateful for the little girl who turns up halfway through and is too young to be busty and throw herself at Seina. It's also a good-looking show, with CGI that they've treated to look hand-drawn and so works well. I liked the spaceships. I also enjoyed the crossover episode 17, which had me laughing just at the sound of the real Ryoko's voice. Finally it's only fair to note that the finale is so extreme that it stops being pandering nonsense and becomes surprising. For once the adult situations become funny. This level is probably where the show should have been from the beginning, although I'm mostly talking about the last few minutes here.
The subtitles on the official R1 DVDs are annoying. They're obviously taken from the English dub script, which is livelier and frankly better than a literal translation would have been but bear almost no relationship to what the characters are actually saying in Japanese. That was distracting. Oh, and remember the insane complexity of Tenchi's family tree in the OVAs? They actually draw it out as a chart. I didn't pause the DVD to see if everyone was on there, but it's telling that they had to do that in the first place.
The pink-haired twat is basically Wile E. Coyote, which can be amusing. However his gags are the cheapest of the cheap.
As far as the show's creators are concerned, I'm sure the biggest difference between this and the parent franchise is that there's one particular girl who Seina's sweet on. This makes the show predictable in that you know from the start he'll end up with her. However this is in the context of a series more obsessed with tits and arse than we ever saw in the real Tenchi Muyo. Lots of nudity, no nipples. Oh, drop dead. The results are pervy and puerile. I can't even tell whether GXP wants to be serious or a spoof, although it hardly matters since on both counts it's a failure. The director was Shinichi Watanabe, who also did Excel Saga. I still haven't seen that. Not sure I will now.
Wow, I hated GXP. In its favour, it's well animated and always full of energy. It's only the script that's flat, not the execution. Unfortunately I can't stand the cast, with Seina being useless even by harem standards and the women looking like idiots for fawning over him. This is the kind of thing that gives harem anime a bad name. DO NOT WATCH THIS SHOW.