Tenchi disappears in the forest near his house. Six months later, Ayeka and Ryoko locate Tenchi living in a city, but with a mysterious woman. What's more, Tenchi appears to have aged several years. Whenever Ayeka and Ryoko catch up to him, he disappears into thin air, apparently existing in a fabricated alternate dimension where he has no knowledge of his past. An attempt to rescue Tenchi from the mysterious woman is mounted by Ayeka, Ryoko, Washu and the others.
Directed by: Hiroshi Negishi
. Starring: Masami Kikuchi
, Ai Orikasa
, Yuri Amano
, Takeshi Aono
, Petrea Burchard
, Richard Cansino
, Jennifer Darling
, Debi Derryberry
, Rebecca Forstadt
, Kikuko Inoue
, Yûko Kobayashi
, Takehiro Koyama
, Etsuko Kozakura
. Music by: Tsuneyoshi Saito
And I'll stand by that to the death. For not only does it result in the culmination of several years of character development (Universe continuity), it ends this continuity in the most fascinating way possible. This movie works on so many levels that I find it virtually impossible to see anyone who cares in the least about these characters not being moved by this movie.
To some people, this wont be flawless. Many might bicker over the absence of their favourite characters and how they are reduced to cameos (Kiyone, Mihoshi, Ryo Ohki, and Noboyuki are completely overlooked - and arguably wasted - in their "roles"), but for me Tenchi Forever succeeds by using it's cast appropriately. It doesn't pull out any contrived sub-plots to keep the other characters have equal screen-time - instead, it focuses on the central cast, keeping the background characters around but never overshadowing the main cast. This time, not only are we given a fascinating insight into NoboyukiYosho, we finally have the culmination of the RyokoAyekaTenchi triangle which has been such a highlight of the series. Ryoko and Ayeka are portrayed so beautifully and endearingly here that it is impossible not to pity them - when Ayeka breaks down in a toilet halfway through the movie, it's quite possibly the most moving moment in all of Tenchi's long history. The chemistry between the two not only demonstrates their subtle, underlying love for each other as friends, but also their mutual respect and understanding - their need to comfort each other during such a crisis. This is such a moving portrayal that it is impossible to fault. Tenchi is wonderfully portrayed in his most interesting predicament yet - for the first time, he is no longer the flawless hero of the OVA, but a deeply flawed individual who loves Haruna but is frustrated to the point of snapping and almost mentally breaking down.
And unusually, considering Sakuya's detestable appearance in Tenchi in Tokyo, the new character of Haruna is a beautifully written, sympathetic girl who has collapsed to the brink of her sanity and is clinging to her last hope of happiness - despite knowing she will ultimately die because of it. Not only is her character strongly written, she meshes brilliantly with the existing cast, and instead of hating her for her abuse of the characters, she comes across as a truly sympathetic individual and it is hard not to feel moved by her desperation.
The sex scenes were a concern for me - but in actuality they serve the characters immensely, being tender and emotional. The characters of Tenchi and Haruna are beautifully portrayed in these scenes, and Haruna's need for Tenchi is portrayed all the more convincingly. The slow build of these moments is one of the film's strongest areas, and the chemistry between Tenchi and Haruna is flawlessly revealed.
In a word, this movie is beautiful. There may be insignificant flaws - the animation is in the jarring Tenchi in Tokyo style, which is somewhat less fulfilling to the traditional style, and the pacing is occasionally awkward - characters can disappear for long stretches, with tender scenes involving slow build of emotion being followed without any change in tone by a jarringly light scene, but this is all irrelevant. These flaws should be overlooked, because they in no way affect the emotional impact of the finished production, which is as close to perfection as I can conceive Tenchi ever being with it's multi-genre structure. Unbelievably for the continuity often regarded as the least emotional, it blows the OVA right out of the water, and never even attempts action or spaceship sequences - instead, it only focuses on the core cast members. Fans who only like the series for those sci-fi and comedy moments will be deeply disappointed, but for those of us fortunate enough to have fallen in love with these characters, this movie is quite possibly the best thing we will ever see, and for us, it is the strongest representation Tenchi has ever had. It's majestic, beautiful, and the best experience in anime I have ever had.
This wont satisfy everyone, but it will satisfy the people who care and love the characters. For them, this movie will be perfect. To me, this is without question the perfect ending for Tenchi Universe.
Review by Gav_tH from the Internet Movie Database.