The Tenchi Muyo: War on Geminar series is an OVA production which aired 13 episodes on the Animax Pay Per View network before release on Blu-ray and DVD in Japan. The series is a spin-off production based in part on the original series from creator Masaki Kajishima. The War on Geminar saga occurs around 15 years following the events of Tenchi Muyo: GXP.
The plotline revolves around the character Kenshi Masaki, a half-brother to Tenchi, who is brought to the Geminar world and is thus involved in the battle of Geminar, utilizing the giant robots known as Sacred Mechanoids. These special fighting robots are utilized to fight against the mysterious entity causing conflict on the planet.
On the Holy Land, Kenshi is able to join in with attending the Academy and working with the other pilots to fight for Geminar’s survival. Over time, everything complicates as the dangers become more real and the journeys more intense. And before long, many of the girls of the Academy become interested in the young Kenshi. He even becomes the envy of his fellow male pilots.
The animation is one of the high points of the entire series. It’s a lushly created environmental world of detailed landscapes and surroundings; it is remarkable and a clear example of high production values being utilized in a generally effective way – character designs, however, seemed to be a bit bland and aren’t as standout or as impressive when compared to the other Tenchi anime, but the actual craft of the art with regards to the technological factor demonstrates that this is a television program with a number of talented artists involved in it’s creation at every corner of the production stages.
One of the disappointing things about watching an anime series like this one is that you can see that the production values and work of the artists involved in creating the series are so top-notch, impressive, and demonstrative of valuable work involved in the series creation that it puts a bit of a damper on everything when you realize the actual story and end result of the series doesn’t feel up to the task; disappointing audiences with poor storytelling craft.
The production artists have been trying a great deal to make the show as compelling as possible in terms of the craft. However, the artistry in the production field is fine in all areas, except within the areas that in fact make the biggest and most important contributions to the quality of the show: the writing and series direction. It is in these two areas that the show falters and significantly disappoints as a new Tenchi saga series.
The characters all feel flat, one-dimensional, and are essentially uninspired. The plotlines are plucked from other anime creations with a generic rehashing of standard anime conventions in the realm of a mecha series plot and the repetitive, uninspired element where most of the female characters fall for the Tenchi rehash, Kenshi. These elements don’t even come close to grasping why audiences actually enjoyed the original Tenchi incarnations, which succeed primarily based upon the success of creating memorable, entertaining, and likeable characters.
With Tenchi Muyo: War on Geminar, most of the episodes exist only to try and add comedic flourishes, but these moments tend to falter as the characters aren’t developed well enough to keep things going at an interesting pace for the audience to feel any huge level of interest. The repetitiveness found in series such as this one is abundant, combining a lot of over-the-top comedy with overly-ambitious, philosophical tones that tend to diminish the quality of writing with the implementation of mostly incomprehensible gibberish that is essentially just there to make the anime seem more intelligent, complex in its own terminology, and unique, but which ultimately only makes the series feel less interesting, engaging, and intelligent as a whole.
The directing isn’t too impressive. The series lacks good pacing and it seems to move along at so small a pace that it just doesn’t make the series that intriguing. The show also suffers somewhat from the long forty-minute plus run-time that each episode has, and I can’t quite make sense of why any producers thought the hour-long formatting made more sense for this production. It would have worked better with short half-hour episodes, as the complexities (or lack thereof) in the writing were not enough to really expand beyond the 30-minute standard set out by other Tenchi incarnations and most anime productions in general.
Making it an hour-long anime series seemed to even suggest that the show was meant to extend itself into more ambitious realms of creativity in craft, but unfortunately the anime really is incapable of delivering on those ambitious hopes as each episode is filled to the brim with entirely unneeded exposition trying to explain the sci-fi anime world created, and doing so poorly and repeatedly.
This series has almost no relation whatsoever to other Tenchi series. You’d think that the series would contain more references, character cameos, and moments that connect it to other Tenchi creations. It would have been neat to see the show attempt to bridge more of a connection to what was the sagas preceding it and which caused the creation of this show in the first place.
However, War on Geminar doesn’t seem to be trying to make much of uniting various Tenchi elements. Instead, the only big connection (if you can even call it such) is that the saga takes place on Geminar, a place that is little seen or talked about on the original OVA series, and which is irrelevant to the main ambitions as held by the original series. It’s a thin connection that mostly seems to mean nothing in connecting this Tenchi series to the other ones. This might as well be a standalone series without a connection at all. Almost everything would still be the same with this one.
Tenchi fans will undoubtedly have piqued interest in seeing this new series creation based upon the title of the show containing those undeniably promising words: “Tenchi Muyo”. Unfortunately, fans won’t be that thrilled with the end result and would enjoy re-watching classic Tenchi much more than partaking in this entry in the first place.
This series feels like the kind of dumbed-down and poorly rehashed creations Tenchi spawned in the years which followed it’s original run: the kind of anime series that were produced with the hope of rekindling some of the magic the fan-favorite series managed to muster up. Alas, this just isn’t that original. It feels mostly like a missed opportunity, one which misfired badly, and that won’t please longtime fans of Tenchi Muyo who followed the previous incarnations.
Tenchi Muyo: War on Geminar is presented in it’s original television broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. The animation is beautiful and is generally well reproduced on this release and the PQ is clean with only some softness inherent in the animation style to detract from the otherwise worthy presentation. Colors are vibrant but detail and softness does detract from the overall PQ.
The Dolby TrueHD surround sound audio is available in both English and Japanese with English subtitles. I preferred the Japanese language version of the show, and thought the dub was better in the original language. Dialogue is easy to understand. The series has adequate clarity, depth, and aural dynamics.
Set 1 includes the following extras (all of which are presented in Standard Definition, except for the clean opening and ending songs):
Making the Closing Theme “Destino” by Alchemy+ (4 min.) is a brief making of where the members of the band talk about the creation of the opening theme song.
Digest in Commemoration of Sales Release (Ep. 1-2, 9 min.) is a Japanese clip-show promotional video.
Stills of Recording the Music for Tenchi Muyo: War on Geminar (1 min.) is just a couple of stills showing the conducting of the score set to music from the show.
Information and Sneak Peek of the PPV Program (3 min.) showcases brief sneak previews for the first six episodes of the series.
Teaser Trailers (3 min.) is two more Japanese trailers for the series.
Textless opening/closing themes.
FUNimation trailers for other releases.
And, lastly, the Limited Edition version of the set includes a collector art-box and a booklet featuring artwork from the series.
Collection 1 contains only up to episode 7 of the brief 13 episode series. The set is packaged in an impressive collector’s box that can house both the first and second set collections together.
Tenchi Muyo: War on Geminar isn’t as well-made a series as fans of the Tenchi sagas would want for it to be. The quality of the writing and directing is usually sub-par and will underwhelm viewers who are hoping to find quality characters or plotlines.
Technically speaking, the Blu-ray PQ/AQ is impressive and the animation looks stunningly presented. However, most Tenchi fans will probably want to rent this before making a purchasing decision, and everyone else can take a pass on it.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.