Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 12

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We get another “domestic” ATM following the favorable conclusion of another adventure, which is much better than another recap. The Masaki sisters are there to welcome Tenchi as he stands in his genkan, wearing uniforms from his school, having used a Neuralyzer to convince the StuCo to let them man a stand at the upcoming festival.

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Meanwhile, Ryouko, whom we’ve only seen bits of, is busy doing positively awful things in the kitchen, having caught some kind of intergalactic delicacy and seasoning it with mandrake root. The pure ridiculousness of her “avant-garde” gastronomy was enough for a good hearty laugh or two.

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The episodelet ends with a bit of a moral: it’s a sin to waste food, especially when it’s been lovingly prepared. Thus, neither the Masaki sisters or Tenchi can avoid giving Ryouko’s stew of Undagon—native to the planet Kururu in the Andre Galaxy—a taste. Ryouko won’t let them.

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Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 11

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Beni and Hachiko have a go at Gooriki, but it’s too powerful. Before it can land a decisive beam on either girl, Tenchi springs into action with a lightsaber and dispatches the robot. They escape from the warehouse safe and sound.

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Tenchi gets to be a badass again, following up his ability to stop Beni’s blow back at the hallway squabble at school by showing he can take care of something neither Beni nor Hachiko are able to, thus gaining their respect and maybe even admiration after rough introductions. This is a teacher who will put himself on the line protect his students without hesitation.

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I like how Hachiko’s complex is elaborated, in that she only has the will to fight if she’s holding some kind of weapon (preferably wood, it would seem); otherwise she’s a basket case. Beni gives Tenchi a punch to test if he’s really as strong as he looked in the warehouse. What she doesn’t understand is that unlike her and Hachiko, Tenchi doesn’t broadcast his strength, and only uses it when he really needs to.

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Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 10

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Beni wakes up, and after trading barbs with Hachiko, the two follow Tenchi’s advice to work together to escape the warehouse. When Beni runs ahead and smashes boxes, she rouses Gooriki, the malfunctioning school even support robot. When Hachiko moves to fight it, it snatches away her wooden sword.

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Somewhat surprisingly, we don’t jump to a totally different time and situation, but remain in the warehouse with Tenchi, Hachiko, and Beni (the other two science club members, who knows). And on the list of absurd new challenges the trio will face, I have to say I wasn’t expecting a school robot gone haywire! Nice WTF factor in play.

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I was even more surprised how ineffectual the supposed muscle of the school is when faced with a real threat: Beni gets tossed like an animal-print ragdoll, while Hachiko loses the will to fight and simply collapses and sobs away when her bokken is taken, suggesting it has power similar to a security blanket. Looks like it will be up to Tenchi to get them out of this mess!

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Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 09

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Hachiko leads Tenchi through the massive, labyrinthine supply warehouse for the needed materials. Without a “Book of Guidance”, Yuki, Aoi and Beni get lost and a huge rolling boulder comes after them. The same boulder threatens Hachiko and Tenchi, and while narrowly escaping the boulder, loses the book.

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ATM is a show that doesn’t waste time and fully embraces its own irrationality. It’s full of stuff that makes no sense: why does the school have such a huge, End-of-Indiana Jones-like warehouse? And as Tenchi protests, what the heck kind of sporting event necessitates an Indiana Jones-like runaway boulder?

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Those seeking answers to the “what” and “why” will find none during these few minutes per episodelet; the “what” is merely “it” or “that”, and the “why” is simply…because. Or in the case of why Hachiko recites an incantation, because its more dramatic. And in a show that’s over almost as soon as it begins, it’s okay not to overthink things.

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Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 08

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Kurihara’s mocking of Tenchi’s phallic heirloom charm is interrupted by another battle between StuCo and the Science Club, over the latter’s demands and former’s refusal of more materials. Tenchi and Kurihara break up the fight. When Hachiko is sent to the warehouse to retrieve some materials for the Drama Club, Tenchi tags along to help.

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All of a sudden we’re back at school in the “present”, and get another dose of the continual squabbling between Fuka Yuki’s Science Club and the StuCo, of which Momo is technically President, but which is actually run by everyone else. There is much rancor and discussion about these precious “materials”, but the episode refuses to elaborate on what exactly they are, which is fine. If they don’t care, why should I? All that matters is the StuCo has ’em and Yuki can’t have ’em.

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Another neat moment was that Tenchi was able to easily stop the blow of Kinojou Beni, who we know is one of the heavies, along with Hachiko, among the students. His charm also seems to have some kind of power, and a “Miss Junai” Contest is imminent. But what awaits Tenchi and Hachiko in that sketchy warehouse? I can’t very well not keep watching to find out, now can I?

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Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 07

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Aboard a spaceship in orbit encounters a large-scale gravitational anomaly, it its pilot, Kinojou Beni, launches an escape pod with a young Momo aboard. Back in the past, Tenchi and young Momo are about to knock on a door when they’re spotted by Touri, Hana, and Hachiko, who are looking for a demon.

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They find one in Space Pirate Hakubi Ryouko, whom Tenchi knows, but who doesn’t know him. Ryouko and Hachiko fight, then Ryouko attacks Tenchi, but Momo blasts her back with an unknown protective power. The fight is broken up by the arrival of a Galaxy Police mecha piloted by Kuramitsu Mihoshi, announcing Ryouko is under arrest.

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Whew! That was a mouthful, and a whole crap-load of plot in four short minutes, spanning a whole host of genres. I like how the same characters appear in different times in different garb but more or less the same personalities and roles. I also like how pieces of the great puzzle that started in the beginning are gradually falling into place one by one.

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Like Washuu, Ryouko and Mihoshi are long-standing characters of the franchise, but even if they’re as new to me as the new characters, they add color, flair, and a little more welcome chaos to the proceedings. ATM! is proving an increasingly eclectic and oddly engaging little show. You can’t help but want to see what happens (or who shows up) next.

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Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 02

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Momo, the student council president, shows Tenchi around the school, but her many admirers follow close behind. Concerned for Momo’s safety, they lock him in the student council room and commence torturing him.

After this second episodelet, I’m a lot less confused about what the score is: Tenchi is obviously a kind of magnet for girls for whatever reason, and they gang up on him here to do unspeakable (and unshowable) things to him.

That last part seems counterproductive at first, but it’s actually kinda clever: because we can’t see exactly what they do to him, it’s left up to your own depraved (or undepraved) imagination. In that regard, Ai Tenchi Muyo! asks for viewer participation in crafting Tenchi’s story.

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