The higher-pitched flute during the title card announced that this would be the first “period” episode of ATM! since the 13th, but it decided to go back even farther than that to show us the connection between Momo and Beni. Beni, AKA Kurenai, was appointed the guardian of a baby Momo and the Jurai Royal Family gave her a spaceship, which she proceeded to crash land on Earth.
Tenchi, it would seem, hasn’t been as clueless as we thought, and once his mission of finding both Momo and Beni is complete, he hits the Reset Button on his smartphone (God, I love it when literal reset buttons pop up in shows!). An error occurs (he probably forgot to update the OS), everything goes dark, and a tear in the sky appears, sucking Tenchi and Momo in.
You gettin’ all this? Good. I guess the show will pick this back up in episode 41.
For some reason, Tenchi’s duties as Dorm Supervisor include cleaning the girls’ bath dangerously close to bath time. Why can the girls keep their own bath clean? Like Lost, Ai Tenchi Muyo! isn’t interested in answering questions, only posing new ones, like ‘Why doesn’t Tenchi simply stay out in the open and explain his innocent presence there?’
How about ‘Why is Hana massaging Momo’s boobs when Momo’s boobs aren’t really that small at all?’ It’s not all that surprising the innocent Momo isn’t upset to find Tenchi in there at all, but it is rather odd that the other three student council members don’t notice the fully-clothed guy lurking behind her, especially when he and Momo talk. It’s as if just because those characters are out of that particular shot, they cannot see or hear anything going on three feet away from them!
Anyway, enough with cataloging the illogic; somehow, Momo gets Tenchi out of there without him being detected (or drowning). And while he’s in there, Tenchi gains another piece of the school’s puzzle: the student council and science clubs are locked in a struggle for some kind of “treasure”, treasure he may or may not also be looking for. This may be another case of being in the dark because this is my first exposure to the franchise and I have no idea what Tenchi is really up to, but unlike Hatoko, I’m content to stay in the dark and see what happens.
Tenchi has come to a dangerous place, fenced in by barbed wire and covered in “No Trespassing” and “No Boys” signs. Tenchi may be a boy, but he’s also the dorm supervisor, and as such, he must brave the dorm, no matter what horrors await him.
Momo shows him around, and everything is pretty docile, and then they cross paths with Hana and Beni taking full advantage of the lack of a dress code (not that they follow it that closely at school!). Hana seems to be trying to impress Tenchi, while Beni has a perfectly reasonable explanation for her near-nudity: she’s going to take a bath. Thus, Tenchi’s demands that they put clothes on fall on deaf ears.
A less showy plot is also afoot: perhaps in an effort to blackmail/seduce Tenchi to their side, Yuki uses poor, shapely, innocent Rui for nefarious purposes, telling her to accidentally fall off a ladder and into Tenchi’s arms. When a real spider descends in her face, she loses it, clutching Tenchi so close to her chest he passes out. Yup; definitely a dangerous place. For him. For the girls, it’s just home.
ATM! plunges us straight into the first sports festival event, an obstacle course between Hachiko and Yuki that quickly spirals into an extremely free-wheeling affair, what with the use of Hachiko’s bokken and Yuki’s Gouriki-kun.
There’s order within the chaos, though, as each character acts according to their strengths – and weaknesses. When Gouriki snatches Hachiko’s sword, she reverts to a scared little girl…but Momo, ever the cheerful, inspiring leader, is able to get Hachiko to carry on long enough to recover her sword – and her normal personality.
Thanks to Touri’s hacking of Gouriki, Hachiko is able to defeat Gouriki and win the race, while Yuki can only slap her cheeks in disbelief and outrage at her defeat. 50 points to the White Team. On to the next event!
It’s Bloomertime…which is to say, Touri doesn’t have much changing to do! Although, one would hope she has different bloomers for athletic exertion. While the gym uniform seems to homogenize the students, there are still those who’ll hike their shirts up, like Hana and Rui. Momo is her usual cheerful self, and insists whatever happens, everyone is to have fun; that’s an order,teehee!
In the teachers lounge, seemingly the only two teachers in the school go over the game plan, but which I mean Kurihara puts Tenchi in armor for his “referee” job, warning him that the sporting events of the imminent festival are based on “local traditions.” It occurs to me that the environs of the school aren’t that different from the environs of the “flashback episodes” in which Momo is just a kid. Also, Kurihara is basically Queen Beryl, if Beryl taught at an all-girls’ school. Which is kinda funny.
Ultimately, though, not much happens, as this segment brings us right up to the start of the festival without getting into any of the events. The students are assembled like soldiers, and Kurihara announces that extra club materials, funds, and using Tenchi as a servant-for-a-day are all on the line. Tenchi is hearing that last bit for the first time. What abuse is he in for this time?
The culture fest and beauty pageant are over, and Tenchi believes his cross-dressing days are as well, but an ardent Saryuu Hana isn’t satisfied. She visits his house to drop off a very well-drawn yuri doujinshi involving herself and “Tenchi-onee-sama.” She also wants Tenchi to cross dress again for the upcoming sports festival, leading to visions of Tenchi in a midriff-baring cheerleader outfit.
Ryouko and the Jurai sisters can’t help but hear his conversation with Hana, and decide they’ll work hard to make him a sensation. They also sneak a peek at the doujinshi (well, the two older ones do) and are both shocked and a little turned on. The book itself glows with Hana’s love (or lust), both closed and open.
About that sports festival: both the StuCo and Science Club are vigorously preparing, as is Kurihara-sensei, who dons her “carnivorematrix” garb to whip Tenchi dummies to shards, remarking “this farce is over.” I guess whatever plan she has for Tenchi is going to the next level.
Some anime go on for a whole full-length episode with their beauty contests, but ATM! gets it done in three minutes flat, thanks to brisk pacing, an efficient contest format, and quick-witted commentary by the duo of Hana and Touri. It’s also an excuse to dress up the characters in ways that accentuate their individual strengths, from Momo’s cuteness to Kurihara-sensei’s…carnivorousness.
The scoring is all over the place, and there’s definitely bias against the science club, and Kurihara is the contestant to beat, but Tenchi blows everyone out of the water with his ridiculously-convincing raven-haired beauty drag, a look Kurihara incidentally helped him with, perhaps in hopes he would defeat even her.
Naturally, Tenchi wins. The Jurai sisters now know that his supervisor is someone to look out for, while Hana seems to have now taken a more specific liking to Tenchi. With the Miss Contest over, the next episodelet could be about literally anything.
As the festival continues, Tenchi continues to find himself the center of attention, as if it’s all been planned or something… >_> … <_< …First, Gooriki makes a return, though this time he’s tame enough to hold an egg without breaking it (cue Victory Fanfare!) Tenchi is initially spooked, and instinctively holds Momo tight once again. What is going on with him?
When Beni spots Tenchi, she allows him to cut in (the ridiculously long) line to arm-wrestle with her, no doubt remembering when he stopped her blow like it wasn’t no thang. Frankly, I would have loved to see him beat her, but Ryouko doesn’t allow it, and she wrestles with Beni instead. They nearly rends the earth asunder, but end up in a draw.
Ryouko tossed Tenchi aside, and he landed in Gooriki’s eggs. Gooriki then threw Tenchi even further aside, and he lands in a coffin, which turns out to be on the trap door of a stage where Hachiko is performing as the prince. The script says she’s to kiss the person in the coffin, and her fellow actors egg her on to do so, though she refrains from doing so in this episode. Lots of simple but neat little cause-and-effects and callbacks going on this time.
The school festival arrives. Ayeka and Sasami run a cafe, and when Hana and Rui can’t pay their bill, a yakuza-looking Ryouko is brought in to “hear their complaints.” Washuu shoves Momo into Tenchi, earning Tenchi a rough warning from Kurihara. Ryouko is enraged when she spots Tenchi conversing with Momo.
…Aaand we’re back to the “present”, when Tenchi is a teacher, on the school’s big festival day. It’s a good venue to check in on just about everyone in this timeline, as well as show us that Tenchi’s not only gained the trust of his students, but for some of them, their affections as well.
So why exactly does Washuu shove Momo into Tenchi’s chest? What exactly does her plan consist of? What’s she after? For the time being, we can only be content with bits and pieces, not whole answers. We can also expect to not necessarily return right back to all this in the next episode. But whatever Washuu’s up to, love’s got something to do with it.
Note: If counting the recaps as episodes 5, 10, and 15, then this is episode 17, but I’m skipping recaps in the numbering of my reviews.
Ryouko and Mihoshi duel, but a rift opens in the sky and sucks them up. Tenchi and Momo continue their search for her friend, and Touri, Hana, and Hachiko tag along. They come upon burnt sections of the forest and a massive crater. A girl, probably Beni, lies unconscious within a crashed spacecraft.
Well, that battle was a whole lotta random! We haven’t paid a visit to this storyline since the seventh episode, which is a long time, but ATM seems intent on juggling multiple stores in multiple times, so here we are, back in the distant past, only with elements of the present and future (spaceships, smartphones) accounted for.
And of course, with just three minutes to play with, the story only inches forward ever so slightly, but the next time we check in, they should find the crashed ship and extract its occupant, providing a little more in the way of answers…or maybe just more questions! Hey; I’m a sucker for temporal whimsy.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.