This Week: Tenchi Muyo! Love, Gundam Build Fighters Try, Gundam Reconguista in G, and Sega Hard Girls.
Thanksgiving weekend tends to be a time of dearly loved friends and family, as well as those one may keep their interactions with to a minimum if social cohesion is to be maintained.
The only episode of the ones I’m writing about this week with a suitable food party in its narrative was the new Tenchi Muyo! series, so you are welcome to be the judge of which side of the table that is on.
Tenchi Muyo! Love (Ai Tenchi Muyo!) [Episodes thirty four through thirty nine]
The recap episode in this batch, which I have slightly expanded due to the Thanksgiving holiday throwing me off a bit, mostly involves Momo discussing her thoughts regarding the breast sizes of the various girls in the cast.
I still make a point to always watch the recaps, because as they crop up every five episodes I would consider my task here grossly unfinished otherwise were I to always skip them. I may as well get the fullest possible experience, after all, and I am only going to be watching this series this one time near as I can ever imagine. But goodness golly gracious do they drill new ways to fill these sequences, which already fail as actual proper recaps of previous events, with mind bogglingly tedious material.
What do we have on tap regarding the more substantial content then? Well, it depends.
This is the set of episodes which is most focused on the larger plot and what the driving forces of the series are, which I am fair enough to recognize. Thirty four has Beni and Tenchi talking and chatting on the dormitory roof, and she has serious concerns about who Tenchi is and his abilities with his energy sword that he deployed many, many episodes ago during a warehouse brawl with a robot. Oddly, while Beni was supposedly knocked out during this scene (and it is fine it bring up that she was not), the other characters who were framed as conscious at the time have never brought the clearly witnessed energy sword up since.
Thirty seven brings us back to Washu’s lab, where the dimension rift the Tenchi rummaging about in the past for temporal anomalies is established as being the Tenchi from the present having been in a device of Washu’s. Having failed the mission to rescue the Momo and Beni in the past, but Washu locating them in the present, Tenchi’s establishment as a student teacher is revealed to have been part of this operation to locate them, ascertain their dimensional or timeline situation, and aim to resolve it.
So, this re-contextualizes at least a little of even the first scene of the show, where Tenchi is complaining about being teleported into the bushes. Though why Momo then fell out of the sky on to his face, as she is part of the duo he is looking for and Washu already knew she was in this dimension so she could not have just popped in, remains unknown. The other girls, which is to say our normal Tenchi Muyo! cast of Ryoko, Aeka, and so on, are a part of all this as well, insofar that they are involved in the conference meeting where they settle on the student teacher route for Tenchi and are assigned to provide him aid of various types. That said, outside of the rare “normal” domestic camaraderie or collisions at home, we have never actually seen them do a whole lot.
I imagine this is supposed to re-contextualize elements like when they sought to attend the school festival and had a cafe and everything, which could be considered a form of supportive recon or observation is retrospect, but that line of heavy narrative lifting is not performed in this batch of episodes.
Episodes thirty eight and thirty nine bring us back to the underground digging site of the Science Club, where Mihoshi is already mining away as well. Galaxy Police is aware of someone or something messing around with temporal forces, so here she is undercover and on the case (to be best of her ability), which is admittedly more than I expected this show to do with remembering her at this point. The Science Club is looking for a crucial treasure, and the other girls of the Student Council end of the cast aim to undermine the club and get Tenchi away from them. Via the encouragement and apparent technological supplies of a force on the other end of a talking black monolith with a crab-like insignia. A similar crab-like visual is also found on the loading screen of Tenchi’s temporal reset equipped phone, which he lost in the past but is dug but by the cast in the present.
So given those associations and symbols, the clear implication I feel is Washu is two-timing everyone, be it either knowingly and on purpose or for other reasons. Washu has found herself captured and locked away even in the events of the original OVA, and her daugher Ryoko used as a mind controlled living weapon of mass destruction by the same entity, so it would not be impossible to consider someone pulling some form of Washu’s strings somehow and to have that occur in a separate timeline colliding with our own.
This entire series may well also just be revealed to be nothing more than a massive trolling attempt by the mad scientist she did for little more than her own amusement. Which, given that the entire series does still feel like a drawn out joke nobody asked to be told, would be somewhat appropriate on some grand level.
But that would not make it good.
Episode thirty six I saved for this part of the write-up, because it really does indicate a lot of the misfires this series has had.
It is a simple episode, the characters old and new having a barbeque as Tenchi repairs damage to the dormitory roof. So we have instances like Ryoko and Beni fighting for the same piece of meat, Hachiko slicing up greens in midair to fall into a Sasami-held salad bowl, and so on. Outside of the baseline character costumes themselves, and considering how aggressive and in your face so much of the fanservice in this show has been, even the camera framing settles down to just let them be characters more. It is the sort of episode one could deploy either as a season finale in its own right, or (as would be the case here) right before an arc that would put these groups more head to head against each other.
But I just do not care about any of the new characters.
Despite how much screen time they have had compared to the classic cast, the show has so hamfistedly used them as nothing more than a generic stable of sexualized camera shot machines for nearly forty episodes by the time of this barbeque scene.
In another show, this would be a great moment, or at least a pleasant time. But here it feels like a desperate mechanical throw to connect the old and the new, or at best trying to perhaps ignore everything which came before. And proving all the more how far off track this series has been.
Gundam Build Fighters Try [Episode eight]
For as throwaway as fights between teams we have never seen before can be: seeing two mobile armors go at it (an upgraded Xamel from 0083: Stardust Memory versus a Doggorla from Victory Gundam) is pretty neat.
While teams have the option to use mobile armors, my concern has always been that their substantial edge in raw size and firepower tends to be the sort of thing which can easily be made a mockery of given their tradeoffs. Teams with three mobile suits, like when Team Try Fighters went on to handily rip apart the Doggorla themselves minutes later and in short order, are arguably more dynamic for viewers to watch in addition to the corporate bonus of featuring more model kits per fight. Forcing the teams which do use a mobile armor to use that as their singular deployed unit makes me wonder if we will be getting a really swell suits versus armor fight at any point this season, as the risks for picking an armor do not seem to be worth the advantages at this time. But they could make for impressive team fights with multiple stations against multiple independently piloted suits in a regular tournament environment, and I hope we do get to see that as the season goes on, suits per square inch of battlefield be damned.
While Sekai’s Gundam was near destroyed last week, none of the repairs or the like were in focus this time or otherwise even a wrench to consider. We just moved his team on to the smackdown of the Doggorla, and he has he Build Burning same as it ever was (community assumption is “Model damage level set to B” may mean the physical model is no longer wrecked as they were previously). Which is a marked momentum difference compared to the prior season, where a lot of character moments would come out of such circumstances of repair overhauls or working on a new suit in time for the next match. I am also looking back and considering my initial concerns about Fumina’s SD Winning Gundam being used essentially just for power-up parts for her two other teammates are not coming to pass, and that increasingly seems to be the case rather than getting it to showcase more in its own right. I would like to think this comes down to Team Try Fighters having a smaller (and thus more expedient for screen time) fight.
But even so, there would still be ways for the Winning Gundam to feature more without just being there for spare parts.
Our primary episode driver though is Gyanko, being in the final four as St. Odessa is, up against the Miyazato Institute and who we are told are the previous regional champion.
While in season one we had a keynote fight between the fiery redhead lead and the character they were very much shipped with as a romantic item, that was also very close to end of that series. Since we as viewers can assume Team Try Fighters will be going on to the finals of the Under 18’s in this kind of program (and in turn they clinch that this episode), St. Odessa advancing to the finals as well would be a bridge too far at this stage. Our core trio already fought Gyanko and friends a few episodes ago, and while they could certainly do so again before the series is over via other matches, having them rematch so soon would be a bit of a fumbled opportunity. There would not be as much character time between their first and second matches for there to be more weight for whatever fight were to occur.
So Gyanko and Sekai promising to meet in the finals, sure, that was never going to happen. But, it does mean we get an array of “This is not a date but let’s go to a burger joint” events, as well as Gyanko point blank asking Seaki if he would go on a date with her if she won her match. Now, is her doing so while pretending to be far sadder and distraught by her matchup manipulative? Well, sure. But, for as intentionally over the top as she is being about everything, I can respect the series having her doing things like asking for a date and such. Of course Seaki is oblivious on a level where he is still not able to properly put two and two together regarding Gyanko’s feelings, but this is more forward progress than was seen in most of the first series and everyone nearly everyone outside of ladies man Fellini clamming up when romantic things were afoot.
As always, I feel the series does need to be careful lest everything fall into a massive pile of tangled up romance thread spaghetti. But the core notion of having a more prominent young woman in a Gundam series aggressively pursuing who she has a crush on? That I think is welcome.
All of this does mean Gyanko’s teammates are short shifted though, as even during the launch sequence of her match Gyanko gives her name followed by “plus two others.” They are torn down quickly, sure, as before. In the immediate point we are at right now, this is not a big deal, to have her teammates framed more as followers or hangers on. But going forwards, as we will surely see St. Odessa fight again in a later event, my concern would be more of their matches turning into circumstances where they are blown away in a hurry and Gyanko has to fight by herself.
A three versus one fight like this episode turned into is fine in the short term to sell the scale or impossibility of her situation and the strength of the enemy team. It also gives a bit more for the over dramatic physical reaction when Gyanko is blown away in the game and reacts in slow motion death fall style as she recalls her now broken promise to see Seaki at the next stage, as if this were a different line of Gundam series and she was being killed off. But it would be nice if this sort of thing did not happen to Gyanko every time, is what I am saying, which I can easily foree it turning into. I would like her to be taken as a more genuine character than wheeled out merely as an overblown gag machine, since I think her portrayal could be quite helpful and positive for any young women in the audience if handled correctly.
Our end of episode post credits sequence reintroduces Allan Adams, which outside of tiptoeing around things like China being Yuuma’s sister and their family restaurant, is the clearest connection we have had to season one so far. Adams was last seen as an engineer at Plavsky Particle System Engineering, and in that role he served both as being in charge of developing experimental model kits and other technology for use by the standing Gunpla Meijin as well as being a general assistant to the same.
Now he is serving in a coaching capacity with a nephew along for the ride, and as I assume we are moving towards another World Championship arc it will be interesting to see how his outlooks or philosophies may have been shaped in the years since the more dimwitted Chairman Mashita’s departure.
Gundam Reconguista in G (Gundam: G no Reconguista) [Episode ten]
The Studio Wit episode, as mentioned and opined a bit one last week.
This was as near a full outsourcing operation as one can get, aside from Tomino’s natural involvement with the story and giving (a lot of) opinions on storyboards. So the Sunrise team gets more time to do whatever they have cooking up (the episode next week is literally named “Entering the Space War,” so may well be quite extravagant and crucial), and the Tetsurō Araki led Attack on Titan group at Wit gets to try their hand at Tomino’s Gundam series reentry operation.
It is not an enviable challenge to mimic the work of another director and studio, all the more so given Tomino’s eccentricities and quirks. But, in a show where its primary strength so far has come from its visual aesthetic rather than its story, this is the best looking part of the show so far. It all takes place at night with the associated applications of stronger emphasis on lighting effects, particles, and so on. Our primary mecha of the episode involve the extravagantly bulky High Torque Pack for the G-Self, a high grade heavy weapons armament, and the new nimble Wuxia suits of the Capital Army. Correspondingly, there is a lot of focus on weight, size, impact, and most of the fighting between the Megafauna suits and Wuxia consisting of them slamming and grappling each other in the rainforest. With the associated effects on the local vegetation, as well as an opportunity to place in some more shots of animals being in the vicinity of the mecha fights.
So the fighting in particular, I feel, has a nice crunchiness and heft to it here. Which is ideally what one wants in their mecha media when the machines start butting heads. At times this crucial aspect has been lost in the Tomino directed episodes, as he falls into the trap of having too many things going on which easily distracts from the time to give weight or impact to any one thing in particular. While I can again by all means respect Tomino wanting to do as much of this show himself as possible for potentially one last ride, his industry position and legacy does mean nobody on his own team is in a role to act as his editor.
This episode made me think a lot more about what G-Reco would have been were Tomino in more of a story creation and involved storyboard supervisory role, but others still had to do final direction and the like. If more of the show was like this episode, with its slightly longer takes and more time to have a scene sell itself than overburden the viewer with raw talking, I feel general internet opinions of it would be a lot stronger than they are now.
I want this show to be a nice Gundam send off for Tomino, you see, and it is unfortunate to think that while the show has been slowly improving in fits and starts it may well never make up for the time it has already spent.
Production quirks and mecha forest fights aside, we do have some tidbits elsewhere to poke and prod at.
The High Torque Pack, for as cumbersome and awkward as it is as as device when slapped on the G-Self, does raise some questions. It was developed by the Capital Army, and stolen by the Capital Guard for the Amerian forces on the Megafauna. But, it is also specifically mentioned that it was too big for the brand new Wuxia mobile suits to make use of themselves. This is a fine way of indicating that the Capital Army’s military development program may well be going one of two ways. Either the High Torque Pack is something which can be prototyped down and minimized more for eventual deployment on Wuxia’s (perhaps as a mid-series upgrade or the like), or it is being developed as an enhancement for an entirely different grade of more powerful mobile suit elsewhere. The G-Self has a hell of a time trying to accurately move with this backpack on, given the combination of incredible engine force and high weight, and so far as we have seen in the series the G-Self is the strongest mobile suit it could have been used by. So the seed is there for why such a weapons platform would be under development by the Capital Army, as not even their freshly deployed new suits this episode could wear the device in its current form. As we have yet to have a true Gundam tier equivalent suit on the Capital Army’s side of the war, this may well be the indicator such a program is underway.
The sequence where the Wuxia squad commander flies up to the Megafauna, grabs on to the bridge, and jumps out of his mecha to converse with the enemy Captain and demand their surrender is… interesting.
On the one hand, I can chalk this up to a ridiculous Tomino supervision and storytelling quirk. While Minovsky Particles have been spread, thus limiting radio contact, the Wuxia being at that range to the Megafauna would allow for the short range transmission cables. So there is no practical reason for the pilot to jump from his war machine to demand a surrender, outside of the dynamic visual of having him doing so (with the Megafauna crew thankful finding it just as insane as the audience). The other reason though could be an attempt, however confusingly executed in practice, to show just how green the Capital Army is. They have never faught a war before, and with the rapid expansion of forces there is a much larger influx of pilots than they ever would have needed for the Capital Guard. An aspect of this scene may well be a means to get some of this across more in practice. The Capital Army, outside of some transfers like Luin / Mask, is going to have growth problems. Even if they have been working on more advanced tech than other nations (courtesy or not of the moon colonies) the rate of expansion means a lot of folks who probably should not otherwise be pilots are going to fly through the system.
So even when the production is largely handed off, some questionable Tomino choices still shine through.
I would like to think an idea like “Highly advanced but less capable forces” versus “Less advanced but more practiced in warfare forces” could make for an interesting exploration here, but Tomino has already done that in the Turn A Gundam he last charted a Gundam series with. And G-Reco would do well to lessen direct comparisons of everything Turn A Gundam already accomplished by this point in its narrative.
Sega Hard Girls (Hi☆sCoool! SeHa Girls) [Episode eight]
Contrary to my assumptions based on the last preview, this was in fact not an episode about The House of the Dead series. But, I do not think anyone would blame me for thinking so at the time!
What we have instead is a move back towards the “first half” episode structure the series deployed a few times, where the cast chatted and goofed around in the lobby and JoyJoy Room with little presence in a selected game.Which, as the last two whole episodes have been inside of games (Border Break, and the Sonic the Hedgehog multiworld montage), seems fair enough. The ten minute timing of the Sega Hard Girls episodes does make for choices the fifteen minute or so gdgd Fairies had more wiggle room with, and in the grand scheme of things all I want in order to say the episodes succeed is for them to be funny with a fallback plan for being cute.
Our framing concept here then is the good old anime standby of the looming school culture festival. And our girls need to develop some sort of a plan for how they are going to participate. And I historically like to see festival episodes, as they provide an opportunity for group planning or back and forth engagement we may otherwise not see in a series. They are a nice gear check to see if the characters and situations are working. Not that I was worried about this particular series, as I am already very much in its supportive corner.
In the write-up sense, this also turns into a scenario where I am pressed for what to say, at the risk of just over explaining too many jokes. Dreamcast mentioning they only know how to play maracas, as well as one other dialogue shout out to the musical instrument game Samba de Amigo, is neat and feels wholly natural in context. The joke is far funnier if one connects the dots and knows what Dreamcast is talking about, but if not I do not feel the script slams to a halt if one misses the reference either. A happy go lucky and silly character like Dreamcast only knowing how to play an instrument that involves energetically waving their arms around makes sense for her character, regardless of ones video game knowledge of Samba de Amigo as a property. It has been a consistent strength of the show, and it remains so here. The House of the Dead brought up as a potential haunted house idea works well, and not only for the naming pun that creates.
It is probably one of the only ways I can imagine such a violent light gun shooter franchise fused into a cuter character humor show like Sega Hard Girls.
Our key sequence for the episode involves our girls flipping through the contestants list for the Sehagaga Academy Lovely Girl Contest.
Also known as SegaLove.
Or in other words, the beauty and/or contest part that tends to come along with a lot of school festival episodes.
We get to see our limited cast of Sega’s three most famous home hardware endeavors flip through their competitors elsewhere in the educational system, which is something I had been looking forward to for some time. The designs already more than exist, and have been known for a long time now, but seeing them placed in the show (in however small of a capacity that is in practice here) is still nice.
To have the lines about Genesis being from from the United States of America and her nickname. The Sega Master System having a great musical sensibility (the Master System uses the same SN76489A soundchips as would be retained for use on the Mega Drive and Game Gear, so it had very advanced tech there for its time). Hearing the cracks about the Game Gear being really tired all the time, and usually having to leave by third period, as acknowledgement of the terrible battery life the bulky portable system was saddled with. Simple stuff perhaps, but pleasant and a mean of showing off more machines and characters with a low impact setting.
I would like to see these other console characters come into the show more directly for at least an afternoon (even gdgd Fairies expanded its core trio cast a little by the end). It would be far and away too much to have that at this stage, as that is perhaps more series finale grade material for a graduation party.
But the nods theses other machines exist as character designs is I feel a positive event, and a hopeful promise we will see them again sometime soon.
Hangers is a weekly series containing my passing thoughts on currently airing anime productions. Opinions, as always, are subject to change.