Tenchi the Movie 2: The Daughter of Darkness Anime Review
Tenchi Muyou! Manatsu no Ibu
This End Up! Midsummer's Eve
US Release By
Weird Sci-fi Action-Comedy-Romance
What's In It
- Brutal Catfights
- Fistfights (see above)
- Swordfights (also see above)
- Cute Monsters
- Cute Kids
- Convoluted Family History
- Violence: 2 (moderate)
- Nudity: 2 (moderate)
- Sex: 1 (mild)
- Language: 1 (mild)
700 years ago, Yosho had a rather unpleasant encounter with a would-be friend who turned out to be some kind of demon. Well, this demon, Yuzuha, is still around, and she figures now is a good time to get revenge on Yosho, through his grandson. Her method of revenge, however, is a little convoluted: She sends a rather attractive young girl, Mayuka, who doesn't know much, but seems to think Tenchi is her dad. This causes more than a little friction between Ayeka, Ryoko, and this newcomer, but despite that, she moves in (like we haven't seen that happen before). Everything is going fine until this seemingly innocent girl starts getting urges to kill Tenchi, which causes a whole bunch of misunderstandings.
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Daughter of Darkness (aka Midsummer's Eve) has the usual Tenchi Muyo! combination of touching sentiment, silly comedy, wild plot, and plenty of action, with a little more emphasis on the comedy and fun than the first movie, but still more drama than the OAV or TV series. The plot doesn't deviate far from the standard formula, but there's actually a little character development with the main trio here, though nothing Tenchi-verse shaking. It's visually a notch above the TV and OAV series, and the character designs are, as always, very attractive, including the irresistibly cute Mayuka. The acting features the same cast as always in both languages, with Mayuka sounding as sweet and naive as she looks and some impressive drama on the part of Ryoko (particularly in the Japanese).
For Tenchi fans, this should be an enjoyable trip, with a little more drama than usual. You might see a little more of the newcomer Mayuka and less of your old friends than you'd like, but more likely you'll be left eager to see more of her and nowhere to get any. Although figuratively part of the OAV continuity, some familiarity with either series will be enough to enjoy the movie, but if you don't know Tenchi, don't start here.
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Another Tenchi Muyo movie, another confusing addition to the scattershot mess that passes for continuity in the franchise. Due to being based on one of a series of novels which are in turn an "unofficial" continuation of the OAVs--and unlike the first and third movies--it's essentially in the OAV continuity plus Kiyone.
Regardless, Daughter of Darkness (aka Midsummer's Eve) doesn't require any specific knowledge of one series or another (or the previous movie) as long as you've got some prior Tenchi experience. If you don't, this sure isn't the place to start--the only thing you'll accomplish is creating a desire to see more so you know what's going on.
In comparison to other Tenchi stories, this one has the usual combination of touching sentiment, silly comedy, wild plot, and plenty of action. There's a little more emphasis on the comedy and fun than the first movie, but still more drama than the OAV or TV series. The plot doesn't deviate far from the standard formula, though there's actually a little character development with the main trio here, if nothing Tenchi-verse shaking.
On the technical end of things, this movie is as well made as the rest of the Tenchi series, with animation of somewhat higher quality than the TV series and a tad better than the OAVs. As always, the character designs are attractive and very nicely drawn, and Mayuka is an irresistible addition to Tenchi's entourage.
The acting is up to par with the rest of the series in both the sub and dub, with the full cast of course reprising their usual roles. The two bits worth mentioning are some unusually strong emotional scenes with Ryoko (acted well in both languages, but particularly so in Japanese), and Mayuka. In both languages, she sounds as sweet and naive as she looks, and you just can't help but like her.
The background music is a little above average for the series; it's slightly synthesized and not memorable, but there are a couple of good creepy tunes including one choral piece. The end theme is rather pretty.
To sum up: For Tenchi fans, this should be an enjoyable trip, with a little more drama than usual. You might see a little more of the newcomer Mayuka and less of your old friends than you'd like, but more likely you'll be left eager to see more of her and nowhere to get any. If, on the other hand, you don't know Tenchi, don't start here.
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Of course, if you're a Tenchi fan, you'll like this, particularly if you're attached to the OAV continuity. It doesn't relate in any way to the first (or third) movie, so you needn't worry about seeing one or the other first.
Notes and Trivia
This film is based on a Tenchi Muyo! novel of the same name (Manatsu no Eve - "Midsummer's Eve") by Naoko Hasegawa. Hasegawa was one of the writers on the original OAVs and wrote a series of novels that are, at least theoretically if not officially, part of the OAV continuity. The character of Kiyone was actually first introduced in her novels, and that's why, while this movie appears to be part of the OAV continuity, she appears along with Mihoshi. (This is also a bit ironic, given that the only continuity in which Kiyone doesn't appear is the OAVs.)
This origin explains why this movie does not fit in with the other two (which are sort of on their own, though close to the TV continuity), and also why it appears to be part of the OAV continuity, but with some notable changes. The novels have never been translated into English, and so this movie is the only adaptation that most non-Japanese fans are familiar with.
Note, also, that while the timeline of the third OAV series would likely place it after this movie, it doesn't feature Mayuka or Kiyone (to the disappointment of many fans), leaving the movie somewhat stranded.
The soundtrack was, at one point, available in the US from Pioneer on CD.
US DVD Review
The original DVD release came packaged early-Pioneer-style, with a CD-type Jewel case in a DVD case size cardboard slipcase; it's since been re-released in a "Signature Series" edition. The disc includes the English and Japanese soundtracks in Dolby 5.1, English subtitles, Japanese subtitles, and English captions. The video is, disappointingly, letterboxed (not anamorphic) widescreen.
It does come loaded with extra features: The theatrical trailer and the first edition of the Tenchi encyclopedia; this has illustrated text notes on just about everything and everyone that ever appeared in a Tenchi TV episode, OAV, or movie. The entries are indexed several different ways, are thoroughly cross-referenced with links, and include a number of short video clips to illustrate various things, such as the "power of Kagato," and Ryo-ohki's transformation. There's also a list of all the videos and CDs available. About the only thing you could possibly complain about is that the video clips are from the dub, and it's not quite as polished as the version 2.0 included with the OAV DVD set (although it's actually a little better referenced).
On top of all that, there's even a separate angle track included in the movie itself that periodically displays production illustrations from the movie. That feature, though interesting, was kind of a bust (at least on my player)--on the tracks that have sketches, I got a lot of black screen (with sound) and a sketch here and there for a few seconds. I'd have rather just had that included in the menu, but if you're interested in checking them out, I've listed the times below. On a more successful note, the alternate angle track also includes the original credits, which I highly approve of.
In all, this is one heck of a DVD--this disc defines the term extra features, and will remind you why you bought a DVD player in the first place. If you're a Tenchi fan, you're definitely going to want to play around with this one.
In case you're curious, these are the track number and time (from the beginning of the disc) where the production sketches show up in the alternate video track:
|Yuzuha and her flying thingy
|A door handle
|The box projecting
|A toy from the past
|Mayuka in Christmas garb
|Mayuka in her alternate form
|A teddy bear
|Battle scarred Tenchi
Pioneer ranks it with the 16-up crowd, although that's probably a little stiff if you ask me; there are a couple of raunchy jokes and one bath scene, and some reasonably serious violence.
Violence: 2 - A fair amount of fighting, and pretty brutal by Tenchi standards.
Nudity: 2 - A couple of mild scenes.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Nothing noteworthy past a bit of raunchy humor.
Language: 1 - Nothing notable.
Staff & Cast
Original Japanese Cast
Tenchi Masaki: Masami Kikuchi
Ryoko: Ai Orikasa
Ayeka: Yumi Takada
Sasami: Chisa Yokoyama
Mihoshi: Yuko Mizutani
Kiyone: Yuri Amano
Washu: Yuko Kobayashi
Ryo-Ohki: Etsuko Kozakura
Katsuhito and Nobuki Masaki: Takeshi Aono
Mayuka: Junko Iwao
Yuzuha: Yo Inoue
Boys (Dolls?): Masamichi Ota, Ginzo Matsuo, Ken Ishizuka, Akira Sasanuma, Kenta Katagiri, Hirosuke Torumi, Souichiro Hoshi, Yu Asakawa, Yukari Tamura, Yui Horie, Kozue Yoshizumi
English Dub Cast
Matt K. Miller, Peterea Burchard, Jennifer Darling, Sherry Lynn, Rebecca Forstart, Wendee Lee, K.T. Vogt, Bob Papenbrook, Barbara Goodson, Julie Madoalena
Planning: Taro Maki
Screenplay: Naoko Hasegawa
Director: Satoshi Kimura
Original Character Design: Masaki Kajishima
Character Design and Animation Director: Nobuaki Nagano
Co-Animation Directors: Masahiko Ota, Kunihiro Abe
Asaistant Animation Directors: Fumiaki Asano, Toshiharu Sugie
Art Director: Takeshi Waki
Photography Director: Hajime Noguchi
Music: Koh Otani
End Theme: "Manatsu no Eve"
Vocals: Mariko Nagai
Producer: Masato Nakamura
Lyrics: Mariko Nagai
Music and Arrangement: Masato Nakamura (Toshiba EMI)
Animation by AIC, Produced by Pioneer