Back to the Vaults: Tenchi Muyo! GXP

Tenchi Muyo! GXP
天地無用! GXP
Tenchi Muyo! Galaxy Police Transporter

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From the time Tenchi Muyo! OVA 1 started in 1992 through 1999 when Tenchi Forever came out, the non-canon and final Tenchi movie, anime production company AIC and anime distribution company Pioneer (later Geneon) were partners. The word from Japan is that after the success of the Mihoshi Special OVA, Pioneer was no longer interested in producing the more expensive, canon OVA series and wanted to go with cheaper to produce, non-canon Tenchi titles.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

After the partnership between Pioneer and AIC dissolved, word is that AIC came to Kajishima-sensei with a proposal. If he created a Tenchi TV series and it was successful, AIC and new partner VAP would allow him to produce Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3 as well as the other project close in his heart, Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari (Tenchi Muyo! War on Geminar). As a result, Tenchi Muyo! GXP was born.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

***SPOILERS***

The Story in Brief

For those unaware, YAMADA Seina lives in the same area as MASAKI Tenchi. He is well known locally for his extreme bad luck. While on his bike to see his best friend MASAKI Kai, he has an accident and damages his bike. He ends up at MASAKI Tenchi’s estate, where he drowns due to Galaxy Police Officer Amane Kaunaq making a hard landing of her patrol ship. After saving Seina’s life, Amane mistakenly assumes Seina is training with Tenchi and gives him an application to join GXP (Galaxy Police). His family get his to sign the paperwork, thinking it is some kind of prize thing.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

As such, Seina finds himself on board a transport GXP starship, bound for Galaxy Police Academy. Seina’s bad luck draws tons of pirates to him. In turn, this allows KAMIKI Seto Jurai and her 2nd generation Royal Treeship Mikagami to capture a large number of pirates, save Ryoko Balta. Seto sees an advantage to using Seina as a decoy in anti-pirate operations, so gets Seina to go ahead and proceed with becoming a member of GXP. At Galaxy Police HQ, Seina discovers that Kai’s older sister Kiriko is a member of GXP. She’s opposed to Seina joining, but eventually is convinced to not oppose Seina’s entrance.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

Because of Seina’s unique abilities and because of the fact that he came from Earth, thus had no bodily enhancements, Seina ends up living with Amane at one of her “small” residences. Kiriko also joins them as does Erma, a Wau member of Galaxy Police. Galaxy Police decides to make Seina a captain of the decoy ship Kamidake. Amane and Kiriko are also assigned to the ship. It is soon damaged, but thanks to Seto-sama, they are given a new ship designed by Professor Washu and coming with its own cabbit computer unit, Fuku.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

Seina’s actions allow Galaxy Police and Jurai to effectively end the pirate threat in the galaxy. However, this leads to the uncovering of a plot conceived by Galaxy Army, where a rogue element of them are aiding the remaining pirates. Seina ends up helping the Wau people while trying to save Fuku when he causes an ancient mecha device to activate. This ancient mecha contains a 1st generation seed from a Royal Tree, which activates for Seina. After saving the Wau, Seina discovers he’s now 3rd in line for the Juraian throne, thanks to bonding with a 1st generation Royal Tree. A political marriage is arranged so that Seina can marry Amane, Kiriko, Fuku, Ryoko, and a priestess named Neeju. However, at his wedding on the moon, there’s one last adventure to be had before Seina and his wives resume their work on the Kamidake II.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

The Good: Expanding the Canon Tenchi World

When Tenchi Muyo! GXP came out, we canon Tenchi Muyo! fans had lots of tidbit information gathered from Japanese sources. (Much of this is in the Tenchi Muyo! FAQ.) As such, there were a lot of debates over the information that we were provided. Many of these debates were resolved with GXP.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

For example, we received confirmation that the rulers of Jurai were chosen primarily due to the Royal Tree whom they bonded with. Seina bonding with a 1st generation Royal Tree seed is why he became a candidate to the throne of Jurai, thanks to all Royal Trees being the descendant of the Genesis Tree, Tsunami.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

We also got to learn in part how the powerful how an official Royal Tree ceremony was handled. This happened through Kiriko, though it was not handled like it should have been. More on that in a bit.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

Regardless, for canon Tenchi fans, GXP really was invaluable in helping us hungry, non-Japanese fans obtain more information about this fascinating world.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

The Good: Episode 17 – The Tenchi Episode

Because Tenchi Muyo! GXP takes place some time after the events of Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3, but was shown before OVA 3 came out, one thing that was a welcome event by Tenchi fans was the inclusion of episode 17. This is the episode where Tenchi and his harem all make guest appearances. This was also an episode directed by series creator, KAJISHIMA Masaki, who wanted to make sure there were no conflicts between in and what we’d eventually see in OVA 3.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

While episode 17 makes sure to give all of the Tenchi gang a proper cameo, the episode is pretty much cut off at the end. In my mind, they could have done a couple of episodes with Tenchi and company without having an ending where for bogus reasons (the story “demands” it), Seina and company are yanked away.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

There are some other cameos for some of Tenchi’s crew throughout the series. Ryoko is seen briefly in episode 1. There’s an episode where Washu is shown selling goods at a market stall. Washu gets mentioned for her role, both in creating Fuku as well as Washu’s Pore at one of the Galaxy Academy planets. Ryo-ohki also gets an extended cameo when she comes to help Seina and company in space. And then when Seina gets married, Tenchi and his clan all show up for the wedding.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

The Good: The Overall Story

One of the things I really enjoyed about Tenchi Muyo! GXP is its story. It might be a bit fantastical to have Seina so easily accept being taking from Earth and exposed to a life in the stars, but this is something he’s always dreamed of. I couldn’t help but smile as Seina excitedly adapted to the idea of there being sentient races in space with spaceships and such. I could completely understand his desire to not return to his mundane (though safer) life on Earth. This is his chance of a lifetime, so how can he do anything less but grab the reigns and run with it?

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

I also appreciated how the plot turned Seina’s bad luck into a positive element.While the bad luck stuff ended up being the basis of some of the comedy in GXP, for Seina, it is a personal thing. He knows the negative impact his bad luck has on others. It has caused his family nothing but problems. It has caused him to have few friends. However, once in space, his bad luck is the means by which Galaxy Police and Jurai are able to finally get the pirate situation going on in the galaxy under control. If anything, the series could have emphasized this “make lemonade” element more than it did.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

I also admit that I enjoyed the harem aspects of the series. But then I have a weakness for them.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

The Good: Some of the Comedy

Tenchi Muyo! GXP director WATANABE Shinichi (Nabeshin) has a wacky as well as an ecchi sense of humor. If you’ve watched Excel Saga, you know what I mean. As I mentioned earlier, some of the comedy is derived from Seina’s bad luck. This is emphasized heavily in the first episode, where the comedy is more slapstick in nature. However, it is the unexpected elements of the humor that make it so funny to me.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

Since GXP is a harem title, there’s a lot of harem hijinks humor as well. As such, we see a lot of comedy bits were Amane and Kiriko battle each other over Seina. Then they turn around and team up when some other girl shows interest in Seina. If you like harem comedy elements, you’ll like GXP.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

Because of Nabeshin’s direction in the series, he also injects some parody humor into the mix when he can get away with it. Primarily he had to do this via the introduction of himself into the anime via the NB robot character. I’ll talk more about that in a bit.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

The Bad: Comedy at the Cost of Story

Switching to the bad elements of Tenchi Muyo! GXP, one thing that stood out to me sharply is that Nabeshin sacrificed story elements for comedy. While some of the comedy stuff was fine and funny, too often, we’d get stupid comedy just because. So when there’s a plot element going on that gets cut short so that we can have mindless comedy that isn’t funny, it can become a little annoying.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

While I could cite several examples of where this happened, the one that really annoyed me was the story where Kiriko is chosen to bond with the Royal Tree Mizuki. We got to see bits of the ceremony, something Kajishima-sensei had written about, but that was it. I got the impression that Nabeshin found this tree ceremony thing boring and decided to add a stupid comedy bit involving Seto-sama’s four servant girls. As such, we were mostly told about the ceremony instead of being shown it, ’cause four babes acting out fantasy tropes was what Nabeshin wanted to do.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

The Bad: NB

Continuing down the bad road, we now come to the character of NB. I don’t know how much of a role, if any, NB had in Kajishima-sensei’s original story. However, NB became Nabeshin’s self-insertion into the GXP anime. NB was vulgar, rarely funny, used for parody situations, and mostly just annoying. NB’s character often derailed plot or the like because Nabeshin thought he was funny. He was not.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

Even when I watched GPX the first time when it first aired in Japan, the character of NB was annoying. When NB is introduced, he’s supposed to be some computer aid thing. Then for no good story reason, Amane “upgrades” NB to become the vulgar character he’s now know for. Then for the rest of the series, Amane is beating on NB from time to time because of his vulgarities. Seriously, if a character is going to modify a robot to become some pervert, how can that character then be offended by the vulgarities of that robot? I wanted to scream that every time Amane became enraged at NB’s antics.

gxp-ep26-20-nb

Rumor has it that the reason NB is chained to the doghouse in episode 17 is because Kajishima-sensei was very displeased with the character as well as changes to the original story. I’m told NB has little to no role in the GXP novels that Kajishima-sensei subsequently wrote.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

The Bad: Pointless Ecchi

The final bad element for me is the pointless ecchi scenes. Many of these were instigated through NB, which made them more irritating. I know that folks can point out the ecchi scenes in the Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki series or the War on Geminar series. While I still need to rewatch War on Geminar, the ecchi scenes in Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki were a part of the story. As such, they felt like they had a purpose rather than just being injected for the sake of having ecchi content.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Despite being an older series, Tenchi Muyo! GXP holds up pretty well. There are some animation problems at times, but nothing too serious. The music is pretty good. As I mentioned earlier, the overall story is good. It would have been better if Nabeshin hadn’t felt the need to ax some story stuff for comedy.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

In the end, Tenchi Muyo! GXP is a series canon Tenchi fans should watch just to get an expanded notion of the world of Tenchi Muyo! If you’ve never watched a canon Tenchi series before, you can still watch and appreciate GXP, but your enjoyment will go up if you’ve at least watched OVA 1 and OVA 2.

Tenchi Muyo! GXP

 


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8 Responses to “Back to the Vaults: Tenchi Muyo! GXP”

  1. ghostbeetle says:

    Thank you! Excellent review! I think you covered all the important points.
    Only thing I might add is that the actual plot of GXP, at least in design, is very close to the kind of military-SF/space opera novels I enjoy a lot! It’s in the complexities of the interaction of the various political entities, social spheres, and military strategies and tatctics that are involved in the big plan that Seto-sama and her people are pursuing thoughout the entire series. Especially, since the appearance of Seina represents a completely unexpected shift of the general situation in that regard and Seto’s decisive swiftness in exploiting that chance is delightful to watch.
    I also immensely enjoyed the way that Seto-sama and her cohorts are portrayed: the fact that the villains are all stupid and vainglorious men who, despite all their scheming and banding together and their superior firepower, get taken down by the calm focus and intelligence of these women. Women, who they so easily dismissed and tried to put down. I suspect that this borderline feminist aspect was probably more of an accident due to the fact that all those various harems of this universe necessarily produced an excess of female characters, making it more likely that those female characters would take on important roles, plotwise. But the fact that their gender is never even subject of debate, in regard to the social, institutional, and military roles they have, almost makes the feminist appeal of those portrayals more powerful!
    Unfortunately, this element of the show is somewhat obscured, once by the foregrounding of the, sometimes grating, comedy aspects, and also by the fact that Seina, the main focus of the story, is, at best only peripherally aware of these going-ons.
    This probably makes this element of the show something that is better appreciated through fannish repeat viewings, since re-reading a text tends to direct the reader’s awareness away from the foregrounded elements of a text and more towards its peripheral aspects.
    No surprise then that I do indeed like to revisit this series from time to time!^^ I think its worth it!

  2. James Lahoud says:

    In the directors defense, he did tell the story very well without being ecchi at all. Episode 2 is a perfect example. However, there were many scenes, particularly in space where the details of battle were explained but not show. This was my issue in Sol Bianca. Very cool spaceships and animations only for a hot second and back to characters discussing the situation.

    • evgenidb says:

      Telling is a whole lot cheaper than showing and a whole lot faster to produce. If the budget or time does not allow showing, telling is better than nothing. Probably that was the main reason.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      I thought Nabeshin sacrificed too much story in favor of comedy. That’s not to say that I don’t find GXP funny. Even now, there are moments that make me laugh. But all these years later, I see how story parts were cut to just add comedy or ecchi comedy.

  3. evgenidb says:

    GXP Novels 1-12: the differences between anime and the novels: http://skr.chikouyore.com/gxp.html

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