Steven Den Beste has been writing about his disappointment in the supposed ending to the Tenchi Muyo series. He’s really not happy with it, and one of his major disappointments is in how Tenchi never gets his act together and becomes, well, a man who knows what he wants to do and who he wants to be.
In a way, I’m not surprised that’s how it turned out. I remember watching the original series about ten years ago, and being incredibly aggravated after a dozen episodes because it didn’t look like the series was actually going anywhere. Everytime what should have been a turning point showed up, the story just wandered back off course, and I now realize it was because Tenchi never got a grip, and frankly, neither did his father or grandfather. Someone should have taken charge and said “ok, there’s a bunch of crazy stuff going on here — we need to fill Tenchi in and decide what to do, because clearly, staying out of the way on Earth isn’t working any more.” But that would have ruined their premise, which was a high-school kid on Earth surrounded by beautiful alien women vying for his attention. Note: when your premise and your plot conflict, change one of them!
Frankly, the same creators did a better job with Dual! While the backstory was less coherent, Kazuki had a grip from the get-go. Confronted with weird visions he couldn’t understand, he didn’t just suffer, he put together a popular website, and essentially, blogged about what he saw. Dumped into an alternate world, confronted by one of the giant robots from his vision and an injured pilot, he instinctively tried to help. Finding himself able to control the robot and fight, he defeated the enemy robot, then he went to get help for the pilot. Recruited, he doesn’t want to fight — it terrifies him, and he finds one of the conditions imposed on him horribly embarassing. But he swallows his fear and choses to fight because he realizes it’s the only way he’s going to get back home. Then when he does get back home, he chooses to go back and help the friends he’s made because he cares about them.
In the end, while he hasn’t made “the decision,” it’s clear that he’s got two favorites, and the others are also-rans. He clearly wants to remain friends with them all– if need be, he’ll alter the world to do that. Because of that, I can understand why women are drawn to him. Tenchi, on the other hand, is far more powerful, but a complete, wishy-washy nebbish.
I know Tenchi was far and away more popular, but I have some faint hope that maybe one day they’ll come back and do a continuation of Dual! as well.