Order Arrived: Tenchi and Neo Ranga

For a few weeks, owing to a family issue, I’m suspending the activities that have absorbed most of my time. As a result, I’ve got a bit more time to blog, so the hiatus is temporarily on hiatus.

Not that I’m going to be posting a full schedule, or with my usual, um, verve.

Anyway, my order got in: Tenchi TV, which I’ve seen the first DVD of now. I remember the OVA’s better; this is close enough though. Quite silly.

Also watched the first DVD of Neo Ranga. It’s not as bad as I feared, but not as good as it should be. The first pair of 15-minute episodes were confusing and poorly paced. The second pair weren’t much better, but along about episode 5, the series started hitting what little stride it has, and…

It’s not that bad, through the end of the first DVD. What surprised me is that, despite the absurd setup, they’re trying to tell a serious story. The 15-minute format is hurting more than it’s helping, and the director doesn’t quite know how to tell the his story, which leads to some truly awkward narration. Note that it’s late, so I’m not going to look up everyone’s names, the middle sister is Umisho and that’s all that I recall right now. I may edit them in tomorrow.

I think they’d done better to tell the story in straight chronological order, but the first four episodes kept jumping back and forth. Here’s the general setup (in the actual sequence): There’s three sisters living in Japan, very poor. The oldest is working, the youngest is supposed to be in sixth grade (nice “development”), the middle is in junior high. Their older brother disappeared about ten years ago somewhere in the south seas. They didn’t know it, but he went native, married the local princess, and became king of a mysterious island. Just before the opening of the series, he was lost at sea, and his wife died from grief. A young boy shows up at the sisters’ house with a message from the missing brother and three plane tickets. He convinces them to fly to the island. There’s some chicanery going on, but the natives try desperately to convince them that their god has chosen to pass over the heir to the throne — the boy (their nephew), and choose one or all of them to be the new kings of the island.

At first they don’t believe such nonsense, but then the “god” appears — a giant mech or monster, take your pick (It’s not technology, unless we’re at incomprehensible “magic” level). It kills one of the villagers (it’s later revealed that he was a spy), shocking the girls, who reject the whole idea and return to Japan. It follows them home, and the series picks up as it lands in Tokyo. It turns out that any of the three can control it to a degree — it’s definitely self-willed, insists on being near them, and will act to protect any of them. Now add in a mysterious Illuminati that really runs Japan from behind the scenes and is well aware of its existence.

Where the show surprised me is that it played the scenario straight from that point. Three young women have suddenly inherited a huge but not-very subtle weapon — and they don’t necessarily agree on what to do with it. Their motives range from selfish to altruistic to pragmatic. Neo-Ranga becomes an intense focus of news networks, the government, the military, and their initially leery neighbors. They have to deal with everything from harassing phone calls, to cameras being sneaked into their home, to becoming media sensations, to government pressure to get rid of the thing, to hate groups, to Yakuza, to having their home declared as an embassy.

I’m interested to see how this develops from here. There’s a large possibility that obscurity will substitute for depth before it’s all over, and I really get the feeling that the director was not up to telling the story he was trying to show. Another possibility is that now that the series is grounded in “reality” it may decide to go off the deep end into weirdness. Four of the islanders have shown up unexpectedly in Tokyo, but haven’t explained why.

I am also disappointed thus far in the fanservice. Part of the reason I bought it was the art suggested the girls might “go native” after a bit and start running around in little more than paint. The youngest may be in elementary school, but she sure as hell isn’t drawn like it; in fact, I’m wondering if part of the bad translations previously alluded to is that she’s in junior high, and the middle sister is actually in high school.

And in further fanservice news, I approve of the cover of the 2nd Code Geass set. Kallen never looked better. Well, with her clothes on, anyway. There is that shower scene…

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One Response to Order Arrived: Tenchi and Neo Ranga

  1. AvatarADV says:

    No, that part of the translation is unfortunately accurate. Japan…

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