This week, a unique erotic historical fiction film that has completely slipped through the cracks.
Reviewby Christopher Macdonald
New Teacher Ayako and her student Wakano are in a particularly bad situation; after their school closes due to bankruptcy they are left stranded, almost penniless on a planet extremely far from their native earth. Their chances of getting back to earth under these circumstances don't seem particularly hopeful. Then the enigmatic Paraila almost kills them when she crash-lands her mecha on top of their school. For her own reasons Paraila decides to join them on their journey to earth. Unfortunately Paraila also happens to be broke.
As the three attempt to travel to Earth their situation goes from bad to worse as they somehow end up among the Galaxy's most wanted fugitives; wanted by the police who want to question and incarcerate them, and by the criminal underground who seem intent on killing them.
When I first saw the first episode of Tenamonya Voyagers a few months ago my impression of the mini series was, “This seems cool, not too serious, funny and good animation.” Now that I've seen the entire mini series my thoughts are, “Just what the hell were the producers smoking when they made this series?”
Don't get me wrong, Tenamonya Voyagers is still funny, the art and animation are quite good, but “not too serious” was one hell of an understatement on my part. You see, what starts off as “not too serious” in the first episode degrades rapidly to outrageously absurd by the end of the fourth episode. And that is exactly what the producers of Tenamonya Voyagers set out to create, an outrageously absurd tribute to the Japanese comedies of the 70s. I've been informed that Tenamonya Voyagers is rife with inside jokes and references to these Japanese comedies, unfortunately I haven't seen many of the originals so I was unable to spot any of the references save for one in the opening seconds of the first episode.
Tenamonya Voyagers is a series to laugh at, and you probably will laugh, so much in fact that you may hurt your stomach.
The animation on this OVA series is spot on. Studio Pierrot, which is also behind Bandai's smash hit Cowboy Bebop, did an excellent job animating Tenamonya Voyagers. The character designs are quite nice, although not spectacularly original. While all of the female characters are nice to look at, the producers resisted the usual urge to make any of them exceptionally beautiful. And they aren't outrageously proportioned either, that is until the almost entirely nude fourth episode where their proportions seem to “grow” somewhat.
I found the music in this series particularly special, not because the music is in itself spectacular but rather because as a soundtrack it is spectacularly appropriate. The main theme, to the tune of a march is on it's own rather amusing, the perfect theme for this series.
The English script is very faithful to the original. The dubbing is in fact quite good when compared to the average North American animation, however it falls far short of what Anime fans have come to expect, particularly from Bandai.
My only other complaint about Tenamonya Voyagers is the abrupt ending. It seems that the script for Tenamonya Voyagers was meant to be much longer; the end of the fourth episode is no conclusion at all. A fair amount of time was put into introducing certain seemingly important characters throughout the series, yet many of them were never used to any impact on the plot.
The only bug I noticed in the DVD comes in the middle of the seconds episode, where one of the subtitles freezes on the screen and no further subtitles are displayed, this situation is however easily remedied by turning the subtitles off and then back on. Another reviewer (Chris Beverage of Anime on DVD) mentioned a very faint “rainbow” present on the screen, I was however unable to see this.
Extra features on this DVD are minimal. The Amaray case (Yin-Yang) includes the usual, although very nice, mini poster. The DVD includes an Image Gallery, Textless opening and preview trailers for a number of other Bandai titles (although no trailer for Tenamonya Voyagers). No character bios, which would have been nice given the number of supporting characters introduced and no translation notes. The menus are easy to navigate, and the background animations are almost as amusing as the series itself.
Tenamonya Voyagers is not a particularly important release, although some fanfare has been attributed to the fact that it is the Anime industry's first DVD only release, and is not a must have for anyone's library. On the other hand it is a very amusing series to watch, fans of nonsensical comedy should find this series very entertaining. It may also be particularly amusing for fans of older Japanese comedies. This is a good series to rent or buy when you're in the mood for something funny, and not particularly hard to understand.
Overall : B
+ Hilariously funny, good value, great animation
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