Welcome to another edition of the Beneath the Tangles Light Novel Club! With it being the holiday season, I gave our club a break and decided to approach a novel on my own (which gave me the chance to read a book that probably no one else on staff wanted to read anyway!). Having read volume one of the True Tenchi Muyo! novels for our fourth session, we’re jumping into volume two, titled “Yosho,” for this one!
Since a discussion format won’t do with just one club member being involved, I’m changing up the format as well. Today, I’m giving you Five Questions We Had (and Five We Didn’t) That True Tenchi Muyo! Volume 2 Answers!
Question We Didn’t Have #1: Why is Ayeka’s hair purple?
The assumption, of course, is that it just matches her father, Azusa’s hair, but as we find out, in-born genetics is not the case for the shade of purple. The prologue to the novel starts with an unexpected scene, with Washu reverting Ayeka’s hair color to its original BLUE. Yep, in the category of things we didn’t know we didn’t know is that Ayeka and Sasami both share their mother’s hair color.
But this isn’t just some trivial information—the reason that Ayeka’s hair is digitally edited when she is young is because of Yosho. As a child, Yosho has an unrequited love toward his step-mother, Misaki, whose hair is of course blue. That presents a problem—not because of incest, which is a continual theme in Tenchi Muyo, but because Misaki is the emperor’s wife. So Seto, ever the meddler/thinker/strategist, seeks to find ways for Yosho to forget his feelings for Misaki. Yosho becomes betrothed to his step-sister, now with hair that matches her father’s color, not her mom’s. He is is also sent away to the Galaxy Police Academy to keep him far away from Misaki.
Question We Had #1: Is Yosho interesting enough to carry an entire light novel?
Let’s face it: other than Tenchi himself, Yosho is probably the least interesting major character from the original OVAs. So how could we read an entire novel with him as the central character? Well, as with volume one, the answer is partly given by looking at Yosho as a child and young man, before he’s set in his ways, which helps to make him more intriguing. But he’s also surrounded by other interesting characters (reminiscent of Tenchi’s situation) and royal intrigue. So the answer is both yes and no—Yosho is interesting, though he doesn’t carry the light novel himself.
Question We Didn’t #2: What was Yosho like as a child?
In anime and anime-related works, children are often developed out of archetypes—they play a role, but except for a few notable exceptions, there’s not much too them. It’s a bold choice, then, to focus a large portion of a light novel on a boy, even one entering adolescence. But it works very well, especially when relating it to volume one where the wild and bold Azusa is center stage. Yosho is confident but well-mannered and respectful. But there is a little Azusa in him, too, especially when it comes to a desire to take action—and that helps keep things interesting.
Question We Had #2: What was Yosho like as a young man?
One of the most shocking disclosures of the original OVAs was when Yosho removes his disguise, revealing himself to be Katsuhito, a handsome man appearing to be in his twenties. Kept young by his tree/ship, Funaho, it now looked like he—not rat-tailed Tenchi—was the true lead of this series! My assumption would have been that this Yosho would be the primary character of the book bearing his name. Alas, we don’t get much of the young-man version of Yosho. We do see a teen version fighting Ryoko, but it’s only in the last portion of the book. Though he’s engaging—it’s like the responsible young Yosho I mentioned above meets a determined, strong, and freedom-seeking adolescent—it’s probably for the best that he doesn’t fit into the story for long. We get just a taste of him as he fights Ryoko—more on that later.
Question We Didn’t #3: How did Yosho meet his wife?
The family drama that is Jurai is complicated. I’ve absorbed it in clumps and pieces over the last couple of decades, and so I’m forever forgetting and remembering and learning the connections all over again. One thing I’d forgotten was about Yosho’s wife—the story does a nice job of introducing her, developing the couple’s relationship, and even making suitable excuses for their distance between them. Plus, TWO FOR ONE: we get to meeting Yosho’s first wife as well, who is of course also related to him.
Question We Had #3: How could Yosho be stronger than Ryoko with the three jewels?
He’s not, but the book, which describes the fight between the two, explains how Yosho is able to defeat Ryoko. It takes some assistance, tenacity, and strategy. Ryoko is already harmed when she fights Yosho, handicapped by her meeting with Tsunami. Yosho is able to counter Ryoko, also, with help from his ship, Funaho, and his Light Hawk Wings, which he uses to take two of Ryoko’s jewels away. And still, even with one jewel left, Ryoko proved to be a formidable foe.
Question We Didn’t #4: What role does religion play in Tenchi Muyo?
Religion in Tenchi Muyo always surrounds the ideas of the Chusin (the three goddesses) and the Juraian trees, though none of this is religious in any typical sense of the word. However, religion unexpectedly takes on a stronger meaning in this second light novel. A conflict occurs when Yosho becomes close to Airi, who is the daughter of the head priest / leader of a world with a theocratic government which has a lot of tension with Jurai, and later we discover, is hatching a plot involving Tsunami. Airi’s people want Tsunami for her power, an object of veneration that will help the government consolidate their grip on the people, a nice analogy to how some governments and leaders use religion today.
Question We Had #4: How did Yosho seal Ryoko away?
As I mentioned before, Tenchi Muyo! isn’t known for it action scenes, but the light novels paint their action better than how such scenes are animated in the OVAs. The chapter involving Ryoko is engaging and exciting, as Yosho must find a way to calm her power and rid her of her jewels before he can defeat her. The excitement is also heightened because the entire last chapter feels like fanservice—it details events of which we already know and features a beloved character at her maximum strength. In that way, I was reminded of The Phantom Menace, which introduced us to some of the major players as young people, and also of Rogue One, whose ending connect directly to A New Hope, as the end of Yosho connects to the first OVA.
Question We Didn’t #5: How strong is Funaho anyway?
In the second OVA, Funaho is introduced as a woman of calm and gentle demeanor, though with a hidden fiery side. The light novel explores that part of her more. Enhanced somehow through her time in Jurai, Funaho has become a warrior in her own right (though only through a certain condition—I won’t spoil that for those who haven’t yet read), one so strong that she can take down fearsome warriors and challenge even the strongest members of Jurain royalty. No wonder her son and grandson are so powerful!
Question We Had #5: Why did Yosho stay on earth?
I had long assumed that Yosho stayed on earth for reasons of its peaceful existence, to keep an eye on Ryoko, and because he simply couldn’t return home. Those do all apply (though perhaps he could have made contact with Jurai through Funaho), but there are other conditions, too—less significant is that he took the fall for Ryoko’s attack, and more importantly is that the decision was the culmination of the entire novel, which could be described as Yosho’s search to determine what he wants to do with his life. And what he wants is the freedom to make his own decisions.
And so concludes this meeting of the Beneath the Tangles light novel club! I hope you enjoyed exploring some questions about Tenchi Muyo! that volume two answered, and I hope you’ll pick up the series if you haven’t read it (it’s really very good). In the meantime, stay tuned as we make some changes to the club in the coming year, though as always, we hope you’ll join along and become part!