Tenchi Muyo! in Love is the first of three movies set in the Tenchi Muyo! series, and premiered in Japan on April 20, 1996. It was directed by Hiroshi Negishi and serves as a sequel to Tenchi Universe, which he also directed. In this movie, Tenchi and the girls to travel back to the year 1970 to prevent the dangerous "Super A-Class" criminal known as Kain from killing Tenchi's mother, a teenage Achika Masaki, and thereby prevent Tenchi from being erased from existence entirely.
In Galaxy Police Headquarters, the criminal known as Kain breaks free from imprisonment, causing a rip in space and time that destroys the station. Aboard the Yagami, Kiyone and Mihoshi pick up a short distress signal from Headquarters just as Kain flies past their ship and hits Earth's atmosphere. In his house, Tenchi notices the strange aurora borealis just as his body is disappearing right before his eyes!
In November 1970, Tenchi and the girls find themselves as students and faculty at a certain high school. This is explained in the present, where Tenchi shows Ryoko, Ayeka, and Sasami footage that his father Nobuyuki took of his mother, Achika, when they were young. Suddenly, the house phases and becomes decrepit, and Washu arrives and demonstrates that the time axis had been disrupted, and something happened to Achika twenty-six years ago that caused the Masaki family to die out.
To prevent this, Ryoko recruits Kiyone and Mihoshi in the middle of the night, and Washu sends everyone back to the year 1970. Once there, Ryoko and Ayeka engage in some hijinks while posing as transfer students to Achika's class, while Tenchi stays hidden nearby to prevent a time paradox if he were to meet Achika.
After school ends, Achika returns home and is surprised to find Ryoko and Ayeka with her father Katsuhito, who explains they will be living with them since they live so far from school. Later on, Mihoshi also pays a visit. Tenchi and the others later gather and communicate with Washu in the present. Tenchi asks Washu where and when his mother will disappear, and she answers that it'll happen within the next seven days.
The next day, Tenchi experiences a painful "dephasing" event, which makes the others think something has happened to Achika. Kiyone, Mihoshi, Ayeka, and Ryoko are unable to find her at school, but when they return to Tenchi they find he's okay. Ryo-Ohki then leads them to a nearby path where Achika and Nobuyuki are having a sweet moment to themselves as they draw a house in Nobuyuki's sketchbook.
The girls learn that their class will be going on a school trip to Tokyo tomorrow. That night, Washu suddenly transports Kiyone back to the present while she's taking a bath so she can do something for her. There, Washu accesses the Yagami's data banks and brings up what little information there is on Kain, who destroyed several planets and many thousands of ships before being imprisoned inside the GP Headquarters' subspace 100 years ago. Washu says that there's a high probability that Kain will attack Achika at some point between November 25 and 28.
On the train to Tokyo, Ryoko and Ayeka get into a spat and cause their ride to be delayed. The next day, the class visits a park, and Achika and Nobuyuki have another moment to themselves where Nobuyuki records Achika with his camera, along with Ryoko and Ayeka providing commentary. Tenchi and Sasami the scene from afar, but Tenchi has another dephasing event. Ryoko is told what happened and surveys the area, noticing a certain, suspicious student that has been spying on Achika since they arrived.
Ryoko chases this student, but he escapes. Later on, she spots and pursues him again just as he tries confronting Nobuyuki and Achika in a market. She goes to a secluded area, but he sneaks up behind her and explains that he's a special operative from the Galaxy Police that was drawn to the past by Kain. As he says, Kain hates the House of Jurai because of how they helped to imprison him, so he's out to kill Achika due to her possessing Jurai energy. He and Ryoko have a brief scuffle before the operative escapes, vowing to arrest Ryoko once he deals with Kain.
At their hotel that night, Tenchi scolds Ryoko and Ayeka for getting in the way of Nobuyuki and Achika's relationship, since he might not be born. Mihoshi returns without Achika, and Ayeka goes out to find her. Kiyone returns and lands on Mihoshi after being sent to the present again, and they speak with Washu, who says that Kain will certainly attack tomorrow at Tokyo Tower. To stop him, Kiyone has brought back a set of devices Washu explains can generate the Jurai energy that's necessary to capture Kain. They need to place the main device on Tokyo Tower as well as six supplementary boosters in key points around the city corresponding to certain Edo-era Fudo Temples. Tenchi volunteers to deliver the main device to Tokyo Tower and protect Achika while the others place the boosters, but he suddenly has yet another dephasing event. Ayeka finds Nobuyuki and Achika just as she has a painful headache and they take her back to her room.
The next morning, Tenchi and the girls part ways at a train station. While the girls place all of the booster devices at the temple, Tenchi catches up with Achika's class at Tokyo Tower and gets on the same elevator as them leading to the tower's observation deck. Just as Achika suddenly starts feeling unwell, Kain appears and damages Tokyo tower, opening up the elevator they're in. The Galaxy Police operative, waiting in ambush inside the observation deck, shoots at Kain with his weapon, but it has no effect. Kain goes to kill the operative, while Tenchi and Nobuyuki grab Achika and take her to the observation deck. Kain follows, but Tenchi hands the device to Nobuyuki and tells him to place it in the center of the deck while he battles Kain with Tenchi-ken.
Nobuyuki places and activates the device, sucking Kain into subspace, but not before he drags Nobuyuki and Achika in along with him. Washu says she can't get exact coordinates in subspace, but they could instead transfer Achika's brain waves into Tenchi, and then let Ryoko teleport to their location. As for actually defeating Kain in subspace, Washu suggests using the "dimensional cannon", which she promptly sends to the past for them to use, though Kiyone is in disbelief since it's powerful enough to destroy small galaxies.
In subspace, Nobuyuki finds Achika unconscious inside a crater, but Kain is also there and he subdues him when she wakes up. Achika breaks free from Kain's grip and tends to Nobuyuki, who mumbles his promise for them to build their house together. Achika finally unleashes her latent Jurai power, allowing Tenchi to link to her brain waves. He, Ryoko, and Ayeka arrive just in time to stop Kain from sucking Achika and Nobuyuki into him, but Kain quickly overpowers Tenchi and knocks away his sword.
Achika takes hold of Tenchi-ken and turns it into a giant naginata. With its incredible power, she fights and defeats Kain, striking him with a seemingly fatal blow. However, Kain is still alive and grabs Achika just as she is the last to leave subspace. Kiyone, operating the dimensional cannon, fires the weapon directly at Kain, killing him.
Everyone returns from subspace, and Achika, having learned about Tenchi from unlocking her Jurai powers, asks Ryoko and Ayeka to take care of him for her. They erase her and Nobuyuki's memories before returning to the present along with everyone else.
As Tenchi narrates, the incident at Tokyo Tower resolved itself, but Achika used so much of her Jurai power in her battle against Kain that she lost it and inadvertently shortened her own life. However, Tenchi accepts that he can not change what has already happened, and is content knowing that his parents were able to live their young years together and happy.
Nine years later, Achika and Nobuyuki have a son, and Nobuyuki talks to Katsuhito about his plan to rebuild his father-in-law's home into his and Achika's dream home. He also asks what they should name their baby, and Katsuhito goes with "Tenchi".
In the present, Nobuyuki films the whole gang together, just as he filmed Achika along with Ryoko and Ayeka in their younger years. Nobuyuki believes that their dream is still alive, even now. Achika vows to live her life with Nobuyuki to its fullest.
The end theme song is Alchemy of Love, written by Franke and performed by German singer Nina Hagen, with Rick Jude on backing vocals.
There is also an Achika version of the song, with new Japanese lyrics, and is performed by Megumi Hayashibara (Achika's Japanese voice actress). The Achika version is available on a single mini-CD (Pioneer PIDA-1033) and on the Japanese LaserDisc version of the movie, as a music video, which also features the original English version.
North American License
Pioneer Entertainment USA released the dubbed English version of the film on VHS and Laserdisc respectively on August 20 and September 3, 1996, and the first DVD version on October 1, 1997. On January 6, 2004, Geneon USA reissued the DVD on the Geneon Signature Series imprint.
The Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy) licensed the film for TV in North America, premiering it on August 26, 1996 at 9:01 PM, with an encore presentation at 1:01 AM. It aired seven more times through the late 1990s: March 1 (9 AM), April 26 (9 AM), and September 27 (9 AM), 1997; March 21, 1998 (9 AM); and March 20 (4 AM), August 7 (3 AM), and December 11 (11 AM), 1999.
In 2010, FUNimation Entertainment rescued the North American license of the film, along with the other two Tenchi films, and has distributed all three in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack.
- The baseball cap that Sasami wears throughout the movie is possibly a reference to the Yomiuri Giants, which plays home games in Tokyo.
- The clocks in Achika's school have the letters "AIC" printed on them.
- This movie features the only two Wau that are seen in the Universe continuity, those being the GP commander who is killed at the beginning of the movie as well as the Operative that's killed by Kain.
- While the girls install the booster devices at what are referred to as the "Five" Fudo temples, they actually have to go to six temples in total (as shown on the map Washu drew for them). The reason for this is because there are two "yellow" (目黄, Meki) temples that claim to be the legitimate one: