16. Carnival!

Things aren’t looking good for Nobuyuki. His precious stash of secret savings has disappeared, and no one can seem to help him locate it. Of course, the girls have already found and taken the money for their impending trip to Tokyo, but they aren’t about to admit that.

Under Ayeka’s watchful eye, the girls make the final preparation for their trip- all, that is, except Ryoko, who still stands by her decision not to check up on Tenchi. Certain of Tenchi’s feelings for her, Ryoko has faith in him- and besides, it will probably do more harm than good to start interfering with his social life. Ayeka is unable to see it that way- desperate to hear the truth from Tenchi himself, she leads the others as they set off on their trip.

Meanwhile, the school carnival is getting well underway, and Tenchi is working at the crepe stand with Sakuya and her friends. Whilst Tenchi stirs the crepe mixture at the back of the booth, Sakuya’s friend tease her about when her feelings for Tenchi, unaware that he can hear every word they say.

Having arrived in Tokyo, Ayeka and the others head for Tenchi’s apartment, only to discover that he isn’t in. Using her new Power Glove, Washu rips open the apartment door, and the girls are quick to go inside. As Ayeka and the others look around, Ryo-Ohki draws their attention to Tenchi’s desk, where a flyer for the school carnival gives them a major clue as to Tenchi’s whereabouts.

After enjoying lunch with Sakuya, Tenchi arranges to go to the carnival’s concert with her, and the two agree to meet back at her booth later. Things don’t quite go as planned, however, for as Tenchi prepares to head for their meeting, he spots Ayeka walking through the crowd- and just as he convinces himself it couldn’t have really been her, he hears Sasami calling to Ryo-Ohki. Despite the closure of the dimensional tunnel, the girls have made it to Tokyo anyway.

Matters go from bad to worse after Mihoshi accidentally discharges her GP gun at one of the carnival stalls, and that turns out to be only the beginning of the havoc. Ryo-Ohki has wandered into the science lab, and one of the students there has become determined to capture and dissect what he believes to be a new species of rodent. As the student and his friends chase after her, Ryo-Ohki transforms into mechanoid form, and soon the whole lab is in uproar.

As Ryo-Ohki knocks down her would-be captors, Tenchi and Sasami rush onto the scene, but no sooner has Tenchi assessed the damage in the lab than another explosion sounds outside. Going out to investigate, Tenchi discovers that this time the culprit was Ayeka. Having wandered into the carnival’s haunted house booth in search of Tenchi, Ayeka got scared by the booth’s interior, and responded by using her Jurai powers on the perceived threat.

Tenchi reprimands Ayeka for destroying his fellow students’ hard work, but once again he is soon distracted by more commotion- this time thanks to Washu. Unimpressed by the simple ‘rat’ in a maze game, Washu decide to redesign the robot rat, enlarging it to massive proportions. Unfortunately, she failed to improve the efficiency of its collision sensor, meaning that the oversized rat crashes into everything it encounters. Worse yet, Washu has removed the on/off switch, meaning that the rat will keep going until its battery runs down.

Still waiting for Tenchi by the food booth, Sakuya begins to wonder if she has been stood up, but as it turns out, Tenchi is coming right towards her- and so is the rat. Tenchi tries to get Sakuya out of the rat’s path, but when he realises they cannot react fast enough, he shields her, bracing for impact. Fortunately, the girls are on hand to help, and whilst Kiyone blows the rat’s head off with a few well-placed shots, Ayeka uses her Jurai powers to shield everyone as the creature blows apart.

It seems that all the chaos is finally over, but Tenchi is not happy about any of it. Turning to the girls, he tells them that they are nothing but trouble, and orders them to go home. Dejectedly, Ayeka and the others depart, leaving Tenchi and Sakuya alone.

Later that evening, the havoc of the carnival is forgotten as the post-carnival party gets underway. Tenchi is still annoyed with the girls for ruining the carnival, but Sakuya tells him it wasn’t so bad- and besides, she enjoyed the time the two of them spent together.

Caught up in the quiet aftermath of the carnival excitement, Sakuya decides that she should bare her heart to Tenchi; even though she doesn’t believe all the carnival superstitions, the time still feels right. For Sakuya, just spending time with Tenchi is enough to make her happy, but there are times when she feels far away from him, unable to get too close because of his existing relationships with the other girls. It is clear that Sakuya is not sure there is room for her in Tenchi’s life, but Tenchi has finally realised that he does indeed want her to be there. As Tenchi takes her heard in his hands, Sakuya moves closer to him, and the two finally share their first real kiss.

Unfortunately, this kiss is to be an ending as much as it is a beginning, for, unbeknownst to Tenchi, Ryoko has decided to come and see him after all. Having searched around for him, Ryoko finally locates Tenchi outside the school- just as he is kissing Sakuya. With all of her faith in Tenchi crushed by feelings of sadness and anger, Ryoko quietly teleports away, unaware that she too is being observed by the triumphant Yugi. For this strengthening of Tenchi and Sakuya’s relationship has weakened the bonds that tied him to the other girls- just as Yugi wanted. And if she has her way, things will only continue to get worse from here.

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