Anime Review: Tenchi Muyo OVA Collector's Edition Combi (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 15.08.2017

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Tenchi Muyo OVA Collector's Edition Combi (UK Rating: 15)

The '90s was a real golden age for anime with so many iconic franchises launching that are still well loved today and even still getting new instalments, too. This is one such series. Tenchi Muyo! began as a series of OVAs in 1992 and since then has received numerous anime series, spin offs, light novels and more - most recently in 2014 with a new anime series. For younger fans and those who missed it originally, this new collection is bundling all of the originals together, and it comes courtesy of MVM, available now.

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Tenchi grew up with his grandparents, in a beautiful house in the mountains of Japan. Just behind the home was an ancient shrine within a cave, one Tenchi was obsessed with. When Tenchi reached the perfect age to do stupid things - 17 - he stole his grandfather's keys and snuck into the cave to see where a supposed ancient demon was sealed away. Escalating the stupidity, Tenchi manages to break an ancient sword and a more ancient seal, releasing the demon. This demon is named Ryoko and she's a rebellious, light-sabre swinging, wall-phasing, flying beauty who immediately tries to kill Tenchi and even ends up blowing up his school in the very first episode. Things don't progress quite as expected, though; this isn't really a story of an ancient demon but actually more of a fantasy, sci-fi tale. Those light-sabres are indicative of where this series took some inspiration from.

Ryoko is actually an alien - a space pirate no-less - and was sealed away by a member of an ancient alien royal family 700 years ago on Earth. Now that she's free other members of this, Jurai royal family come to Earth and each of these extraterrestrial ladies end up living with Tenchi in the typical harem style. Ryoko tries to kill Tenchi only in the first episode and, then, instead chases after him romantically. As do the rest of the cast as they are introduced. There's a beautiful, yet haughty, princess of the Jurai family named Ayeka, along with her young sister, Sasami. Also, there is a ditsy and dopey space cop sent after Ryoko, called Miyoshi, and, eventually, the creator/mother of Ryoko, called Washu. Along with a sentient giant spaceship, which also transforms into a cute rabbit-cat… thing, called Ryo-Ohki, this signature cutie became the mascot of this now iconic series.

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Each of the episodes are short and fun, each standalone and wrapped up in a single episode, with each of the ladies pining over Tenchi and vying for his interest over the backdrop of some slice-of-life and sci-fi stories. When Tenchi's aunt drops off her kid to be looked after, for instance, the ladies have to come to grips with the reality of having a child. It's filled with the usual fish out of water comedy of attempting to change nappies, crying babies, making formula up, and so on. Whether it be Ayeka throwing the baby across the room because she's been weed on, Ryoko giving the baby a bottle filled with dry formula powder, or the dreaded moment of bathing with a baby and suddenly a certain floating thing appearing... This story is also a chance to show Washu's maternal instincts and give a glimpse into her past. It's not all comedy and slice of life, though - there are some enjoyable sci-fi stories, too, as various space-faring antagonists come to Earth to steal away magical gems or the characters holding them. There are plenty of elements of the Tenchi story that seem cliché now, but they weren't at the time - something to bear in mind when watching the show.

The episodes look deliciously '90s. There's just something about this era of anime that is impossible to replicate anymore; the shading of the characters, the richness of colour, and the style of the character designs. It's a real nostalgia trip watching them, and one that ignites a fire in those in the audience who watched in the '90s to track down the other seminal series of the time. In particular, hopefully, the recent Yu Yu Hakusho remaster reaches the UK, too. Sadly, the other aspect "of its time" is the dub; the English actors are so bad they are absolutely cringe-worthy. This collection contains all 13 OVA episodes of the original two series, along with the omake episode, Mihoshi Special. Everything is displayed in 16:9 but with some graphical improvements and both English and Japanese dubs bundled with trailers for some of the best '90s anime.

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7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
Tenchi Muyo is a must-see anime that has helped to influence countless other series, and there are so many fans out there who have had no visibility of it. This is the perfect opportunity to correct that. A great point to begin with before diving into the reset of the Tenchi franchise, with the third season of OVAs, Tenchi Universe, Tenchi in Tokyo and the recent 2014 Tenchi Muyo! anime series all worth watching, although none are quite on par with this original.

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