Tenchi Muyo OVA Vol. #1 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Andrew Tei
Review Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, March 18, 2003



What They Say
Tenchi disobeyed his grandfather and broke the seal on the family temple unleashing a horrible mummy! At least that?s what he thought until Ryoko introduced herself as a space pirate and was the first of many beautiful alien women to strand themselves in his house and make his life crazy!

The Review!
To celebrate their tenth anniversary, Pioneer repackaged the title that put them on the map in the United States from its Ultimate Edition set into four separate volumes. While this is a cheaper way to own the series, what do you lose by getting this release instead?

Audio:

This Tenth Anniversary edition of Tenchi comes with two sound tracks: Japanese 2.0 and English 2.0. That?s our first big difference, the new releases does not come with the 5.1 soundtrack that was released with the Ultimate Edition. Personally, I think that?s an improvement. I will always take the original soundtrack over a remixed one. For the review, I chose to listen to the Japanese 2.0 soundtrack. The majority of the sound is directed toward the front stage, with no strong use of directionality. Dialogue and music is very clear though, and no distortions were present.

Video:

Pioneer squeezed the first four episodes on a single layer DVD. At a running time of two hours, I?m surprised they took this route. The encoding job here isn?t as up to snuff as I?ve expected from Pioneer?s recent releases, but perhaps the age of the show has something to do with it. There?s a grainy feel to the picture, and I?m not just talking about the scenes with wood in them. Blues show quite a bit of grain on this DVD. There are even some shots when primary characters are the focus, and even they appear grainy and soft. I didn?t spot any rainbows or line shimmering though.

I attempted to do a video comparison between the Ultimate Edition and this new version. Since the conditions for the test should be the same, I couldn?t have both pictures displayed at the same time. After doing some DVD swapping, I eventually came to the conclusion that the video quality of the Ultimate Edition is better. There were less mpeg artifacts in the background.

Packaging:

Instead of a digipak, we now have a white keep case. The covers use a wood grain background that is very in tune with the show. On the front cover, we have large images of Ayeka, Ryoko, and Sasami with a tiny Tenchi in the middle. It?s not like Tenchi is important. A volume number is present on the front and the spine. Each episode title is listed on the back, and we have some four screenshots from the show. Inside we have an insert that has the front cover on one side, and Ryoko raising a finger with the chapter list besides her. A limited edition coin featuring Ryoko is also included, while supplies last. The coin is encased in plastic.

Menu:

The menu repeats with the image of the front cover, and is motionless and soundless. It?s pretty lacking considering what most menus are like today. A nice user interface option that Pioneer picked up is you can?t pick the currently selected soundtrack and subtitle in the setup menu, and the option you do choose is well highlighted. Inside the setup menu, you can find the DVD Credits where both English and Japanese voice actors are included, and the song credits.

Extras:

None

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

Boy meets demon girl. Boy meets princess. Boy meets princess? sister. Boy meets police officer. Only problem, they?re all from outer space.

It?s really hard to say something new about Tenchi. Pioneer has released it on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, and it?s been on Cartoon Network. So I?ll just say a few words on the show.

Tenchi is highschooler who?s grown up next to his family?s shrine. His grandfather takes care of the shrine, and teaches him swordplay, and his father is an architect and a lech. Sadly, Tenchi?s mother passed away when he was very young. One day, Tenchi decided to go into the shrine to check out the stories that a demon is trapped inside. In the shrine, he lets loose Ryoko, a space pirate, who?s awakening sets into motion a series of events that bring a bunch of different characters to Earth.

Each of the four episodes basically introduces us to each of the girls who will become a part of Tenchi?s life. Ayeka, has come to Earth chasing after her brother Yosho, who chased Ryoko to Earth. Accompanying Ayeka, is Sasami, her sister, the cute, adorable, innocent little girl. Plus, we need a furry cute mascot in the form of Ryo-Ohki. Lastly, we get the blonde bimbo, Mihoshi, a Galaxy Police Officer who?s chasing a criminal named Kagato.

When you put everyone together, you?ve got every girl interested in Tenchi in some manner, and comedy erupts. Add in some rivalry between Ryoko and Ayeka due to Yosho?s disappearance, and some pretty heavy fighting is the result. In the background, we have Tenchi, who?s slowly learning about his heritage.

I haven?t seen the Tenchi Muyo! OVA since the Ultimate Edition came out back in 1999. In those days, we were happy with every single piece of anime that came out on DVD. Sadly, I don?t find myself as excited anymore while watching the series. Maybe things will change as I watch the rest.

Lastly, I?ll go through a few more technical points. Unlike the Ultimate Edition, there are four chapter stops per episode. The subs are nice and yellow, and for the most part very good. In fact, the only missing subtitle I noticed was for the title of episode 3. This time around, the ending song is subbed, though only in English. All credits remained in Japanese, as nothing has been changed from the original video.

If you had to choose between the Ultimate Edition and this new release, I?m siding with the re-release. I don?t find a 5.1 soundtrack necessary. You will lose the Tenchi Encyclopedia though. You need to ask yourself, is the Tenchi Encyclopedia worth an extra $20?

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba 3109 to a Toshiba 36? Cinema Series via component, Pioneer VSX-810S receiver via optical, Cerwin Vega front speakers, Pinnacle center and rears




Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 24.98
Running time: 120
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tenchi Muyo