Tenchi Muyo RYO-OHKI Vol. #3 (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, December 04, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, November 28, 2006



What They Say
In the aftermath of Tenchi's battle with Z, events seem to once again be proceeding as they should. With normal life back on track, Tenchi's father and grandfather decide the time is right to let him in on the truth about his mother's death. One thing is for sure... On this day, the answers to all of Tenchi's burning questions will finally be revealed.

This edition comes with a collectible tin case.

The Review!
Bringing a bit of closure to some of what's occurred in this OVA series, the final installment is short but delivers on some very good extras.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The included stereo mix is nicely done and has a decent amount of directionality across the forward soundstage and the music and ambient effects are well placed and sound full. I'm still disappointed that we didn't get the Japanese 5.1 release that's available however. The English mix, provided both in stereo and 5.1 formats, sound good and across all three soundtracks we didn't have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released to video back in 2003, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The materials for this release overall look to be really good and it manages to provide a fresh and more current look for the show while still very much retaining the style that made it popular back in the early nineties. The main episode on this volume come across as very clean and generally problem free when it comes to areas such as cross coloration or aliasing. There are a fair number of space sequences throughout the episode so we get treated to some very good looking deep blacks that don't look fuzzy or gray. The only area that left me less than happy is with the ending sequence which looks very soft and fuzzy, likely due to it being an alternate angle. As much a fan as I am of having the original credits, I'd much rather see FUNimation drop this aspect since it's screwing up so many areas of basic disc playback.

Packaging:
For the last volume in this OVA series, FUNimation has gone the extra mile for those who pick it up by including a tin with it, essentially at no extra cost. The tin is like previous releases we've seen from other companies and it holds the three DVDs. The front of the tin has a very good design with the bulk of the core cast laid out against a white background with Ryo-Ohki in ship form providing a bit of balance. The back of the tin has some larger images of Sasami and Washu and a couple of cute designs for Tenchi, Ryo-Ohki and Ryoko. The white carries around the spines while the two side spines have the shows logo on it. This is a really nice way to cap it all off, especially when you add in the delays. It's likely a fairly limited version of this but at no extra cost to those buying it upon release it's a definite plus.

The keepcase inside the tin case is similar to the previous two and looks quite good. For this volume, Tenchi takes center stage in his usual brown outfit but his gloves are cutely done as carrots. Ryo-Ohki is with him as well and she has the carrot gloves too which are just plain cute. With the stark white background, the design and colors are even more striking. The back cover continues with the white and lighter colors by providing a number of character animation from the shows opening sequence and some shots from the episodes as well. The summary, in far too small text, is decent as is the list of extras. The rest of the cover is filled out with the basic production information and the small tight technical grid. No insert is included with this release but the cover does have artwork on the other side that spans both panels with all of the original cast members plus Mihoshi's mother.

Menu:
The menu layout goes for the simple but effective approach as the main menu is a slightly zoomed in shot of the front cover character artwork against a white background. The colors make it stand out nicely and it looks really crisp and clean here as the brief bit of instrumental music plays along. Navigation is straightforward and it avoids the problems older menus had with language section. Access times are nice and fast and our players' language preset for the audio worked fine but with the subtitle tracks unlabeled, that did not pick up correctly.

Extras:
The extras for this volume are quite amusing and interesting if you're really into the Tenchi lore and want to see it discussed. From the Himitsu Nabe special, we get a 40 minute "live action special" that covers all sorts of material about the show as two actors talk about the background premises of the series. These are all things that they talk about how they'll serve as a bridge between this OVA series and the GXP series. The other extra included is a 30 minute radio drama. Radio dramas have been brought over before and results have been mixed. This drama was actually done for the Japanese release so it has a lot of simple but very cute stills to go along with the voiceovers. The only real problem I had with it is poor placement of subtitles; when some of the Japanese subtitles are flowing by, the all white English subtitles get distorted because of it. Since the show is all stills, it would have been much better to have placed them along the top for that particular scene.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
So after a number of years between the second and third OVA series, it's all brought to some sort of quasi-conclusion. The Tenchi OVA series is set now to serve as the launching point for the GXP series " something that I found to be quite enjoyable overall " but still leaves plenty of things for the core cast to revisit in the future.

This final episode is something that the Tenchi series has done a few times before and does well. With all of the action and much of the results of it being applied in the previous episode, this one is given over to wrapping up some smaller details and just being light and fun. While they do touch on a couple of things from the previous episode, such as Z's ability to know what was going on or Misao's punishment, most of it is given over to Tenchi. What gets lost in the shuffle is most of the characters that make up the show, especially the primary girls that surround Tenchi. This OVA series has not been kind to them in the slightest and has been its biggest weakness I think.

The franchise does resolve a few things though and brings a bit of closure. One of the storylines running through this one has been the relationship between Nobuyuki and Rea. They've had their cute little moments together and have been trying to figure out how to tell Tenchi but it all got sidetracked with the insanity that went on. This finds some simple closure and warm moments, but they aren't allowed to even think about that until they clear up the matter of what happened to Tenchi's mother, Kiyone. Her presence in the series overall has been somewhat fuzzy over the years since I've admittedly blended parts of Tenchi Universe and Tenchi in Tokyo into the overall mythos, but her presence in the original OVA series was one that was brief and simple. This is expanded upon a bit as Tenchi's grandfather tells of the time before her death.

This bit of storytelling is something that I can see fitting in easily to the way the show wants to be, but at the same time I can find it to be disrespectful to the way she's presented originally " either through visuals or through remembrances. Her character was bound to be mined heavily at some point and twisted beyond the original presented views of her, but these moments just take it in the wrong direction. Admittedly, some of it did have me laughing as we see how she acts when outside of Tenchi's childhood rose colored view of her, but at the end it left me feeling like they used her the wrong way. Add in the way that relationships of the royal family are just so twisty and hard to follow and it feels very unsettling.

In Summary:
Setting aside the show itself for a moment, FUNimation has done a solid job of packaging and presenting this series overall. I can certainly understand the qualms of those who dislike the way the English language cast has changed over time, but with my following the Japanese cast there wasn't any issues to be had. This final volume is also a real treat in that they provide, at least for a limited time, a tin to hold the whole series at no extra cost. Overall, I don't think fans could have asked for much more in the treatment department.

The show itself however has been a real up and down piece as the creative staff seemed like they knew they wanted to tell a story but didn't know which one to tell. They fell into too many pitfalls along the way and had far too large of a cast. This works well in a series of length like Tenchi GXP but when it comes to the OVA franchise, the fans want the core characters. Tenchi Muyo is considered one of the fathers of the harem genre for good reason, but it's a father under the hands of a staff that doesn't know how to take what it once was and make it even more. In a lot of ways, they don't even know how to make it similar to what has come before. This series is a nice set of also-ran stories but it doesn't come near the enjoyment derived from the original six episode series.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Live Action Special, Radio Drama

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via DVI->HDMI set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.




Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tenchi Muyo