Tenchi Muyo! : Magical Project S: Volume 1 (Mania.com)
By:Abraham Chinchilla Jr.
Review Date: Saturday, November 30, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, November 19, 2002
Pretty Sammy originated from her appearances in the Mihoshi Special and in the 12th episode of Tenchi Universe. After a while, Pretty Sammy ended up with her own series of three OVAs. In 1996, Pretty Sammy spinned off into television sets in her own TV series, "Magical Girl Pretty Sammy TV" (retitled to "Magical Project S" in the U.S.). Pioneer has finally brought this series over onto DVD (subtitled only) in two 2-disc collections.
Only the Japanese language audio track is presented on both of these discs. The audio is great and I was not able to spot any distortions as I watched the show.
For a TV series done in 1996, the video looks great. The first disc (having seven episodes) had minimal artifacting here and there (especially during darker shots) and a few jitters during panning scenes. The second disc, comparing to the first, looks a little better.
My god, this is probably one of Pioneer's best jobs on packaging ever. Presented in a clear double-keepcase, the cover is practically foil (with the exception of Sammy/Sasami and Ryo-ohki), giving this cover a nice rainbow effect. The cover is very beautiful, and the back offers the usual synopsis and even a listing of the 13 episodes included (with episode numbers!) along with a listing of extras and staff credits. Opening the case, I was just so happy to find a reversible pencilboard in my copy. The front features Sasami and Ryo-ohki and the back features Misao and Rumiya (as a bird). Very nice touch! The insert is a four-page booklet, with Mihoshi (in a bathing suit) and (wedding dress!) Kiyone on the front. The inside is actually a mini-poster (like what Pioneer has done with their Sailormoon SuperS releases). The mini-poster features Sasami, Konoha, and Pixy Misa. The back of the insert has another original LD cover featuring Tenchi (as a director) along with a woman and five of those Rangers who will remain nameless.
The menus are animated, colorful, and musical. They match up with the disc skins!
Disc 1: The main menu has a shot of Sasami and Ryo-ohki, along with an animated (moving) logo for the show, and the top of Sammy's baton which features the menu listings. You can quickly select whether to play the entire show, or start at an individual episode. You can also access scene selections and the set-up menu.
Disc 2: The main menu features Misao and Rumiya (and the animated logo), along with Misa's sword-fan-thingy featuring the menu selections. Added with the selections is the extras menu.
All the sub-menus are done nicely (the set-up menu has the Cardcaptor Sakura "changing scenery" effect when subtitles are turned on or off, by the way). The DVD credits are also convienitely listed on the set-up menu.
Disc 2 sure is packed with extras! Included is the usual non-credit versions for the (cute) opening and closing sequences, along with an art gallery featuring all of the original LD cover artwork. Also included are the super-cute "bonus theaters". First, there's a very funny (yet quite freaky) "Misa" version of the Cinderella story. Second, there is the "26 Secrets of Sammy" which is basically featuring Ryo-ohki talking about a few Sammy things we already knew (and funny how the first two "secrets" are about Sammy BEFORE the transformation) along with a few made-up things to give the audience a few laughs ("Pretty Wink!"). Finally, there is also the "Secrets of the Kawai Family" which gives us an introduction to Sasami's hilarious family and their house-hold. There also seems to be an "easter egg" (but Abe's having some trouble trying to find it!). Overall, this is a great set of extras.
Pretty Sammy originated from her appearances in the Mihoshi Special and in the 12th episode of Tenchi Universe. After a while, Pretty Sammy ended up with her own series of three OVAs. In 1996, Pretty Sammy spinned off into television sets in her own TV series, "Magical Girl Pretty Sammy TV" (retitled to "Magical Project S" in the U.S.) and involving the characters of the original "Tenchi" universe in a new situation - a mahou shoujo series! After watching these episodes, I figured that this series was soley created for laughs and goofs, so don't expect any serious plot points. But this show was great. I found myself laughing so much, I actually had to rewind back to make sure I didn't miss anything.
The land of Juraihelm needs to select a new queen to lead the Magical Kingdom, since the unexpected passing of the past ruler. We have three candidates, most note-worthy is Ramia and Tsunami. Obviously by appearances, "dim-witted" Tsunami couldn't possibly be able to rule over a kingdom, and even with her great plans to help with Juraihelm's population crisis, Tsunami has been chosen. But, in order for Tsunami to become a true Queen, she must select someone to keep the universe in peace, and she selects Sasami Kawai. Soon Tsunami floats off into space to confront Sasami and leave Ryo-ohki (a talking animal, supposed to take the form of a "cat", but looks more like a "rabbit") to look after her.
Sasami never wanted to be a Magical Girl, but once she was asked to transform into "Pretty Sammy", using a magical baton, she would have to keep the world at peace for Tsunami. With Ryo-ohki as her companion, Sammy will have to fight the forces of evil. But still angered, and quite jealous, Ramia decides to try and stop Tsunami from becoming queen, but choosing a human girl to become an evil magical girl, to defeat Pretty Sammy. She selects Misao, Sasami's best friend.
Doing an errand for her mother who owns a CD shop, Sasami goes off (with Ryo-ohki following) to deliver a CD to a customer. But Sasami has been drawn into a trap, and mysterious magic girl with blonde hair shows up, calling herself "Pixy Misa", and attacks her by transforming the CD into a "Love-Love Monster". Having to use her magic, Sasami becomes Pretty Sammy and tries to defeat the monster, but not knowing much of how to use her own magic, Pretty Sammy fails, but Pixy Misa decides to give Sammy three hours to get some training. Soon after, Sammy learns a few new techniques, including the powerful "Pretty Coquettish Bomber" which she uses to defeat the "Love-Love Monster".
Each episode begins to go into "Love-Love Monster of the Week" mode, but we get some good character development, especially between Sasami, her family, and Misao. Our favorite characters from the original "Tenchi" series also make appearances here. Mihoshi and Kiyone are Elementary school teachers, along with Professor Washu, a 10 year-old genius arriving from America to research Pretty Sammy's magic (which provides tons of laughs, as Washu makes it obvious that she already knows Sammy's identity), and in one particular episode, Grandfather, "Young" Yosho, Noboyuki, and even Achika (from the first Tenchi film) make an appearance. Of course, Tenchi also makes his own appearance in an episode as well.
Overall, this show's been very fun to watch, and since it has been released in two greatly-priced 2-disc sets, it won't be long before I get the second half. So whether you've seen every other Tenchi series, or if you're a big Sasami fan, or even if you don't have a clue to what "Tenchi" is all about, Magical Project S provides a fun story with lovable characters, and many many laughs!
Philco 21" TV, APEX AD-1500 DVD Player, Philips Magnavox RF Modulator
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tenchi Muyo