Tenchi Muyo! : Magical Project S: Volume 1 (Mania.com)

By:J.D. Trevathan
Review Date: Saturday, January 04, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, November 19, 2002

The Review!
While waiting for the 3rd Tenchi OAV series to come out, I bought Magical Project S to tide me over until that new show was released. I knew the show starred Sasami, but I didn't know the Tenchi characters wouldn't get much screen time. That's okay, because the new characters can hold their own here.

Magical Project S is a spin-off of a character that was briefly used in Tenchi Universe and the Mihoshi Special. The character was popular enough to receive an OAV series and now a TV series.
The show is a send-up of magical girl shows like Card Captor Sakura and Magic Knight Rayearth, though it appears Sailor Moon is the show that takes the most punishment here with the jokes. Sasami Kawaii is asked by Tsunami, the queen of Juraihelm, to become Magical Girl Pretty Sammy and restore the balance of good and evil on Earth. Tsunami is a selfish, comical flower girl who wants to become queen of a mysterious world known as Juraihelm. Sasami refuses because she doesn't like the way Sammy's outfit looks, but she is forced to take the job. Tsunami has a rival who also creates a magical girl, who turns out to be Sasami's quiet shy best friend. Both Tsunami's rival and the magical girl her rival creates are brash, violent loudmouths who just wanna have fun.
The show is definitely formulaic and repetitive, but that's part of the entertainment. The new plot and the new characters make this a different show than the other Tenchi incarnations. After Tenchi Universe and Tenchi in Tokyo, this was much needed in a new Tenchi show.
The best characters in this show are Sasami's parents, who aren't your typical mother and father. Some of Sasami's classmates are good characters as well. Look for references to other Pioneer shows in the class. Also look for appearances from the cast members of the other Tenchi shows. On this disk you can look for Mihoshi, Kiyone, Washu, Katsuhito, Achika, Ryo-Ohki and Tenchi. Some of them are part of the main cast, but others only make cameo appearances. It's probably safe to assume all of the characters will show up in the show eventually. The idea of a talking Ryo-Ohki is kind of odd, but it's not that big of a deal.

The audio is a typical stereo mix used with most TV series; so even if you have a home-theater setup, expect the audio to be limited. The video is fine. I could not detect any grain, edge-enhancement, or anything odd about it, which is great considering the amount of episodes per disk. Maybe the lack of an English audio track helped make the video better. MPS is also well animated for a TV series. Many have praised Pioneer's packaging of this series, and it's a style of packaging I wish was used for more 2-disk sets. The mini-pencilboard features some nice artwork, as does the insert.

I like the extras they included; particularly the Bonus Theater segments. The best one is 'Cinderella Misa,' a nice take on Cinderella with a hilarious ending. There's also the typical art gallery and credit-less opening and ending. The opening kind of alienated me with its sugar coating and its cuteness, but I like the ending quite a bit.

Magical Project S isn't a groundbreaking show by any means, but it does a great job of parodying magical girl shows and every episode is fun and entertaining. Considering the value for these DVDs, I'm looking forward to the finale of MPS. This is probably the second-best Tenchi show to date.

Best episodes: #4, #5, #6, #10, #12

Review Equipment
Apex AD-703 DVD Player, 19" Panasonic TV

Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 44.95
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tenchi Muyo