Tenchi Muyo OVA Vol. #1 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 150
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tenchi Muyo

Tenchi Muyo OVA Vol. #1

By Dani Moure     June 04, 2004
Release Date: May 10, 2004

Tenchi Muyo OVA Vol. #1
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
Tenchi ignored the warnings never to go inside the cave's shrine and now he has released a demon! OK, actually the demon is really a beautiful space pirate named Ryoko but she did blow up his school. Tenchi's troubles aren't over yet as the Jurai princesses Ayeka and Sasami and the Galaxy Police Office Mihoshi fall from the sky attempting to capture the alluring space pirate. With four beautiful women stranded in his house Tenchi will never get any rest!

Episodes include:

1. Ryoko Resurrected
2. Here Comes Ayeka!
3. Hello Ryo-ohki!
4. Mihoshi Falls To The Land Of Stars
5. Kagato Attacks!

The Review!
The anime classic returns to the UK at long last, this time on DVD, and it's a looking better than ever.

For my main review, I listened to the show in its English stereo mix. The mix is mostly your standard stereo fair, with no noticeable dropouts or distortions during regular playback. In fact, the only strange thing about the English track is the lack of any dialogue during the next episode previews ? the background music just plays. The dub itself is one that's extremely well known, thanks to airings of Tenchi on Cartoon Network/Toonami. It's also one that is very highly regarded, and with good reason ? the characters are all very well cast and slide into their roles effortlessly from the beginning.

I spot-checked the Japanese 5.1 language track, and found no technical problems. There is a definite difference between the stereo and 5.1 tracks, though; the latter being far more immersive with a lot of added directionality. I've seen the whole series in Japanese in the past, and I'm a big fan of it. This is one show that can be enjoyed to the fullest in either language.

Originally released to video starting in 1992, you'd be hard-pressed to find too many problems with the video here despite the show's relative age. Colours are nice and vibrant and reproduced well, the print is extremely clean and there's little noticeable aliasing or cross-colouration. The only real problem I noticed were the occasional moments of pixellation, particularly in the opening, but it's nothing too problematic. All in all this is a very good looking transfer.

No packaging was included as this was a check disc.

Given that this is a fairly bare-bones release (given the amount of show being spread over three discs), the menus are pretty simple. The main menu plays the opening theme, with a picture of Tenchi taking centre stage with the women surrounding him. A video clip showcasing a few moments from the show loops just below the logo, with the menu selections just below that. Sub-menus are all static, based around certain characters. The only real downside here is that there's no scene selection menu ? you can only select a specific episode (though the episodes themselves do have chapter stops in all the right places). It's a pretty simple menu system, but it works well.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tenchi Muyo! is one of the most well-known anime franchises around the world, ranking up with the Evangelions and Gundams in terms of its exposure. As an early favourite amongst English-speaking fans, it's no surprise that when the opportunity finally arose, MVM snapped up the license to the OVA series that started it all. It's just quite hard to say anything more about it.

Tenchi Muyo! is the story of one Tenchi Masaki, who lives with his grandfather. Wanting to find out if an old legend of a demon sealed in the family shrine is true, against his grandfather's wishes and constant warnings he goes to take a peek. Naturally, he pulls out the sword used by their great ancestor and breaks the seal, unleashing the demon Ryoko... and all hell breaks loose. She fights Tenchi, destroying his school in the process, until he finally cuts off her wrist, and the source of her powers with it. She doesn't seem too bothered at another loss, and leaves. But when Tenchi gets home, he finds her in his bed.

And so the story begins. We soon get to meet Ayeka, a princess from the planet Jurai, who comes to Earth in search of her brother, Yosho, who had been tracking demon Ryoko. On capturing the pair, Ayeka tortures Ryoko for information, only to find she doesn't really have any. But also on her spaceship is younger sister Sasami, who's more than trusting of Tenchi and Ryoko. Unfortunately for Ayeka, all signs point to her brother's death, as is written in the legend. It turns out that Ayeka's ship is destroyed, and of course that means both Ayeka and Sasami are welcomed into the Masaki house.

The next female added to the house is Galaxy Police officer Mihoshi, the most ditzy detective you'll probably ever see, who's been chasing the evil criminal Kagato. With all the women firmly assembled, the infighting over Tenchi begins, most notably between Ayeka and Ryoko. And then, in the last episode on this volume, the plot kicks in with the arrival of Kagato, who causes all sorts of trouble.

While the plot might not be the most earth-shattering, it is a lot of fun, but it's the characters in Tenchi that really shine. Tenchi himself is your typical bumbling lead, who's a little awkward around the women, but it's hard not to laugh at the situations that he gets himself into. Naturally, as with any good harem situation, the women all lust over him in their own ways, but it actually ends up often being quite sweet. You have Ryoko, who has been watching Tenchi for a long time and feels somewhat motherly towards him, Ayeka who kind of likes him but also sees him as a bit of a brother figure. Sasami looks up to him like a big brother, and Mihoshi's far too busy being a klutz to do much more in these opening episodes.

What's also great about Tenchi is the relationships between the female characters themselves. You only need to list to a little of Ryoko and Ayeka's bickering to be laughing out loud. It's often childish and stupid, but it's quite funny and is one of the highlights of the show. Watching them fight over Tenchi and out-do each other is just hilarious. All this and you get the obligatory hot springs episode early on, in this case in episode four.

And although there're a few inklings of plot early on, it's really in the final episode on the disc that it becomes a little bit more sinister, as Kagato arrives and attacks everyone, turns Ryoko evil and keeps her captive, and leads everyone into space to follow them. It puts everyone in a situation where tragedy could strike and the show can easily pull at our heartstrings. It's also somewhat amusing how everyone in the show seems to be related through some strange piece of backstory, but it makes the character interactions all the more fun. Thus far, Kagato is pretty evil and sure enough, the disc ends on a bit of a nasty cliffhanger.

It's also worth noting that the production values on the series itself are very good. It's easy to see right from the start, especially when you know the age of the series, that this was originally released straight to video, because the animation is very good and pretty consistent throughout.

In Summary:
The original Tenchi Muyo! series really helped kick off the harem genre that continues to be massively popular with fans all around the world. But it's the simple approach to things, and the classic characters, that make this series such a great ride. I've seen the series several times before on TV and DVD, and yet whenever I see this original series the magic is still there. Countless sequels later, and it's still a classic. With a worthy disc from MVM, everyone who hasn't really should give Tenchi a try.

English Language (2.0),Japanese Language (5.1 & 2.0),English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.


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