Mania Grade: A+
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- Audio Rating: A+
- Video Rating: A+
- Packaging Rating: A+
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 119.99
- Running time: 420
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Tenchi Muyo
Tenchi Muyo Ultimate Edition
By Chris Beveridge
June 01, 1999
Release Date: June 01, 1999
What They Say
The Original Tenchi series is finally making its way to DVD! Watch how it all began. Meet Ryoko, and Ayeka as they come head to head over who will get to be with Tenchi. Think you've already seen Tenchi? Not like this! The Classic Tenchi Muyo! OVAs are collected in a two disc, bilingual, THX approved Box Set featuring re-mastered film transfers and re-mixed 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound for the Japanese track. Also included will be an English 2.0 Dolby Digital track, and a bonus third disc!. The new and improved Tenchi Muyo Encyclopedia (Version 3.0). It will contain detailed info for every Tenchi incarnation: The OVA series, the Movies, Tenchi Universe, Tenchi in Tokyo, Pretty Sammy and Magical Project S. There will also be production images from the upcoming feature film, Tenchi Forever which will be in theaters this Spring in Japan.
Then, for all you collectors out there, a limited edition collectible foil printed, plastic mini-plaque will be included with the first 3,000 DVDs. Don?t miss your chance to own this very special card. All of this in a premium three (3) disc DVD case with a printed, plastic slip-case.
Don?t forget! This card is only valid with the first 3,000 DVDs!The Review!
For the rest of the majority of the review, I will be focusing on the technical aspects of the discs, and then a bit on my feelings about the show. If you need to know what Tenchi is about, you can check out the excellent Tenchi Muyo Primer we have on the site.
First up, as you can tell from the grading above, the audio on this set is just plain gorgeous. The Japanese 5.1 remix is well done and adds an amazing level of depth to an early 90's soundtrack. The forward soundstage makes excellent use of all the speakers, and the portions sent to the rear speakers are well selected and sound great. A lot of the remix comes in the form of the music during the episodes and adds a lot of ambience to things. The only thing I don't care for too much is the remixed opening. I found that I prefer the unmixed version that I can get on the English portion. This is just for the first six episodes mind you, as the second discs episodes are vocals. It's not that it's a bad remix, but I just think it lacks some of the oomph of the unmixed one. Minor quibble!
And the video? As has been said in several places since the release of this set, it's just plain gorgeous. The only disc in my collection which gives this set a run for its money in the sheer beauty of the animation quality is my region 2 Memories DVD (which is 16:9 enhanced). The Tenchi collection, which underwent THX certification, brings out such vivid colors from the animation that I can't honestly remember seeing this beautiful before. I could find no hint of artifacting and no pixellation at all. I daresay this is a flawless presentation in terms of video.
And what kills me about it? It's practically filling up each disc! There's just under four hours of animation on these dual layered DVD's and a large amount of information on it. These babies are crammed, and there is no loss of resolution and clarity on it. Initially I was skeptical regarding the THX certification, as the DVD format seems to get the short shift sometimes and very poor discs come out with the THX tag on it, thereby damaging the quality one usually expects from THX approved products. This disc set definitely begins to restore my faith in it.
I've heard mixed comments on the packaging, but I think it's great. It's very reminiscent of the From the Earth to the Moon DVD set that HBO put out last year in that it's cardboard and folds out. The artwork used is very minimal on the inside, but looks striking against the gray. I've had no trouble removing the discs from the hubs (even my wife removed it with ease) but that just may be our familiarity with a varying number of hub designs. Also noteworthy is that as time goes on, the teeth on the hub are not as strong as when you remove the discs the first time. They still hold on properly to the discs, but the discs get easier to pop out each time. And with the number of times I've popped out the discs doing quality checks since I got the set, it's slick. Excellent package. I love the clear plastic cover that slides over the box and the look it gives. Very nicely done.
The menu is pretty sparse, but colorful. The OVA discs pretty much just have language selection and chapter select and that's it. But you know what? If they wanted to use space for the menus, quality would have been compromised. Remember, a dual layered discs spec list the average running time of just about four hours, and we're just under that here. Add in two language tracks and two subtitle tracks, there likely wasn't room for much of a menu.
The Tenchi Encyclopedia Vol. #3 is just an amazing piece of work. I doubt I can convey just how much information is on it, but it's massive. This is definitely the otaku's reference for Tenchi material. Lots of trailers, character bios, 36 pages of credits, and lots more. Some of the more cute things are the Ryo-ohki commercial (kawaii!!!!) and the interview and music videos by the Sakuya voice actress (and yes, she's a hottie in my book!).
The web portion was still being readied to go up when I went to check out some sections of it, but I did manage to snag the Ryo-ohki desktop theme. I love it! So many miyaaa's when I work here now! I look forward to seeing what else shows up on their website.
The Encyclopedia gets an A+ in my book. I just wish pieces of these things like the commercials and such would show up on the individual TV series discs for different series.
Before I get into my feelings on the show, let me address my minor quibbles with the set, and believe me that they are minor.
Chapter select is just set for each episode. While not a horrible thing (especially when you consider that you can jump to the exact second of any episode with DVD) it bears reminding that it wasn't until Tenchi in Tokyo #3 that chapter select started improving from Pioneer. The OVA set was likely too far along in production for this to be changed, and therefore only merits this minor quibble.
Which brings me to the other one, subtitles. The subtitles are thankfully yellow and bordered and look great. The problem? They didn't subtitle the songs. Not the ending nor the openings. Boo hiss indeed! I cannot imagine why this was not done. Other than that, the subtitles were pretty good. They occasionally seemed a little off, and sometimes the start of a sentence wasn't capitalized, but those are very minor things.
As for the show itself? Well, Tenchi is special to me in that it pushed me forward into the home theater world. When Pioneer announced their intent to release their anime in the United States, I was simply one of those fans who bought lots of 30-40$ tapes that were generally always subtitled and never dubbed and were hard to find outside of specialty shops. After some research, I picked up a Pioneer S-201 laserdisc player and one or two discs. Then, a month later, the first Tenchi laserdisc arrived. I was in awe of the quality. The sound, the video, it was something I had never seen in anime before. The only drawback was that the close captioned subtitles were actually dubtitles. And for you laserdisc people out there, this has been corrected for this DVD version.
I faithfully bought every disc Pioneer put out (just as I do their DVD's now). Pioneer laserdiscs were the best things I had in my collection. Essentially, Pioneer is responsible for putting me on the path to home theater. This DVD release brings things full circle as I once again have a Pioneer player and am sitting down watching Tenchi. And once again, it's an amazing level of clarity and quality.
I've watched all Tenchi releases to date and continue to enjoy them immensely. The show crosses all kinds of genres and stories, all kinds of characters and humorous situations. Excellent music and stunning visuals most notably in sixth OVA. Gorgeous costume design and excellent voice acting from both the Japanese and English actors.
Tenchi has been the flagship title of the Pioneer anime group for a long time now. This release shows how Pioneer feels about it and why it should be held up as something all fans should have.
This is how anime is supposed to be. This is how DVD is supposed to be. And it was worth the wait.
3 disc set contains Tenchi Muyo Encyclopedia 3.0 containing detailed information and production material for each Tenchi Muyo series - including the new Tenchi feature coming out this spring in Japan,First 3000 boxes contain a foil printed plastic collectors card,Remastered film transfer,English 2.0 Language,Japanese 5.1 Remixed Language,English Subtitles
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.