Tenchi Universe Vol. #1 - Mania.com

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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: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tenchi Universe

Tenchi Universe Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     June 20, 2000
Release Date: June 20, 2000

Tenchi Universe Vol. #1
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
Come join the fun as Tenchi Masaki attempts to act as mediator for these out-of-this world characters as they fight with each other for Tenchi’s attentions.
Ryoko the Dreaded Space pirate, Mihoshi the Galaxy Police officer, Ayeka the crown princess of Jurai, and Washu the Greatest Scientific Genius in the Universe! What could all these women of interstellar importance possibly have in common? Causing one ordinary high school boy to miss class…

The Review!
With the successful Tenchi Muyo OVA series on DVD and the love it or hate it Tenchi in Tokyo series also completed, Pioneer has set its sights on the middle ground of the two, Tenchi Universe or simply Tenchi Muyo TV as it is originally known.

Thankfully, similar to other recent releases by the folks at Pioneer, the audio for this disc is recorded at 384 Kbps, which means to you and me that it generally sounds more full and less compressed. It sounds quite good in fact. The best test of this disc is what I consider to be the best Tenchi song, the opening for this series. Crank it up, sit back and hit play. Both audio tracks sound good. As is to be expected from an earlier Pioneer release, the opening song on the dub track is done in English, and quite well. During normal playback for the episodes themselves, we did not notice any distortion and dialogue sounded good. There's a decent amount of directionality on the front soundstage with nothing that I noticed going to the rears. A slightly better than average TV soundtrack kicked up with a good bit rate.

The video overall is very clean and free of nicks and scratches. The opening sequence (again) is a high point of the series with some really great looking animation that's very vibrant and comes across so much more clearly and detailed than my previous laserdisc edition. It's almost night and day in my mind. There are a few spots where the image jitters slightly and some pixellation here and there alongside some line noise, but nothing that will detract from normal viewing for the majority of those who are getting this. Tenchi Universe has never looked so good as it does here.

When the show was released on laserdisc, Pioneer went the extra mile and made box sets for all eight releases. While the DVD doesn't have the big "oooo, shiny" factor of that release, they've updated the entire layout by giving it a new logo and doing some new backgrounds for the same cover artwork. I'm looking forward to seeing if they continue this with future releases. The back cover gives a quick rundown on what Tenchi is as well as the episodes included on the disc. There's some screenshots and the usual technical information on the disc. Inside, a completely different image is used for the chapter list insert. The insert itself lists the 7 chapters for each episode. Very nice looking and definitely good to not see the same cover art inside as outside. The disc itself is the usual etched type, nothing too fancy there.

Having been spoiled by recent releases from Pioneer in terms of the menus, the Tenchi Universe ones seem to lack a bit. There's no animation, but there is music playing in the background. Selections are accessed quickly and the menu is laid out pretty well. Language selections are cute in that the mini Washu's are used for the markers. It's quite cute.

Pioneer has also included a bunch of goodies on the disc and in the package. On the disc itself, they've provided a non-credit opening and ending. The ending is the one for the first episode only, not the second episode (with the floating Ayeka). There's also 25 pieces of conceptual artwork for the series as well as Character Data pages for some of the cast.

One of the truly cool goodies is the "while supplies last" extra of... finger puppets! This disc includes Tenchi, Ryoko and Mihoshi. Sorry Ayeka fans... I immediately pulled these out, clipped 'em and played with them with my 3 month old daughter. She's a Tenchi fan now!

Back when this show was coming out on laserdisc, I was beginning my downward spiral of anime viewing. Fewer laserdiscs were coming out and I couldn't go back to VHS, so my interest waned. With Tenchi Universe, we never got past watching the first box set; repeatedly. We tried several times before we ended up just sitting down and watching all eight boxes at once.

Since it's been a few years and my perceptions on things have changed again, especially after taking in the very different Tenchi in Tokyo, watching the variations of the first TV series so far has been pretty interesting. While it does stray fairly well from what many consider the masterpiece of Tenchi, the OVA series, the TV series does a very good job of holding up on its own. It pays respects to what made the OVA's good and then goes and does its own thing.

The first four episodes are all about establishing the characters and their personalities. By the end of these episodes you'll know the basics of all of them, though some surprises certainly do remain. The world that Tenchi inhabits is one that I'm sure plenty of guys wish they could join, with women fawning over him for no apparent reason.

Tenchi's the lucky guy, if you really want to call it that, who has the infamous Space Pirate Ryoko end up on Earth and ends up entangled with her as she escapes Galaxy Police Officer Mihoshi. Things run afoul as they so often do with Mihoshi in the same spiral arm of the galaxy, and they both end up as residents at Tenchi's house.

Over the next couple of episodes, more women from space end up taking residence there, all with varying degrees of affection for Tenchi. Even the cute Ryo-ohki will end up with some kind of infatuation with the poor boy!

With Tenchi Universe coming to DVD, some newer Tenchi fans may get a bit overwhelmed with it all and find a lot of the early episodes similar and repetitive to both the OVA's and the other TV series. It's not for everyone, but this Tenchi series overall does please and contains a fairly complete storyline from beginning to end.

Pioneer has released an excellent disc, though with a few very minor faults. If I was to make only one true gripe about it, it's the lack of subtitles for the opening and ending songs. Try as I might, I could not find them. Tsk. Otherwise, Tenchi fans will be pleased with the release of this disc, especially if all they've had over the years is the VHS release.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Data,Line Artwork (25 pieces),Non-credit opening,Non-credit ending,Ryoko and Tenchi and Mihoshi finger puppets (while supplies last)

Review Equipment
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.


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