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Let's Talk About: Tenchi Universe

So Expo was a blast, and we managed to hand out all our leaflets. If you came to this website after receiving one of those leaflets, I appreciate it so much, you guys are paying this month's rent. Actually, just kidding. I still live with my parents... But yeah, I appreciate you taking your time to check out Alt:Mag, as this magazine is mine and the other guy's pride and joy. We even paid to get t-shirts printed, that's how committed we are. Also thank you to the team for helping me promote the magazine at expo, even if they just wanted to go have fun!

Another thing to add, is that our good buddy friend Peace has joined up to help us with the magazine. Two new members in a week? I am happy. But without further ado, I am going to talk about one of my favourite anime series and how I became a fan back in the day.

I know I am a nostalgia victim, but how proud I am to be one, especially when magical anime series like Tenchi Universe were part of what made me one in the first place.

  
My Story:
So the year was 2000 and Pokémon was all the rage, so I was collecting the cards, playing Red version and watching the anime. I had a friend who was into Pokémon like me but he was much more adventurous than I was. He recommended I watch Dragonball Z. I wasn't really that bothered about watching it, as I dismissed any other cartoons that used the same anime artwork style that Pokémon did as a copy, like Ken Sugimori invented the bloody style! I find this thought process pretty funny nowadays, as it was pretty dumb, but to be honest, my young mind had been deceived by Digimon and how ridiculously similar in every way possible it was to Pokémon, so instantly I would dismiss any other animes as copycats too. Anyway, if I can recall, Dragonball Z aired on Toonami at 6 o clock, aka the time me and my family had dinner so I couldn't watch it, but if I ate my dinner quick enough, I could catch the end of it. Back then I wasn't really impressed as the plot seemed too complicated, although I do hope to give it a watch again sometime. I never really understood what was going on, but because I was bored as hell, and usually grounded off the computer for completely stupid reasons or my Game Boy Color had been confiscated (my parents were evil, yes) I just sat there after Dragonball Z finished and I eventually stumbled upon Tenchi Universe. That wasn't actually the first time I had heard about Tenchi Universe. The first time was through an advert in the Dandy or the Beano. They had some pretty awesome adverts for Toonami back then. I remember there was a fantastic one for Gundam Wing too (Believe it or not, I actually thought that Gundam Wing was a copy of Power Rangers. That one makes me laugh the most. Oh, how Naïve I was). So I sat in front of the family's cathode ray tube, watching Tenchi Universe by cable. The funny thing was, my parents had the cable guys disable channels like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, as well as Toonami, yet it somehow managed to find its way back onto our TV through some weird-ass magic where it would appear every summer or something, just when I needed it. Hah, that will teach them to mess with my childhood. Anyway, Tenchi Universe just seemed so awesome. There were all these girls wearing cool colourful dresses and all these big flashy space battles. The show was very asian compared to what I saw in series like Pokémon (thank 4Kids for the horrible editing! If Brock wants to eat a riceball, don't shove a burger in his hands!!! God-damn fascists.) and that was appealing to me. The artwork seemed really well drawn and animated in comparison to Pokémon, which always seemed slightly rushed to me. I watched a few of the final episodes of the series before it finished. The funny thing is, at the time, and nowadays, I can't seem to find anyone who ever watched Tenchi Universe as a kid. So a few years back I found this anime again after a brief mission on Wikipedia (thank you Wikipedia!) and started watching it again. This was around the time I really got into anime and manga properly, watching the series Kanon, Sailor Moon (both thanks to the internet) and read the Pokémon Adventures, Ranma ½ and To Heart manga (and don't forget my local library). It wasn't long before I stopped watching it. I didn't stop because it was bad, I probably just took a break from it or something. Recently I decided I'd watch it again, and this time I finished it. That's 12 years after I watched it as a 7 year old! I thought I'd talk a little about how I felt about the anime after 12 years and my tastes have changed and I have matured and whatnot. Do I still love it or has my opinion changed? Find out below.  

Story:
There have been so many reboots and adaptations of the Tenchi Muyo! (aka No Need for Tenchi) series that they are bound to make you confused to some extent. The original was an OVA series called Tenchi Muyo!: Ryo-Ohki. This was an OVA series of 20 episodes, and it had a spin-off series called Tenchi Muyo! GXP which contains all the same set of events but from a different character's perspective. Tenchi Universe, which is the series I speak of, is a 26 episode remake of the first 6 episode story arc in Tenchi Muyo!: Ryo-Ohki. Included in this timeline are the Tenchi movies, Tenchi the Movie: Tenchi Muyo in Love (which is a continuation of the Tenchi Universe TV series). There was another film, titled Tenchi the Movie 2: The Daughter of Darkness. Then, to confuse you just a little more, there is Tenchi in Tokyo, which is a reboot of the franchise, set in a completely different timeline to both the Ryo-Ohki and Universe series. A third film titled Tenchi Forever! The Movie was created, which is the sequel to Tenchi Muyo in Love. Apart from the anime, there is also a tonne of manga adaptations, additional OVA spin-offs and even a Radio show.

So, now that is out of the way, no need for worries (see what I did there?) as you can watch Tenchi Universe without any need to see anything else before hand making it an easy anime to dive into, although the other series are interesting too and if you liked Tenchi Universe, then I suggest you give them a look-in especially the original OVA which is amazing, if not superior, to Tenchi Universe. Although there are advantages and disadvantages of both, especially in the storyline.

So finally, here is the plot, courtesy of a nice dude on IMDb:
Tenchi Masaki is your average school boy who lives with his grandfather, who is a Shinto Priest, and his father. His mum died when he was a young boy, and his grandfather is teaching him how to be like him. One day, something falls from the sky and arrives on Earth. It's the infamous Space Pirate, Ryoko. Once Ryoko is welcomed into the Masaki home, other girls from outer space join the fun... taking Tenchi on the ride of his life!
The story contains elements of fantasy and sci-fi, as well as a fair dose of harem action, but it is definitely not your typical harem anime. Well, you know that by the fact I didn't have the urge to tear my eyes out while watching it. Sure, Tenchi is surrounded by a tonne of beautiful girls, but only two of them really want his affection.

The plot develops really well at the beginning, before becoming a little confusing and unstructured towards the end (in my opinion), with the final battles becoming a little unsatisfying. Apart from that, the series really had me laughing out loud, and the characters develop fantastically, especially their relationship with each other, which further influences the comedy factor. The comedy here is definitely driven by the viewer's love for the characters. You can separate the series into two halves, the first half takes place on earth, and the second takes part in space. I personally prefer the first half over the latter, as the areas in space seem a little undeveloped in regards to the planets and stuff, especially Jurai. Jurai is what the character Ayeka mentions all the time, yet you don't even get to see what it looks like, aside from the Palace and a few fields. I haven't seen all of the original OVA series yet, so I am not sure if the same thing happens in that series too, but I'm sure if it did I would definitely compare them with each other.


Main Characters:

Tenchi Masaki

Tenchi is the main dude who runs shit in this anime. Well, not really. In fact he finds himself often wondering why the hell everything is happening to him. 

- How was the dub?
Great, I personally believe that it suits the character better than the Japanese version! Although there are a few parts where the voice actor doesn't portray emotion very well.

Ryoko Hakubi

The first alien girl that falls to earth and the one who probably has the biggest crush on Tenchi, although she often duels with Ayeka for his affection. In the OVA it is made out that she is a thousand years old or something, but in Tenchi Universe she is just a space pirate who is wanted throughout the galaxy who has escaped to earth. She can do cool stuff like teleport, as well as throw balls of energy at her enemies.

- How was the dub?
Great, although nothing like the Japanese version as it makes Ryoko seems kind of manly and again, I prefer this voice on the character better.

Ayeka Jurai

Ayeka is the princess of Jurai. Her arch-nemesis is Ryoko. She is a little arrogant and a lot of die-hard Tenchi finds actually find her the most irritating character, but I think she is a really important character, as she helps to create some pretty hilarious scenes between herself and Ryoko. She also has special powers at her disposal like Ryoko, but she doesn't use them much.

- How was the dub?
Fine, although a little fake-sounding and weird-sounding at times. She has a really weird posh-sounding accent.

Sasami Jurai

Sasami is Ayeka's sister and princess of Jurai. Sasami is an accomplished cook. She has a much more happy, innocent outlook on life and does not use any special powers. She is an expert games player, especially fighting games. She is probably the kindest character in the anime, and never really says or does anything bad.

- How was the dub?
Great, actually sounds like a little girl talking, rather than an adult pretending to be one (which it probably is, except they did it well in this case).
Mihoshi Kuramitsu

You don't see many dark skinned characters in anime, but Mihoshi is one of the few and she is probably one of my favourite characters in this series.
She may like to eat and sleep a lot, but Mihoshi is one of the finest officers in the Galaxy Police. She is a little slow and scatter-brained and so often creates more work out of something than she needs to!

- How was the dub?
It has that lack of emotion typical of an english anime dub, but because it is Mihoshi who is an airhead and rather slow at times, it actually suits the character perfectly. Could be improved slightly.

Washu Hakubi 

Washu is the self proclaimed greatest scientist in the Universe. Despite her age of 20,000 years Washu displays her self mostly as a girl in her early teens. She mostly comes up with bizarre creations that make all hell break loose and very rarely are they useful.

- How was the dub?
Annoying as hell, in my opinion. I realise that Washu has a dedicated following on the 'net but she kind of has this really odd sounding voice that doesn't suit her character. I just don't like it so, don't kill me please.

Ryo-Ohki

She may not look like it, but Ryo-Ohki is actually Ryoko's spaceship! Ryo-Ohki is a 'Cabbit' (a fusion of a rabbit and a cat)

- How was the dub?
Well, technically Ryo-Ohki doesn't speak any english words because it is just a rat-I mean Cabbit so basically all it says is "NYAA" over and over again. It sounds pretty awful, but not as bad as that asshole from Mashiroiro Symphony. I guess it is tolerable, but when this thing gets angry and growls at something it really gets irritating.

Kiyone Makibi

Kiyone Makibi is a first class Galaxy Police detective who was deemed among the best of the younger generation of Galaxy Police.
Saddled with Mihoshi Kuramitsu as a partner, Kiyone's career suffered and she has become somewhat bitter and depressed with her misfortune, hoping that she can earn a promotion and transfer away from Mihoshi.

- How was the dub? 
Really great! Probably the only character you can't really pick on at all in regards to the dub. Probably because she isn't as important as the other characters, but hey, hats off to the voice actress for getting it right.

Animation:
The animation is your pretty standard anime animation but it really shines in places for sure. There are some minor parts that kind of let the side down, like the typical 'characters talk in front while the people walking along behind them stay still' but apart from that it is very colourful and pleasant to watch and some scenes really come alive with all the characters doing their own thing all at once.
What I love the most in regards to the artwork of the Tenchi series is the character designs. They are all typical of anime design from the nineties, colourful outfits with pretty awesome designs (especially the two princesses of Jurai), colourful (although obviously not realistic) natural hair colours and those big colourful eyes.
 
Merchandise:
Being a fairly old anime, the availability of Merchandise has decreased considerably.
  • I did see a pretty well-made backpack shaped like Ryo-Ohki on eBay
  • There are various soundtracks available. 
  • There are also some figurines and statues available for purchase from shady-looking websites. 
  • There are many DVDs available, but don't expect to pay anything but ridiculous prices for them, due to limited pressings. 
  • There is a pretty decent Tenchi Muyo! manga series which is available to purchase for fairly cheap and you'll find it on Amazon for a fair price, although buying the whole set will probably set you back a bob or two.

It's kind of like the Pikachu backpack, except a little obscure.

Games:
There are many Tenchi Muyo! related games released over various systems, but only in Japan. They are playable, but most require the ability to read Japanese to play at all, which is a little disappointing for English speaking fans of the series. These games are: 

  • Tenchi Muyo! Game Hen: a turn-based role-playing/strategy game for Nintendo's Super Famicom. It has been translated into English by some well nice guys and can be downloaded from various websites.
  • Tenchi Muyo! Toko Muyo!: Japanese PlayStation and Windows 95 owners got a visual novel style game which features a variety of characters from the series placed into a High School setting.
  • Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki FX: If you are one of the few who actually bothered to import a NEC PC-FX, you still might have a hard time playing it. Another visual novel, this one takes advantage of the full motion video that the PC-FX was particularly good at doing.
  • Tenchi Muyo! Rensa Hitsuyou: This one is probably my favourite out of all of the games, probably due its playability despite the language being Japanese. It is more or less a clone of Puyo Puyo for the Sega Saturn, but with some pretty cool and innovative features. It has a two-player mode and you get to play as all your favourite Tenchi characters. I always pick Mihoshi because she is awesome! Definitely pick this up if you are a fan of the series, a fan of Sega Saturn import games, or puzzle games in general!
  • Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki Gokuraku: This was another game released on the Sega Saturn. All it is is an information disc giving details on a load of Tenchi Muyo related stuff. There is also a quiz game on there which questions you about the characters from Tenchi Muyo. Apart from that there isn't much else apart from a few video clips. You do have the option to watch the Opening and end credits though.
  • Tenchi Muyo! Mimiri Onsen Yukemari No Tabi: The third game released for the Sega Saturn, and the last game to grace this list and to finish simply, Mimiri Onsen Yukemari No Tabi is another visual novel.

Tenchi Muyo! Rensa Hitsuyou gameplay.

 
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