Back to the Vaults: Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1

天地無用! 魎皇鬼 OVA 1
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1

***SPOILERS***

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1Early in 2003, I was a noob into the anime fandom scene. I had watched Hand Maid May as well as Love Hina and discovered I had a taste for the harem-styled romantic comedy titles. So I set out to find more and was told that the father of all harem titles was a series called Tenchi Muyo! After some additional research, I discovered that Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1 started the whole Tenchi franchise and so I rented it as part of Pioneer’s then 3-disc release. Man, did I discover this was much Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1more than the harem title most people praised it for.

For those who don’t know, this six-episode OVA/OAV features MASAKI Tenchi, a high school boy who spends his off time from school at the Masaki Shrine, which is run by his grandfather. Tenchi has been raised on the story of the oni who’s supposedly sealed in a cave on the shrine grounds and so becomes obsessed with learning the truth of the story. Learn the truth he does as he accidentally breaks the seal Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1and releases the space pirate Ryoko, who’d been sealed for over 700-years. Her release triggers the arrival of Princess Aeka and her young sister Sasami, who’d been out looking for signs of their half-brother Yosho, who’d disappears over 700-years ago pursuing Ryoko after she attacked their planet, Jurai.

After a battle between Ryoko and Aeka leaves them both stranded on Earth in addition to Tenchi and his father’s home Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1being transported from the city to the Misaki Shrine grounds, Tenchi’s life becomes more complicated when Galaxy Police Officer Mihoshi ends up also getting stranded on Earth and thus has to live with him. She’d been in search of the notorious pirate Kagato, who was Ryoko’s boss and for whom an arrest warrant still existed (while Ryoko’s had been expired moments after Aeka found her).

Kagato eventually arrives on Earth looking for the secret of Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1the power of Jurai — Tsunami. As such, he’s determined to learn this at all costs. After he takes out Tenchi, Aeka and Ryoko confront Kagato on his ship while Mihoshi accidentally finds herself in the mirror section of Souja where the infamous scientist Washu has been held captive for 5000-years. Tenchi’s return reveals that he’s much more than the simple teen he and the others saw him as.

I tried to keep the spoilers down but I wanted to tell enough to Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1pique the interest of those who’d not watched the anime.

On the surface, TM!R is nothing more than a harem title. After all, you have the nice-guy Tenchi who has all these young women living with him. Ryoko shows her feelings for Tenchi in various unusual ways including teasing him and playing with him in the first episode. Aeka’s expression of her feelings are more traditional Japanese. Mihoshi’s expression of her feelings for Tenchi aren’t expressed directly to him, but Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1to Aeka and Ryoko. Sasami-chan’s feelings are shown from the start when Tenchi makes a “your cute” remark which he intends to be for her critter but she blushes as if it is directed at her (and this is a moment where Pioneer’s adaptations fail because the translator decides to translate the scene to make it seem as if Tenchi specifically addresses Sasami-chan’s animal when he in fact did no such thing). Washu’s late arrival doesn’t reveal as much of her feelings for Tenchi, but in hindsight, the clues are there.
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1
Most people zero in on the conflict of Ryoko and Aeka over Tenchi, which really comes out in the fourth episode. It is true that their fights over Tenchi are humorous and fun, but they are only the icing on the cake as is the entire harem aspects of the show.

What caught my attention were the hints of a bigger story underneath all of this harem fun. There was Ryoko’s being Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1sealed in the cave for 700 years. There was Ryoko’s attack on Aeka and Sasami’s planet, Jurai, which lead to their half-brother Yosho’s ending up on Earth as well as Ryoko. There was the fact that the special sword of legend from Yosho was named Tenchi. There was Tsunami. There was the secret on the ship, Tsunami. There was Kagato’s quest for the secrets of Jurai and Tsunami. Finally, there was the secret of Tenchi.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1At the end of these episodes, I found that these things were what intrigued me most and what I hoped future episodes would answer. I had a ton of questions because frankly, Kajishima-sensei (the series co-creator and the one who created the character designs and wrote the initial episode drafts) leaves a lot of things unanswered. Reportedly, he doesn’t like getting bogged down in the details and so when he suddenly has a floating onsen in episode 5, we’re supposed to just accept it and Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1move on. Well, in a sense we do just that but at the same time, the audience is going, “just where did that come from?” As such, after the 7th TM!R episode came out to bridge OVA 1 and OVA 2 (called Night Before Carnival), Kajishima-sensei was compelled to publish a book in Japan called 101 Secrets of Tenchi Muyo! In it, he not only answers 101 questions posed by Japanese fans (101 being selected allegedly as a tribute to 101 Dalmatians), but he also began his tradition of providing additional information about the characters, story, and production which continues to this day (in doujinshi form).

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1Despite this book, there were still a lot of unanswered questions, which at a subconscious level fueled many fans to crave more. I think many fans focused in on the frosting aspects of the series and really missed the bigger story being woven as Kajishima began to follow J.R.R. Tolkien’s example and create an entire complex universe. I’ll go into that aspect more as I pull subsequent titles off the shelf. I will say that while few talk about it, there are some continuity errors in this first OVA, such as when how Ryoko got her gem back and how Aeka ended up going on the mission when it was clear Sasami-chan would be going but we’ll leave that for the comments section. ^_~

That’s not to say the frosting isn’t good mind you and that there aren’t some funny bits, such as these little “hidden” gems from episode 6 (cursor over for translation of text).

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1Musically, this OVA has some really good performances. I found the OP theme (an instrumental) to be very interesting. Ryoko’s Theme, introduced when Ryoko emerges from an explosion in the first episode, captures the sense of fun of the character that isn’t evident in that first episode. For me though, Kagato’s playing the neole (think a giant pipe organ) absolutely ruled (I believe the song is officially called Kagato’s Organ Recital and was composed by NAGAOKA Seikou, whom I believe wrote much if not all of the music for OVA 1). I’ve embedded the piece, all of which played in OVA 1.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1While the series is now out of print thanks to Geneon USA’s all but closing their doors, it is in need of serious repair work, at least to the subtitles. In Pioneer’s initial release, there were massive mistakes in the translations and that carried over into the dubs, which already take some liberties. While Pioneer fixed the worst errors for the 10th anniversary of TM!R, way too many poor choices are made in the subtitles. I’ve already mentioned the Sasami-chan issue earlier, but there are tons more which may seem minor, but since Kajishima-sensei’s Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1story is done in such a way as to leave clues for things that are coming down the road, the translation of the anime needed special care and that’s sadly lacking. As such, should this title get back into the U.S. market somehow, it is my hope that it will be retranslated from scratch by Tomato, who did the excellent work on OVA 3 and OVA 3 +1 for FUNimation.

Because of how Pioneer released OVA 1, Night Before Carnival, and OVA 2 in the U.S. (calling Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1it all “Tenchi Muyo”), people sometimes get confused about the whole canon Tenchi breakdown. However, if you are really keen to learn more, I have made an FAQ about the canon series.

In the end, we have an anime series that really manages to reach out and grab its audience. For most, the harem comedy aspects are tops, followed by the adventure story at the end. For me, the glimpses of a much larger universe are what sucked me in and made this series my favorite anime. If you get a chance, I highly encourage you to watch this series, which is considered the best of the lot by Tenchi fans including myself.

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25 Responses to “Back to the Vaults: Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1”

  1. O-chan says:

    Funny thing is I marathoned the entire OAV series (the two from Geneon/Pioneer and the Funi one) last summer. It’s amazing how much stuff makes so much more sense when you watch it in one setting.

  2. Ultimaniac says:

    *sigh* Memories~~~ Tenchi was one of my first anime ever. I loved that series before I even knew what anime was!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sasami was so mischievous back in the first OAV. You know, I think I will have to watch this myself now.

  4. AstroNerdBoy says:

    @O-chan — that’s true and something that will I will mention down the road. ^_^

    @Ultimaniac — ^_^ Glad to take you down memory lane.

    @Anon — Yeah, Sasami-chan did like to cause trouble back then. I didn’t mention it in the blog, but when I watched the six episodes, I chuckled at how from the start, she did things for her own amusement.

    Anyway, I hope you do rewatch the anime because its good stuff. ^_^

  5. Rachel says:

    There’s just nothing quite like Tenchi! It’s one of the few anime that actually involves research and digging and internet sleuthing, and I use your Tenchi page CONSTANTLY as a reference when trying to sort out what’s going on, and what has been mistranslated, and what I’m missing out on when things aren’t in English. I recently posted a long and gushing review of the Okuda manga on my blog, and it’s exciting to see you posting about Tenchi too! It makes me feel like I’m not alone in my obsession.

  6. I first discovered Tenchi back in the 90s when they aired TMiL on SciFi’s Saturday Anime. I only saw it once though (and not even in its entirety, IIRC), and my first serious exposure was when the OVA and both TV series (Universe>>>>>>Tokyo) first aired on Toonami in 2000.

    My first anime DVD, purchased in 2000, was TMiL2 (aka “Tenchi Forever), which I really enjoyed, while my second was the 3-disc OVA boxed set (well worth the high price point IMO). Geneon, nee Pioneer, was always my favorite licensor due not only to the fact that they brought out more series that I liked, but also because of the high quality of their DVDs. Out of the 80+ anime series, OVAs, and films I own (in part on in whole), fully a third were released by Pioneer-Geneon (ADV and Bandai split another third, while the other third is FUNimation, Anime Works, and various others). I really miss them, though FUNimation has really become a top-notch licensor over the last decade — a major improvement from the days when DBZ was their only show — and has rescued a few of Geneon’s licenses (though unfortunately most are now effectively out of print).

    To get back on subject, I really enjoyed the characters, art, story, pacing, etc. of the Tenchi OVA (the “Universe” TV series was entertaining as well), and was glad that they got around to making a third “season” to wrap up the whole Choushin plotline started when Clay, Zero, & Tokimi first appeared. In fact, the only thing Kajishima-sensei didn’t really do in the OVA is settle the romantic subplot.

    However, it wasn’t until I stumbled across a couple of fansites, including your excellent FAQ, a couple of years ago did I discover exactly how deep and rich the OVA continuity’s story was. K-sensei’s novels and doujin really fleshed out the back story as well as offering glimpses in the future of the cast (if all this extra material is canon, then Tenchi apparently ends up with multiple women, considering he has a son with Ryoko-like hair and was shown getting intimate with Noike). Unfortunately, a lot of this material is not likely to make it here to the West in an official licensed format, and it’s apparent that few if any scanlators are up to the task to translating it all, not to mention it’s likely that we won’t get any more OVA episodes, and in the off chance we do, it’ll probably be years before they’re made. Oh well. At least there’s the raws and your FAQ.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, ANB. Later.

  7. kuroichoucho says:

    Tenchi is the anime for smart people. You really have to think when watching since the storyline isn’t as simple as other animes. Tenchi set the bar high for other animes to follow!

  8. Oyasumi says:

    I’m rewatching the Tenchi OVA right now! I got the entire DVD set last summer and now I’m making it a new “summer tradition” to watch Tenchi every year.

    You’re totally right, the music of this series is great. Ryoko’s theme has always been my favorite. I also like Picnic of Lanterns a lot too.

    I always prefer the first OVA and the first half of the second OVA. (Up until “I Love Tenchi”) I find myself dreading watching the Zero epiosdes though.

    Also much as the books that Kajishima made helped understand the series…I’ve never really liked them. Not 101, but those other little stories, especially Ryoko’s backstory. I accept them as canon, but I feel they sort of ruined the series a bit for me. I try not to think about it too much when I watch the series, but it does bother me. Oh well.

    It’s sad to see how much the fandom has deteriorated over the years, but it’s good to see there still are fans. 😀

  9. AstroNerdBoy says:

    @Shadow — you’re welcome and thanks for sharing. ^_^

    @kuroichoucho — the anime certainly made me think a lot in the same way that Lord of the Rings did — I wanted to learn more about the underlying stuff.

    @Oyasumi — I’ll discuss the “Zero episodes” in the future. ^_^

  10. LuckySeven says:

    As much as I love Tenchi Muyo, this is the biggest hole in my collection. I have OVA1, OVA2, The first movie, and the Mihoshi Special on VHS, and sadly no matter how well I take care of them they are showing their age. I sincerely hope someone at Funimation makes the call to re-license this and give it a well deserved re-release. Along with licensing Magical Project S and giving it a dub like it should have had in the first place.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Come on man, what was so bad about what I said that you didn’t let it appear? All I said was that OAV1 ruled and OAV3 sucked, and that you’re the leading OAV3 apologist which I think even people who like OAV3 would agree with. Sorry if I offended you, but I read the comments at Tenchiboard and thought thay were a good example of what most Tenchi fans think about these things.

  12. Cap Twister says:

    In my opinion, OVA 1 was great, OVA 2 almost as great, but unfortunately OVA 3 didn’t measure up to the same standard. Not by a long shot. I’ve heard Funimation supposedly claims that it had good sales, and it’s hard for me to wrap my head around that with all the negative opinons I hear from other Tenchi fans. Maybe people bought it because they wanted more Tenchi, never mind which kind, but that doesn’t mean all those people were happy with what they saw. From what I’ve heard and seen, most weren’t.

  13. AstroNerdBoy says:

    @Anon — your initial post triggered the troll filter from the staff. Nevertheless, I have made the executive decision to let this one pass. ^_^

    People can say what they want and it doesn’t offend me. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me.

    “I read the comments at Tenchiboard and thought thay were a good example of what most Tenchi fans think about these things.”

    Nothing against you or the (mostly) good folks at Tenchiboard but I’d hardly call the few people who post there an accurate sampling of how most fans feel. By that token, I could argue that between the AFC boards, the FUNimation board, and the legitimate e-mail I still get to this day about Tenchi (all of which is positive), this must mean that the majority of people love Tenchi to include OVA 3.

    I’ll go into this in the future when I hit OVA 3, but for now I’ll just say that there were many new fans introduced to Tenchi via OVA 3 while at the same time a lot of old fans left because of OVA 3.

    Cap said, “I’ve heard Funimation supposedly claims that it had good sales, and it’s hard for me to wrap my head around that with all the negative opinons I hear from other Tenchi fans.”

    Whether you believe it or not doesn’t change the fact that indeed it was a good seller. The first three episodes were done under one license. Those sales were very good and FUNimation then licensed the remaining three episodes for OVA 3. Those were good and FUNimation released the collectors tin for the entire set to be released with OVA 3 +1 (which I think was the third license). It was because sales were so good that FUNimation took the risk on the “Sasami” series. And FUNimation is aware of the new spinoff as well, though they are not going to tell me any licensing plans if they had them.

    As to the negativity, well I understand that. If I and a few others started going around and saying “Cap Twister is a bastard and he totally sucks,” and the people we tell this too are also of the same mind, does that mean you suck even if you have some character faults (I speak as an example only and not based on any personal experiences)?

    We all have our faults but if you hang with a crowd that hates a thing, it is easy to get the misimpression that this thing (no matter what that thing may be) is highly hated. Transversely if you hang with a crowd that loves a thing to the point of orgasm, you can also have the misimpression that this thing is highly beloved. In the end, it is only anecdotal information.

    The facts are that in Japan, GXP did good business and caused AIC to give OVA 3 the green light. OVA 3 did well enough to cause AIC to give the go-ahead to OVA 3 +1 as well as the new “Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari” series as well as launch the “Sasami: Mahou Shoujo Club” series. It was pretty much the same thing in the U.S. except for “Seikishi,” which has not been licensed yet.

  14. James says:

    James said…(This is my name, because i’m too lazy to make an account)

    Very interesting points there. ANB has suddenly become Dr. Phil and Oprah at once. It’s wierd that I have written a comparison article for my Eng 102 class on Tolkien and Mr. K. Though tolkiens world is harder to relate to.

    As Tenchi for smart people I agree. I’m not an anime fan myself, but Hayashi’s BPS is another smart series. Though unfortunatly the series lacking outside info.

    I consider Gxp ep 2-11 the best in Yousuke’s writing, he learned a little from Hasegawa. Yet, he still made the characters kind of boring. They seem inconsistent. Voice acting was also better in GXP and top notch in oav 1. Oav 3 production sucked. It just had to be handled by the original staff. Geneon is much better then funimation. I’ve switched GXP dvd’s and they are all bad. I really hate that animation and even art is digitized.

    Let’s just face it, OAV 1 was just made for itself. Wonderful staff of writer, directer, art, design, and music. The only reason I keep oav 3 is for the unusually worthy extra’s. It’s really hard watch any kind of work done by different people. I believe thats why Kajishima does his own novel of GXP. He most likely knows if he keeps his work to himself its better. Strange thing is he was the one to bring in Nabeshin. Which i liked what he did with series.

    Sorry, but this is no college essay. You may end up brain damaged from inorganized writing.
    I hope I said everything. no i didn’t, o well. thats enough

  15. Dagon123 says:

    I remember seeing this (along with many other anime) on CN’s Toonami, which turned me into a huge anime fan, but there most superior anime, by far, was that of Tenchi Muyo

    I will say this now, OVA3 was not a terrible anime, the way its story was presented, lacked highly. But the first time you watch it,
    1. Your enthralled (its new tenchi, who isnt excited?)
    2. As much as it is bashed for its new characters from GXP and the like, i was on the edge of my seat when they first introduced Tennyo and EVERYBODY, in the house was like “OH MY GOD..” if you didnt love the atmosphere that scene created your lieing
    3. It will never, EVER be as good as OVA1, you have to come to terms with that and just enjoy it for what it is

    With that said i’d be lieing if i said i was dissapointed with the Eng Voice cast, i bought each disk seperatly when first released which cost me about $80, which was HIGH for what it was, and i was shocked the way it ended, all in all, No need for haters…but no need for a following

    Back on the subject of OVA1/2
    Kagato’s theme on the Organ was my favorite of all the music (minus the main theme itself) i had to have listened to that at least 3 times the first time i heard it, wow

    Its really nice that we have people like ANB, who post (very excellent) FAQ about this, i know i’ve gone there multiple times (or asked him myself) about something i didnt have an answer for, its almost like hes a direct line to Kajishima-Sensei, lol

    I’m really glad that people are still discovering Tenchi Muyo, that people are still in love with it, and that even though its been around for 17 years, its still considered by most who have seen it there favorite or one of the best anime of all time

  16. Ryoko says:

    if the first two OVA are redone, i hope the get the original cast, as well they should redo third ova with the original cast.

  17. Dagon123 says:

    Well Ryoko i think the reason your English VA wasnt good, or up to par, is because i dont think FUNImation had a backup plan for if Petrea couldnt do it, i mean really? Mona Marshall? and i say this because in the FUNI re-dubs of DBZ,

    they used completely different people for Vegeta and Nappa, of whom i’m a huge fan, the only thing that led me on was (yes) the “over 9000” line, so i looked it up and low and behold Vegeta had been re-voiced, but Mr. Sabat was soo good a replacement, i could’ve sworn he was the original, this proves FUNI can find people to fill spots, but imo they kinda freaked not getting petrea and had to call in the person they had do it and say “hey try to sound like her the best you can”

    If FUNI ever did get rights to redub the first 2 OVA’s, i can guarentee they would either have ALL the originals back (IE redubbing OVA3 included) or get people who sound so close to the originals it takes a sharp ear to notice the very fine differences

  18. Anonymous says:

    Ahhh, what does ANB know? Nuthin’!

    LOL!

    (Nicely done, ANB) 🙂

  19. Meglivorn says:

    It’s funny, I just watched OVA3 6 +1 yesterday evening 🙂

    I once called the tenchi to an “iceberg-anime”, as when one watches the OVA series just seen around the quarter of the whole (or just one-tenth?) the other informations are in the 101, the novels, doujins and interviews… sad that most of them still japanese only – yep, I should work on that.
    And – even if for some people this is like a blasphemy – it’s really like the work of Tolkien, where you always find new things, or see that the new and sudden ideas were long there, only missed to notice (like Noike on that old doujin cover).

    As for OVA3: most people I heard to complain were angry becouse they wanted just like the previous episodes: Ryoko fights Ayeka, Washu doing weird things and all saves the day from some maniacs. They don’t like the “new” characters – I heard once called them “GXP characters” – and as the focus moved from the “old” ones.
    I have complains against OVA3 of course, mostly artistic, like the always same clothes, while the old OVAs the girls had countless wardrobe – just a little glipmse of the lower standards 🙁
    Kajishima played too much with Misao so I got too few of Seto (or Airi). I wished for some answers, but got only hints and maybe even more questions… but well, that’s what I really like in this series: constant exploration and endless guesses, thinkings, brainstormings 🙂

    On GXP, I have mixed feelings. I don’t really like Nabeshin – I exspecially surprised that Nerima Daikon Brothers was actually really good – and the way he do things. I agree with the doghouse in ep.17 🙂
    But the GXP is such a fan-candy with all the thigs I only read in the novel synopsis: the Academy, Tarsis, Washu no Keana, Clay’s guard robots, and of course Airi and Seto – who are so important in the Tenchi story and most of the people doesn’t even know them.

    Seikishi: only seen 3 episodes (2 pre air only) in raw… and still so many new questions. Shame that no info about licence or a fansub already. Still I already wonder how things will turn, how will this fit to the whole, and if my guesses will be right in the end 🙂

    So after almost 10 years, I still like the exploring – and I do think that is something.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Sorry to ask but i just finished watching “tenchi … Sorry to ask but i just finished watching “tenchi muyo ryo-oh-ki” and I’m confused on what tenchi to watch next. I tried an episode of “universe” but I was confused why tenchi was meeting ryoko again. Gxp didn’t seem to have ryoko or the others in it. Is there something I’m missing?

    (recreated text)

  21. chrono says:

    any 1 know were i can find The All-New Tenchi Muyō! manga series found a website were it has 14 chapters but then skips to volume 8 i think there are 10 volumes in all

  22. AstroNerdBoy says:

    If you are looking for an online place to view the series, I have no clue where to find them.

  23. […] review of OVA 1 can be found here. My review of “Night Before Carnival” can be found here. My review of OVA 2 can be […]

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