Back to the Vaults — Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 2

天地無用! 魎皇鬼 OVA 2
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 2

REVIEW (may contain spoilers)

The amazing success of Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1 saw AIC/Pioneer launch a cash cow franchise of pretty nice proportions. The release of the OVA special O-Matsuri Zenjitsu no Yoru! (お祭り前日の夜!), which Pioneer U.S.A. translated as “Night Before Carnival,” proved the canon OVA’s were still very hot. Indeed, Kajishima-sensei entered to book market with the release of his 101 Mysteries of Tenchi Muyo! in which he answered 101 questions from fans and provided a ton of other information as well. However, Hasegawa-sensei launched her very popular, non-canon Tenchi novels and AIC/Pioneer tested the waters with the non-canon Mihoshi Special OVA which ultimately launched both the non-canon Pretty Sammy spinoff and the non-canon Tenchi Universe spinoff. Naturally, another canon OVA series had to be released as well.

Among almost all the Tenchi fans I’ve spoken with over the years, OVA 2 is considered good, but not as good as OVA 1. I think one of the reasons for this is that Kajishima-sensei had complete control of the series by this point. As such, he was free to do the kind of stories he wanted to do — slice of life stories with a side of humor. Looking through OVA 2, one finds that it is mostly composed of “day in the life of Tenchi and his harem” stories with those comedic moments on the side. Compare that to OVA 1, where Tenchi is in conflict with Ryoko, then in conflict with Aeka, thus giving the first two episodes plenty of action. Episode three was more to Kajishima-sensei’s likings, but episode four had action with Ryoko’s summoned water elemental and of course episodes 5 and 6 had Kagato, a much more interesting villain with plenty of action. We get all of this plus some “day in the life of” stories and all without neglecting the comedy.

For OVA 2, we have very little action. Instead, we have the day in the life stuff, but each episode ends up fleshing out characters and plot elements to the bigger story being told. For the first episode (number 8 overall) “Hello Baby,” we get to see Tenchi’s harem deal with having a baby thrust into their midst and the humor that comes with that. At the same time, We learn a bit about Washu’s past and that she’d been married and had a child. In “Sasami and Tsunami,” we get a return to the onsen owned by Tenchi’s aunt, but amidst the hijinks of the characters, we learn the ties between Sasami and Tsunami. In “I Love Tenchi,” more hijinks but we also learn how Ryo-ohki and Ryoko were created and that Ryo-ohki (a computer unit) has emotions and feelings for Tenchi.

In “Advent of the Goddess,” we are introduced to series villain Dr. Clay. We have the droid Zero, who can become a perfect copy of any person, inserted into the Tenchi home for more comedic hijinks on one hand, but also a look at Ryoko’s buried feelings on the other, all while having Dr. Clay in the shadows. This also ended with a cliff hanger which Japanese fans had to wait a couple of months to see the resolution to. For “Zero Ryoko,” there is a tiny bit of comedy action with Mihoshi shown and on one of Dr. Clay’s monitors, one sees Tenchi and Aeka fight. That is it for the action in OVA 2. Much of this episode is devoted to revealing that Dr. Clay and Washu had a past, that there’s more to Washu’s gems than meets the eye, and culminating in Ryoko accepting her “embarrassing” self that truly loves Tenchi. We also end with the first look at the OVA 3 villain “Z,” who at this point was unnamed but displayed five Light Hawk Wings.

Finally, for “Here Comes Jurai,” (a completely made up title on the part of Pioneer since the actual title appears to be a parody/pun of a Japanese saying), confusion is woven into the episode from the start with the beginning actually taking place during Night Before Carnival. Most folks got it eventually, but there were many fans who were lost by this since the anime didn’t bother to say, “this took place x-amount of time ago.”

As to the rest of the episode, we get a bit of additional information about Washu’s gems and their relation to Tsunami. We get a bit of an insight into the political structure of Jurai. We get a bit of an insight into why having warships Tsunami, Ryu-oh, Ryo-ohki, and Mihoshi’s Galaxy Police cruiser as well as Tenchi with his Light Hawk Wings and Washu with her abilities scared the pants off the Juraian leadership. We learn another of Katsuhito’s secrets and all of this is done amidst the hijinks and day in the life stuff that Kajishima-sensei loves so much.

The omake slide-show audio drama is probably the least liked aspect of OVA 2, not because it is a slide show, but because Washu has Ryoko in her contraption and leaves her there until Ryoko breaks and begins calling for Washu as her mama. OVA 2 ends with the apparent looming threat of the Choushin Tokimi and her mysterious champion with five Light Hawk Wings, whom we would learn through other means from Kajishima-sensei was named “Z” (“Zetto” in the Japanese as that’s how they pronounce the letter “Z”).

For me, I like OVA 2 because I liked the bits of information we received. Because Kajishima-sensei is a firm believer in the Law of Conservation of Details when it comes to plot stuff, all we get are bits and pieces. In some cases, it is enough to put some pieces together, like how Tsunami and Sasami became a single entity, but not answer why Tsunami has always had the appearance of the adult form of Sasami. The conversation between Yosho and Funaho in the final episode is a great example of minimalism in details, with Kajishima-sensei dropping hints in things left unsaid as well as things said.

In fact, Kajishima-sensei is so notorious for leaving out so many details that over the years (one of the most frequent questions I get from OVA 2 is about what Dr. Clay is doing in the 4th episode, 11th overall; he’s moving an entire galaxy but this doesn’t come across very well in the anime), he’s had to write lots of Q&A material, starting with his “101 Mysteries” book, then moving to doujinshi, interviews, and even a website (some of which I’ve had translated on the Tenchi Muyo! FAQ site –> Section 3: More Tenchi Goods –> Articles –> Kajishima-sensei Web Q&A). Because of the language barrier that exists which prevents American fans from learning everything the Japanese fans know, I believe that some fans find this approach to storytelling very frustrating, although it did lead to years of speculation on various Tenchi message boards. Indeed, my attempts to gather this information into one central source led to the Tenchi FAQ as it exists today.

That said, because Kajishima-sensei is this kind of minimalist plot writer when it comes to the canon OVA’s (in the doujinshi, novels, etc., Kajishima-sensei goes into much greater depth and actually gives answers and explains things), the need for an accurate translation of the subtitle script is most imperative. Unfortunately, the initial Pioneer release was full of errors and while the worst errors were corrected in their 4-disc release, there are still many issues with their final version of the subtitles. What needs to happen is that the all thirteen episodes covering the stuff controlled by Geneon Japan need to be retranslated from scratch complete with honorific usage, as honorifics are used quite a lot to convey relationship attitudes between characters.

OVA 2 also stands out in terms of beauty. Clearly, AIC/Pioneer poured some extra money into the pot because it looks much better visually than OVA 1. While I don’t have some anime character clothing fetish, I do notice and appreciate when characters aren’t just wearing the same outfit day after day. For OVA 2, characters wear a variety of outfits and for whatever reasons, Ryoko is given quite the wardrobe of outfits to wear, most looking quite good on her.

Musically speaking, OVA 2’s OP theme “I’m a Pioneer” as sung by YOKOHAMA Chisa (Sasami; Tsunami) is my favorite OP of any of the franchise. NAGAOKA Seikou‘s music is still used throughout, but not quite as well as in OVA 1. It is all the same incidental music for the most part, but at times just not used in a manner that feels totally right. However, this is just a minor complain on my part.

Folks often ask me if I think FUNimation or some other company will license-rescue the Tenchi franchise which Geneon Japan has control over. Sadly, I do not believe this will happen, especially with FUNimation (I wrote a speculation article based on the release of the first 13 episodes in Japan on Blu-ray) since FUNimation would want all distribution rights. I could always be wrong, but the Japanese can be quite finicky when it comes to licenses.

In the end, Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 2 is a good series that expands Kajishima-sensei’s universe of Tenchi and shows multiple layers that place it miles above most other harem romantic-comedy titles. It lacks the action that played a heavy role in OVA 1, which is why I think so many fans aren’t as keen with OVA 2.

Next up: the controversial OVA 3. BWAH!HA!HA!HA!HA!

(Well, someday…maybe. ^_~)



Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 2 Ep 6

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 2 Ep 4

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18 Responses to “Back to the Vaults — Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 2”

  1. O-chan says:

    I find it funny you did a review of OAV2 the EXACT same day I posted on my blog about me getting into Tenchi.

  2. Blogima says:

    Pretty interesting. I remember I saw TM Ryoh-ki OVAs 1 & 2 in one day, but I didn’t remembered some things. Well, OVA third series was a little difficult to watch (I trusted on You Tube, didn’t find any site to download it T_T), don’t know too much about it, despite know about Noike’s debut (I prefer her long beautiful hair version *_*).

    Well, Isekai ended too, so, when the subbed version comes out, I hope for a complete review of your, Astro (man, Kenshi beats Negi or any other male harem protagonist in any aspect, MAINLY numbers ^^”)!

  3. AstroNerdBoy says:

    @O-chan — I’ll have to check what you wrote. I’m WAY behind at the moment. ^_^;

    @Blogima — I’ll be writing a review of OVA 3 and one for OVA 3+1 as well as one final article on the subject before moving to GXP.

    As to ISM, I’ll blog more when I’m able. ^_^;;; I know the series is over in Japan and I know it has a harem ending.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Tenchi rocks. Too bad OAV 1 and 2 are no longer for sale. Maybe Funimation could pick them up.

  5. shadow_s_writer says:

    Well, I hope you still got your fireproof underwear. you know what going to happen when GXP and OVA3 come up.

    Actually, I like eps 13 best of all the Tenchi Ryo-ohki series, since it does tell us more about Tenchi’s world beyond Earth than any other episode.

    BTW, OVA1 and OVA2 have been released on BlueRay disk for those who do not yet own their own copies,

  6. Philip says:

    I remember I recorded almost every episode of the OVAs…

    I wonder… are you going to make any episode reviews of the Negishi canon of the Tenchi series?

  7. AstroNerdBoy says:

    @Anon — that would be the dream, but I still think that Geneon Universal wants American fans to buy the overpriced Blu-ray from Japan and import it.

    @Shadow — I’m immune. ^_^

    @Philip — I no longer own the Tenchi Universe DVD’s, so reviewing that continuity is not an option at this time. (I do still own “Tench Forever” now that I think about it, but not the TV series).

  8. James says:

    About damn time, but you could have waited till the first to post it, so we don’t have to search in the archives. Anyway, bloody brilliant post, not as good as the past two, but great, you addressed some of the points that I thought nobody else had felt. Such as, definitely we see Kajishima take the throne, but I think that was evident in episode 7. Yes, the heightened level of “day in the life episodes” had my jaw dropping, especially 8-10.

    I’m on the other side of the fence for animation, I thought it was poorer, albeit barely. Mihoshi special and ep. 7 both elevated in terms of quality artwork. OAV 2 had more exaggeration in expressions and more amounts of SD. Something that I loved most about the anime, both Hasegawa and Hiyashi don’t use SD, they keep it real. We instantly see Ryoko’s ears widen in 7 and in oav 2 again. Though animation was better in the Clay and tokimi art, I thought they were presented beautifully. Nagaoka even aided the mood around the goddess and Clay perfectly.

    Ep. 13- I don’t know, the main characters had even more SD disorder to them, but the royals looked fine, I don’t know if its the fact its the first time we see them animated.

    As to Kajishima’s style, I’m not complaining. If not for his FBI/CIA tactics, there’s not much that can draw us to his work. If he told us everything, then there’s no point in coming back.

    What I wish is that he and Takeauchi explain the props(ships, worlds, etc.) and there functions. Where in the world can you locate Tokimi’s realm?

    It’s funny Dr. Clay never got in cel posters like Kagato. Hell, Hasegawa’s characters got pictures.

  9. AstroNerdBoy says:

    @James — Kajishima-sensei did explain some of the functions of a Royal tree ship in GXP. The rest were explained in other media.

  10. evgenidb says:

    @Astro, I have a question I wanted to ask for a long time – does Ryoko have a tail (a black one) or is this just a part of her cloth?

  11. AstroNerdBoy says:

    That question gets asked a lot and I even asked it myself back in the day. It is part of her clothing. Kajishima-sensei confirmed that in “101 Mysteries,” which I hope we can start seeing unofficial translations of at some point. ^_^

  12. James says:

    I know he explained it, but all he explained were the biological factors. Pairing, key making, master keys, signals.

    I’m asking for more of the outer functions, and how the electronics mix in with the trees. Is the manga’s Ryuten planet actually where the ships exterior are made or thats Hitoshi’s work?

  13. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I’m asking for more of the outer functions, and how the electronics mix in with the trees. Is the manga’s Ryuten planet actually where the ships exterior are made or thats Hitoshi’s work?

    As far as I know, the ship’s hulls are made on Jurai. I say this because in the novel “Yosho,” Aeka’s ship Ryu-oh had only just started receiving the hull and the work was not yet complete when Ryoko and Ryo-ohki attacked. Even though it was not completed and Aeka was warned about this, she took Ryu-oh into the fight anyway and was defeated (some have speculated that it is her ship which slams into Tenju, the giant tree that houses the royal palace, during the fight.

    The other thing I know is that the hulls aren’t a requirement. Instead, they are used as limiters to help control and focus the power of a Royal tree. Initially, the hulls were made of metal but now of wood.

    Other than that, I’ve heard nothing on the electronics or even more details on how Kyouko works with the remote interface device.

  14. James says:

    Thats new to me, about the ships being metal. Though, I guess they did that because there is no known threat other then washu and children.

    It doesn’t state it any where, but it does show in the Queen’s and Azusa’s ship. I was wondering all this time why the colors were more steel like and not wood. I always that they had it that way for more protection of the throne.

    Though it could be argued so, since we know Saito had her ship before Azusa, as to why hers is generally wood. Especially, since she’s the fourth or first of the Holy Royal Counsel.

    You get my email yet anb?

  15. AstroNerdBoy says:

    Initially, they were made of metal when Jurai was first founded. That was over 100,000 years ago (I’m being lazy and not looking up the actual time). That’s how they new the Royal tree-ship that crashed on the dark side of Earth’s moon came from an early time in Jurai’s history and at some point, it was determined that Masaki, the sister of the first Emperor of Jurai, was the one who’s ship crashed. Why it crashed, I don’t know. Masaki lived though, in astral form. In the future, she gets a new body, thanks to Tokimi, and she ends up with Tenchi’s son.

    Azusa’s, Funaho’s, and Misaki’s ships are made from wood. I don’t know why they’d have a more metallic look to them other than different art styles. I believe the wood they use is better than steel. Not 100% sure on that though.

    When you say “Saito,” I’m guessing you mean “Seto?”

  16. James says:

    Yes, Seto. The time might be correct, as Jurai is 150,000 years currently. Is there anything on the status of the ship, is it damaged? Did anyone look for her? Do they know what happened? Why does she stay there if she can pretty much move anywhere?

  17. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I’m not sure how much I wrote about this in the FAQ (and one day, I’m going to have to make some time to work on that again), but Masaki’s ship was destroyed. Technically speaking, Masaki was killed but due to the Royal tree, her spirit lived in astral form. As an astral being, she could not move much, much as Ryoko could not move much in astral from the imprisonment in her cave (though we did see her astral body outside of the cave).

    When Masaki went missing, search teams were sent. I’m not exactly sure when the wreckage was found, but I believe Masaki is the reason that Earth is listed as a Juraian colony. I *think* she may have also had a husband on Earth. Heck, for all I know, Masaki may have gone to the moon to die. Too bad True Sheol isn’t around any more (real life takes over). He was so much more versed on this stuff than I.

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