Back to the Vaults: Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3
天地無用! 魎皇鬼 OVA 3

My 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 found here.

***SPOILERS***

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3Although Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 1 and Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 2 had been a huge success for production company AIC and (then) distributor Pioneer, the word from Japan was that because of the success of the Mihoshi Special OVA, Pioneer wanted to shift to non-canon spinoff Tenchi titles for TV, whereby they could more easily profit from the popularity of the franchise. As such, Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3 got put on the shelf for roughly eight years until AIC and Pioneer (who’d become Geneon at that point) parted company. In 2002, AIC conditionally approved the go ahead for OVA 3, providing series creator Kajishima-sensei did a TV series first and that TV series was successful. He did just that with the creation of the canon spinoff TV series, Tenchi Muyo! Galaxy Police Transporter (GXP). Having met AIC’s condition, in 2003, OVA 3 began coming out.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3For those who don’t know, OVA 3 continues the story of Tenchi some time after the events of OVA 2.  Episode 1 does a recap and allows Ryoko to develop a sisterly bond with Ryo-ohki after the cabbit gets lost in the woods. Z begins his plans against Tenchi. Episode 2 introduces Tenchi’s 200 year old sister, Tenyo, who looks like their mother. Tenchi meets his grandmother Airi, who’s in charge of Galaxy Police Academy, and learns more secrets of the Misaki family. He is also introduced to his official fiance, Noike. Episode 3 has Tenchi fall prey to exhaustion, so Noike takes over running the Misaki household and tends to Tenchi, thanks to her nursing education. Noike gives Tenchi a tour of her ship. Z puts his plan into motion as Mihoshi’s grandfather and GXP Marshal gets confronted about using the planet-sized GP ship Chobimaru against Earth.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3Episode 4 has Mihoshi’s siscon brother Misao (and their grandfather) thinking Mihoshi is being used by Tenchi, thanks to Z. Misao’s plan to take the Chobimaru to Earth by his adjutant Mashisu after she learns of the planets status. She comes up with a new plan and leads a special forces team to capture Tenchi’s harem and lead Tenchi into a trap. In episode 5, the Chobimaru‘s mission to Earth has failed as Mashisu’s forces are easily defeated. Ryoko takes Ryo-ohki to inflict serious damage to the Chobimaru while Washu and company come up with a plan to get Misao and Mashisu together as a couple. Episode 6 causes Z to take direct action against Tenchi, causing Washu and Tsunami to adopt the Choushin forms along with their younger sister, Tokimi. Tenchi is revealed to possibly be the higher level entity the Choushin have been searching for.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3 is somewhat controversial among western fans. There are a large number of folks who really hated it for various reasons. Many of these reasons are quite valid. For starters, there is a radical change in the character designs for all of the characters. This was due to the fact that like many comic artists, series creator KAJISHIMA Masaki-sensei had evolved his character design style. Combine this with the fact that OVA 3 shifted from traditional cell animation to CG animation, and at times, the characters can look quite bad at times. Ryoko’s ears, which were always meant to be elongated, get really elongated here. The character expressions at times can be quite over exaggerated, enough so to take one out of scenes at times. On the whole, the characters look clean, sharp, and presentable, but it is those moments of exaggeration that really are off putting, even to me.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3Another thing that really bothered a lot of Western fans about the start of OVA 3 is the fact that it ignores the mini cliffhanger at the end of OVA 2. Because OVA 2 ends with Aeka’s and Sasami’s father Azusa (the Emperor of Jurai) vowing to return to force Aeka to marry someone other than Tenchi by bringing new challengers, Western fans wanted to see that addressed. Unfortunately for fans outside of Japan, this was addressed at the start of Kajishima-sensei’s novel Shin Tenchi Muyo! Jurai. So unless you were a hardcore fan (like myself) who would keep up with the scraps of information that would come out of Japan, you wouldn’t know and would understandably not be happy to see the OVA 2 dangling thread dropped. It didn’t bother me though since I was versed in this extra information.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3This leads me to another thing that put off a lot of Western fans. Quite a number of new characters were added to OVA 3 (Seto, Noike, Airi, Tennyo, and others), although only one of them was actually a new characters to the franchise (Tenchi’s sister Tennyo). Not only were these characters introduced in the various canon novels, 101 Secrets, and various canon doujinshi, they were also introduced in the Tenchi Muyo! GXP anime, which aired before OVA 3 was produced. It would not be incorrect to say that OVA 3 expects the viewers to have seen GXP at the very least, but obviously the more you know, the more you’ll appreciate the new characters. Because GXP only had a single episode that featured the Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki cast, a lot of fans unfortunately decided to pass on the series. These fans would argue that the OVA series shouldn’t be dependent on additional materials, and I understand their point.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3That being said, because Pioneer put the canon series on the shelf, Kajishima-sensei decided to continue to tell his story the only way he could (sans his planned story for OVA 3), via doujinshi, novels, and his website at the time. His purpose was to do things for Japanese fans. I doubt very much that Western fans even entered his mind. That’s all well and good, especially since he had no guarantee he’d ever get to do OVA 3. All of these new characters that folks complained about were introduced in this alternate media and as such, there would have been an outcry in Japan (and from me too) if said characters weren’t in OVA 3, especially since they’d been put into the GXP anime.  So when I rewatched the series, I felt the new characters were introduced properly and had purpose0.2 It is just that because the new characters were here, there wasn’t as much time for Ryoko and Aeka antics.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3And yet, Ryoko and Aeka both grew as characters in OVA 3. Ryoko got the ball rolling with her bonding with Ryo-ohki, but while she retains her rivalry with Aeka for Tenchi’s affection, the two show how they really are friends when they are drinking in Ryoko’s room after Noike is declared to be Tenchi’s official fiancée. Ryoko doesn’t understand how her rival can accept the situation. Aeka explains things, and then Noike seals the deal by telling them the truth of her being there. I don’t think the anime does a great job of telling this, but the whole reason for Tenchi having a harem run by Noike is purely political. The Japanese understand political marriages, but I don’t think that many of us in the West do. So once again, we get a story that’s geared to Japanese audiences, not Western audiences.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3I’ve been touching on things that bothered fans in general, so let me get more specific to my own likes and dislikes. For starters, I didn’t like how the fight between Tenchi’s harem and the members of Mashisu’s GP Special Forces unit was handled. In episode 4, Ryoko gets snared in a trap, Aeka and Ryo-ohki are caught in a trap, Washu and Seto are caught in a trap, and then Sasami gets caught in a trap. We get these wonderful fights setup, with Ryoko getting bloodied and surrounded by robot before stating she’s going to kill her opponent as the episode ends. In episode 5, we don’t get to see that fight. Instead, we are told that the girls won. That angered me to now end. I suspect Kajishima-sensei thought, “I’ve already shown Aeka and Ryoko in combat before during OVA 1. As such, I don’t need to show them fighting again since everyone already knows they are going to win.”

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3We did get to see Sasami’s battle with Mashisu, but only as a flashback. Yes, I know Sasami was never going to lose the fight, but showing Sasami with the captured Mashisu, then having Mashisu tell the story of how she lost to her companions (which we did get to see in the flashback) totally killed any sense of drama. I think Kajishima-sensei only put the scene in for Sasami because (1) Sasami had never been shown in combat before and (2) Kajishima-sensei had written on how Sasami and Aeka were highly trained warriors, thus he wanted to see that displayed for Sasami. So while it was nice seeing that Sasami could fight, the way the fight was given to the audience was absolutely horrible. All of the fights should have been shown, picking up from where episode 4 ended. From a dramatic standpoint, this would have worked very nicely, even though we viewers would be 99% sure that the girls would win.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3OVA 3‘s biggest problem may stem from the fact that Kajishima-sensei routinely violated the “show don’t tell” rule of writing. That shows up in the aforementioned fight, but it also showed up in a lot of other areas.

Another thing that annoyed me was the lack of clothing changes. For example, in OVA 2, the characters are shown in a number of different outfits. Ryoko comes off especially well there. In OVA 3, Ryoko wears one outfit, save for episode 6, where she’s shown briefly in her battle outfit to try to save Tenchi. That’s pretty much how it is for all the characters, and frankly, I hate that. People don’t wear the same clothing day after day, and I saw no reason that the characters couldn’t be shown wearing different outfits.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3Then, there’s the music of OVA 3. For OVA 1 and OVA 2, the music really worked well, thanks to NAGAOKA Seikou’s composition. Ryoko’s Theme is quite a standout piece of music, as is much of the other incidental music there. However, the musical duties for OVA 3 were taken over by TADA Akifumi, who’d also done the GXP anime.  I found his music to be fairly mediocre for the most part. For episode 1, since none of Nagaoka-sensei’s music was to be used, we get what I call “clown music” for all of the flashback sequences to OVA 1.  Even on my latest viewing of OVA 3, the musical choices for the flashback scenes make me cringe. They are so out of place and do not capture the spirit of OVA 1.  The only moment of positive standout music would be episode 3 when Noike takes Tenchi to her ship. The music in a couple of places did match the scenes in Kyoko’s subspace domain and felt quite right. It is a shame this was not to be the rest of the time.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3For someone who supposedly thinks there’s nothing wrong with OVA 3, I’ve spelled out a lot of flaws. And it has a lot of flaws, something I’ve never denied. The final of these flaws for me was the lack of significant plot development until episode 6. Don’t get me wrong, I loved seeing Ryoko get character growth in the first episode. I loved seeing Airi show up in episode 2 as Tenchi learns the truth of the Masaki family. I enjoyed the antics of episode 3 as Noike takes over running the Masaki home.  I especially loved exploring Noike’s ship. I liked Misao’s antics in episode 4 along with the party preparation at the Masaki home. I didn’t mind the love story of Mashisu and Misao being told in episode 5. But with only six total episodes (OVA 3 +1 was not approved yet), you’ve burned five episodes and the plot about who Tenchi is and Z’s plans for Tenchi (as well as Tokimi-sama’s) has barely been touched.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3Because of this, episode 6 becomes an exposition dump. I loved the episode because we finally get nearly all of the answers I’ve been looking for as a fan. However, I do not deny that there is a lot of information to absorb. The first time I saw the episode, I had to watch it a few times to try to absorb it all. Then when FUNimation scored the license, I had a few discussions with the translator about this episode, which was apparently “fun” for him to do. Despite this massive pile of information to assimilate, because I ended up getting the answers I wanted and a proper resolution to the series, the episode ended up redeeming the series for me to the point to where I liked the series. After watching it the second time, it was a lot better and I have continued to enjoy the series ever since, even if it is the weakest of the three OVA series.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3In the end, Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3 is a perfect example of the kind of storytelling Kajishima-sensei would prefer to do. We have a lot of “day in the life of the Masaki household” stories, combined with a tale of Mihoshi’s younger brother. These stories are filled with the kind of comedy and even ecchi moments that are such a large part of Kajishima-sensei’s world. Had this been all OVA 3 was about, I would have been displeased, but because he did resolve Tenchi’s story, OVA 3 became pretty enjoyable, flaws and all.

Next up: OVA 3 +1.

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17 Responses to “Back to the Vaults: Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 3”

  1. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I had fully intended this to be published before the new year, but things didn’t turn out the way I expected. Even now, I’m not as satisfied with the review, but since I needed to get it published so I can move onto other things, I just called it a day and hit publish. ^_^;

    I’ll try to get to OVA 3 +1 before the month is over. However, things are so busy and hectic (and could get a lot worse), so we’ll see if I can do that or not. I’ll try.

  2. Meglivorn says:

    The worst part of the missing duels between episodes 3-4 that it was a 6 month gap without any news about the next episode release date or anything. And then, at September…
    ARGH I was furious. ^^°

    A nice recap of the OVA. For me the Misao antics were maybe a little too long and left too little time for Zero and his plot. And I hated the appearance of the “one outfit” comic/animation custom. The girls had so great wardrobe in the previous two OVAs, and even if the budget changes justifies it, I just couldn’t stand.
    But since I love TMR! mostly for the characters, the interactions and the soap-operalike family entanglemets and antics (Seto and Airi very quickly become my favorites after the novel sinopsis and GXP) I like the OVA3 also.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      The worst part of the missing duels between episodes 3-4 that it was a 6 month gap without any news about the next episode release date or anything. And then, at September…
      ARGH I was furious. ^^°

      Yes, that made it worse! I remember everyone speculating that the gap was because AIC was pleased with sales and were going to allow a 12 episode OVA. Then we got what we got AND we learned that there were still only six episodes, I was furious as well and ranted quite a bit.

      Thanks for writing! Good to hear from ya! ^_^

  3. Carl Ogan says:

    One of the things that made no sense to me in OVA 3 was that Tenchi meets his grandmother (on his mother’s side) for the very FIRST time. How could this be? Tenchi’s mother died when Tenchi was very young and any grandmother in the universe would have dropped whatever she was doing and come and help to raise her grandson. Does this show what a stone cold bitch she really is?

    • Shadow_s_Writer says:

      First, Aria did come to earth and attended her daughter’s funeral, but Tenchi did not go. He was left in the care of Rea, the future mother of Kenshi and Nobuyuki second wife. I always held that Nobuyuki , and Aira did not get along (hence Nobuyuki being sent of before she arrived with Nioke.) Things ended up Rea ended up raising Tenchi, while Aria when back to run the GP Academy. I believe it was Nobuyuki that prevented Aria from staying if my theory is true.

      • AstroNerdBoy says:

        Well, I don’t know about Nobuyuki and Airi not getting along. I think the who situation on Earth is massively complicated. Yosho’s living on Earth is top secret. Very few people know about this. Since Airi is the head of Galaxy Academy, she can’t just go to Earth whenever she likes without raising questions. My understanding is that for the most part, Airi doesn’t go to Earth. How she and Yosho stay a strong, married couple is something that has always made me wonder.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      In galactic terms (and this is obviously not in the anime), Yosho is officially still missing. Although the Supreme Council on Jurai knows where Yosho is at (obviously, otherwise how would Noike know where to go), his being on Earth is classified as top secret and very few people know the truth.

      Airi is the head of Galaxy Academy. As such, she cannot just flit to Earth whenever she wants to. That would raise substantial questions that no one wants raised. Airi has to be very careful so as not to reveal that Yosho is on Earth.

      That being said, Airi did come to Earth along with Seto and lots of others for Kiyone’s funeral. I believe she may have popped in on occasion, but remember the Masaki Family rule — no member of the family can be told the truth until they reach a certain age. Yosho is able to disguise his appearance, thanks to Funaho-no-ki. It was (very likely) a family decision to keep Airi away, just as Tennyo kept away, except at times to fill in for Kiyone. As such, I don’t think you can just blame Airi. The highly complicated political situation of Jurai keeping Yosho hidden on Earth and the Masaki Family rule about not revealing the truth of the family means sacrifices have to be made. I know Airi was kept informed of Tenchi, and you can tell that she was envious of Tennyo having more involvement with Tenchi than Airi was allowed to. But that’s the nature of the situation. 🙁

  4. ether101 says:

    This series seems to be a mess and I can’t and won’t go back to it given that harem endings are supposed to be canon and I feel that just doesn’t fit the story I’ve seen up till this point.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      I remember being highly opposed to the harem ending before OVA 3 was created. After all, I was a Ryoko x Tenchi shipper. However, once I understood the politics of the harem ending, I came to accept it. The political angle is briefly touched on in OVA 3. Noike is sent to Earth as Tenchi’s official fiancee because if need be, she can rise up against Tenchi, should Tenchi and his harem go against Jurai.

      Tenchi is a top secret entity on Jurai. He has the power of a royal tree-ship. If he were to be convinced to rise up against Jurai, or if he were coerced to going against Jurai, it would be a major problem. So to secure this, AND to secure political alliances that protect Jurai from a massively powerful force that could harm Jurai, Jurai is very keen that Tenchi marry all of the girls.

      Tenchi, as a member of House Masaki, marrying Aeka means that Aeka and her royal tree ship Ryuu-oh-no-ki are secured, and it strengthens House Masaki.

      Tenchi marrying Sasami secures Tsunami-no-ki.

      Tenchi marrying Noike secures Kyoko-no-ki and helps bond House Masaki with House Kamiki.

      Tenchi marrying Washu secures Washu from developing tech that would be used against Jurai.

      Tenchi marrying Ryoko secures the only person to successfully attack Jurai.

      Tenchi marrying Ryo-ohki secures the only ship to destroy not only powerful Juraian 3rd generation tree-ships, but an entire fleet.

      Tenchi marrying Mihoshi secures her and further builds an alliance between Jurai and Mishoshi’s very powerful Galaxy Police family.

      • Carl Ogan says:

        I think that marrying ALL of them is a little overboard.!

        Leave out Washu and Ryo-ohki: Washu is a Goddess and Ryo-ohki is well, she is a Cabbitt (although Ryo-ohki-Chan is another issue and Sasami’s best friend).

        What will be important is in what order Tenchi marries them since the first wife will be politically the most powerful and each one in line after that has less political power (this should be a real cut throat race to see how the girls get Tenchi to marry him before the other ones). This is just one of many issues my 200 page novel will address – working title: Tenchi Muyo OVA 4 – Love & War.

        I look at things like: Since Sasami & the Goddess Tsunami both share the same body does that mean that Tenchi is into Threesomes? Hehehehe

        • Carl Ogan says:

          Hey AstroNerdBoy – just read your update that it looks like OVA 4 may be coming so now I must rename the novel I am working on to Tenchi Muyo OVA 5 : Love & War. In case you are wondering how good my writing is please take a look at my 140 page screenplay on FanFiction.net for Please Twins II the sequel (yes I didn’t like the original Please Twins either so I wrote a sequel that does what the original should have story wise – getting good reviews from around the world). Note: there are only four fan fictions for Please Twins on FanFiction.net but there are well over 1,000 for Tenchi Muyo which makes me worry that mine will be lost in the shuffle once I finish it and put it in there.

        • AstroNerdBoy says:

          Leave out Washu and Ryo-ohki: Washu is a Goddess and Ryo-ohki is well, she is a Cabbitt (although Ryo-ohki-Chan is another issue and Sasami’s best friend).

          Washu is a Choushin, not a goddess. 😉 But then, so is Tsunami, whom Sasami will become.

          Washu doesn’t have to live and stay with Tenchi. She does because she has a keen interest in him and she’s willing to go all the way with him. Plus, Washu has born a child before. She was romantically involved with Mikamo Kuramitsu, Mihoahi’s great grandfather.

          As for Ryo-ohki, she will have an adult form. We saw it briefly when she first merged with the Masu. And if there’s any doubts that Kajishima-sensei wants to have Ryo-ohki hook up with Tenchi, his hentai OVA Spaceship Agga Ruter has the lead character hooking up with the furry character there. 😉

          What will be important is in what order Tenchi marries them…

          It would almost certainly be a group marriage, as we saw for Seina in GXP. I suspect that Noike will still be head wife, but only because she’s the one who can manage the harem. 🙂

          • Carl Ogan says:

            Thanks for the update and now I need to check out Spaceship Agga Ruter DVD (hadn’t heard about that one).

          • AstroNerdBoy says:

            Well, it is an older, hentai title, so it isn’t mainstream. I did watch it years ago as part of my “watch everything Kajishima-sensei did” phase.

  5. Carl Ogan says:

    When it comes to Tenchi Muyo we have to try and get our hands on anything in our search for whatever insights we can gain into the world of Tenchi Muyo ! Found Spaceship Agga Ruter DVD on eBay for $7.00 – Question: have you read Secret of “Tenchi Muyo!” (Comic book research) (1997)? on Amazon $8.00 (Since I believe its only in Japanese there’s no way for me to read it)

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