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 Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki OVA 3 Review
Superman Returns Title:
Creator:
Classification:
Runtime:
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki 3
Masaki Kajishima
N/A
N/A

A Brief Tenchi Muyo! History

The first Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki OVA (original video animation) first hit Japan in 1992 from the creative mind of Masaki Kajishima. Initially a six part work, it is one of the earliest, and considered one of the most successful, entries into the “harem comedy” genre that is still widely popular in Japanimation even today.

Harem comedies commonly tell of a young man surrounded by a group of beautiful women who fall in love with him and the situations and adventures that result. A good example of a similarly successful harem comedy is Ken Akamatsu’s creation Love Hina, which began as a manga work and later spawned an animated series. But unlike most harem comedies, Tenchi Muyo!’s Ryo-Ohki stories are based around an awe-inspiringly deep and expansively crafted universe.

These six original Ryo-Ohki stories are not the only ones told of Tenchi Masaki (the main character) and his entourage of female admirers. There have been several television series’, manga tales and movies created in the years following Ryo-Ohki to satiate demand. However, these tales adopted a separate continuity to the Ryo-Ohki stories and are viewed by many as inferior and to some extent an insult to Kajishima’s original work.

Fortunately for fans, the Ryo-Ohki continuity was also extended with two special episodes and finally made a return in 1994 with a seven part sequel. The sequel delivered much of the same harem comedy/action/drama as the first series and further expanded the Tenchi universe. answering some questions but leaving even more unanswered.

And unanswered these questions would remain for quite some time. It was not until 2001 another entry in the Ryo-Ohki continuity would emerge – yet it was a series that did not actually star Tenchi and the girls. The 26 part television series Tenchi Muyo! GXP told of events that occur approximately a year following the events of the upcoming third Ryo-Ohki OVA. Despite following a separate band of characters and their adventures with the Galaxy Police, Tenchi and the gang show up in cameos and eventually a crossover episode set on Earth.

The third Ryo-Ohki series began in Japan in 2003 and saw seven episodes released between then and 2005. Despite what I feel was a drastic change in character design, the series retained the overall feel of the first two OVAs and delivers a satisfying conclusion answering many questions that had been baffling fans for years.

"A satisfying and, as fans expect, over the top conclusion."


Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki Series 1 and 2: A Retrospective

When we first met Tenchi Masaki back in Ryo-Ohki OVA 1 he was just a regular Japanese schoolboy. He lived alone with his father Noboyuki, and would aid his grandfather at the Masaki family shine in his spare time. But since he was a child Tenchi had always been curious about a cave within the shine mountain his grandfather had forbidden him to ever enter, the very cave their great ancestor Yosho was said to have sealed away a terrible demon 700 years before.

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Some of the characters Tenchi comes to meet on his adventures.

However, the temptation proves too much for Tenchi, and after stealing the cave keys he inadvertedly releases the demon Ryoko, triggering a sequence that eventually finds him sharing his home with a number of beautiful women:

Princess Ayeka of Jurai (an alien race) and her little sister Sasami, Ryoko the “demon”, a ditzy Galaxy Police officer called Mihoshi and last but not least, a young girl claiming to be the “greatest scientific genius in the entire universe!” who will only respond to those calling her by her preferential title of Little Washu.

Their adventures eventually come to the attention of an entity referred to as Lady Tokimi, who sends the nefarious Dr. Clay and his subordinate Zero to apprehend Washu for reasons at the time unknown. However, his attempts ultimately fail and Tokimi is alerted to Tenchi who, to great fascination, is able to manifest three legendary blades of light called the Light Hawk Wings in times of great need.

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Lady Tokimi, Dr. Clay and Tenchi's Light Hawk Wings.

What is more special about these blades is they are capable of a phenomenon known as Material Conversion, a processs whereby a blade is converted into an incredibly powerful sword. This sword was used by Tenchi to defeat the criminal Kagato who threatened the group in an earlier adventure.

Tokimi invites a shadowy figure who can manifest five Light Hawk Wings to investigate Tenchi, but stresses he must not lay a finger upon him. As the figure vanishes, the second Ryo-Ohki OVA comes to a close.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki OVA 3 Review

Plot

Following on almost directly from the ending of the second series, Ryo-Ohki series 3 begins with the being that stood before Tokimi at the end of series 2, known as “Z”, being sent to Earth to survey Tenchi. However, it is suspected by Tokimi’s third dimensional supervisor D3 that Z plans to disobey Tokimi’s orders telling him to refrain from harming Tenchi to serve his own motives.

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The mysterious "Z" is finally revealed.

Back on Earth life is as always in the Masaki household. Ryoko is asleep atop the ceiling rafters and Sasami is at work preparing another fine breakfast in the kitchen. Mihoshi’s Galaxy Police spacecraft remains, amusingly, in the middle of the lake after a crash during the last episode of Ryo-Ohki 2 and a great sense of familiarity can’t help but be observed by veteran watchers.

One big shock Ryo-Ohki 3 provides viewers with is the introduction of a woman called Noike, who was once partnered with Mihoshi in the Galaxy Police. Most surprising about Noike is that she has been selected as Tenchi’s fiancé by Princess Seto of Jurai (a matchmaking fanatic and prominent character in the GXP series), much to the objection of Ryoko and Ayeka. Noike is actually one of the first in a very long line of characters to show up throughout this series - a very, very long line. Perhaps just a little too long…

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Onboard Noike's spaceship, Noike concerned and Sasami hard at work in the kitchen.

With so many new characters appearing throughout Ryo-Ohki 3, I couldn’t help but feel my favourite characters from the first two series (especially Ayeka) have been shelved to allow development time for people I ultimately don’t care a lot about. Noike is a welcome addition to the main cast and very likeable, but I can’t say I feel the same about the others. Characters like Mihoshi’s brother Misao and countless Jurians who appear give it a very overcrowded feel despite their overall importance to aspects of the story.

Fortunately this shortcoming can ultimately be overlooked in favour of the overall piece which gives a very satisfying and, as anime fans have come to expect, over the top conclusion.

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki 3 answers most of the questions left lingering at the end of Ryo-Ohki 2. Well, all except the most important one that has plagued fans since the beginning – just who does Tenchi love? That’s right. If you’re putting these episodes on hoping to find out which girl Tenchi wants to be with, you’re going to be disappointed.

However, if you’ve been wondering about the relationship between Lady Tokimi, Washu, Tsunami, the power of the gems, what really happened to Tenchi’s mother and the mysterious Z’s true origin and motives – you will surely be entertained. I certainly was.

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Expect to spend most of the conclusion on the edge of your seat.

Art/Animation

Animation has progressed to the digital era in recent years, and therefore each episode is presented with a remarkably clean digital print. Backgrounds are painted with a greater detail than the first and second OVAs and characters are always expressive and fluid in movement. That isn’t to say it’s all good news.

What viewers can expect is a great deal of disappointment throughout this series in the art department. I have a real issue with the new character designs, particularly Ryoko, whose ears have grown to almost titanic proportions. Then there’s poor Tenchi who has lost almost all likeliness to his original, earlier design. Ayeka is another character who looks somewhat off, but in the end it is Tenchi who I struggled the most to get used to. Some scenes I could barely recognise our hero at all.

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Tenchi and the gang sporting a new look.

Then there’s the character art, which dips frequently throughout episodes, with some real stinker frames popping up out of nowhere. With a franchise this popular, and at OVA budget, you’d think they’d have taken a little more time getting everything to look right. You can honestly sit back and wonder how on earth they passed some of the frames in this series.

One other noteworthy detail about the new animation is that the spaceships are now done entirely with CGI. Ryo-Ohki’s ship form is entirely computer generated, as are several other key ships appearing in this series I won’t mention due to spoilers. The results are actually very nice, but underused in Ryo-Ohki 3. For a better demonstration of the impressive technique fans should check out Tenchi Muyo! GXP.

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The bad side of OVA 3's artwork and a look at the new 3D Ryo-Ohki.

Music

The new Tenchi theme is very good. It’s on par with the original theme and far better than the cheesy second series opening song that my family still make fun of me for ever listening to. However, the same can’t be said for the rest of the background music used throughout Ryo-Ohki 3.

Where the original two series featured some truly memorable and catchy pieces of music you’d be whistling for weeks, most of the new soundtrack is merely adequate. I’m sitting here writing this and trying to remember one, just one, piece of music from the series and failing miserably. Hearing the newer, less likeable music over older scenes during flashbacks is quite unfitting and something I’d soon like to forget.

So you won’t be hearing any of the classic Tenchi jingles you remember so fondly here but whilst the new stuff isn’t as memorable, the music choices do suit the mood of scenes well and are nicely composed. The ending theme is quite catchy, and I guarantee it’ll get a whistle at least once after you hear it.

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Ryoko looking horrified, somewhat irrirated and then a little confused.

Content

Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki 3 features a number of scenes with nudity and blood, as well as some foul language that might offend. Viewers can also expect a number of explosions, scenes of distress and adult comedy with some sexual innuendo that they may deem unsuitable for young children. This is an animation for mature teenagers.

Overall

After a long wait, Tenchi Muyo Ryo-Ohki 3 delivers most of the answers we’ve been waiting for in yet another entertaining set of episodes. It really is nice to see some of our favourite characters on screen again, but unfortunately that doesn’t change the fact they’re being sidelined by newer, less interesting ones.

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A stunned harem, Ryoko's anger and Ryo-Ohki's getting dizzy.

There’s still no sign throughout this series that Tenchi will be making a choice between the girls anytime soon, although I’ve heard whispers that will be the focus of Ryo-Ohki 4. But taking into account the increasing time gap between each series, will I ever find out in my lifetime? And more importantly, will Tenchi’s character design become so much more ugly by then that none of the girls will even want him anymore?

See you for the next Ryo-Ohki instalment in oh, say… twenty years?

Sigh.



Further information on FUNimation’s Tenchi releases can be found at www.tenchireturns.com.


Buy Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki OVA 3 Review now at Play.com
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