Like many anime, Tenchi Muyo! became popular outside of Japan thanks to Cartoon Network’s Toonami block. Airing during the height of Dragon Ball Z popularity, this seemed like an odd pairing, almost counter programming to the testosterone ridden show. Those who took a chance and dove in found a fantastic tale of something that I can’t easily summarize. The only problem was making heads or tales out of all the different iterations.
Let’s see how well I can summarize this. Tenchi is learning from his grandfather how to care of a Shinto shrine. One day he
accidentally purposely awakens the dormant space pirate Ryoko. Her awakening brings other, specifically two princess from space, Ayeka and Sasami. The two, stranded on Earth, reluctantly stay with Tenchi and Ryoko. This also brings space cop Mihoshi to Earth, who ends up stranded as well. Depending on what version you’re going with, there’s even more women than that, and they all fall in love with Tenchi.
It’s a pretty goofy premise, but I promise, it’s fun. Well, most of it. There’s been a confusing amount of releases over the years and it’s difficult to figure out what to watch and in what order. With four different series, a handful of movies, a plethora of OVA’s (original video animation) and specials, it’s a daunting task to dive. Have no fear, The Credible Hulk is here!
Taking this one continuity at a time. First there was the OVA’s entitled Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki. This started the series with 6 episodes, and a follow up special. Then there was another 6 episodes created the following year, but this ended on a cliffhanger that wasn’t realized until 8 years later with a final 6 episodes and a special. In total, 20 episodes. On the flip side is the series called Tenchi Universe, which told the same story the OVA’s did, albeit with some slight differences. The biggest being the OVA featuring blood and nudity while Universe was more comedic. Universe had 26 episodes with two follow up movies, Tenchi the Movie: Tenchi Muyo in Love and Tenchi Forever! The Movie. If you have any interest in anything Tenchi, pick one of these, or both, and go no further.
Now, things are going to get crazy. After Universe was a follow up series Tenchi in Tokyo. This was clearly subpar to the superior Universe series. And for completion sake, here’s a bunch of nonsense that really isn’t worth bothering with. Following the OVA’s, but taking place concurrently storywise, is Tenchi Muyo! GXP. Some kid who’s not Tenchi ends up being a space cop, ladies love him, he’s weirded out by it. Same old, same old. Then there’s another series taking place 15 years after that called Tenchi Muyo! War on Geminar.
Here’s a bunch tie-ins and spinoffs that I cannot honestly give an opinion about as I haven’t seen them. Foregoing that and judging a book by it’s cover, no. All of these. No. There’s the OVA Magical Girl Pretty Sammy (Sasami acting like Sailor Moon), Magical Project S (TV series of Pretty Sammy), and Sasami: Magical Girls Club (more of the same, different continuity).
Tenchi Muyo! Is fun and enjoyable. Having to pick, I’d go for the OVA’s, as they tell a tighter story, but Universe was a solid series as well. You can’t go wrong with either. Don’t bother with anything else. Seriously. Nostalgia is a hell of a drug.
What was your favorite version of Tenchi? Confused as I am? Comment below!