Lobster Quadrille Anime Review: Tenchi Universe

Tenchi Universe

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Romantic Comedy

Studio/Creator: AIC/Kajishima Masaki

Distributor: This anime has been relicensed by FUNimation as of July 2010

No of episodes: 26 Age Rating: 13+ Rating: 8/10

Summary: Based on the OVA series Tenchi Muyo!  Tenchi Masaki may be a 17-year-old young man in rural Japan, but little does he know how bad his day will be getting. When a space pirate chased by a pair of Galaxy Police officers crash-lands at his grandfather’s temple, Tenchi is sucked into a new adventure that will literally blast him off into outer space and beyond.

Review: Tenchi Muyo is what started what is known as the “harem” subgenre of anime, including such titles as Negima, DearS, Ah! My Goddess, and Sekirei. They’re known for being comedic and having varying levels of fanservice. Simply put, Tenchi Universe is a guilty pleasure. However, it’s not without substance. What makes the series work is not the fanservice but the comedic elements. The girls all have diverse personalities and not all of them are romantically interested in Tenchi.

Tenchi is a basic kid. He’s quite clumsy and unlucky. Despite the annoyances caused by the girls, he manages to keep a somewhat firm grip on his sanity.

Ryoko is flirtatious, rowdy, alcoholic, lazy, and untrustworthy. And those are her best qualities! She has a soft spot for Tenchi and can be seen to have a heart…somewhere.

Ayeka is your typical princess, charming and dignified…as long as Ryoko isn’t around. Ryoko just loves to push her buttons and it’s fun to watch them fight.

Sasami is Ayeka’s sweet little sister. She sees Tenchi more like a big brother and spends most of her time helping with the housework. Ryoko’s pet cabbit (half cat/half rabbit/100% spaceship) Ryo-ohki quickly takes a liking to her and you can often see her resting on Sasami’s head. Washuu is a mad scientist. Her experiments do all kinds of logic-defying goofiness and it certainly doesn’t help that this version of her has two puppet cheerleaders to encourage her.

Mihoshi and Kiyone are Galaxy Policewomen. Mihoshi is inept as can be (and very annoying), while Kiyone is obviously the smarter and more business-minded of the two. She and Mihoshi seem to see Tenchi only as a friend.

One big flaw is that the show thakes a pretty long time to get an actual plot–in fact, it’s not until the show is halfway through that we actually get one.  For those who can’t stand that much filler, it will certainly annoy you.

The plot of Tenchi Universe can be divided into three sections:
1. Section I–introduces the characters and some early filler. Very amusing, but gets into “status quo stablization” territory.
2. Section II–Washuu invents a machine that creates parellel worlds based on the programmer’s desires. It goes haywire and creates random worlds, meaning the show goes into parody mode. One of the parodies is the setup for the spin-off/magical girl parody Magical Girl Pretty Sammy.
3. Section III–The villain Kagato (who’s the main villain of the OVA version) attempts to create a coup on the planet Jurai, the home of Ayeka and Sasami. Ayeka is framed for conspiring to rebel. Tenchi and company decide to take the fight to Jurai in an effort to defeat Kagato.

Music/Score: The music’s not great, but I enjoyed it. The opening is quite catchy.

Sub/Dub: The sub is better in this case. Ayeka’s original VA does her noblewoman’s laugh better than the dub version does and in general it feels easier on the ears in Japanese this time.

Violence: (3/10) Until we get to the second half, there’s quite a lotof slapstick. Later, we get typical sci-fi style violence.

Language: (4/10) Ryoko has quite the potty mouth.

Drugs/Tobacco: (5/10) Ryoko gets drunk very easily. There’s also a scene where Tenchi’s father and grandfather drink to the memory of Tenchi’s mother.

Sexuality:  (3/10) Aside from the cohabitation factor, there’s also Ryoko’s rather flirtatious attitude towards Tenchi.

Nudity: (3/10) Early in the show, Washuu creates an interdimensional bath for the girls, but in most cases the girls are wearing towels.

Religion: (2/10) Tenchi’s family owns a Shinto temple, but we don’t see any rituals performed.

Related Media: There’s the original OVA and three movies: Tenchi Muyo In Love, Tenchi Muyo: Daughter of Darkness, and Tenchi Forever. Of the two, only Daughter of Darkness doesn’t tie in to the TV show and has its own separate approach.  There are also three spinoffs: Tenchi Muyo GXP, Pretty Sammy,  and Sasami Magical Girls Club and a second TV series called Tenchi In Tokyo.

Favorite Line: “It doesn’t work like it does in the cartoons!”–Washuu, explaining her new invention.

Review Queue

Whisper of the Heart (11/14)

Chobits (11/28)

Last Exile (12/4)

Cowboy Bebop Top 10 (12/11)

Big O (12/18)

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  1. #1 by TWWK on November 9, 2011 - 5:30 am

    Tenchi Universe was THE show that got me into anime. Although I’d first seen an episode of the OVA, it was TU that I first really followed when it was shown on Toonami. I recently sold the DVD set for this series, having realized that I’ll likely never watch it again, but I still have a fondness for the series, particularly “No Need for Memories,” which is one of my very favorite episodes of any anime series.

    • #2 by rocklobsterjwt on November 10, 2011 - 2:35 am

      I love that episode! It’s so moving and I like how there’s practically no dialog in the flashbacks but you can still figure out what’s going on from everyone’s expressions. And the scene where Sasami stays by Tenchi’s bedside until he gets better–I love that scene! Especially when Tenchi gets up and puts his blanket on her as a way of saying thanks. But then Sasami’s my favorite character, so that’s probably why.

      • #3 by TWWK on November 10, 2011 - 1:33 pm

        Such a good episode…

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