This is a slightly different retelling of the story first introduced in the Tenchi Muyo OAV series. Basically, Masaki Tenchi is a typical high schooler (or so he thinks) who seemingly attracts these really weird women from outer space for no good reason at all. The order and manner he meets these ladies is a little different from the OAV series, and there's a few additional characters to boot, but the plot is essentially the same. Girls fight over Tenchi. Often, with a lot of collateral damage, to boot.
This is the series that launched a thousand alternate universes. As is Tenchi Muyo wasn't confusing enough, the creators at Pioneer Entertainment decided that a Tenchi Muyo TV series should be sufficiently different from the OAV series already released that it remain original, yet recognizably Tenchi Muyo. I'm not sure whether to send them flowers, or venus flytraps for their trouble.
As it is, Tenchi Universe (as it's called here in the US to avoid confusion with the OAV release for not-so-anime-savvy retailers) is a fun romp through a scenario that's familiar with fans of the OAV series, but perhaps not for newcomers into the anime medium. However, it should be said immediately that the TV series takes itself a lot less seriously than the OAV series, so expect a lot more sight gags, probably a tad dumber writing, and much less actual situational tension should the characters get themselves in a bind. If anything, the TV series is a lot more, dare I say, cartoony than the OAVs were.
Also, the animation, though nice, isn't quite up to the level of the OAV series. For that matter, there are sterlingly forgettable episodes (like the carnival of "horrors"…ewww) that really don't fit into the storyline expect to be "supposedly" funny sitcom material. That isn't the strength of Tenchi by any means.
However, Tenchi Universe is still a great opportunity to show off the characters that made the original OAV series fun, and as such, it works quite well. One of the major improvements over the original is the inclusion of Kiyone as a foil to the eternally ditzy Mihoshi (who really needed one to be effective). Finally, a female character who is NOT in competition in the Tenchi Sweepstakes. Thank you!
Oh, the plot, you say? Well, it starts up slow, but there is a plot in there. A bit more meandering than the OAV series, as Tenchi and his harem (just kidding) don't exactly stay on Earth forever. No plot holes bigger than you'd expect, though.
The music's nice, with a catchy opening song (not heard on the Cartoon Network version, blaaah!) and unobtrusive, but workable incidentals that are fine for a TV series soundtrack. (And the ending credits are absolutely adorable. C'mon, it's Ryo-Ohki! Myaaaa!)
Though perhaps not quite up to the quality of the OAV series, Tenchi Universe still has everything that made the original TV series fun, and twice as many episodes, to boot. It's unquestionably accepted as a valid, and integral part of the Tenchi Muyo saga, and rightfully so.
Not as good as the OAV series, but then again, what TV series is? Still, it's solid entertainment sure to entertain newer fans, and raise smiles from anime veterans. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: A few innuendoes here and there that'll raise the eyebrows of some conservative viewers (c'mon, this is Tenchi!), but not as many as the OAVs. (Still, what do they teach those girls to do on Jurai?!?) A bit of violence here and there, mostly swordslinging and energy bolts, and the odd space battle or two, but not anything incredibly noticeable. Tamer than the original, and if you're watching the Cartoon Network edit, well, you're not going to see anything even remotely objectionable. Of course, if you didn't like Tenchi the first time, it'd probably be a good idea to skip this one too.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, English dub; VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Partial (16/26)
Tenchi Universe © 1995 AIC / Pioneer LDC
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