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Tenchi Muyo!: OVA Collection (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 16, 2013 by  



The classic and popular “Tenchi Muyou!” OVA series gets the HD treatment for the very first time and this old-school anime series looks fantastic in Blu-ray.  With an lossless Japanese soundtrack and picture quality that blows away the older LD release, fans of this old school anime series will love “Tenchi Muyo!: OVA Collection”.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tenchi Muyo!: OVA Collection

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 1992-1994

DURATION: 1-13 (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: T

Release Date: December 18, 2012

Originally Created by Hiroki Hayashi, Masaki Kajishima

Directed by Hiroki Hayashi

Screenplay by Nahoko Hasegawa

Music by Seikou Nagaoka

Character Design by Masaki Kajishima

Art Director: Takeshi Waki

Sound Director: Yasunori Honda

Director of Photography: Kazuhiro Konishi

Executive Producer: Taro Maki

Producer: Hiroaki Inoue, Izumi Ota, Yasuo Hasegawa, Yasushi YAmashita

Anime Production by AIC

Featuring the voices of:

Ai Orikasa/Celeste Burch as Ryoko

Masami Kikuchi/Kermit Miller as Tenchi Masaki

Yumi Takada/Kristen Tanner as Ayeka

Chisa Yokoyama/Katie Ashley as Sasami/Tsunami

Etsuko Kozakura/Marie Cabbit as Ryo-Ohki

Norio Wakamoto/Weston Peese as Kagato

Takehito Koyasu/Kermit Miller as Yosho

Takeshi Aono/Jay Hopper as Katsuhito Masaki

Yūko Kobayashi/Gee Gee Loo Loo as Washu Hakubi

Yuko Mizutani/Jean Schwartz as Mihoshi Kuramitsu

Tenchi is an average guy with extraordinarily bad luck. To make matters worse, he just accidentally freed the ravishing space pirate Ryoko after 700 years of captivity! Now, attractive alien girls from across the galaxy are about to make his life more outrageous than ever imaginable. Can he survive the romantic entanglements of living with five lovely ladies – and unlock the secrets of his mysterious ancestry?

“Tenchi Muyou!” (which translates to “Useless Tenchi!”) was one of the first anime series to be released in home video in America and one of the first anime series to introduce Americans to English dubbing and for LaserDisc owners, a series that was known for its quality for being releasing in CAV format but also one of the most expensive home video releases on LD at $39.99 per episode.

From its popular 6-episode OVA series known as “Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki” (1992-1994), which was released in 1992 followed by seven more OVA episodes from 1994-2003, an expanded television series focus on the first six OVA’s were released titled “Tenchi Universe”, the series was a retelling of the OVA series, debuted on Japanese television in April 1995 through September 1995. And would air in the United States via the Cartoon Network in 2000. And three films “Tenchi the Movie: Tenchi Muyo in Love”, “Tenchi the Movie 2: The Daughter of Darkness” and “Tenchi Forever! The Movie” would be released in theaters.

Originally released by Pioneer/Geneon several times in VHS/LD and DVD format, with the license of “Tenchi Muyo!” now moving to FUNimation, the company will be re-releasing the OVA’s, the movies and “Tenchi Universe” television series on DVD, while the OVA series and movies will be released on Blu-ray for the very first time.

“Tenchi Muyo!: OVA Collection” will include the first 13 OVA episodes released between 1992-1995 and for those who owned the previous Japanese Blu-ray release, this is the same release from Japan from 1999 but now includes the English dub soundtrack.  The Blu-ray release will also include the DVD’s and a limited edition was released with an art book.

The original “Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki” OVA’s revolve around a teenager named Tenchi Masaki, who lives with his father and grandfather.  As the three are visiting the family shrine near the mountains of Okayama and Tenshi going through training from his grandfather, Tenchi has been warned to not enter the forbidden cave near the shrine.  A cave that has been locked for many years and is said to hold a demon which was sealed, alongside a sword that had defeated it.

But being the curious teenager that he is, Tenchi decides to open the cave with his grandfather’s keys and he finds the legendary sword, but is now rusted and Tenchi thinks its a sword of no use.    But when he swings the sword on a rock, the rock splits into two.  But by slicing the rock, he had exposed a secret passage and the further he goes into the cave, he finds the mummified remains of a demon.  As the demon tries to reach out to him, the sword glows and shoots out a beam of light.

Back at school the following day, he finds out that the demon, who introduces herself as Ryoko, explains to Tenchi that she had been locked in the cave for 700 years thanks to Yosho.  And now she wants the sword and tries to get it back from Tenchi.  But just when Tenchi thinks he has gotten away from the demon, while going to bed asleep, he finds out that she is under his covers.

Meanwhile, in space, Princess Ayeka and her sister Princess Sasami (along with their guardians Azaka and Kamidake) are in a spaceship looking for her long lost half-brother Yosho.  All she knows is that Yosho went to chase after Ryoko, a wanted criminal who attacked Jurai 700 years ago.  So, when Princess Ayeka goes to Earth, she is shocked to not find Yosho with the sword but a teenager named Tenshi Masaki.  What happened to Yosho? And why is this Tenchi with the demon Ryoko?

This leads to Ryoko trying to finish off the duty that Yosho left of pursuing Ryoko and in the process, ends up wrecking her ship.  Now, Princess Ayeka and Sasami have no choice but to live with Tenchi and his family, along with Ryoko.

Can Princess Ayeka live with the Masaki family and get along with Ryoko?  Will she find a way back home?

Meanwhile, a clumsy Space Ranger named Mihoshi Kuramitsu is investigating strange occurrences on the planet Earth and a new evil named Kagato plans his attack in hopes to acquire Ryoko and also Princess Ayeka in his hopes to find out the power of Tsunami.

While the first half of the series revolved around Tenchi meeting his new houseguests, the second half of the OVA series would feature storylines that revolved around relationships with Tenchi and the other characters, the growing rivalry for Tenchi between Ryoko and Aeka, exploration on the connection between Sasami and Tsunami and also a visit by the Royal Jurai family to the planet Earth.

Tenchi Muyo! consists of the following characters:

  • Tenchi Masaki – The main protagonist and is the first prince of Jurai and grandson of Juraian prince named Yosho.  He is an innocent boy who is not sure why he has trained the way of Jurai but he is starting to discover that he has strong abilities.  He is also the target of this harem anime series as the female characters start to fall for him.
  • Ryoko – A wanted space pirate. She was accidentally released by Tenchi and at first, she just wanted to steal Tenchi’s sword, to free her from the Juraian’s, but the more she stays, she finds herself falling for Tenchi and becoming Princess Ayeka’s rival.
  • Ayeka Masaki – The princess of Jurai who has come to Earth with her sister Sasami to look for her half-brother Yosho, who she was to marry.  She has a deep hatred towards Ryoko
  • Sasami Masaki – The young sister of Ayeka and a princess of Jurai. She loves playing with Ryo-Ohki and also has a mysterious alter-ego.
  • Ryo-Ohki– Ryoko’s pet companion and eventually becomes Sasami’s pet.
  • Washu Hakubi – A mad scientist who was forced to work with Kagato.  She is the creator of Ryoko and sees herself as Ryoko’s mother.
  • Mihoshi Kuramitsu – A blonde ditzy member of the Galaxy Police.
  • Katsuhito Masaki – Grandfather of Tenchi who has kept a secret of actually being Yosho, the Prince of Jurai who has gone missing.

VIDEO:

“Tenchi Muyo!: OVA Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition. It’s important to first emphasize that this is old-school anime. The animation was utilizing cel-work and you can see the sketched in strokes of the characters.  But for an older series, this is the best I have ever seen of this series.

Back in the early ’90s, “Tenchi Muyo!” was what a lot of us measured anime quality with, when it came to anime on LD.  “Tenchi Muyo!” was one of the first series to use CAV format and literally use up all the LD space for one episode and was useful for anime fans to grab screen images that looked fantastic for its time.

But having watched this series on VHS, LD, DVD and now Blu-ray, the Blu-ray really brings out the colors and detail of the series.    I was very pleased with the HD presentation.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “Tenchi Muyo!: OVA Collection” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  The Japanese soundtrack interestingly enough has the better dynamic range, better use of the surround channels over its English counterpart (typically, its the other way around).

While I will always love the Japanese voice acting for “Tenchi Muyo!”, back when this series was released, it was during a time where a lot of people including myself, debated about Japanese vs. English dubbing. Back in the mid-90′s, many of us were heavily pro-Japanese voice acting because many anime that did try to include English dubs were terrible. Suffice to say, I appreciate of how English dubbing has evolved for American releases but back then, I really couldn’t stand it. But I did have exceptions and that was for the OVA series.

First, let me just say that for the Japanese soundtrack, “Tenchi Muyo!” had one of the most talented seiyuu cast in Japan.  Ai Orikasa, Masami Kikuchi, Yumi Takada and Chisa Yokoyama were fantastic! I  was pretty much raised on the Japanese soundtrack but as Pioneer back then would also release hybrid LD’s with the Japanese version on one side and the English dub on the other-side of an LD (or release them separately on VHS), I actually got used to listening to Kermit Miller, Celeste Burch, Kristen Tanner and Katie Ashley.  It was one of the few instances where I did not object to the English dub as much during that time and actually enjoyed it.

But overall soundtrack is good and clear.  Of course, one should not expect anything too immersive, considering the age of this OVA.  But dialogue is clear and understandable and action sequences sound good in stereo.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tenchi Muyo!: OVA Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • “Episode 13 Omake – Here Comes Jurai Part Two – (7:15) A special omake episode that would lead to the third OVA series (which would be released in 2003).
  • U.S. Trailer – U.S. Trailer for “Tenchi Muyo!”
  • Trailers – Trailers for FUNimation releases

The old school way to watch “Tenchi Muyo!” back in the early ’90s.

I can remember being young and watching “Tenchi Muyo!”, the OVA series for the first time with a local anime club.

I was mesmerized by the series, its quality and as anime fan, knowing that the series was going to be released on LaserDisc for the very first time, suffice to say, it was the first anime series that I would spend my hard-earned money on.  Off to an electronic store known as “The Good Guys”, where I purchased my first LD player, my first television set and my first “Tenchi Muyo” OVA LD at Tower Records, I had saved a lot of money just to make this purchase and sure enough, I found myself growing up with this series.

From OVA, film, TV series, “Tenchi Muyo!” was a big part of my life and here we are today, with “Tenchi Muyo!” now being released on Blu-ray.

The first thing that came to my mind is how fortunate anime fans are to get this series as one collection, in HD for a fantastic price.  Back in the early ’90s, one OVA episode of “Tenchi Muyo!” was $39.99 on LD and I believe it was $29.99 for one episode on VHS.

Sure, that was the sign of the times when it came to anime releases but I can’t help but feel that today’s anime fans are fortunate to get these 13 episodes for a great price!

And while there have been many versions of the “Tenchi Muyo!” universe featured as TV series, the first 13-episodes would be my favorite because of its storyline, its artwork and the voice acting was fantastic.  Instead of being a banal anime harem series, there was a lot more creativity when it came to writing for the characters.  In fact, too many harem anime series try to focus on the action and fan service with less focus on the story these days, while “Tenchi Muyo!” was all about the story that integrated a storyline of characters who cared about the male protagonist and featured action, but it was not the most important part of the series.

While this OVA series has been reviewed many times in the past, what I’ll focus on is the quality on Blu-ray.  Colors are much more vibrant, detail is more apparent and the series looks much better when it comes to the character design and backgrounds.  Yes, it’s old school anime that utilizes cell work but by no means does this series look very soft or aged, the series looks great on Blu-ray and comparing to the LD release, the Blu-ray blows it away.

Also, you get a lossless Japanese soundtrack.  Considering that back then, the series was released in stereo, the fact that you can hear birds chirping all around you, or even a telephone ring showing up on each channel was pretty cool to hear.  But the Japanese lossless soundtrack gets the advantage in this Blu-ray release, while you do get the original Pioneer English dub included as well in Dolby TrueHD 2.0.   As for special features, you do get the “Here Comes Jurai Part 2” but it would have been nice to have the special episodes included as well, such as “Mihoshi Special” or even the “Pretty Sammy” specials, as I don’t know if those will ever be released again on video.

Overall, “Tenchi Muyo!: OVA Collection” is for the fans of old-school anime series from the early ’90s and fans who grew up watching the series and now want the best version of it in HD!    Sure, part of the allure of the original OVA series was it being one of the first anime OVA series to be released in LD and also among the first to be shown at anime clubs and earlier anime conventions, but it’s also one of the best anime series of its time that would go on to spawn off other television series that other anime fans may be familiar with.   Still, this original OVA series is still my favorite of the many “Tenchi Muyo!” anime releases and one that will always be closest to my heart, as I grew up watching it.

Recommended!

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