Tenchi Muyo (OVA)

The ideal introduction to light, comic anime.

Tenchi Masaki is at first a rather ordinary seeming high-school student, who is being raised by his widowed father and stern maternal grandfather, the keeper of a traditional shrine. In the first episode, Tenchi's curiosity about a forbidden cave leads him to release the sleeping demon space-pirate Ryoko, one of the classic wild-women of anime. After destorying his high school in a playful bout of havoc--hurling energy bolts at Tenchi (though not, it seems in retrospect in a serious attempt to harm him) and inadvertently setting off a gas explosion, she moves in with him.

By the middle of the series the Masaki household is beset with extra-terrestrial women: besides Ryoko; Ayeka, the Royal Princess of Jurai, and a princess in every sense of the word both good and bad, who perpetually vies with Ryoko for Tenchi's affections; Sasami, her sister, who exhibits one of the most extreme cases of the multiple identity phenomenon often found in shoujo anime, being not only a little girl, but also in some sense a grown woman of her race named Tsunami, a tree which grants immortality and the most powerful spaceship in the universe (if you can follow that even after seeing the entire series, you're one up on me); Mihoshi, a lovable, bumbling, perternaturally lucky, blonde airhead who through nepotism is a detective in the Galaxy Police; and Washu, a 20,000 year old scientific genius who maintains herself in the body of a pre-adolescent girl, and insists on being called Washu-chan.

The animation is beautiful, the voice-acting in both the original and the dub well-done, and occasionally it manages to rise above its comic tone--the first villain, Kagato, is more majestic than Darth Vader, and the episodes involving him are fairly good space opera. They also show Tenchi's altruistic or chivalrous nature: even though he seem to have no interest in either Ryoko or Ayeka's attentions, he will risk his life for them.

This is one for the kids: the violence is all very stylized--no gore. My 11 year old son (now 14) loved it. The only thing some parents may have qualms about is the nudity--not very detailed, but nearly full-frontal on Ryoko's part at one point, and with some detail of her breasts in a scene with sorcerous blue lighting--in Episode 4 (a very funny episode at a hot-springs) and light sexual inuendo. The version shown on Toonami has very badly done censorship of the nudity which makes Episode 4 nonsensical. Get the original OVA, not the Toonami version.

Ratings (out of 5, 1 being worst, 5 being best)

Plot 4.5
Voice-Acting (original)4.0
Voice-Acting (English dub)4.0

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