Upon the release of Ranma 1/2 on Bluray, Mike takes a stroll through the world of Rumiko Takahashi.
Reviewby Bamboo Dong, Feb 23rd 2003
Magical Girl Pretty Sammy ft. the Mihoshi Special
Mihoshi is one of the best officers that the Galaxy Police has—well, according to her, that is. Just to remind everyone of her adventures, she retells a story of how she and her partner solved the hardest case in GP history! But wait—why does it have the Tenchi Muyo characters in it? After this come the adventures of Magical Girl Pretty Sammy, which star Sasami and the rest of the cast. Fighting for the good of humanity, Sammy must help her benefactress, the soon to be queen of a magical kingdom, in fighting against her rival, another magical girl named Pixy Misa. Can she make the world a better place while helping her brother Tenchi fend off all the women after him?
In order to please the hordes of fans who wanted more adventures with the Tenchi Muyo! cast, AIC obliged by producing the Tenchi Muyo! Mihoshi Special, as well as the three-episode magical girl spoof Magical Girl Pretty Sammy. These OVAs have been collected into a set by Pioneer and released on bilingual DVD, offering a run time of over two and one-half hours. Along with these episodes is a fairly large-sized image gallery featuring line art of the characters from all of the OVAs. The drawings are detailed and provide an excellent extra for those who either want to see more of the character designs or want to learn how to draw the characters themselves. The only other feature on the disc is a standard collection of Pioneer previews. These provide for some interest too, as they show the clean opening themes to a few of the series in Pioneer's catalogue, which is a pleasant surprise. While the extras on the disc are scant, there are plenty of other reasons for Tenchi Muyo! fans to watch these OVAs.
If it's not already obvious to the viewer within the first five minutes of the storyline, the plots that exist in these OVAs have virtually no meaning and reason for existence other than to entertain. The object of these episodes is to provide fanservice, humor, and the extra chance to see the characters goof around. While both OVAs are frivolous and unimportant, they are still pretty fun to watch nonetheless. Pretty Sammy is undoubtedly the highlight of this disc and provides viewers with an antic-filled spoof of magical girl shows. As an extra laugh, the second episode offers criticism about conformity through the advent of technology that can be seen as a subtle jab at Bill Gates. The operating system he is pushing on the nation is entitled SynchroSoft and one of the steps he must take to achieve his final goals is to obliterate the usage of another system called Mach 8. The undertones in this episode are worth quite a few laughs and, like the rest of the episodes, provide much entertainment even though there is no coherent overlying story.
One of the best things about this release is the music. Every episode has a different ending theme, which means there's plenty of cute music that makes each sequence worth sitting through. Interestingly, Pioneer also provides an English dubbed version of every song. While this is a bit disconcerting at first, the songs are sung well and their voices match the original Japanese ones pretty accurately. The only major thing going against the songs is the complete change of lyrics that each one has undergone. This isn't a huge issue, but it's unclear as to why Pioneer did that instead of attempting to translate the lyrics. The music that plays inside each episode is also nice to listen to, ranging from karaoke interludes sung by Sasami's mother to instrumentals that are played in various scenes.
The one element mediocre about the series is the art and animation. The art is sometimes inconsistent from one frame to another, and the character designs are largely flat and two-dimensional. Perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of the series is the number of nude shots of Sasami, who's only ten years old. Magical girl or not, this is still creepy and it would have done the series justice to at least blur the definition lines on her body. The animation in the series is decent, though not entirely fluid. There are times that the characters' faces jerk when speaking, which makes it slightly odd to watch. Another issue is the video transfer, which was done in such a manner that the top fringe of the screen includes frame lines. For the most part, however, the problems in the visual aspects of the series aren't noticeable enough to ruin the series.
The Japanese voicing cast did a commendable job with the series, provided the mildly hectic environment that characterized the episodes. There were a few lines that were left untranslated or were translated poorly, but this only occurred a few times in the series. The English dub, however, was extremely painful to listen to, with the exception of Sasami, whose whiny voice fitted her part perfectly. The rest of the characters either had problems stressing the wrong parts of their lines, or just plain couldn't act. The casting for the series didn't help the situation either, as the characters were left with awkward accents and horrid voices that can hardly be tolerated by anyone who saw the Japanese dialogue version first. The English script is translated faithfully for the most part, and while there are discrepancies, Pioneer did a good job keeping the general gist of the original Japanese dialogue.
Overall, this collection of OVAs is a fun-packed volume that will entertain any fan of the series. While it doesn't have the drama and angst that categorizes a few key episodes of the series, it has the light-hearted humor that is sprinkled throughout the various Tenchi Muyo! incarnations. The shallow plotlines and random fanservice provide a brainless way to enjoy the episodes, something which is enjoyable every now and again. For viewers who enjoyed the series, this is something that can't be missed.
Overall (dub) : D
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B-
Animation : C+
Art : C
Music : B
+ Different endings themes for every episode
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