Anime Programming in the US
Making a Living in Manga in Japan with Felipe Smith
Lost in Translation
Believing that Tenchi is taking improper advantage of his beloved sister Mihoshi, Misao sets out on a mission to reclaim her and arrange Tenchi's untimely death, using his planetary-class ship Chibamaru and with the reluctant assistance of his adjutant Mashisu, whose devotion to Misao extends to love even though she refuses to acknowledge it. Things never go as planned when Mihoshi is involved in any way, however. Also visiting the Misaki household is Seto, Ayeka and Sasami's grandmother, aka the legendary Devil Princess of Jurai. Z also lingers in the background, watching and preparing for his time to make a move on his deadly rival Tenchi. His actions could ultimately provoke all three of the Goddesses to appear for the first time.
More than 14 months have passed since the first volume of the Tenchi Muyo! Ryo Ohki 3 OVA was released in the States, but by the end of episode 5 this one has proven to not be worth the wait. Although the magic that made the original Tenchi Muyo! OVAs so entertaining survived through the first three episodes of this follow-up series, it's almost completely gone by the time episode 4 rolls around. What's left is a bland, lifeless production lacking humor, spirit, enthusiasm, and sometimes any degree of sense.
Tenchi Muyo! was originally predicated on a mix of humor, sexiness, silliness, personality conflict, and action that turned it into the prototypical harem romantic comedy. Completely absent in this volume, though, is the Ayeka/Ryoko competitive dynamic that was always a driving force in the show, and the brief scenes where Washu and Seto play off each other aren't enough to compensate. So much time is spent focusing on Mashisu and Misao that Tenchi is actually only a minor secondary character through episodes 4 and 5 (although he returns to the starring role in episode 6), and other characters, particularly Ayeka, are well under-used. Considering how fun and involving the personalities of the core cast are, this is a major time management negative.
But it's not just the main characters or a cast so broad it's forcing the story to stretch out too much. The attempts at comedy rarely click, the whole thing lacks energy, and the series does a much better job of setting up potential action scenes than executing them. In fact, the only battle that actually is shown in any significant detail in the first two episodes is Sasami's duel with Mashisu, where she proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that even cute, young, and seemingly completely inoffensive Jurain princesses are still people to be reckoned with. For long-term Tenchi fans that is arguably the single biggest highlight between episodes 4 and 5.
And then there's episode 6, which offers its own set of problems. The three Goddesses of the Tenchi Universe have been suggested before, but for the first time they appear together and get actively and directly involved. Exactly what all is going on here is confusing (where did this Counteractor come from, and what's the deal with the girl Tenchi saves?), and it doesn't help matters that the episodes starts in the middle and continues from there, giving the viewer the feeling that at least half an episode is missing. What it does do is finally explain some long-standing mysteries about what the Goddesses have been up to and how Tenchi, and his ability to generate Light Hawk blades, fits into the picture. While satisfying in a way, the writing and plotting in all three of these episodes is sorely lacking.
Though the writing might slack here, the artistry maintains the same standards as always for Tenchi OVAs: good but not great foreground and background art, reasonably good animation, and constant character designs. Misao's design looks so disturbingly like Mihoshi that it can be unnerving watching him and hearing a male voice instead (but that's also the point), while other newer arrivals are typical Tenchi style. One thing Tenchi series have always done well are their unique spaceship designs, and that hasn't changed.
The background music is another let-down, as it doesn't do a particularly good job of supporting and enhancing the moods of the given scenes. The instrumental opening sounds somewhat like a remix of earlier Tenchi themes, while the upbeat closer is a nice but unexciting number reminiscent of early Oh My Goddess! theme songs.
Most of the original Tenchi Muyo! English dub cast has returned, most importantly Kate T. Vogt as Washu and Jennifer Darling as Ayeka; they don't have the biggest parts but would be the hardest English VAs to replace since both so clearly-defined their roles. They've lost none of their quality over time, and the original did have one of the better mid-'90s dubs. Some issues could be raised with the script, which in typical FUNimation style is occasionally way off what's being said but does flow smoothly. Less acceptable are a couple of blatant errors, such as referring to Jupiter in the English dub when the subtitles and picture on the screen both obviously refer to Saturn, but it's still a solid effort overall.
The on-disc Extras all seem to have been taken from the original Japanese release, as they include Japanese TV trailers, a “behind the scenes” Japanese music video for the closing song, and a pair of 12-minute-long “Real Tenchi Tour” featurettes. The latter take the viewer to real-world locations that were used as the inspirations for on-Earth settings in the various Tenchi series. Also included is a reversible cover, English tracks in both 2.0 and 5.1, and FUNimation's standard practice of showing Japanese credits when the Japanese dub is on and English credits when the English dub is on, with the ability to switch between them using the Angle button.
Although episode 6 has some important revelations, volume 2 of the newest Tenchi Muyo! OVA series is unquestionably the weakest OVA volume to date in the franchise. It's still a must-see for Tenchi fans but the overall quality is seriously lacking.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : D+
Animation : B+
Art : B
Music : C
+ Some important new revelations, debut of Sasami's fight scene.
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