Reviewby Theron Martin, Dec 6th 2006
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki OAV 3
With the trouble with Z and Misao brought to a conclusion, it's time to pass judgment on Misao and Mashishu. It's also time for Yosho and Noboyuki to deal with a matter they have long put off: they must finally explain to Tenchi the circumstances of his mother's death, and it's something Tenchi cannot easily accept.
Meanwhile, wedding bells ring in the air, but who are they for???
The mystery of what, exactly, happened to Tenchi's mother, which has lingered for more than a decade, is finally resolved, and the truth is something no fan will expect. Whatever you think you may have figured out, whatever you think you know about the franchise, you won't see this revelation coming any more than Tenchi does. The audacity of it is astounding.
It's also quite entertaining stuff, albeit in a somewhat perverse way.
After suffering through the vastly disappointing episodes 4-6, fans of the franchise will be pleased to know that the final episode returns to Tenchi's comedic roots, and in doing so recaptures at least some of the charm that made the earlier Tenchi material so enjoyable. Although it contains some dramatic content, episode 7 is packed with surprises, twists and turns, and plot development, but mostly a good amount of laughs. Nowhere near everything is resolved – in fact, the content actually sets up new potential story leads – but at least it is entertaining and keeps everyone except the goddess Tokimi (who shows that she can also be goofy) consistent with established behavioral patterns. Since this is only a half-hour episode, many key characters get very little attention, including Sasami and Ryo-Ohki, but you can't have everything.
What is dealt with here is not for the casual fan, though. Very extensive familiarity with previous Tenchi material is assumed, and anyone lacking it will be hard-pressed to understand much of anything about what's going on. Don't watch this one if you haven't, at the very least, seen all of the original OVA series and the earlier episodes of the recent one. Having seen Tenchi Muyo! GXP first is also helpful, as it is extensively referred to in the Extras.
The artistry in the regular episode maintains the standard set earlier in the OVA series: good but not great background art, constant stylistic elements, and character designs which favor prominent noses and ears. The only new design of note is Tokimi's chibi form, which is laughably ridiculous and cutesy compared to her normal ominously grand form. The artistry in the Radio Drama is crude by comparison. The animation takes major short-cuts by resorting to still images and panning scenes in one place, and there isn't much action here to truly exploit the animation, but it's good where present.
The musical score this time around is more effective at setting tone and mood and supporting the events of the series, although it is still not one of the stronger points of the series. The boorish opener remains, as does the cutesy closer. English dub casting and performances remain consistent with those established in previous Tenchi releases. As in previous episodes, the English script still takes major liberties with the translation, which sometimes has characters saying completely different things in English compared to Japanese. Also completely lost in the translation is the use of honorifics, which establish more firmly the various degrees of relationships between the characters, but that wouldn't have translated well anyway.
Although only one 30-minute episode is present on this volume, the 30-minute “Radio Drama” in the Extras makes up for it by offering a collection of five short comedy vignettes composed of narrated still images. Content ranges from an unfortunately distorted email to disastrous cooking efforts to Ayeka trying to deal with Tenchi's fly being open, and all are terribly funny. The other main extra is the 40-minute live-action special “Tenchi Muyo! Entertainment/Secret Pot” hosted by Tomoko Kaneda and Etsuko Kozakura, the seiyuu for Fuku and Ryo-Ohki, respectively. It is a silly collection of series clips (mostly from GXP) mixed with gag bits used to explain various concepts in the Tenchi universe. Also included is some full-spread interior cover art and FUNimation's standard practice of allowing viewers to shift between English and Japanese credits in the opener and closer using the Angle button on a remote. This volume can also be purchased with a nice collector's tin which features bonus cover art and is large enough to contain all three DVDs.
If you're a long-time Tenchi fan then the final volume of the Ryo-Ohki OVA 3 series is a must-have, and the version with the collector's tin is recommended. It's hardly a wrap-up for the franchise but does provide some solid entertainment value and deals with one of the longest-standing mysteries in the franchise. Others should regard this one as a kind of advanced course, something that should only be viewed after thoroughly familiarizing yourself with previous Tenchi material.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B-
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B-
+ Answers a long-standing mystery in an unexpected way, meaty extras.
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