Tenchi Muyo is back after a 9 year hiatus with an all new box set. It’s been 2 months since the action seen in OVA 2 and peace has finally returned to the Masaki household. Unfortunately the calm is all but shattered with the arrival of a few new faces, one even claims to be Tenchi’s mother! It’s not all fun and games though. The powerful goddess Lady Tokemi has sent villain Z on a mission to scout Tenchi and to learn more about his powers, but Z seems to have his own plans. Could there also be a marriage on the cards? Will Tenchi finally learn about his mother’s tragic past? All will be revealed in Tenchi Muyo OVA 3!
For any fan of Tenchi this third box set was always going to be a big thing. From the beginning of production right until release most fans were worried about how the final product would shape up. Would it live up to the expectations laid down by its predecessors? Or it would it float like a lead balloon? I can happily say that this new release delivers everything that I expected.
One of the last things I was worried about was the story itself. With this being a continuation there wasn’t much that could be changed from the original outline. The whole cast is back in action and the laughter and action is exactly what we have seen before. Anyone that has watched Tenchi will have found something they liked. I’ll put money on it that you’ll find it in this OVA and it’ll be exactly like you remembered it. However this brings me round to my next point. Obviously after almost a decade after the last OVA some people’s memories may be a little bit rusty. To counter this there has been around about 10 minutes of material rehashed and put into the first couple of episodes. Even though it has good intentions I didn’t approve of this one bit. Those ten minutes could have been put to better use, but alas this was broadcast on T.V so I can see where they were coming from.
With the new OVA come new characters. Some of them are a little less important than the others but you have to remember they are already joining a pretty big cast. This pushed some of the others into the background. For example the fighting between Ryoko and Ayeka, one of the biggest factors in the whole show, was pushed into the background to make way for the new story. But thankfully it is not all doom and gloom. These new characters fit right at home in the Tenchi story and their execution was pretty good.
Since the last OVA the technology used in anime has developed quite a bit. Thankfully this has done more good than bad. The animation is crisp and flowing and the character designs haven’t changed bar some few cosmetic changes. The background art is still as beautiful as before but it somewhat lacks the charm the rest of the series has. One thing I was not keen on at all was the inclusion of 3D animation, especially on the spaceships. One of the greatest things in Tenchi Muyo was watching the ships fight in battle. Even then they were brilliantly designed and great to look at. These new designs lack the wow factor and do not fit in with the animation style at all.
The biggest talking point about this series was the voice cast, mainly for the dub as the Japanese soundtrack still had all the original actors. Petrea Burchard, the main voice actor from the previous OVA’s, Movies and T.V series, for one reason or another couldn’t come back and do her role as Ryoko. In result of this Mona Marshall, who played Ryoko in Tenchi Muyo GXP, was brought in to fill the void. Many fans, including myself, were skeptical of this decision as quite frankly her voice in GXP was nothing short of abysmal. However Mona picked up her game and knocked this one out of the park. While many will have a favourite, her interpretation of Ryoko was good and did justice to the role. Ryoko still had that charm that everyone either loves or hates. There were some other changes to the voice cast as well. Mihoshi’s voice was played by a different actor, which was a shame as I adored the previous voice. This one sounds like she inhaled a canister of helium before entreating the studio. The voice of Grandpa and Tenchi’s father were also changed, unfortunately the original V.A passed away. What impressed me most was the existing cast members all picked up their roles and done them proud. Granted Washu did sound a bit rusty and Tenchi didn’t sound much like a 17 year old anymore but they did their jobs well.
Everything up until now I’ve been pleased with but there are two points I wasn’t happy about with this third OVA. The first is the script. The screenplay was done by the same man but it was really inconsistent. Towards the 5th episode I sensed the show starting to run out of steam. It wasn’t bad enough to wreck the whole experience, but if you watched all 3 OVA’s in a row you will notice the difference in writing quality. On this note I will make another point. I don’t know if I’m the only one who thought this, but this OVA lacked the balls of the previous OVA’s. The Onsen episode in the first OVA was a riot, or episode 8 in the second OVA “Hello Baby!” was incredibly funny. There wasn’t an episode of madness in this series and I missed that.
One final point I’ll make is on the soundtrack. The soundtrack in this series was a bit hit and miss. The opening title was good and catchy, easily summing up the show just like the original. The closing was a decent attempt but doesn’t hold a candle to the previous songs. The background music was again varying between decent and ok. Some songs were good and added to the scene, others just “that song in the background”. My biggest disappointment of this series has to be the music, along with the fact there was no covers by English speaking artists. This was one point I didn’t understand. Pretty much every single Tenchi soundtrack has had an English cover and all were great to listen to. But this was missing and it was a big loss in my opinion. Could this have been a result of cost cutting by production companies? Or possibly a lack of effort? I don’t know the real reason but it was still a downer.
Tenchi Muyo is back on UK soil again and its back with a bang. If you haven’t seen any previous Tenchi shows then you’ll be reading this with a puzzled look on your face. I suggest you go buy the previous series and give them a watch, this was the anime that started the harem genre after all. There are niggles with this that fans will argue about and it could go on forever but all I’m going to say is this. Changes or not, this volume can sit on the shelf next to the other two OVA’s proudly. Some answers will be revealed, some may not. Who knows they might even make a 4th OVA. But for any fan of Tenchi, this box set should not disappoint.