Still love this series!
Hey Gang. How goes it? This week is a little something I wrote for somewhere else, but didn’t bite, I wanted to get this out, so here ya go!
In the history of anime shows, there are a number of titles that stick out from the rest. Speed Racer, Sailor Moon, Dragonball, Pokemon, Naruto, shows that are so big they act as many anime fans introduction into the fandom. These are the series that all the other anime fans talk about, the ones that have numerous cosplayers at every single convention, and the ones with a bunch of merchandise. One series that has stood the test of time for nearly 25 years now is Tenchi Muyo. And it’s coming back again.
Tenchi Muyo introduced us to the somewhat bumbling high school kid named Tenchi and how he ended up not only being one of the most important people in the universe but also how he ended up shacked up with a house full of women. From the space pirate Ryoko, The alien princess Ayeka, her little sister Sasami, the mad scientist Washu, and the space police officer Mihoshi, along with the later addition of adopted space princess Noike, the series isn’t short of memorable characters and situations. Tenchi Muyo is the series that laid down the blueprint for the “harem” anime series. Every anime series after Tenchi that had a guy and a bunch of girls living with him (or the other way around) pretty much owes its creation to Tenchi Muyo. Even when writers and others started branching off and forming their own take on the Tenchi series, the harem mold stayed in place (with the exception of the Pretty Sammy shows).
But with a new batch of original animation videos (or OAVs) has that same harem mold that Tenchi Muyo is known for also holding it back?
More specifically for the sake of this article, we are talking about the shows created by Masaki Kajishima, the original creator of Tenchi Muyo. He has made it known all series of his take place in the same universe, even if they are not Tenchi Muyo shows. This includes the Tenchi Muyo OAV series (now known as Tenchi Muyo: Ryo-ohki), Photon: The Idiot Adventures, Spaceship Augga Router, Masquerade, Duel, Tenchi: GXP, and Tenchi: War on Geminar. He also published several Tenchi based doujinshi comics, the GXP Novel series, and the “True” Tenchi Novels where a lot of information comes from. So no Tenchi Universe TV series, Tenchi in Tokyo, none of the movies and none of the pretty Sammy stuff either. Those are different writers and a different discussion.
It’s GXP and War on Geminar that made some fans think that for one reason or another that Masaki was only able to do was make harem shows, especially when the Tenchi Muyo name is used. Both shows followed pretty much the same plotline as Masaki’s original series had of “boy ends up living with a bunch of women who want him while facing a bigger evil, finding strength and power he didn’t know he had.” The difference was that the character the series is named after, Tenchi Masaki, wasn’t the star of the show. GXP starred Tenchi’s neighbor Seina and War on Geminar starred Tenchi’s half brother who was thrust into a different dimension. Both shows were criticized for being a retelling of the same story, without actually using Tenchi or the characters from the original series beyond guest appearances.
But in his doujinshi comics that he has produced, as well as the novels, Masaki showed he is not just a one-trick pony, and there is a lot to the Tenchi universe we have never seen.
In these personalized comics and novels, Masaki revealed a lot of backstory and events that were only briefly touched on, if even referenced at all, in the original animated specials or series like GXP or Geminar. These stories cover a wide variety of topics from the past, present, and even future of the storyline. Topics like the royal family of Jurai, Yosho’s life and adventures when he fled to Earth, Washu’s background as a scientist, even the background of Tenchi’s family lineage how it relates to just about everyone in the series. Did you know Washu and Mihoshi are related? You wouldn’t if you just watched the series. Did you know Tenchi has an aunt that appeared in the shows but he doesn’t know it yet? That’s covered in this material. Mr. Masaki’s material is so in depth, that much of what happened in the third OAV series wouldn’t have been much a surprise. When you delve into this material, in fact, the thing you don’t see a lot of is a house full of women stumbling over each other for the affection of a single guy.
So then why do we keep getting the same story over and over? Why do we get these “Tenchi” shows with circumstances so contrived that even within the bounds of its own universe is it silly? Is it producers thinking that the name Tenchi can only work as a harem series? Is Masaki himself wanting to keep thing familiar and not stray too far from a comfort zone? Who knows. But up until now, they are all missing the boat. Not only could a compelling prequel series work, but several compelling shows could be done. Here are some examples:
A god who recreated herself as a human. Washu was born and raised in a nunnery. She was the top student in the universe’s greatest science academy and created several experiments with her partner and best friend, Akara Naja. This series with show her relationship with the villain Clay (barely touched in the series), but also Naja’s mysterious disappearance and the creation of the dangerous Kagato. Heck, Washu’s quest to find Naja would make just as good a series as would the time she spent with her friend.
##The Royal family of Jurai
Masaki has so much detail going back to the first ruler of the tree-like planet that one series probably wouldn’t cover it all. In the OAV series, we barely get to see Ayeka and Sasami’s father, the ruler of the planet Jurai. Masaki delves a lot more into his background including the relationship with his mother-in-law Seto, both his current wives and their relationship to each other, and especially the heartbreaking story of his (completely untold in the OAV series) relationship with a woman named Mitsuki. Enough material to cover 26 episodes easily. A telling of a modern day story isn’t out of the question either. There are four houses in the royal family, enough to make a series.
Even if the whole royal family isn’t involved, Yosho himself makes for a good story too. Although his leaving Jurai during the battle with Ryoko is touched on a few times in the OAV, there is a lot more to him than that. Not only could his growing up as a prince of Jurai cover a lot of ground, but also his meeting of Airi and how big a deal that really was since Airi comes from a world that conflicts with Jurai. His travels to Earth also cover a lot of ground as well with him having two different wives at different times. Considering his older daughter Minaho is going to be featured in the new OAV, this plotline is one that could really be touched on.
Mihoshi. Now this one is interesting. The ditz of the group isn’t covered nearly as much as the other characters, even in Masaki’s novels or comics. Supposedly there was to be a Mihoshi “true” novel, but it was never published. But even from what we have seen and read, there is a big story here to be told. Mihoshi was once a very competent police officer and a younger member of the important and influential Kuramitsu family. She and Noike were even partners as officers, but something happened. Something terrible. Only Mihoshi’s brother Misao has made mention of it. Something that made her the bumbling goofball we see now. If there is anyone in the Tenchiverse who could use some detail in their backstory, it’s Mihoshi.
And those are just some of the possibilities that have not been touched on in favor of not one, but two different rehashes of the same story. But with an announced fourth season of the Tenchi Muyo OAV series going on sale this fall, longtime fans of the story and the Tenchi Muyo franchise can hope. Will this new series delve more into the past and all this established detail? Will a look to other angles of the universe be shown to us? We can only hope that new things are on the horizon not just rehashed plots that have worn.
You can see my published work HERE
You can contact me on my Twitter HERE