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Here, listen to this while you read.

My friends, I came across something today that just snapped me back to a sense of wonder and child-like innocence. Today, I happened across the opening song for the first season of the Tenchi Muyo! OVA. This was a sound straight out of my youth. There was something magical in that song, something that resists definition. I remember tuning in every weekday to be a part of that wonderful world… to see the treeships of Jurai… to try to glimpse the mystery behind the crystals and the goddesses.. to watch the Light Hawk Wings unfurl… There was something magical in that first season of Tenchi that ensnared my sense of wonder. It was a beautiful and mystical place.

Now, I will tell you that Tenchi Universe is my favorite anime of all time… and I mean that. The story was a lot cleaner and better told than its OVA counterpart. Certainly, it was better paced. The first Tenchi ran out of plot in the first 6 episodes, after all. Still, despite that, there was something about Universe that didn’t quite measure up to Muyo!… and that was the sense of the unknown. There were things in Muyo! that were mysteries… there were age differences that defied human standards… Tenchi seemed like some sort of mortal man thrust into a realm of angels and demons.

Let us take, for instance, the first episode of Muyo! and Universe… Tenchi meeting Ryoko for the first time. Universe’s meeting had Ryoko fall from the sky, pursued by police. How was it that she had come to fall near the shrine of a former Jurian prince? Call it fate. Either way, she was found by Tenchi and revealed through the events of the first episode to be a trickster, a lover of alcohol, and a woman of demon-like power. The episode found a new way of letting the two meet and it all worked very well… but it never left an impression on me the way the first episode of Muyo! did. When Tenchi found that shrine and saw the mummified form… when the beautiful girl who could only be the revived demon began attacking him… when he cut off her hand and she laughed it off… there was something in those events that taped my eyelids open. When I found out later exactly how much she’d actually known about this kid… or how she’d actually just been trying to scare him a bit… it cast a different light upon her actions in that first episode.

In fact, I dare say that is the major difference between the two. Tenchi Universe made an attempt to explain things as they came up. When there was something that didn’t make sense, or something that you needed to know, Universe would find a way of telling you. Muyo! had a sense of mystery about it… even some of the explanations only raised more questions. Of the two anime, I definitely prefer Universe. If we are judging the two on the basis of plot, pacing, or character development, I find Universe to be superior (Especially if we throw in the movie Tenchi Forever!) Still, no matter how much I prefer a world with Kiyone in it… that song is the one that calls up all of those wonderful memories. I believe that to be because no matter how much better Universe is, Muyo! still has that intangible sense of wonder to it… well, unless you count GXP (and you really shouldn’t.)

“But Tom,” you might ask, “why does any of this matter? Tenchi is so very old. Surely there are more modern anime we could talk about?” There are, indeed, more modern anime we could discuss… but there isn’t an anime closer to my heart. There certainly isn’t an anime that so clearly embodies what it is that I love about anime. When Ryoko swore over a bloody headband to make Kagato pay… when she agreed to undo her ideal dimension of Bonnie and Clyde romance… when she decided to forget about her love for Tenchi and fled into space to become a pirate again… those scenes were carved into my sense of what it was to be a good anime. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to say that a lot of modern anime, in one way or another, wants to be the next Tenchi Muyo! If you haven’t seen this wonderful anime, I implore you to watch it. If you have seen it, then maybe you are feeling the urge to watch it again. I know I am.



  1. Hmm. I never really watched it because, to me, it was “just another harem anime,” and I mostly avoid those. On your suggestion, though, I’ll give it a shot.

    • This is THE harem anime, sir. And, really, they dropped the harem aspect in Universe… only Ryoko and Ayeka actively pursue him… which feels more “right” somehow. But yes, give this one a shot… Hell, watch all of it.

        • Hartxenon
        • Posted March 29, 2011 at 9:51 pm
        • Permalink

        Actually Tenchi was kind of… just a Harem anime. I mean it had an impact on the Genre yeah but its more known for the story and world and mythos that it created and followed throughout the series. The Major modern predecessor to current harem anime was this little known anime called… Love Hina. If anything is THE HAREM ANIME its Love Hina.

      • Heh… Love Hina was my first manga… and yes, that is certainly THE harem anime, if ever there was one. You are absolutely right, sir. It isn’t the harem aspect of Tenchi that makes it the stuff of legend.

  2. Hmmm. . .
    Now I am getting an itch to watch it again.

  3. Wait… i just reread your second to last sentence. If you haven’t seen it, then watch it again. Umm… wait…

    • Re-re-read it then, sir. “If you haven’t seen this wonderful anime, I implore you to watch it. If you have seen it, then maybe you are feeling the urge to watch it again. “

        • matt
        • Posted April 4, 2011 at 9:12 am
        • Permalink

        God bless those wooden guardians

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