Tenchi Muyo Review
A classic of anime and the first of the harem genre, Tenchi Muyo has a lot going for it: great balance of sci-fi and comedy elements, a delightful cast of characters, and a potential for good romantic development on the part of Tenchi and the two main love interests. There are problems with Tenchi though, and they detract some from the experience. For the sake of not being an idiot, I’m not going to include the horrible dub in my overall score but I will talk about it. So don’t think Tenchi’s getting the score it is getting because of the dub. It has a lot more problems to deal with.
1.) Cast of Characters-In order to make a successful harem anime you have to have an eclectic and very different cast of characters. No two can be alike because the audience wants to like one and empathize with one the most (and not the same character across the board but one that matches our preference) and root for the hero to get that girl. Tenchi Muyo gets this right by having a great cast of very different characters from different walks of life. What it also gets right is allowing these characters time to shine in their areas of expertise. Every character gets enough focus so you don’t feel like any are being left out. On top of that, it doesn’t force Tenchi into a relationship with any of the girls. Ryoko and Ayeka are the two girls after him, but he doesn’t end up with either and you don’t feel like the creators are pushing one or the other. Harems don’t work when the main character has a main love interest. A harem entails multiple love interests. Hell, if a normal person were in a harem situation they’d probably become a Mormon on the spot.
Another plus is how the romance seems relegated to two characters love for Tenchi. Rather than have them all love him, he’s given two to choose from and the rest are there as friends more or less. It’s not overbearing and makes this seem less a harem, more a sci-fi. Sure he is dealing with tons of girls but only two fawn over him.
2.) Combination of Sci-Fi and Comedy-I have such a hard time looking at this as a harem for the sole reason that the romance doesn’t come to the forefront. Halfway through, the series has a tonal shift and goes from Earth antics to a full-on space adventure. The romance is there, but it isn’t the focus. There are so many genres coming together, and I absolutely love how Tenchi Muyo melts all these elements together. As far as genre balancing goes, it does it so much better than recent titles like Haiyore! Nyaruko-San. Heaven’s Lost Property managed a decent balance of story, comedy, and romance; but definitely not as successfully as Tenchi Muyo does.
1) Ayeka vs. Ryoko- The two main love interests also tend to be the most interesting characters as far as backstory is concerned. The problem is, when you get them together they are total pains in the ass. They get infuriatingly annoying at points. Despite liking them both and understanding they are romantic rivals; their antics are too grating to be funny or cute.
2) Seizure- Episode 22 has more flashing lights than a normal person should ever have to see. Seriously, you could have a seizure watching that shit.
3) Voice Acting- I’d suggest bypassing the English dub. Tenchi sounds like Kermit the Frog, Ayeka’s voice is awful. There are very few capable voice actors/actresses in the dubbing project. On top of that, some of the songs of the show have been localized, making for awful music at dramatic places. It’s the same for the horrible karaoke sections that are completely pointless. Fast forwarding through these areas are permitted and highly advised.
Tenchi Muyo is a classic for good reason. It really doesn’t contain any largely noticeable problems, the cast is fantastic, and the balance is great. The only real problem is that I only have two good things to say about it and three bad things. I really have very little to say pro or con. So if it’s technically decent, then entertainment-wise does it deliver? Hell yes. It’s great fun and even if there are some chinks in the armor, it’s overall a very solid anime.