Greetings all, and welcome to the inaugural article/trial run of Project Hydra. An idea sourced from the varied and insane minds of AniTAY, Project Hydra is an approach to reviewing a series which has every participant take a single episode to watch and provide their thoughts about. The key point being that no-one will have previously seen the series in question, nor will they watch any episode other than their own. They go in cold and have to try and make sense of what they encounter.

Naturally, we immediately drew up a list of shows which are as random and mind-screwy as possible. Expect to see Corpse Party, Valvrave, Ben-To and the like coming soon. For this initial outing however, we decided to address one of the originators of the harem genre, fondly remembered by those old enough to have encountered it: the original OVA series of Tenchi Muyô!

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In order of episode, those contributing for this show are: thatsmapizza, Fatalis, jonuiuc, Dexomega, Kulekiller, Krakken_Unleashed and Protonstorm. Each series also has a co-ordinator who has seen the full run, to collate each episode’s material and provide the overall article. In this case, that would be myself. [bows] Each contribution is provided with as minimal an amount of editing as possible, the better to preserve the discordant chaos, and the differing approaches and responses to the material each contributor has provided may well be mineable for their own insight.

Tenchi Muyô! (a title with multiple possible translations standing as an example of Japanese wordplay and carrying the full title of Tenchi Mûyo! Ryô-Ohki in Japan) is an six-episode run of OVAs dating from 1992. Its popularity led to an additional seventh episode special being released, which we also chose to include, followed later by a second run of 6 OVAs in 1994 which notably did not resolve the inherent plot arc, that finally being accomplished in 2003 with a third series of 6 episodes and a last special episode to round the count off at 20. Several alternate retellings, reimaginings and spin-offs have also been produced, arguably none reaching the same popularity or heights of opinion as the original (some being terrible).

To provide the background information our guys lacked, Tenchi Muyô! is a series wherein the titular character has a normal life as a descendant of the Misaki family, who tend a shrine within which is said to be sealed an ancient demon. Being a typical teenager he wants to see the demon for himself (not least because he’s been told he can’t), and so is constantly trying to get his hands on the keys to the locked gate; thus the series opens. Having finally managed to (not) outwit his grandfather, Tenchi proceeds inside, only to discover the actual body of a mummified demon contained within. Which then awakens...

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The demon turns out to be the first member of our harem; the Space Pirate Ryôko, formerly a terror of the galactic community (turns out Earth is in a “Special Protection Zone” which precludes most visitors) who was defeated and sealed within the cave 700 years before. She has been watching Tenchi his entire life and is very fond of him, which she shows upon her release in typical fashion by playfully causing mass destruction. Her release inadvertently leads to the other members of the harem assembling: First, Ayeka and her little sister Sasami arrive on Earth whilst seeking Ayeka’s half-brother, Yôshô, who was pursuing Ryôko when he disappeared. Intending to capture Ryôko in order to question her about Yôshô’s disappearance they succeed in capturing Tenchi along with her, along with a sword Tenchi retrieved from Ryôko’s shrine which allows Tenchi to affect the ship’s systems. In the course of escaping, Ryôko crashes Ayeka’s ship on Earth, marooning Ayeka and Sasami and leaving them with nowhere to stay except at Tenchi’s house. Dumb move Ryôko. Next arrives (in somewhat spectacular fashion) Mihoshi, a talented Galactic Police officer who is stated to have gone to pieces due to overwork and now presents as a clumsy ditz (with probability-bending abilities she remains blissfully ignorant of), chasing an infamous criminal with ties to Ryôko from the days of her reign of terror, and eventually the group is completed by Ryôko’s “mother” Washû, a maniacal Mad Scientist considered the top mind of the galaxy who hangs around to (troll) study Tenchi’s unique abilities sourced from his Juraian heritage. Tenchi must come to live life with these varied and (in the case of Ryôko and Ayeka) aggressively conflicting personalities all now firmly directing attention upon him.

Oh, and there’s also Ryô-Ohki, an adorable little cat-rabbit (cabbit) with a carrot obsession who turns into Ryôko’s spaceship.

Yeah.

So, without further ado I present: Project Hydra encounters Tenchi Muyô!


Episode 1 - thatsmapizza:

Hello everyone to the first Project Hydra article. Today, I’m going to be covering the first episode of Tenchi Muyo Ryo Ohki. I’m thatsmapizza, I regularly write about mangas and any other things I’m thinking about. My experience with Tenchi Muyo is rather small. I did watch some of the show when I was younger and so I know that this show was the progenitor the harem anime genre. I also know the general back ground of most of the characters in the show, but I don’t remember any specific arcs or episodes in particular.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s dive into the first episode.

Very first scene, cicada noises… It’s funny how this trope hasn’t died even in present anime.

Huh, for an anime that used to watch in diapers, it looks pretty good

Oh dear lord…

Well, hopefully the character art improves as I watch. Though character art isn’t that good, they are quite expressive.

Welp, I think I have a good grasp of Tenchi’s character and his role in the story roughly 2 minutes in.

I’ll say this again, this anime has pretty nice environmental art. I also like the shot composition as it looks like Tenchi is being drawn to the light.

And here we have our first harem member. Ain’t she a beauty :P

9 minutes in and man this show is so much more different from what I remember. Like if I didn’t watch this show in the past, this show would seem like a kid unknowingly released a great evil type story. Though there are a few discrepancies in the show, like how a European style knight sealed an oriental demon with oriental techniques, overall it seems pretty interesting.

Unfortunately, I have to disagree Ryoko. It’s so much more amusing when Tenchi runs away because then it give the writers more opportunities to add more girls with varying personalities and goals. By having Tenchi run away from their affections it allows the viewers to get attached to each girl thus spawning a best girl war that gets the viewers even more invested in the show…

Also, I don’t particularly like Ryoko’s voice. It sounds like the stereotypical Rita Repulsa type voice except it’s Japanese. Maybe I just got used to her English VO, which I’m pretty sure sounded nothing like her Japanese VO.

AHAHHAHAHAHAHAH! They actually went with that and it worked! AHAHAHAHAHAHA! I’ll say this, this show has a pretty good comedy and script.

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Overall, I’m not terribly impressed with the action scenes so far because the art quality drops through the floor when they occur. Also, the direction for some of the action scenes isn’t that great as well. Though some of them are pretty funny.

Also, I’m just as surprised as you Tenchi. I didn’t know this show was actually Star Wars.

Overall, I thought this episode was pretty good because it did a good job of establishing who and what this series was about. The series quickly establishes that Tenchi is kinda dumb kid who will get into trouble due to his rebellious nature and his disposition as a teenager. Also, the series clearly shows that it will be a comedy series with a decent amount of action with its cartoonish action scenes and witty dialogue. Lastly, the romantic and fanservice elements are alluded to in the show towards the middle and end of the show, but they weren’t a large part of the package. Though the character art is quite crappy (I swear Tenchi’s head is an egg), the good writing and the good background art has left me wanting more. Yes, I’d consider watching the rest of the series.

So Kawaii…


Episode 2 - Fatalis:

Just a quick notice beforehand, I watched episode two of a different Tenchi Muyo series before being redirected to the right one. I don’t know if that changes anything, but there you go.

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(He accidentally watched the second weekly compilation of Ai Tenchi Mûyo, yet another spinoff which is currently airing. Please reflect for a moment on the sacrifice made by this brave soul, who stepped in at late notice to cover this episode and suffered greatly for it - Exile)

So what I got from this episode was that this series seems kind of like a space drama. There’s a space convict Ryoko who has arrived at Earth because Tenchi, our protagonist has somehow come to acquire “Tenchi”, a sword that also seems to somehow act as a master key that controls alien technology. While she’s trying to take it back, Ayeka an alien princess has come to capture Ryoko. They eventually both get captured and Ayeka has also come to take back the sword as it belongs to her brother. Ayeka’s sister Sasami lets out Tenchi and he goes and pulls a prank on Ayeka for Sasami as she says that she’ll be able to return him to Earth. During this, he notices that the sleeping Ayeka is holding onto “Tenchi” and so he tries to retrieve it. Of course she wakes up and Ayeka sends her servants to attack Tenchi. So Tenchi and Sasami go on the run and eventually run into Ryoko. Using “Tenchi” Ryoko and Tenchi call their spaceship which attacks Ayeka’s spaceship in an attempt to escape. What happens is that both ships get heavily damaged and land back on Earth. So now everyone is now seemingly stranded on Earth and Ayeka desperately wishes to leave, while everyone else seems fairly calm about the situation.

This episode kind of has a bit of everything, you get to see and understand the characters personalities, we get some action when the spaceships collide, and some exposition about the world and what is actually happening. Does this episode make me want to watch more? Sure I guess. I don’t think this episode was bad, but it didn’t “wow” me either. That’s just how I feel about most things. If I were to judge the entire series based off this single episode, I would say it’s alright, although I have a hard time saying exactly what genre this is based off this episode. Tenchi at this point seems like a fairly superfluous character, but he’s able to use “Tenchi” and it seems like he has some kind of latent power which kind of makes me think this will proceed like a traditional shonen. Either way, the episode was decent; I didn’t have any qualms with it.


Episode 3 - jonuiuc:

Short Summary: This episode begins with a flashback of a younger princess and her older brother/betrothed? (this incest stuff is fairly prevalent even in the nineties huh?). Upon waking up it seems that there are three alien girls living in a house along with the titular character Tenchi and his grandfather/trainer. The girls names are revealed to be Ayeka (the princess), Ryoko (a magic monster girl?), and Sasami (a younger sister/attendant character). A small, cute rabbit/cat creature named Ryo-Ohki (who evidently is a young spaceship?) hatches from an egg and facilitates most of the story in this episode. Some revelations surrounding the princess’s lost brother, Tenchi’s grandfather, and Ryoko’s past are hinted at, along with some romantic comedy hijinks.

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My Reaction: I went into this episode with absolutely no information regarding the Tenchi Muyo series, other than the fact that it is pretty much referred to as one of the progenitors of the modern Harem anime. Watching this episode, I’m struck by how decent the art and animation is. The direction is very straightforward but not cheap or simple, camera angles are varied and characters are animated moving from background to foreground diagonally, not just left to right. There are none of the cost-cutting “pan across the still frame” scenes, just hand drawn animation. The character design is old school but not bad (I rather like the proportions of old school designs) and other than the box 4:3 format (as opposed to modern widescreen), the only thing that truly dates the show is the background music. The soundtrack is very early nineties chiptune, and really spells out how the audience is supposed to interpret each scene (e.g. “this scene is funny”, “this animal is acting cute”, “this is for serious”), modern soundtracks in contrast are a bit more subtle and not as in the forefront.

Somewhat surprisingly, although the harem aspect of the show is very familiar (this was obviously the “Ayeka” development episode) and there are the stereotypical harem situations: “girl twists her ankle and must be carried home” and “caught in the rain so we must undress and dry clothes by the fire”, there is actually very little blatant fan service to speak of. I’m so used to seeing these situations in harems paired with fanservice I didn’t think they could be done for the pure romantic comedy effect. There is one surprising dirty old man ecchi scene, but that’s it. Altogether, the characters seem less like caricatures and situations come off as a bit less of by the numbers than many of modern harem shows. Not sure if this continues in other episodes, but this episode was solid. Would I continue to watch this series based off of this particular episode? Yes I would, it looks good enough and the story seems interesting enough that I’d give the series a try. It actually reminds me more of a harem version of Inu-Yasha (with less fighting).


Episode 4 - Dexomega:

Thoughts: Among other things, this episode starts with EyePatchGuy, clearly the main character, in a space battle. Unfortunately, he dies. Well, he’s not the main character then... Then we cut to a United Federation of Planets space station headed by who I’ll call BipedalTigerGuy, who presumably sends us off the the part of the galaxy where our main character is.

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Thus begins my journey in trying to find this Tenchi guy, wherever he is in this BipedalTigerGuy/EyePatchGuy-filled galaxy.

So, my thoughts on this episode. It’s been a long time since I watched this series, long enough that I really don’t remember this episode, so it was perfect. First thoughts: Man this escalates quickly! Ships blown up, ending up in the wrong side of the onsen, getting a nosebleed, and maniac magical girl, all in ten minutes. I don’t even remember it being like this. It’s just great in that 90's way we all love.

Pros:

  • Lightsabers
  • The 90's
  • Harem Crazy

Cons:

  • WHAT’S GOING ON
  • Fanservice
  • Harem Crazy

Would I Watch the Rest: Yes, obviously. Gloriously crazy, way more so than I remember.


Episode 5 - Kulekiller:

Running Commentary:

That terribly animated start where he pulls out the carrot... I thought it was something... different...

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Why is it suddenly snowing when all plants are lush green, and you’re harvesting carrots?

What damn era does this show exist in? There’s a floating house/building (?) on floating rocks with water flowing over its sides and a glass dome over it.

Who has teeth like that...

HOW THE HELL DOES SHE ALL OF A SUDDEN TELEPORT?!?

Are those her nipples or just simply her breasts? I can’t tell... I see a tiny pink splotch over where they should be.

That laugh is creepy... and obnoxious. Her mouth is so big XD.

Start of flashback: she looks green... or is just the clothing that’s deceiving me.

Wait no, she looks dark skinned... but she’s white isn’t she?

OMG, she’s a ghost... And that peeing scene...

Does being drunk make your whole body red? No? I didn’t think so.

Red skin is beautiful all of a sudden eh?

The new girl’s lisp or whatever you call it... And how does the skin color all of a sudden disappear?

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Who’s cleaning up after them and the massive amount of alcohol they’re consuming?

Apparently magic can get you changed instantly... That guy’s such a pervert.

Apparently he can teleport himself in, but then has to magically brute force his way through the glass to get out.

OP Villain Moment! Magic Lightsaber Moment!

What sort of a river is so shallow?

OP Grandfather Appears! Magically not do anything yet block everything shot at him! OPNESS!

What A Trap! He’s such a fool for trying to grab it.

Family Connection Revealed! Apparently aging doesn’t affect some people. Noble Bloodline Revealed! It’s rushing through everything a bit too quick isn’t it?

The sudden melodrama from the yellow hair character, LAWL.

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG

THAT RABBIT THING! IT JUST TURNED INTO WHAT? HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN!?!

How do lasers curve? How do you miss with lasers aiming at something that’s on a straight path?

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Getting drunk in the middle of a life-or-death situation... I applaud you for that.

Wait... WAIT WAIT WAIT. Did the ship just get drunk?

Space battle between spaceships: Turns out they have ultimate abilities...

And what a cliffhanger ending...

IF ONLY THE PROTAGONIST CAN DIE AT THIS POINT IN A SHOW.

Ending: that drawing style is such a shift from everything before.

The next episode title contradicts the title of the show. lol.

Nonsensical Commentary:

Story: Twists and revelations EVERYWHERE!!! Although, I still don’t understand them too well. What I got from the story was that this is probably a sci-fi series, that does farming traditionally... and that’s about it...

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Joking aside, I believe the story is about Tenchi who goes off on some magical space adventure, meeting and saving all sorts of girls all over the galaxy(universe?), and by doing that, developing his own harem of sorts. This episode was rather slow, and relaxing, with a whole bunch of nothing and fanservice happening.

Side note: they did nipples as pink splotches over where they should be...

It then picked up near the middle of this episode, till it sort of climaxed when the fight happens.

Overall, pretty so-so and meh: 6/10

Characters: I don’t remember a single character’s name at this point... they also only ever said people’s names like 4 times, each character? So, I blame the show for that... Carrying on, the characters were quite generic and just nothing else really. It’s as if I could’ve got anything more from watching one episode XD. 6/10

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Other stuff: Names are not my strong point, nor is terminology. Don’t ask me about these things... EVER. That’s why I’m leaving this as other stuff.

It’s something that was quite peaceful and relaxing at first, but never really got anywhere within this episode really. I enjoyed it slightly and probably, might watch it some time in the future (when all my backlog is cleaned out... which won’t be happening anytime soon)

Verdict: 5.5-7.5/10, MAY watch again/more of it.


Episode 6, We Need Tenchi! - Krakken_Unleashed:

Episode 6 of the Tenchi Muyo OVA is a garbled laughable mess. It comes off as a lame Star Wars rip off, with a bunch of unexplained magic powers BS thrown in, along with a lukewarm harem and way too many characters.

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Now the Star Wars references are easy to find, the overall space theme, Lightsabers, Death Star laser and some force like abilities (mingled with the other magic BS) are all there. The romantic elements were mostly left hanging, and if it wasn’t for the hugging contest, end credits, and the overwhelming number of X chromosomes, I might not have guessed this was a Harem show, or had much romance at all. In fact as a “series finale” the romantic subplot seemingly is just left unresolved and unfulfilling. Oh and 1 point on the supernatural powers, is there any logic to any of them? I mean we had projection, teleportation, lasers, stone manipulation, phasing, amongst other things. And what was all the talk about gems? Is this Fate/ Stay Night?

Lastly about those characters, there are way too many of them for the plot, and most of them get sidelined anyways. Now I don’t know names all that well, though that didn’t seem to matter much, but here are my impressions of the cast.

  • Ryoko: Possible tsundere, fairly overpowered and the one who seemed to need tenchi the most. Needed: Yes
  • Police girl: There to complain, get trapped, and get exposition about getting trapped spouted at her, Needed: NO
  • Princess: There to get captured, help in the fight for 1 min and get her mind invaded. Needed: NO
  • Twintails: Prayed to a tree… That’s about it. Needed: No
  • Ryoko’s Mom: Seemingly pointless new addition to underdeveloped Harem, also explains minor backstory, and why she and Police girl sit out most of the episode. Needed: No
  • Tsunami Ship Interface Chick: Deus Ex Machina powerful ship. Also is she sentient but impotent concerning what her ship does? or what’s going on? Needed : Unsure
  • Big Bad: Cool Bad Guy, Points for Organ, minus points for more unexplained powers BS like why his hands are invisible! Needed: Yes
  • Tenchi: Bland. Macguffin for the episode’s plot, also subject of the most cliché use of the Believe-in-yourself-and-win trope I have ever seen. Needed: yes-sadly
  • Wooden Logs Red and Blue: Standout performances of the episode, including Best Joke: the Postman gag at the end. Needed: No. Enjoyable: Yes! Keep Them In!

A couple notes on Audio/Visuals: Now this episode is 11 months older than I am (was released March 1993), and so visual quality is okay, watchable but nothing to write home about. The Dubs, well, the japanese works, and is serviceable, however the English dub is laughably bad, the only voices I really thought nailed it in this episode were Logs Red and Blue, everyone else was flat, or just a little off kilter for me.

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Summary: Would I watch more… Probably not. This episode was way too simplistic, meandering and bogged down in characters to really be enjoyable. Hydra Head #6's recommendation: Skip the Series.

http://kidicarusarchive.tumblr.com/tagged/Chapter-3


Episode 7 Special - Protonstorm:

They say that the most important member of a relay race is the one who runs the final stretch. Unfortunately, Project Hydra is no race, and I am no athletic runner. I -am- a runner in other ways though, ways that our protagonist Tenchi clearly is not. It was my assignment to watch the last episode of Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, and it was Tenchi’s job to survive several females’ attempts to seduce him. While the attempts themselves were not particularly successful on the romantic side of things, I think it is safe to say that they presented a clear and present danger to Tenchi’s well-being. If I were Tenchi, I would have most likely run away.

Of course, Tenchi seems to be like the classic oblivious male lead in modern media, and has absolutely no idea what is going on. This adds an extra element of hilarity to the fumbled attempts at romance pressed upon him, despite the slightly cliche concept. Fanservice is displayed prominently, but much like the rest of the episode, I had no choice but to cringe in slight amusement at the clearly comical delivery. I have absolutely zero experience with any previous episodes of the show, so I don’t really know all of the backstories of the characters, but I was able to gather that there was a... diverse cast. Only one of the prospective seducers was actually an Earthen human, and her competition was a scientist thousands of years old that looked younger than her, a ghost-like girl with supernatural powers, and a space detective(?) with about enough intelligence to play chess with my dog. These characterizations are all implemented in each attempt to capture the elusive Tenchi, but yet it appears that all was for naught. Overall, I was amused by the confusing antics of these infatuated women in their attempt to obtain the heart of Tenchi and the destruction they left in their wake, and would consider watching the rest of the series. Now if I just knew what this show was actually about.

(A note to readers: shoujo manga does not accurately portray romance. If I were to take any life lessons away from Tenchi Muyo!, that would be the one.)


Conclusion:

So there we are. Seven episodes, seven reviews; independent of overarching knowledge of the show or each other. And in some cases, sense (‘pizza originally tried to screencap practically his entire episode...). Overall, we have a count of roughly 5.75 out of 7 stating the single episode they watched, lacking any context, has made them curious about watching the rest of the series, if only to find out what the actual fuck was going on. Not bad I reckon. Either for Tenchi and his flagship series, or we enacting the disparate wills of Project Hydra. My thanks for reading this, and I hope you found our exercise amusing.

Brace yourselves though. We started with a tame one...