How did Tenchi Muyo, a series which was thought to be one of the essential series of the 90s, fade in popularity? After you have enjoyed enough Manga and Anime you are able to read between the lines and can see a detail or two another may have missed. Through this and other detailed evidence you are able to piece together what really happened in a particular series. This results in an abstract idea, a thought which doesn’t have a physical existence but can be speculated. Welcome to Anime Abstract.
The Tenchi Muyo franchise was the desputable king of the 90s Harem anime genre. The first and second OVA series were good but were left with many plot holes which were the talking points of early anime internet theories. The first TV series, Tenchi Universe was just so much fun and helped to extend the adventure and give more love to the characters everyone had come to adore. The Pretty Sammy spin offs offered even more humor, but wasn’t required viewing and thereby didn’t disrupt the flow of the franchise if you didn’t take the time to watch it. With so much going for it, how did the franchise lose it’s “essential watching” status?
The demotion in status can basically boil down to three strikes. Three separate incidents which when added up left even the most hardcore Tenchi fan feeling hollow inside.
The first strike came with Tenchi in Tokyo. The second TV series, thanks to the fact the cast was around from the very beginning and it was on TV, many assumed it was a sequel to Tenchi Universe. Simply a continuation of the story but with some changed details and art designs. Then by 8th episode it was revealed the series was indeed a new continuity in the Tenchi multiverse with a backstory that was weak and a concept which proved to be less than entertaining for those who bothered to watch all 26 episodes.
The next strike came with Tenchi Forever. A UNIQUE installment to the franchise to say the least. For a series which prided itself on comedy and action, this movie was far from either. Taking a more serious tone, Tenchi was kidnapped and the girls must investigate his disappearance. Though, it would have been fine as a movie which could have forgotten, at the time of its release it was supposed to be the last release of the Tenchi Franchise. Instead of clarifying it as just being the ending to the Tenchi Universe Timeline, many fans went into this film thinking this was the ultimate ending. With so much build up, fans walked away bitter after watching this bland film. Strike Two!
The final blow came from the release of the third OVA series. Though some may be quick to point to the Tenchi Muyo GXP or Magical Project S series, neither series had the soul crushing power of the Third OVA. At the time fans were sure these episodes would be the graved which saved everything and made the entire franchise feel essential once more.
Unfortunately it appears as if the creators had a new idea in mind. The third OVA series seemed more focused on connected other projects such as Tenchi Muyo GXP and Tenchi Muyo: War in Geminar more than it had any intention on keeping up the story which was introduced in the previous installments. The build up which was promised in the original series went out the wind fast. The plotlines which were left open were open such the secret of Ryoko’s gems, the mysterious man known as Z, and the true goals of Lady Tokimi were handled beyond poorly. The OVA only creates new questions (ones the fans don’t care if they get answered) and does not give any indication which girl Tenchi will pick. Strike Three! You are out of here!
In the end, Tenchi Muyo had simply lost the magic it once held. Perhaps if creators could have made more solid choices and not stretched the characters into so many different timelines and spinoffs fans wouldn’t have lost interest. Unfortunately, it seems it would take a miracle to get them back after the long, arduous wait for more Tenchi.
Several Tenchi Muyo movies and series are streaming on Crunchyroll.
What are your thoughts on Tenchi Muyo? Leave a comment below and let us know.