Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tenchi Muyo! The most complicated harem Anime ever created

One guy surrounded by multiple girls, the ultimate male dream. In 1992 an OVA series was started in Japan that starred a boy named Tenchi Masaki and his various misadventures. It was the quintessential harem anime that had the indecisive male lead surrounded by girls who liked him. The Tenchi franchise holds a special place in my heart because it wasn't just a harem franchise, it was an all encompassing space opera that had a richly developed universe that would require a massive dissertation to examine it all.

Is it complicated? Heck yeah it is.
This spawned a massive franchise with two main universes released under the same banner.

The first is the Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki series, also known as the Tenchi OVA's.
Tenchi Muyo Mihoshi Special (1 episode) - 1994
Tenchi Muyo OVA series 1 (6 episodes) - 1992-1993
Tenchi Muyo! Daughter of Darkness (movie) - 1997
Tenchi Muyo OVA series 2 (7 episodes)- 1994-1995
Tenchi Muyo OVA series 3 (7 episodes)- 2003-2005
Tenchi Muyo GXP (26 episodes) - 2002

I would like to note that the order I put this in is the Chronological Order of the Anime. For Example, the Tenchi Muyo OVA series 3 takes place one year before GXP, but the anime came out after the TV show.

The second franchise is the Tenchi Universe Franchise that spawned multiple movies.
Tenchi Universe (26 episodes) - 1995
Tenchi Muyo! In Love (Movie) - 1996
Tenchi Forever! (Movie) - 1999

What is the difference between the two?

The two franchises have the same characters, but they are essentially different canon story lines. First off, I would like to proclaim my bias. The Tenchi Muyo OVA's along with various other anime got me into the hobby, so I am pretty biased towards the OVA's. Tenchi Universe was fleshed out over a 26 episode TV series, so by the end of the TV series it came to a satisfying conclusion. The subsequent movies just fleshed out the canon of Tenchi Universe, with the first movie developing Tenchi's Mother and Tenchi Forever closing the Tenchi Universe. My friend Anthony Santos would be better in explaining the Universe franchise, since my specialty is more of the OVA saga.

Tsunami the goddess, but she takes the form of adult Sasami
On the other hand, the OVA franchise was the core of the Tenchi Muyo! Ryo Ohki canon. As the franchise moved forward, it got increasingly complicated. I joked about it in my review of the Tenchi Muyo OVA's (which contained the first and the second one) that to complete the story told in the first two OVA's, we will need a 52 episode series just to flesh it out. The later release of Tenchi Muyo GXP and the 3rd Tenchi OVA, I must say that they need to expand it to 104 episodes. What makes the OVA franchise so great is the intricacy of the storytelling. I would need a book alone to explain the familial relationships in the OVA franchise. Not only that, the creator of Tenchi was kind enough to add a complete cosmology complete with creation stories, histories, dieties, and political science. The OVA's are a shining example of having a show use a hook (the harem aspect) and create an entire universe to suck the viewer in. The OVA franchise really is one of the deepest story lines ever implemented in an anime, bar none.

Don't believe me? Read as I try to explain the story of Jurai, an important planet in the Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki world.

Origins - The people who would inhabit Jurai were former space pirates. They formed a confederacy of pirates to consolidate their powers. They eventually came into contact with Tsunami, one of the three goddesses. She offered them a seed that would eventually grow the Juraian Trees. The trees hold great power since the energy they gather is from another dimension. This means that they essentially have an unlimited supply of power. The trees also have a will of their own, a soul of sorts. They condemn violence, so the unlimited power they have is contained by the nonviolent nature of the trees. With this new found power the people gave up pirating and formed the Juriain Empire, the most powerful planet in the galaxy

Here is the family tree, it is as complicated as it looks
The Trees - The trees of Jurai have a strong power that comes from an alternate dimension. They can grow anywhere, but the royal family of Jurai holds a monopoly on the power by saying that it can only grow on their own planet. The royal family has a ceremony in which the trees choose the master, but this is only possible if the tree is a first or second generation tree, and the person is a member of the Royal Family. Once this ceremony is done, the tree uses its power to grand the person incredibly long lifespans. As the tree is further from Tsunami from generation to generation, the goddess the protects Jurai, it loses its power. The tree is also could form a ship according to the whim of the user.

There is much more to explain about the this tiny piece of the Tenchi Muyo! Ryo Ohki saga, but I think it effectively illustrates one thing, the anime is incredibly deep and very complicated. At first it may look like a regular harem series, but it is incredibly deep in how the world is developed. It goes without saying that it is the most complicated harem Anime ever created, and if you want to look deeper, probably one of the most complex Anime ever made.

1 comment:

ShadowTyrael said...

I completely agree with you on this. For the reasons you have stated, among others, Tenchi Muyo! OVA (and pretty much all of it) will remain my favorite anime for as long as I live. I would love to read a follow-up blog post about this. Maybe your friend could co-write it? :)
P.S. I started up my own convention in Texas last year, and I was wondering if you have any tips/suggestions for making it successful? It's called GATO Con.