Publisher: Pioneer LDC
Format: VHS and Laserdisc, NTSC, Japanese Dialogue
Length: 30 minutes
Original Release Date: 25 January 1994
Animation Exclusive to this Release: Yes
Other Sources (Japanese unless noted): Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki Volume ! (DVD 1999), Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki DVD Box Set (2000), Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki Volume ! (DVD 2005, Reissue), Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki Blu-ray Box Set (2009), Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki Volume 4 (Blu-ray 2009), Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki DVD Box Set (2010, 2012 Reissue)
Currently Availability (as of writing): Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki Blu-ray Box Set, Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki Volume 4 (Blu-ray), Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki DVD Box Set (2012 Reissue)
Pioneer’s US anime division (later renamed Geneon) released nearly all the material that was available to them in the “Tenchi Muyo!” franchise. This included the (then) two OVA series, plus a bunch of spin off OVA specials, even the Pretty Sammy OVA and first TV series, plus two TV series and three movies. On top of that the company also released “Chisa and The Heaven & Earth Band – Live In L.A.”, which is a video of a concert at a small club featuring Sasami’s voice actress Chisa Yokoyama. Certainly Pioneer made some baffling choices for their US releases in their time, but releasing what is essentially an idol video in the US market in the late 1990’s (even if it was of a US concert) probably tops them all. I can’t imagine it sold many copies. Despite all of the Tenchi material Pioneer/Geneon released, for whatever reason they passed on this music video compilation. Perhaps it was due some music licensing issues, but putting that aside, it does seem weird that they chose to licence a Chisa Yokoyama concert video and the Pretty Sammy TV series over this compilation. US reissues of the Tenchi OVAs on DVD and Blu-ray have also excluded the compilation, unlike Japanese reissues.
I was going to forgo a synopsis of the series, but realised that some newer fans have no knowledge of the franchise (lucky buggers). So for the few who haven’t seen the original OVA series, the story goes something like this; a seemingly ordinary high school boy called Tenchi Masaki is spending his holiday at the family’s Shinto shrine deep in the mountains. It’s not a particularly fun holiday as his strict grandfather has been constantly training him. Fascinated with a forbidden cave within the shrine’s grounds, Tenchi decides to swipe his grandfathers’ the keys in order to unlock a padlock at the entrance of the cave. After accidently obtaining the keys after a martial arts spar with his grandfather, Tenchi explores the cave and discovers the remnants of a legendary sword used by his ancestor which apparently was used to seal a demon which is held inside the cave. Messing around with the sword, he manages to unseal the demon which luckily for Tenchi stagers back into the darkness when it touches the sword strapped to Tenchi’s waist. Terrified, Tenchi makes a beeline for the cave’s exit and hastily tries to reseal the entrance.
The next day Tenchi returns to school and somehow ends up sleeping until the early evening on the school’s roof. He awakens to find on the roof with him a young woman who calls herself Ryoko. Ryoko tells him that she is a 700 year old demon whom he has unsealed and she plans to take all her frustration out on him. As she fires hurls fireballs towards him, Tenchi pleads with her to stop. Luckily Tenchi has brought the sword with him to school. As Ryoko attacks him, the sword produces a blade of light. Tenchi grips the sword which seems to have a mind of its own and starts attacking Ryoko. Eventually Ryoko’s arm is cut off, she retreats and Tenchi runs home as the school explodes around him from the fight. Thinking that it’s the last he’ll see of her, Tenchi is surprised to find Ryoko I his room, demanding he give her a gem embedded in the sword. Later the alien Princess Ayeka shows up and it is revealed that Ryoko is actually a wanted alien criminal. A fight with ensues and Ayeka, her sister Sasami and Ryoko are stranded on Earth due to the destruction of each other’s spacecraft. The trio seem to have no choice but to join the Masaki family.
Over the next few episodes, more female aliens how up including the dim witted police officer Mihoshi, a mad scientist called Washu and Ryoko’s spaceship called Ryo-Ohki, who transforms into a cute carrot obsessed cabbit (part cat, part rabbit) when not travelling across the universe. Certainly there’s a bit more to the show than that, especially the first OVA series, but that will do for now. The show evolves into a harem anime with wacky romantic hijinks and misunderstandings, etcetera, etcetera. You know how it goes. It’s probably safe to say this show popularised the now really tired harem genre. On to the music videos;
“Flashback Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki (Ryoko’s Theme)” performed by Seikou Nagaoka
The footage for the videos in this collection is mostly sourced from the first six OVAs, which make up the first series. This particular video mostly uses footage from the first two episodes. The main focus is on Ryoko and Tenchi’s battle at the school showing a lot of the destruction. From that we move on to the third episode with footage of Ryo-Ohki being “born” and the confusion and misunderstanding behind that (thanks to Ryoko deliberately stirring up trouble). Edited into the video as well is the scene where Ayeka and Tenchi end up wet and alone in storage shed after sheltering from the rain. Ladies, it’s shirtless Tenchi time. The final scenes include Washu and parts of the climactic battle in the final OVA of the series. The music used in the video is a background piece which would be familiar with anyone who has viewed the series. While the laserdisc jacket gives the music the very appropriate title of “Flashback Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki”, the actual title of the piece is “Ryoko’s Theme” and was first released on the soundtrack album “Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki Music Collection Volume 1” in August 1992.
“Magical Girl Pretty Sammy” performed by Chisa Yokoyama
The next video contains the only real new animation in the entire compilation. As you may have guessed from the title of the song, this video follows the adventures of Sasami as the magical girl spin off Pretty Sammy. I believe this video is the first animated appearance of Sammy. The video begins with Sammy following Tenchi around as works as a labourer. After work stuck under the awning of shop in heavy rain, Sasami offers Tenchi an umbrella. It’s patently obvious that Sasami is smitten with Tenchi. Later as Tenchi works as an ice cream salesman on a beach, Sasami throws a bottle of suntan lotion at the back of his head when he leers at Ayeka in her bikini. Mihoshi’s long suffering partner, Kiyone, also makes her first animated appearance here as Sasami’s nemesis. She abducts Tenchi and Sasami transforms into Magical Girl Pretty Sammy, destroys Kiyone’s ship and saves him. This animation isn’t exclusive to this compilation. It later appeared as the closing animation in the OVA “Tenchi Muyo! Side Story: Galaxy Police Mihoshi’s Space Adventure”, which was released two months after this compilation. However in the Mihoshi OVA, the animation is reduced to a quarter of the size of the screen in order to show the credits. The song itself was first released on the “Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki CD Special” album in July 1993.
“Oujo-sama to Oyubi! (Call Me Queen)” performed by Yumi Takada
The subtitle of this song, taken from the March 1993 album “Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki Music Collection Volume 2”, is “Imperial Education of a Groom”. That should give you a good idea of what the song and the video are about. Like most of the tracks in this compilation, this song is an image song with voice actress Yumi Takada playing Ayeka, singing about literally whipping Tenchi into shape. Unlike the other videos in this compilation there is no animation. Instead cels scroll across the screen. The video starts out fairly normal with shots of Ayeka intercut with images of Ryoko pulling faces. It then devolves into (tame) S&M imagery with poor old Tenchi being tortured in various ways; being tied up, being whipped, having hot wax from a candle dripped on him etc. Naturally Ayeka is shown in her PVC mistress gear throughout. But it’s not as bad as you think. It’s played for laughs with a lot of super deformed shots towards the end. A break in the middle of the song features a spoken word cameo from Tenchi begging her to stop and Sasami expressing excitement at seeing her older sister dressed as an S&M queen.
“Ueno No Koi No Monogatari (Love Story of Ueno)” performed by Masami Kikuchi, Ai Orikasa and Yumi Takada
The fourth video’s song is yet another image song, a ballad sung by the characters Tenchi, Ryoko and Ayeka. Strangely the song itself isn’t about the characters or the series. It just seems to be about a couple who are really down on their luck, homeless in fact. The footage for the first part of the video is various shots culled from the first and second episodes of the series. It’s edited to show mostly Ryoko, who sings the first verse of the song. However most of the shots have already been used in the first video of this compilation. As the second verse kicks in (sung by Ayeka), we see shots from the third and fourth episodes, mostly of Ayeka as you’d expect, but yet again a fair wack of it was previously seen in the first video. There’s some footage with dialogue inserted during the instrumental from the third episode when Ryo-Ohki hatches from her egg (I’m sure it’s a she). A second section of dialogue from the fourth episode from the onsen scene ends the video. Overall the video is pretty mediocre. The song was first released on the album “Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki Music Collection Volume 1” in August 1992.
“Towa ni Towa ni Hoshi no Yume (Forever, Forever Dreams of Stars)” performed by Orikasa Ai
This image song is all about Ryoko’s love for Tenchi. It was originally released on the “Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki CD Special” soundtrack in July 1993. Most of the footage in the front end of the video is culled from the battle sequences in the last OVA episode. We are then treated to some footage from the first two OVAs, again mostly Tenchi and Ryoko’s battle on the school roof top. The best material is saved for last with quite a number of shots culled from the fifth episode. All of these shot involve a very sweet sequence in the OVA where Ryoko fondly recalls watching Tenchi as a small child over the years as he grows into a young man as she was sealed inside the cave. The bizarreness of Ryoko intently watching a prepubescent Tenchi taking a leak outside the cave always amuses me to no end no matter how many times I watch it. Watching this compilation again, I was reminded of the tails on some of Royko’s clothes. I could never really understand their function or purpose. Well, other than to confuse the audience into thinking she actually had a tail.
“Taiho wa Kazemakase (Leave the Arrest to the Wind)” performed by Yuko Mizutani
Pretty much everyone except Washu and Ryo-Ohki have had a video dedicated to them in this compilation. The only one left to go is everyone’s favourite ditzy galaxy police officer Mihoshi. The video for this upbeat image song contains, as you’d expect, scenes from the last half of the series. The best sequence I think is Mihoshi failing in an attempt to arrest Ryoko and Ryo-Ohki proceeding to take a bite out her gun. The rest of the video just shows off her incompetent and clumsy nature, as a police officer and off duty. There’s quite a number of grabs of dialogue from the show (inserted during instrumental breaks in the song) highlighting the humour caused by her actions. The video ends with entrance into the Masaki household in episode four; crashing into it with her spacecraft. Though not mentioned in the video or on the LD jacket, the subtitle for the song used in the video is “Police Magic”. The track can be found on the “Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki Music Collection Volume 2” soundtrack, which was released in March 1993.
“Renai no Sainou (Talent for Love)” performed by Chisa Yokoyama
The final video in this compilation isn’t actually a music video. It’s just the clean ending animation from the series. In the animation a stylised cartoonish version of Ryo-Ohki grows a giant carrot over the course of a year while braving the worst and best the four seasons dish out. The song was originally released on the “Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki Music Collection Volume 1” soundtrack in August 1992. Surprisingly there are no credits at the end of the compilation. Instead we are treated to “Mystery Preview” which ends up being adverts for the first OVA in the second series, “Hello Baby!” and “Tenchi Muyo! Side Story: Galaxy Police Mihoshi’s Space Adventure”. Both adverts do not contain any animation from the OVAs, instead the visuals are shots of the pre-production image boards with narration by Chisa Yokoyama as Sasami.
To be honest, I was never a big fan of this franchise. Once I got to the second series of OVAs, I kind of lost interest. It’s easy to blame the franchise for popularising the harem genre. In fact I think it really should take the blame for dreadful crap like “Love Hina” and the dreck which followed. Of the all the videos in the compilation, only “Magical Girl Pretty Sammy” and “Call Me Queen” contain any new footage. Even then, the Pretty Sammy video is already available in the closing credits of the Mihoshi Special (albeit reduced to a quarter of the size) and the Ayeka bondage fest is just still shots. The other videos are rather mediocre, both in terms of editing and music. I will admit the Mihoshi image song is kind of fun. Of course the major problem is the lack of available footage to make the music videos. At the time only the first six OVAs had been released, so there are a lot of repeated shots through the compilation. For example the exact same shots of Ryoko for the first episode appear not only in the first music video but in three other videos.
This one is most definitely one for the hardcore Tenchi Muyo fan. Casual fans need not apply or waste your cash on this one. As to availability, it’s pretty much been in print since the day it was released and continues to be so. Perplexingly there’s no English language release anywhere, so the Genon Universal releases from Japan are the only way to get it legitimately. On DVD it’s available in the OVA series box set which will set you back ¥7,500, which is extraordinarily cheap for a Japanese box set. It’s also released on the Blu-ray box set (¥30,600) and on the fourth volume of single Blu-ray disc release (¥7,600), which is actually more expensive than the entire DVD box set.