Anyone that knows me and my tastes in anime, should very well know that I loathe the harem genre in all of its various forms. It’s a genre that has, in my opinion, done nothing to enhance the richness of anime’s means of expression. So when it came time to review Funimation’s new rerelease of Tenchi Universe, the retelling and the expansion of the original Tenchi Muyo OVA, I had already passed judgement. I felt that I wasn’t going to enjoy it at all, because I thought I knew about everything that it had to offer, with it being one of the first harem TV series ever. Not only was this wrong on my part, as a film reviewer/critic, but also wrong because I was doing the Tenchi series a disservice.
The series follows Tenchi Masaki, a 17 year old high school student, living with his father, Nobuyuki and his grandfather, Katsuhito. One day when Tenchi is walking home, he comes across a female space pirate, named Ryoko, battling against a giant robot. From here, nothing in Tenchi’s world will ever be the same, with the inclusion of the Galaxy Police, Intergalactic Princesses and plenty of other elements that would make George Lucas’ Star Wars blush. This TV series was created by Studio AIC, premiered in Japan in 1995 and is another title that Funimation snagged up from Studio Pioneer/Geneon Entertainment.
While the series opens up to very much a bunch of cliches, I had to come to the realization that this series was the very first to clearly state that it was a harem anime. All of the tropes in this show, that are very much cliché now, Tenchi Universe did it for the very first time. Not only this, but the fact that while the series is doing showing off these elements, its scope opens up to something much more than just bathing suit and cross dressing episodes. One of the biggest draws watching this series, without nostalgia goggles on, was seeing it unfold into an epic space opera, that truly had high stakes for its major characters and some incredible action scenes, near the middle and end of the series. While it certainly hasn’t aged that well, I can honestly see how the Tenchi series has lasted this long and why its a fan favorite of many anime fans around the globe.
The four disc set comes with all 26 episodes of Tenchi Universe, which only include textless intro and outro songs and trailers for other Funimation properties. For current fans of anime harem shows or comedies, you might not be able to watch this series because it might feel a bit dated and redundant. If you love classic anime, but you’ve never seen this series, you at least owe it to yourself to check out Tenchi Universe and for the fans that never had the chance to own this thing, you can pick it up in this nice boxed set, that’s a real good price to boot. Recommended!