The Tenchi Muyo! franchise celebrates its 30th anniversary this month! Believe it or not, since its original debut in 1992, Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki has spawned over 20 subsequent OVAs, TV series, and movies. To celebrate, I put together a video looking back at all the anime entries in and around the Tenchi franchise. You’ll find the video right below, with the complete transcript after the break.
Hey, everybody. This is Cody from firstchocieforlastplace.com and this is Tenchi Muyo! No Need for Spin-Offs.
The Tenchi Muyo! franchise celebrates its 30th anniversary this month, September 2022. Since its original debut in 1992, Tenchi Muyo! has spawned over 20 subsequent OVAs, tv series, and movies. Today, we’ll be taking a look at every single anime entry in the Tenchi Muyo! franchise.
For every title I’ll give a very brief description, I’ll talk about which continuity the title resides in, and I’ll try to mention key production staff where it makes sense to. After that, we’ll watch a short clip for most titles. For titles that have an opening theme, we’ll watch that, so you can get a sense of the show’s art style and music.
A few housekeeping items before we jump into it here:
Firstly, I’m going to keep this as spoiler free as possible. Just note, some title descriptions by default might give very slight spoilers about other titles. Other than that, this video will be spoiler free.
Secondly, if this video looks a little powerpointy, that’s because it was based on a panel I gave a few times several years ago. It has been adapted from a powerpoint.
Finally, I’m going do my best with my Japanese pronunciation. It probably won’t be perfect. So, domo arigato.
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki OVA 1
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki is a seven episode OVA series that was released between 1992-1993. It was created by Kajishima Masaki and Hayashi Hiroki. It was written by Hasegawa Naoko. The basic plot involves a seeming normal high school boy, Masaki Tenchi, who ends up being surrounded by a group of alien women who fall in love with him and want to marry him.
This basic premise of having a main character surrounded by a large group of supporting characters who are in love with them, is called a harem series. Tenchi was not the first harem series, that honor probably goes to Urusei Yatsura, a series that started back in the 1970s. It’s essentially a variation of the love triangle tropes that are popular in romantic comedies.
While Tenchi was not the first harem series, it was an immensely popular and influential harem series. It created a lot of the character templates and archetypes that are still used in the genre to this day.
Tenchi features a large group of strong female characters. While there’s no mistaking, the main demographic was teenage boys a lot of women like the show as they identified with one or more of the strong female characters.
As far as tone, there’s a good mix of drama and comedy, so it’s a dramedy, if you will. There is a heavy emphasis on comedy here. Tenchi is very much a slower slice-of-life series meets sci-fi, which this side of Red Dwarf, wasn’t super common, especially in the early 90s. With the first OVA, the first four episodes are almost all character introductions and exposition, leading up to the battle with Kagato in episodes 5 and 6, and the aftermath of that battle in episode 7.
The Mihoshi Special
Tenchi Muyo! Galaxy Police Mihoshi’s Space Adventure aka The Mihoshi Special is a single episode OVA released in 1994. Hayashi Hiroki is credited with the story concept and is also the executive producer. In this OVA episode, Mihoshi tells the story of her biggest galaxy police case, with the main cast making cameos as different characters. It’s also the first introduction of Makibi Kiyone, Mihoshi’s partner and Pretty Sammy, Sasami’s magical girl alter ego. As far as continuity, this is completely on its own and not related to anything else in the Tenchi franchise.
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki OVA 2
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, the second season, is a 6.5 episode OVA series that was released in 1995. The .5 is because there’s a bonus episode 13.5, which is essentially a radio drama set to light animation. Hayashi Hiroki would leave the OVA continuity, giving Kajishima Masaki complete control for this one and the entire OVA continuity going forward. The second OVA was written by Kuroda Yousuke and directed by Yatagai Kenichi. It focused more on characters that didn’t get much screen time in the first OVA. So there’s on emphasis on Sasami, Washu, and Ryo-ohki. The main plot here involves Lady Tokimi sending Dr. Clay to capture Washu. You also get to meet the Jurai royal family. This is a direct sequel to the first OVA series.
Magical Girl Pretty Sammy OVA
Magical Girl Pretty Sammy is a 3 episode OVA series released between 1995 and 1997. It was written by Kuroda Yousuke. Hayashi Hiroki is credited with the original concept and was the Supervising Director here. This one is a Parody of a magical girl series, like Sailor Moon or Wedding Peach. The main plot here is Tsunami trying to get throne of a planet known as Juraihelm. She has to choose an idol who will restore love and peace to the Earth. She chooses Sasami, who transforms into Pretty Sammy. Characters from the main series make cameos here as other characters. As far continuity, this is it’s own thing.
Tenchi Muyo TV aka Tenchi Universe is a 26 episode TV series that aired in 1995. This was directed by Negishi Hiroshi. Some of the writers here include Hasegawa Naoko who worked on the first OVA series and Kuroda Yousuke who worked on OVA 2 and Pretty Sammy. This is essentially a re-telling of the OVA series. All the main characters are here, but they have slightly different backgrounds and personalities. The biggest difference character-wise is the addition of Makibi Kiyone, Mihoshi’s galaxy police partner.
Outside of the first two OVA series, this one is probably the most beloved series in the Tenchiverse. People really, really like this one. The biggest criticism that can be made against this series is its very loose plot structure. It starts off with character introductions and starts to build some series-long plot threads, but it gets lost in the middle and serves the audience a ton of filler episodes. The series definitely picks back up in the final few episodes and knocks its emotional ending out of the park. However, you do have to sit through a lot of filler to get there. As far as continuity, this is its own thing, this will tie to some titles we’ll talk about momentarily.
Tenchi Muyo! in Love
Tenchi Muyo! in Love aka Tenchi the Movie, is a 95-minute, you guessed it, movie, released in 1996. This was directed and written by Negishi Hiroshi, who directed the first TV series. The plot here is an extremely powerful intergalactic criminal, KAIN, breaks out of the Galaxy Police headquarters where he was imprisoned. He goes back in time to get revenge on the house of Jurai and attempts to kill tenchi’s mother, Achika.
This means Tenchi starts to disappear in present-day, so he and the girls travel back in time to try to save his mom. This one is a direct sequel to the first Tenchi TV series.
Magic Girl Pretty Sammy TV
Magical Girl Pretty Sammy TV aka Magical Project S is a 26-episode TV series that aired from 1996-1997. Both series composition and additional writing credits go to Kuroda Yousuke who worked on the second Tenchi OVA series and the Pretty Sammy OVA series, which this is basically a re-telling of. Tsunami must pick someone to make the world a better place to get the throne on the planet Juraihelm. So she gives Sasami the power to transform into Pretty Sammy, a magical girl. Tsunami’s rival Rumia, hypnotizes Sasami’s best friend, Misao, to fight against her. The Tenchi characters make cameos again here, but different cameos than in the OVA series. Again, this is a magical girl parody. This one is a lot smarter and funnier than you’d probably give it credit for. Outside of the OVA canon, this is probably my favorite Tenchi spin-off. Continuity wise, this is another one where despite it being a re-telling it’s completely its own thing.
Tenchi in Tokyo
Shin Tenchi Muyo! aka Tenchi in Tokyo is a 26-episode TV series that aired in 1997. The first thing you’ll notice here is the art style is a lot different. The main plot is that Tenchi goes to college in Tokyo. There’s a Monster of the week thing going on, as well. There’s also a new love interest for Tenchi, Sakuya.
I think it’s at this point many people start to ask if the franchise is perhaps starting to be milked. This series is universally hated. Even the people who like it, generally say something like, “If you don’t go in expecting Tenchi, it’s actually not that bad,” which isn’t exactly a glowing endorsement. As far as continuity, despite it being the second Tenchi TV series, while all the characters are here, once again they have new backgrounds and slightly different personalities, it’s actually completely its own thing. No matter what you think of the series itself, this is objectively the worst opening theme you’ll be watching in this video.
Tenchi the Movie 2: The Daughter of Darkness
Tenchu Muyo! Midsummer’s Eve aka Tenchi the Movie 2 aka The Daughter of Darkness is a 60 minute movie released in 1997. Hasegawa Naoko who worked on the first OVA series and TV series, actually wrote a series of Tenchi light novels, and this movie is an adaptation of one of them. The plot is around Christmas time, a new girl appears at the Masaki home, claiming to be Tenchi’s daughter. She then promptly tries to rape him. It’s a really great Christmas movie. The continuity here is weird, since Hasegawa Naoko worked on the first OVA and the first TV series, this is kind of a hybrid of both, but it’s also neither. So again, this turns out to be completely its own continuity.
Tenchi the Movie 3: Tenchi Forever
Tenchi Muyo! in Love 2 – Distant Memories aka Tenchi Muyo in Love 2 aka Tenchi Forever is a 95 minute movie released in 1999. This was directed by Negishi Hiroshi who worked on the first Tenchi TV series and first Tenchi movie. The plot involves a mysterious stranger stealing Tenchi away to a false reality and the girls have to try to rescue him. While we’ve talked about the tone of Tenchi being a dramedy, with an emphasis on comedy, that’s not the case here. This is a very stark change in tone for the franchise, as this one is a very serious melodrama. Despite the art style being very Tenchi in Tokyo, this is a direct sequel to the first Tenchi movie and is in the same canon as the first movie and the first TV series.
Tenchi Muyo! GXP
Tenchi Muyo! Galaxy Police Transporter is a 26 episode TV series that aired in 2002. This is another Kajishima Masaki series with series composition by Kuroda Yousuke, who worked on multiple series in the franchise. The plot involves Tenchi’s friend, Yamada Seina, who has a case of bad luck and ends up accidentally signing up to join the Galaxy Police.
This series acts as a set-up for the 3rd OVA series and reveals a lot about the inner workings of the Galaxy Police, as well as background on the planet Jurai. Continuity wise, this belongs in the same canon as the first two OVA series.
However…. this was directed by Nabeshin, probably best known for directing Excel Saga. Kajishima was disappointed with some of his directorial decisions and he ended up writing an entire light novel series to tell the story his way. The light novels go into much more detail than the TV series. I don’t think this necessarily uncanons the GXP anime series, but the light novels are definitely more canon than the anime series. I know… and I’m sorry.
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki OVA 3
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki Season 3 is a 7 episode OVA series that was released between 2003 and 2005. This is another Kajishima Masaki series with series composition by Kuroda Yousuke. It was directed by Yatagai Kenichi, who also directed the second OVA. There’s a new girl in the harem, Noike, who shows up to the Masaki residence one day, claiming to be Tenchi’s fiance. The girls and the overall romance plotline really take a backseat here as the third OVA focuses on the Goddess War. Lady Tokimi sends Z, the main antagonist here, to observe Tenchi, and he initiates a massive chain of events that make up the whole of this series.
Reception to this series in the West was very mixed. Those who hadn’t seen GXP or read a lot of supplemental material that hasn’t been officially released in English, were confused as many of these new characters got no introduction here. Certain events are referenced that happened in other series or supplemental material, confusing Western fans again. Additionally, this is where the OVA continuity begins to shift from a smaller harem series to an epic space opera; some people didn’t like that either.
The third OVA belongs in the same canon as the first two OVA series and Tenchi Muyo GXP.
Sasami Magical Girl Club
Sasami Magical Girl Club is a TV series, that ran for two seasons between 2006-2007. This is a reboot of the older Pretty Sammy series. It’s a whole group of girls this time instead of just Sasami and Misao. It uses a vastly different art style and was focused on a younger demographic. Like the other Pretty Sammy series, the Tenchi cast does make cameos here, as well.
This is completely its own thing continuity-wise.
Tenchi Muyo! War on Geminar
Sage Machine Master Story In The Different World aka Saint Knight’s Tale aka Tenchi Muyo: War on Geminar is a 13 episode OVA series that was released between 2009 and 2010. This is another Kajishima Masaki series. Written by Shirane Hideki. This tells the story of Tenchi’s half-brother, Kenshi. He gets sent to another world where he has to pilot these giant mecha. This is another harem series.
While there is plenty of action here, there’s also a good mix of drama, comedy, and those slower slice-of-life moments Kajishima series are known for. While many Western fans weren’t in love with OVA 3, this series was overall liked a lot more. It probably didn’t hurt that you could more or less jump right into this one without any prior knowledge.
This is in the same canon as the first three OVA series and Tenchi Muyo! GXP.
Ai Tenchi Muyo!
Ai Tenchi Muyo is a TV series that was released in 50 4-minute episodes (and ten recap episodes) in 2014. This was directed by Negishi Hiroki who worked on the first TV series and Tenchi movies 1 and 3. The plot here is Tenchi has to go undercover at an all-girl’s school. It was created as part of the series 20th anniversary and received funding to promote tourism in city of Takahashi, Okayama. Fan reaction here was fairly lukewarm, especially due to the micro-episode format.
Despite Negishi directing you’d think this is in the same continuity of the first Tenchi TV series. However, the absence of Makibi Kiyone here means the continuity is nebulous, and this is probably its own thing and not connected to anything else.
Tenchi Muyo Ryo-Ohki OVA 4
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, Season 4, is a 4 episode OVA series that was released from 2016-2017. This is another Kajishima Masaki series. This was written by Shirane Hideki who worked on War on Geminar and GXP. The fourth OVA focuses mainly on Nobuyuki and Rea’s wedding. You also get a lot more background on Kenshi and the history of Geminar.
If you said the fourth OVA was a bunch of characters sitting around talking for four episodes, you wouldn’t be right, but you wouldn’t really be wrong either.
A lot of focus isn’t on the original main cast, in fact, a ton of new-to-the-anime characters are featured. The entire series acts to “fill in the gaps” between OVA 3 and Geminar. It’s a lot of establishing backstory and exposition for an entirely different series that had come out over a decade ago.
With OVA 3, I think someone could watch it, understand the basic story, like it enough to want to go back and catch up with the other series and supplements to fully understand what’s going on. That’s not happening with OVA 4.
We said that with the third OVA, the OVA continuity started to turn into a massive space opera that became hard to follow for newcomers. With OVA 4, it becomes impenetrable. No one new is going to watch this and like what they see and backtrack to the older series. You need such an understanding of this world, the other series, and supplemental materials to enjoy this one at all.
I get why people don’t like this. However, for someone who has been following the franchise for almost three decades and is utterly fascinated with the world Kajishima is creating, this does give you a deeper understanding of the world and its characters. At this point Kajishima is catering to a very niche audience. Or you could argue he’s not catering to an audience at all and just doing what he wants to do.
OVA 4 is in the OVA continuity with the first three OVA series, GXP and Geminar.
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki OVA 5
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki Season 5 is a 6 episode OVA series that was released between 2020-2021. Again, this is Kajishima Masaki series. It was written by Shirane Hideki.
OVA 5 continues on with some of the biggest complaints from OVA 4, including the introduction of a whole bunch of unfamiliar and/or new-to-the-anime characters. I think a lot of fans were expecting this to move the main story along, but like OVA 4, OVA 5 is still acting as a bridge between OVA 3 and War on Geminar.
While it does still act like a prequel to War on Geminar, it also does give more screen time to the original cast. It answers the question of who Tenchi will choose, although the answer has been obvious for quite some time. It fills in more blanks on about the world Kasjishima has been creating for decades, and we see several characters from Dual!, GXP, and his light novel series, Paradise War.
Again, if you don’t have your PhD in Tenchiology, OAV 5 will not make much sense to you, though it is probably more easily understood to newcomers than OVA 4. Generally, people tended to like this one more than the previous OVA for the reasons discussed.
The good thing is, I think it’s safe to say that the gap between OVA 3 and Geminar is finally bridged. So if we do get an OVA 6, it seems likely it will move the main story forward.
OVA 5 is in the OVA continuity, with the other 4 OVA series, Tenchi Muyo! GXP, and Tenchi Muyo! War on Geminar. But wait, there’s more to this continuity.
Photon is a six episode OVA series that was released between 1997-1998. This is another Kajishima Masaki series. This was written by Kuroda Yousuke. Photon is the titular character here, and he ends up accidentally getting engaged while trying to keep his sister out of trouble. This is another harem series. This is also a rare case in anime where it shows full frontal male nudity.
This exists in the OVA continuity, you’ll notice the connection to War on Geminar espcially with things like Koros and Aho energy.
Spaceship Agga Ruter
Space Opera Agga Ruter aka Spaceship Agga Ruter is a 4 episode OVA series that was released between 1998-1999. This was directed by Kajishima Masaki. It’s actually a hentai series, so we won’t be showing a clip. This was actually stopped at episode 4 and the series was never concluded.
This takes place in the OVA continuity and one of the characters from the Tenchi OVA series is likely one of the main characters from this series.
Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure
Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure is a 13 episode TV series with an additional OVA episode, that was released in 1999. This is another Kajishima Masaki harem series. The plot here is the main character, Yousuke Katzukii, is sent to a parallel world where he has to pilot a mech to save it. The main writer here was Kuroda Yousuke, but Shirane Hideki worked on several episodes as well.
This exists somewhere between a parody and homage to Evangelion.
This is in the OVA continuity, with a pretty huge connection to GXP. Which I won’t mention because spoilers.
Battle Programmer Shirase
Battle Programmer Shirase is a 15 episode TV series released between 2003-2004. This was directed by Hayashi Hiroki. The plot here revolved around a mysterious computer hacker. This is just worth a brief mention because Misao from the Pretty Sammy series plays the main character’s niece.
El Hazard has 2 TV series and 2 OVA series that released between 1995-1998. The first OVA was co-created and directed by Hayashi Hiroki who worked on the first Tenchi OVA series. The basic plot involved a group of high school students and their teacher being transported to an Arabian Nights-style world.
This isn’t really related to Tenchi canonically, but it’s always been thought of as a kind of sister series to Tenchi, so it’s worth bringing it up.
The first OVA is excellent and a classic and should be seen at all costs. The second OVA is hot garbage. The first TV series is also hot garbage, but the second TV series, which belong to the OVA continuity, is pretty decent.
Tip of the Iceberg
So, we’ve made it through each and every anime entry in the Tenchi Muyo! franchise. Congratulations! I just want to point out here that one could argue this is really the tip of the iceberg with Tenchi. Aside from the anime, there are several light novel and manga series, video games, radio dramas, doujinshi, etc. Some of these are related to and supplement and expand on some of the anime continuities we discussed here, some are completely their own thing, and some are in-between.