Feb 10, 2021
As someone not familiar with the Tenchi Muyou! series, it felt a little weird to see a manga adaptation of an anime, combined with multiple movies, OVA's and spin-offs. It's a little dated, so it may have been more popular than the members of MAL may suggest.
The Tenshi Muyou! series is a little weird. Being a manga adaptation, it didn't introduce the characters and jumped right into a story that could take place at the halfway point of a longer running anime show. And the funny thing is: it didn't even matter. At first, I felt like the scans for the volumes must have
been mixed up (as is sometimes the case for lesser known manga spanning 40+ chapters), but it seemed to be their intention as there are several references to the OVA series inside the manga. Talk about self-advertising. ;) Apparently, the authors expected us to read and watch the series at the same time it came out.
The story itself is mostly episodic and happens in and around their mansion on earth, but the story arcs that last for several chapters are given more detail in terms of writing and character development. There were some amazing villains in it with great motivation and not specifically being evil for the sake of being evil. Yes, it may be a trope that some villains get a small redemption arc, but for the few of them here, it was well placed and quite well executed. And while some of them may die, that is a sacrifice the author is willing to make.
The characters are typical 90's fantasy setting characters, as it contains a princess from a far-away planet and her little sister, a space police captain, a super genius who is the mother of a space pirate, a ship whose anthropomorphic shape is a young cat-rabbit (yes it’s cute, see MAL’s cover pictures), and a typical martial arts grandfather who teaches Tenchi to control his powers. Apart from Tenchi, his grandfather and Sasami, some of the others are 700+ years old, judging from the events in the manga and their knowledge of past events. For such a strange and relatively large cast of characters thrown at you at once, they grow on you surprisingly quickly due to their silly antics, quarrels and typical 90's jokes. The latter is a very subjective matter, but I personally liked it, as it was a breath of fresh air compared to the dull humour some manga have nowadays. My favorites are the subtle fourth wall breaking jokes, such as saying that some darker colored characters resemble one of the main cast, only for her to answer that her skin tone is 10% while the others are 20%. And they are not shoved in your face like “I made this joke, laugh at it”, but it is hidden away in a smaller font outside of text bubbles.
A questionable subject would be the art style. As a 90’s manga, it is dynamic and has typical over the top hair in many colors and some buff males and slender female characters that may be the envy of some sjw or feminists nowadays. And although the clothes are usually simple in overall design, the details are what set them apart from a simple two-colored dress for e.g. Ryouko. The characters are very cheerful and their exaggerated big angry eyes may be a little dated, but that is again a personal preference as I like that drawing style.
The backgrounds are often detailed and apart from some shock/realization effects, there are few white space panels. And whenever they are found, the panels are often small or filled with text. It has just the right amount of detail to be noticed, but not taking the attention away from the characters.
The biggest flaw is actually the sound effects. I have found an official english release and their words in action scenes are extremely big and all over the panels. Sometimes it was hard to read and it even obstructed the dynamics of the fights. Especially in spaceship battles, most of the time, it wasn’t even visible what happened and my best guess was that they used some energy beams. Those battles were just poorly executed by a combination of the dark background of space and too many or too big sound effects.
Overall, it was never boring to read Tenchi Muyou! As the authors said themselves in one of the extra sections, some of the decisions were made with the thought of: “Lol why not? It’s funny, just don’t think about it too much.” It definitely made a compelling manga with mostly episodic chapters, contrasted by some longer story arcs with great villains. The art is simple and effective, but the sound effects and space battles are badly drawn to the point where one is wondering what is happening. As someone who didn’t see a single episode of the OVA’s or movies, the story starts as if you are thrown in the middle of a larger arc, but the characters quickly grow on you. They all have one effective quirk that makes them memorable and fun to be around. The manga is great and didn’t have a decisive ending, but there is a sequel that may be more conclusive. Don’t count on it, because the whole series is crazy like a fox and that is exactly why I loved it.
Reviewer’s Rating: 7
What did you think of this review?