Tenchi Muyo! (天地無用! Tenchi Muyō!?), is a Japanese anime, light novel, and manga series created by Masaki Kajishima and Hiroki Hayashi about a boy named Tenchi Masaki, which has grown into a larger franchise. Along with the likes of Moldiver, Tenchi Muyo! was one of the early successes for AIC, the animation company behind it, which went on to create El-Hazard, Battle Athletes, Oh My Goddess!, Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure and many other anime series. The generally accepted translation of the title is No Need For Tenchi or Useless Tenchi, though at the time of its appearance it was also translated variably as No Heaven and Earth and This Way Up due to the original title's pun nature and multiple meanings.
The original series, Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, is a six episode Original Video Animation (OVA) released in Japan in 1992–93. The series was released by Pioneer LDC in the United Kingdom during 1994. As its popularity grew, it spurred a seventh episode titled: Tenchi Muyo! Special: The Night Before The Carnival (also known as the Tenchi Special) and a stand-alone Mihoshi Special. In 1994-95, the second OVA series (episodes 8-13) was released, featuring episodes 8–13. A third OVA series (episodes 14–19) was released from 2003–2005, followed by a special twentieth episode.
There are three major series continuities: Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki (Tenchi Muyo!), Tenchi TV (Tenchi Universe), and Shin Tenchi TV (Tenchi in Tokyo). The first series, Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, is the original OVA which introduces the core characters. Tenchi TV and Shin Tenchi TV are alternate stories that utilize the same characters, with the addition of Kiyone Makibi. The first of the spin-offs was Tenchi Muyo! TV, in 1995 (known to American audiences as Tenchi Universe); it is a twenty-six episode TV series that retells the original story, documenting how everyone met and changing the back story of some characters. Shin Tenchi TV, aka Tenchi in Tokyo is considered another retelling, chronicling Tenchi Masaki's move to Tokyo. Some character personalities are also changed in this incarnation as well.
Additionally, there are spin-off series (such as Magical Girl Pretty Sammy), as well as spinoff manga (as the anime preceded the manga). The franchise has also spawned soundtrack CDs and other merchandise released both in Japan and in the United States.
Tenchi Muyo! OVA series, Kajishima canon
The canon accepted by series creator Kajishima are the three Ryo-Ohki OVAs, the Tenchi Muyo! GXP: Galaxy Police Transporter series and associated novels, and the novels Shin Tenchi Muyo! Jurai, Shin Tenchi Muyo! Yosho, and Shin Tenchi Muyo! Washu. There are also a number of dōjinshi by and interviews with Kajishima, as well as a companion book, 101 Questions and Answers of Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Oh-Ki.
Tenchi Muyo! OVA series, Hasegawa canon
Naoko Hasegawa, writer of episodes 3 and 5 of the first OVA series, uses a different continuity:
Ryo-ohki OVA 1, the 'Mihoshi Special', the Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki Manatsu no Eve film, the Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki Manatsu no Carnival radio drama, and thirteen self-written novels.
Hasegawa also worked on the TV series, which includes her characters Kiyone and (in the movies) Achika, but the TV series is not considered to be in the same continuity as the film. Notably, Hasegawa considers the Mihoshi Special to be canonical, with the other two versions of the canon of the series declaring the storyline to be, for different reasons, non-canon.
Tenchi Television, a.k.a. the Negishi canon
Called the "Negishi canon", after director Hiroshi Negishi, the canon includes: Tenchi Muyo! TV (26 episodes, titled Tenchi Universe in English), and the films Tenchi Muyo! in Love and Tenchi Muyo! in Love 2: Haruka Naru Omoi, as well as a manga associated with the latter film called Tenchi Muyo! In Love 2: Eternal Memory.
Tenchi in Tokyo
Shin Tenchi Muyo! (titled Tenchi in Tokyo in English), was a 1997 TV series that ran for 26 episodes. It borrowed characters and some plot devices from the original Tenchi Muyo series. It centered on Tenchi's high school and being a priest in Tokyo.
The Tenchi manga consists of two series written by Hitoshi Okuda: Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-oh-ki and Shin Tenchi Muyo! (which has no connection to the aforementioned Shin Tenchi Muyo TV series). They have been released in English as No Need for Tenchi and The All-New Tenchi Muyo!.
Unlike most anime/manga combinations, for Tenchi the anime came first, and the manga is considered non-canon. It is based on OVA series 1 and 2. Since the manga originally began in Japan before the release of OVA 2, the OVA 2 elements are not introduced immediately at the beginning. Because the manga is non-canon, new elements introduced in the manga do not carry over to the anime.
The first Tenchi spinoff is the Pretty Sammy, the Magical Girl series, a magical girl series where Sasami is the lead character. The first use of Pretty Sammy was in the Tenchi Muyo! Sound File, a Japanese-only music video release. The same animation was used in the ending of the Mihoshi Special. In 1995, a three episode Pretty Sammy OVA series began, where Sasami, who is known as Sasami Kawai, magically becomes Pretty Sammy. The second Pretty Sammy is a TV series, which came out in 1996. This series is in a separate continuity from the OVA series. Pretty Sammy also appears in the Mihoshi Special and in an alternate reality sequence in the Tenchi Universe series.
The second is Tenchi Muyo! GXP, which was released in Japan in 2001. The series takes place during the Kajishima version of the OVA continuity, and is set a year after the events of the third OVA series (despite being released first chronologically). The main character of this twenty-six episode TV series is Seina Yamada, a friend of Tenchi Masaki who accidentally joined the Galaxy Police. Many characters from Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki make appearances in this series, including the use of Seiryo as a major character and a full-fledged Tenchi Muyo! crossover in episode 17.
Sasami: Magical Girl Club, shown in Japan in 2006, is the third spin-off with Sasami (known here as Sasami Iwakura), as the main character.
The series Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure is related to the Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki universe, due to the blatant use of the "Lighthawk Wings" associated with the Jurai dynasty in Tenchi Muyo. Mecha Zinv from Dual! appear in Tenchi Muyo! GXP, Kiyone, Ramia, and Misao appear in a brief easter egg cameo in the series' OVA special ("Final Frontier", also known as episode 14), and there is much speculation concerning the ancient civilization that the character "D" is from. Kajishima has hinted that Dual! does, in fact, relate to Tenchi Muyo!. The creator of both Dual! and Tenchi Muyo!, Masaki Kajishima, confirmed that Dual! is in fact an alternate version of the Tenchi Muyo! universe. All of the Tenchi series put together would bring 98 episodes.
The most recent Tenchi spin-off series is a Japanese anime called Saint Knight's Tale (also known as "Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari"). It follows the tale of Tenchi's half-brother Kenshi Masaki as he finds himself in a foreign world that uses humanoid machines to fight their wars.
In the series' main continuities, Tenchi Masaki is the main character who was living a peaceful life in the countryside with his father Nobuyuki and his grandfather Katsuhito, until he gets involved (by a series of circumstances) with a group of alien girls, including the space pirate Ryoko, the Juraian princesses Ayeka and her little sister Sasami, the legendary scientist Washu, and Mihoshi and Kiyone, officers of the space police. All the girls start to live in Tenchi's house and are a constant source of trouble for him, especially when they compete for his affection. Despite this, he maintains a good relationship with each one. Also living with them is Ryo-Ohki, Ryoko's spaceship who can assume the form of a little creature who looks like a hybrid of cat and rabbit, later confirmed by Sasami to be exactly that. Later, Tenchi discovers that his grandfather's true identity is Yosho, a noble from the royal family of Jurai. Together, the cast usually gets themselves involved in a series of adventures throughout the galaxy.
- FUNimation's Tenchi Muyo! GXP site
- Ayeka's Bliss - Tenchi Muyo! Forum
- Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia