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The All-New Tenchi Muyo! Manga
By Adam Arnold
Manga serializations seem to outlive the anime series they are based on in many instances. Take, for example, Neon Genesis Evangelion. The comic is still running in Shonen Ace and the series is only a little over halfway done, and could go on for some time. Another example is Hitoshi Okuda's Tenchi-Muyo! manga which started all the way back in early 1994 after the first six episode OVA series had just begun entering it's transitional period to the second OVA series. It has gone on to produce over 12 full tankoubon and is still running to this day in Dragon Jr under the title Shin Tenchi-Muyo!
Sure, there have been a few other Tenchi manga adaptations like the full-color anime adaptations and the Tenchi and Pretty Sammy manga that appeared in the quarterly manga anthology AIC LOVE. Yet, it's this OVA based manga that has kept the series alive and may have had a part in keeping the fan following alive so that the new TV series Tenchi-Muyo! Galaxy Police Transporter and soon the third Tenchi-Muyo! OVA series even had a fighting chance to be made. Sure, Tenchi has gone strong for years in North America (some even say even stronger here than in Japan), but the simple truth is the last anime adaptation produced prior to GXP was the third Tenchi movie in 1999.
As any fans of the series surely know, the manga adaptation was picked up by VIZ Communications and they started releasing it as a monthly comic book series in April 1996, and it only recently concluded it's initial run in January 2002. The first 12 volumes of the English adaptation go by the title of No Need For Tenchi!, which is one of the widely used translations associated with the title Tenchi-Muyo!
So, what's the series about? Well, it sure isn't another of your run of the mill adaptations or alternate universe retellings. No, the manga picks up right after the end of the 6th OVA episode and fits neatly into the continuity and timeline of the OVA series. Heck, even characters like Ayeka's parents, Lady Misaki, Lady Funaho, and the King appear, and there are mentions of the baby Taro, and so on.
The manga begins with a catch-up retelling of what happened in the OVA series and then goes into a normal day for the Misaki household just before they are barraged by a Ryoko look-a-like named Minagi and her cohort the warrior Yakage. They have come to Earth looking for a duel with the person who killed Kagato. To ensure Tenchi cooperates, Ayeka is kidnapped and held hostage. Tenchi has no other option than to comply and fight to the death with Yakage for the sake of proving which is better, Yakage's blade or Tenchi's Sword of the Light Hawk.
From there, things calm down a bit and there are a few self-contained stories and some mini-story arcs like a dream sequence involving the Magical Girl Pretty Sammy. There is even an in-continuity (sort of) adaptation of the first Tenchi movie, Tenchi-Muyo! in Love. The only problem with the adaptation is Kiyone is included. This is a big problem because she isn't part of the cast nor does she appear in anything other than the Mihoshi Special OVA, which is basically about Mihoshi telling a wacky story about her past in the Galaxy Police, and Kiyone is never heard from again (literally). Still, one of the more original story arcs involves the Tenchi gang in a rather unique samurai drama where they must help Princess Asahi find her missing father.
As the series progresses, it fully fleshes out the characters and their personalities, even breaking the third wall and getting depressed if they don't get enough or any story time. The final story arc of No Need For Tenchi! is a call back to the first story, but with a twist. This time Ayeka has not only been kidnapped, but she has been brainwashed into loving her kidnapper, Garyu, and wanting Tenchi and her sister Sasami dead.
As with any series, some stories are better than others and it's time for the series to shed it's old look and get a full makeover. Coming in May 2002 is the 32 page debut of The All-New Tenchi Muyo! manga, which picks-up where the last issue leaves off. But, don't get frightened and run away. You DON'T have to read any of the previous 12 volumes to understand what's going on. The first story takes care of filling the reader in on who all the characters are and what's up with them in a rather unique little self-contained introductory story.
The debut issue begins with a hired investigator scoping out the Tenchi household for a client. It seems he has been working diligently and found out a lot of information on Tenchi and all the women who live with him. His dossiers are so complete in fact that he even knows that Washu is over 20,000 years old and that Mihoshi works for some kind of interplanetary police organization.
Why is he doing this? It seems there is a girl who Tenchi helped a few days prior to when the story is set, and she has fallen for Tenchi and wants to know all there is to know about him. Yet, the investigator has his own agenda in mind… One, which just might spell serious trouble for everyone.
And things don't stop there, because the second issue has a story even more absurd than Mihoshi learning how to drive… What could that be? Why, Ryoko trying to get a job. If you've seen the series Tenchi in Tokyo, then you know how over the top Ryoko can be. Well, take that to the extreme when thinking about how she gets kicked from one job to the next. There is even a bit of fan service as Tenchi finally goes on a date with Ayeka!
Think Tenchi's reached its end? Well, think again. Things are starting again with a clean slate and there is no better time than the present to get into Tenchi-Muyo! with a brand new series.