Tenchi Muyo #1-#6

By David Rasmussen, 22nd Oct 06
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The Animation flavor of your favorite mainstream title (oh, and one AmeriManga flavor of a favorite Japanese Anime/Manga title). Yeah, we’ve seen it all before. Star Trek the Animated Series, X-Men (which also had a little known of Manga version which was printed by MARVEL for a brief time years ago and then buried somewhere in the back of their collective consciousness), Superman, Spider-Man (also had a Manga version that I bet few remember about anymore), Batman, the Hulk (Hulk SMASH RATING!), Justice League (I bet you remember that old Superfriends series if you are up on your old school super hero animations), Fantastic Four (didn‘t they replace the Human Torch with a robot named H.E.R.B.I.E. or something like that?), Avengers and so forth. It’s all been done and done well… for the most part (not withstanding a few of the bad dismounts in the history of super heroic animations, like the whole mess that had X-Men the Animation‘s Jubilee originally shooting “fireworks“ that more resembled male sperm in her first few appearances in the start of the series).

But we’re not here to talk about the plus or minuses of some animated series, we are here to talk about the comic version of some of these series (and the one and only AmeriManga of a certain Anime series). Some were good, some were… oh dammit some were BAD ideas, and then there’s Witchblade Animated one shot that I am pretty certain was not based on an actual animated Witchblade series since I never remembered one being made. OK. We have three titles so let’s see who’s representing who.

Representing MARVEL is X-Men Evolution (based on the fairly recent X-Men animated series of the same name of course).
Representing little known (for good reason mind you) PIONEER and it’s short lived stint into AmeriManga is Tenchi Muyo (the one and only series that actually went past Issue #1 despite the fact that their first launch titles were four in number).
And finally, representing Top Cow (mooo) is the one shot that does not actually (as far as I know) represent an actual animated series, mainly Witchblade Animated. Eh? Witchblade Animated? How cheeky!

But this is Pioneer’s five minutes (which was pretty much five minutes more or less) so let’s get our Cabbit in gear, and your Guide To All Things Jurai with Tenchi Muyo (the one and only AmeriManga I know of).

Ladies and gentlemen, behold the shortest stint in AmeriManga history!
When Pioneer started this “experiment” way back in 1997 it had such hope in it. One of four “launch titles” for a new Pioneer AmeriManga franchise, Tenchi was to be one of four cornerstones for a hopefully bright and shining future in Pioneer’s first wave of attacks on the AmeriManga business.
Besides Tenchi three other titles were slated for release. Each, in turn, only seeing an Issue #1 come out of each and then no more (find those and your holding comic gold people!)

Phantom Quest Corps, written by Jose Calderon (who did this Tenchi series) and artwork by Dave Cooper, was supposed to be a 4 issue run and yet only lasted one. Story is Ayaka (the President of Phantom Quest Corporation) is invited to this “International Paranormal Investigators Expo and Convention” only to end up running afoul of crime commited by evil spirits which keeps her and one Detective Karino quite busy.
Title listed as “Action Horror Comedy”… really?

El Hazard, another Jose Calderon scripted story with artwork by John Staten and Matt Lunsford (Tenchi Muyo) is another series with longer ambitions. The only other series with a six issue lifespan like Tenchi, El Hazard misses the mark and only comes out with one issue that I know of (instead of the six planned).
Story brings us back to El Hazard (a world existing in a different dimension) where Makoto and his friends have been transferred to by one Ifurita. Ifurita, it seems, isn’t around to take the blame (or praise) for this as she vanished after stopping the “Eye of God”, which sends Makoto on a journey to find her and bring her back to El Hazard… but, as you probably guessed, that is not going to be an easy task (it never is). Listed as “Adventure Comedy”. I can believe that.

Finally Moldiver, another four issue stint. Written by David Bernstein (the only one of the four titles not written by Jose Calderon), with artwork by Rob Taylor and Dave Cooper, this is another series that falls short of expectations with only one issue (out of four). In this story Hirosh, a young geeky scientist) invented Moldiver (the “ultimate” action hero). His sister Mirai, however, has changed Moldiver’s look to fit and and now runs around as Moldiver II. After Mr. Misaki (Mirai’s admirer) has taken off into outer space and she’s pining for his company right now. Too bad she has work to do so she can’t go off into space to go look for him (and all that). Listed as “Romantic Comedy”… romantic?

But we’re not here to talk about that, we’re talking Tenchi… so let’s get to it.
Riddle me this, Batman : What does a big eyeglasses wearing heavily armed Postal employee with a thing for hunting Cabbits (while owning an oversized mutant Cabbit himself), a third rate minor criminal with dreams of making the big time, and a mysterious special delivery package addressed to Sasami that seems to make the rounds throughout these six issues have to do with this story? Actually lots.
The gang find themselves with more problems than you can shake a copy of Star Trek : Encounters at a red faced William Shatner as they find themselves burdened with a homicidal Cabbit hunting postal geek, a possessed Ryoko (who finds her body is now cohabitating with that gimpy third rate criminal I mentioned above, and an appearance by Ryoko’s rival Nagi who seems hellbent on getting the Postal dweeb by any means necessary. Oh, and there’s more pop culture references in this book than the little known AmeriManga Danger Girls (not to mention this came out later than Danger Girls and lasted four more issues than Danger Girls). Oh, and Tenchi seems to emote abit this storyarc for some reason. I don’t know why.

A self contained story where characters are as you remember them… I.e. circa the time this came out aka 1997 so of course this has nothing in common with the most recent Tenchi on the market but whatever. Anyway it’s not a bad thing for a first (and probably only) AmeriManga Tenchi Muyo book, and if you can find it (or heaven forbid the Trade Paperback if Pioneer at least got that done before they completely dissolved their attempt at publishing their own AmeriManga) get it… just, you know, don’t expect a 5 out of 5 experience. It’s good, but it’s not excellent. Breakdown time.

Tenchi Muyo the Brief AmeriBreakdown
What is it with AmeriManga creators excessive need to fill their titles with an excessive glut of pop culture references (Batman seems to get a few nods as well as Star Trek, Peter Pan, a DOOM reference and many many many many many many many more. If this doesn’t choke the horse it’ll make the horse’s head fall off (just like in The Godfather series, only without the leaving the head in some Director guy’s bed thing)).

But in the end it’s not the many things you can see if you’re paying attention that counts, it’s the stuff that is right in front of you and plain as day which should matter the most… I.e. the actual story! And while the artwork is nice for an AmeriManga the story is… well… it didn’t do nothing for me. It’s not horrible, but it’s not one of the greatest Tenchi stories I ever seen either. But since it is the only one of four titles from Pioneer to get the full monty treatment, and because it is worthy of a place in your collection if you can find it (even as we near the 10th Anniversary of this title’s conception way back when Pioneer dreamed of their own AmeriManga franchise) I’m going to give this one a nice solid score and rate it 4 urges to reference “Spaceship Agga Ruter” in this review… out of 5.

By David Rasmussen, 22nd Oct 06

Tenchi Muyo!

Tenchi Muyo! manga review

Publisher
Pioneer

Country of origin
US

Length
6 comics

Year of production
1997

Writers
Jose Calderon

Artists
Matt Lunsford

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