It’s pretty sad when a harem show’s title itself points out that the main character is useless, yet compared to the whole pantheon of harem leads Tenchi is one of the least useless ones out there. He helps out at the shrine, works on the farm, has a cool lightsaber, is pretty good at judo, and is part of the royal family of a galactic empire. Sounds like a pretty useful guy. When push comes to shove, rather than saying oh I don’t know “Can’t you just uh, not have the baby?” or something, he gets down to business. He even manages to have relationships with female characters which don’t begin and end at her punching him because of some complete accident.
While Tenchi Muyo is one of the earlier harem series, it’s not actually important to watch in any real kind of way in order to get the genre. Watching a show like Macross is critical in order to get Nadesico, but there’s nothing really from Tenchi that establishes any kind of baseline or easily referenceable text. My gut feeling is that this comes primarily from the fact that harem shows are basically at their cores about the fetishes du jours.
For example, Tenchi has a mad scientist in Washu and a magical girl loli that transforms into an adult in Sasami. It’s got to have been like, 10 years or so since I’ve seen those character types used in any kind of harem show. On the other hand, it also doesn’t have any sad girls in snow or maybe-or-maybe-not blood related little sisters or tsunderes or yanderes or or or. I get the feeling that watching Tenchi Muyo now would be like watching say, Clannad in 15 years and wonder what the deal was with all of the girls. What is the deal with Fuuko’s starfish? Why does Kyou keep acting angry and then nice? And why aren’t there any (I dunno), adults who have to go back to school? Those are my favorite out of the popular moe characters here in 2024!
Would I watch it even if I weren’t forced? I might not have watched everything in the series, but for completion’s sake I’d watch the OVA.