Tenchi Muyo! is a Japanese anime, light novel and manga franchise. The original series began with a six-episode OVA called Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki created by Masaki Kajishima and directed by Hiroki Hayashi, and released in Japan on September 25, 1992. The series was released by Pioneer LDC in the United Kingdom in 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 Tenchi Muyo! Mihoshi Special. A second OVA series was directed by Kenichi Yatagai that was released in 1994, and a third OVA series, also directed by Yatagai, was released in 2003.
A fourth OVA series was produced in Japan, with the first collection released on November 30, 2016. The following episodes were planned to be released with an interval of three months each, and the final part of the series arrived August 30, 2017.
On July 12, 2019, it was announced that a fifth OVA series is currently in development, with Masaki Kajishima again serving as chief director and Hideki Shirane writing and overseeing scripts.
A twenty-six-episode anime television series called Tenchi Universe was released in 1995 retelling and expanding upon the original six-episode story. Tenchi in Tokyo was created in 1997, and is another alternate version of the original story. The latest version of the series called Ai Tenchi Muyo!, was broadcast on Tokyo MX in 2014.
Spin-off series of Tenchi Muyo! were also created. Magical Girl Pretty Sammy is an example that was adapted into a manga series. The franchise has also spawned soundtrack CDs and other merchandise released both in Japan and in the United States.
Masaki Kajishima and Hiroki Hayashi, who both worked on the Bubblegum Crisis OVAs, cite the show as being the inspiration for Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki. In an interview with AIC, Hayashi described Bubblegum Crisis as “a pretty gloomy anime. Serious fighting, complicated human relationships, and dark Mega Tokyo.” They thought it would be fun to create some comedy episodes with ideas like the girls going to the hot springs, but it was rejected by the sponsors. He also said that there was a trend to have a bunch of characters of one gender and a single one of the other gender, and asked what if Mackey (Sylia’s brother) was a main character, reversing the Bubblegum scenario. This became the basis for Tenchi Muyo!.
In designing Ryoko, Kajishima and Hayashi were inspired by the American sitcom I Dream of Jeannie and wanted to use her in their works. In the first episode, Tenchi would open the sealed cave, which was a reference to the Jeannie’s bottle, and a “cute witch” would jump out. Hayashi said that Tenchi is “sort of” based on Mackey, and that after Tenchi and Ryoko, the other girls were designed to be characters to balance the picture in the very early concepts of the series, and that they are original characters.
Hitoshi Okuda wrote two manga series based on the OVA series. The first manga is titled No Need for Tenchi and was published by Kadokawa Shoten and serialized in Dragon Comic Jr. magazine from December 16, 1994 to June 9, 2000. The series was collected into 12 tankōbon volumes. The second series titled The All-New Tenchi Muyo! was also published by Kadokawa Shoten and serialized in Dragon Comic Age magazine from July 26, 2000 to December 9, 2005. The series was collected into 10 tankōbon volumes.