Tenchi Universe, known in Japan as Tenchi Muyo! (天地無用!) is a 26-episode anime television series directed by Hiroshi Negishi and produced by AIC and Pioneer LDC, and licensed in North America by FUNimation Entertainment. It is the second major animated installment in the Tenchi Muyo! franchise, succeeding the original Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki and preceding Tenchi in Tokyo.
While its story is loosely based on the first six episodes of Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, Tenchi Universe changes the personalities of certain characters. Washu is now portrayed as a mildly-insane egomaniac with two pop-up dolls that proclaim her greatness, while Mihoshi is portrayed as a comic relief character whose constant bumbling, blunders and crying fits would often get the gang into trouble. Additionally Tenchi Universe introduces somes new characters: Kiyone Makibi, Mihoshi's much more competent Galaxy Police partner (and who debuted in the Mihoshi Special), as well as Nagi, a bounty hunter and Ryoko's arch-rival, and Nagi's cabbit companion, Ken-Ohki. Kagato, a villain from the OVA series, returns as the main antagonist during the latter half of Tenchi Universe, though with a different appearance and background.
Tenchi Universe was followed up by two sequel movies, both also directed by Negishi: Tenchi Muyo! in Love in 1996, which introduces a new villain, Kain, who attempts to kill Tenchi's mother, Achika, in the year 1970; and Tenchi Muyo in Love 2: Distant Memories (also known as Tenchi Forever! in the US) in 1999, which explores Katsuhito's past and his former lover Haruna, as well as Ryoko and Ayeka's relationship with Tenchi.
Tenchi Universe was originally broadcast on TV Tokyo from April 2, 1995 to September 24, 1995.
The English-dubbed version of Tenchi Universe was originally aired on the San Jose, California PBS superstation KTEH in the late 1997 in its original uncensored form as part of its Sunday Late-Prime (9pm-after 12) Sci-Fi programming block.
In 2000, it was picked up by Cartoon Network for broadcast on its US and European Toonami block. The Toonami version was edited for content and featured custom opening and closing credits. Its first airing ran the day after the conclusion of Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki OVAs 1 & 2, from July 20th to August 24th, 2000. Tenchi in Tokyo began airing the next day. The fifth and final Toonami broadcast of Tenchi Universe ran from January 17 to February 21, 2002.
- Opening: "Tenchi Muyo!" (Japanese and English versions performed by SONIA)
- Ending: "Ginga de chokuritsu hokô" ("Walking Tall in the Milky Way", or "Up-Walk in the Galaxy") (Japanese version performed by Ai Orikasa and Yumi Takada; English version performed by Diane Michelle)
Notably, Up-Walk in the Galaxy is intended to act like Ryoko and Ayeka singing two versions of the same song, each of them trying to stake their, apparently valid, claim for Tenchi.
- Episode 6: "Ai no Ejiki" ["Victim of Love"] (Japanese version performed by Yuko Mizutani and Yuri Amano; English version performed by Ellen Gerstell and Sherry Lynn)
- Episode 13: "Towa ni towa ni hoshi no yume" ["Never-ending Dream of Stars", or "Forevermore"] (Japanese version performed by Ai Orikasa; English version performed by Diane Michelle)
- Episode 16: "Koi wa Chigai Houken" ["Love is Extraterritorial"] (Japanese version performed by Ai Orikasa; English version performed by Petrea Burchard) (This song was never played in the Toonami version.)
- "o Ginga ni Imasokari" ("I'm the Only One") (Japanese version performed by Yumi Takada; English version performed by Jennifer Darling)
- "o Photon, Proton, Synchrotron" (Japanese version performed by Yuko Kobayashi; English version performed by Kate T. Vogt)
- Episode 26: "Ren'ai no jikyû" ["Dimension of Love"] (Japanese version performed by Ai Orikasa; English version performed by Diane Michelle)
- In episode 8, Moldiver, an OVA series also produced by AIC, makes a brief appearance as one of Mihoshi's favorite shows. Kiyone uses this fact in order to get a handle on Mecha Washu.
- In music endings, depending on which animation is shown, one different seiyū sings the ending theme. The "Volleyball" and the "Fishing Ryo-Ohki" versions are sung by Ai Orikasa, while the "Ayeka in Space" version is sung by Yumi Takada. The Toonami version only had the "Fishing Ryo-Ohki" credits, with the Tenchi Muyo! OAV theme song playing. The uncut English version kept the original animations, but Diane Michelle's rendition was used for them all.
- While not the first television series produced by AIC (the first being Lemon Angel), Tenchi Universe was their first full-length (22 minute episodes) television series.