Section 2.6: Shin Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki Novels

Subsection 6: Shin Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki Novels (True Tenchi Novels)

What are these “Shin Tenchi” Novels everyone keeps talking about?

The “Shin” or “True” Tenchi Novels were written by KAJISHIMA Masaki and KURODA Yosuke, and they detail historic events that happened in the canon continuity (OVA 1 & 2, OVA 3).

How many novels are there?

There are three at present.

Jurai — This is the book with Ryoko on the cover.  This primarily details Azusa’s life.  The novel opens up to reveal what happened after OVA 2 episode 6 (13 overall) where Azusa repeatedly brings in challengers for Tenchi, all of whom lose, thanks to Mihoshi. After that, we see Azusa’s conflicts with Seto-sama, his battle with Kagato and Ryoko, Tsunami rescuing him and sending him to Earth, & how he met Funaho.  We also see how Funaho was accepted into Juraian society & how Misaki and Funaho were chosen by their trees.  There’s even more information, but it is a fascinating tale.

Yosho — This book has Aeka on the cover.  As expected, this covers Yosho’s life.  We see his attraction to Misaki, his encounters with Seto-sama, his selection by a first-generation tree whom he names Funaho, his time at Galaxy Academy, his meeting with Airi and more.  What was the most interesting to me was the detailed version of Ryoko’s attack on Jurai.  There’s a lot of great information here.

Washu — This book has Washu on the cover.  Again as expected, this covers Washu’s life from the time she was discovered 20,000 years ago.  Many fans find her relationship with Naja to be the most fascinating since her death led to Washu cloning her.  That clone would eventually become Kagato.  Also, this is the book which reveals that Seto-sama was the sole survivor of the attack which killed Naja.  Seto has no memories of anything prior to the attack.

Can I buy these novels?

Yes, but only in Japanese. (Update: Soon to be officially in English.) The books are currently out of print (as are the non-canon novels from Hasegawa-sensei), but some Japanese people will export books to the U.S. or other place.  So here are the links from Amazon Japan to see if you can score a used copy (you may need Japanese language installed on your PC and force your browser to do Japanese).

Have the novels been translated into English?

Officially, no. There are no full translations of the novels in English.  HOWEVER, a Japanese fan named Kaz Tatsumingo has been kind enough to give detailed summaries and a few excerpts in English.  His website is no longer there, but I have archived the site and will eventually host it here (place holder links: Jurai, Yosho, Washu).

Update: Seven Seas is going to publish them.

Will there ever be an official English translation?

Kinda doubtful at this point since translation and reproduction of printed material is very expensive, especially on a project like a novel. If I win the lottery, you can bet I’ll be talking with contacts to get it done. ^_^

Update: Well, much to my surprise, Seven Seas got the license. An official license attempt was explored in 2005, but at that time, it was deemed too much of a risk. With the popularity of light novels today, things are different.

There are fangroups that put out unofficial translations of Japanese light novels.  Why haven’t you or someone else done this for these novels?

An attempt was made by Kyro to do just this several years ago, but his site was shut down right when he got started good.  An effort to translate the non-canon Hasegawa-sensei novels was started a few years ago but that too got shut down (probably by the Japanese copyright owners/publishers).  Those efforts had people who were fluent in English and Japanese.

I have attempted to get Japanese translators and while there have been several volunteer, none have come through.  As you’ll discover with many fansub/scanlation groups, many people who say they’ll help end up doing little or nothing.  Thus far, those people I know who are big Tenchi fans and know Japanese really don’t have the desire to do the tedious work of translating the novels.  I can certainly understand that.  I’m still a years away from being fluent enough to read the novels myself.  There are people who will translate for a price (and as I look, most of them are for H-manga and doujinshi), but novels have more text and would cost a lot more money.  I certainly don’t have those kind of funds.

Even though the novels are out of print, the Japanese may still send C&D notices out to those who’d try to put out an unofficial translation.  Remember, unofficial translations are illegal by our current, dopey copyright laws.

So you see the problems with an unofficial translation.  That said, if I find one, I’ll let you guys know.  If you’d like to help, let me know in the comments.

Why is it called “Shin Tenchi” if it has to do with the canon OVA and not Tenchi in Tokyo?

The word “Shin” in “Shin Tenchi Muyo!” (a.k.a. Tenchi in Tokyo) is represented by a different kanji than the word “Shin” in the novel titles. The former means “New” (because it was a new Tenchi TV series); the latter means “True” or “Real.” Apparently it can also be translated as “World” as well, which is why Tatsumingo titles his page “Tenchi Muyo in the World.”

Among fans, the novels have been translated as “True Tenchi Novels”, which is where TTN comes from.  However, I would say that based on Tatsumingo’s translation, “World of Tenchi Muyo!” is a better translation as these novels in fact cover the history of the world of TM!R.

What are the important things I should know in the novels?

You can watch the OAV’s and not know anything about the novels (or even Kajishima-sensei’s doujinshi).  But if you are a really big fan of the series (both the OVA and GXP), you will be fascinated by the additional information you learn.  It will allow you to see the entire picture as Kajishima-sensei envisioned it.

Are there going to be any more novels?

There are rumors that there are or was supposed to be a fourth novel entitled Mihoshi, but it wasn’t published. It’s possible it will be… or it’s possible this is completely a rumor. I’ve also heard a rumor that there were supposed to be six novels, but once again, there’s not much to back this up.

What about the GXP novels that Kajishima wrote?

While those novels are canon to the TM!R universe, they aren’t considered part of the Shin Tenchi Muyo series.  At some point, I’d like to get more information from these.  See the GXP section for the additional information.

In the novel Jurai, did Azusa have two master keys?

Yes.  One was a sword and one was one he received from Mitsuki which then replaced his right eye.

I’ve heard some people say that the sword master key of Azusa’s was in fact Tenchi-ken, the sword master key that Yosho had and eventually gave to Tenchi.  Is this true?

It is an interesting theory and one that AstroNerdBoy likes, but there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that Azusa’s sword master key is in fact Tenchi-ken.  True Sheol doesn’t think the swords are the same and he’s got a great track record on predicting things in TM!R.  Should any more information turn up, you can be sure I’ll update this!

Why was Aeka’s hair blue in the novel Yosho?

Because that’s her natural hair color.  She used nano-technology to turn her hair purple like her father’s.  This was in part to be less identified with her mother Misaki.  That doesn’t mean she doesn’t love her mother, but she was trying to model her life on Funaho.  That’s why Aeka is prim and proper at times (Funaho’s influence) and when Ryoko pushes her buttons, she loses control (Misaki’s influence).

In Volume One of Shin Tenchi Muyo!, the passage “Tens of thousands of years later, the people of the galaxy came to understand. The only thing that would be able to stop [this] was Tenchi…” is on page 185 (Japanese edition), but could we receive a little more information about this?

From K-sensei: This will show up in [OVA] series 3. (*)

(*) Indeed this was revealed in OVA 3 episode 6.  Read about it here.