all of the online reviews i have read regarding this series have been pretty brutal. you'd think they killed off all the main characters rather than drawing them a little differently. you 'd think they spouted things like "sailor moon says!" in squeaky little voices. you'd think tenchi's new girlfriend was a walking incarnation of evil rather than the most normal, sympathetic, non-self-centered girl the poor guy has ever met. frankly, i thought the first TV series, known in the u.s. as tenchi universe, was the real disappointment. the characters that were previously so lovingly developed turned into barely watchable shadows of themselves. but i digress. here again, we reinvent the back stories for all of the same familiar characters, and yet they wind up being more or less the same people they were before. (take that, all of you who believe in "nurture" over "nature"!) and good on them for telling them all in one fell swoop in the middle of the series rather than the tedious one-character-at-a-time method used in the first series. we know who they are, and even if we didn't, we would have figured it out soon enough. yes, some of the early episodes are exercises in silliness, but the series is more manga in tone, so it is appropriate that they seem a little two-dimensional. besides, the writing redeems itself later on with the most arguably complex situations and character development. here, they have bucked tradition by creating a "bad guy" who isn't really so awful you can simply kill her off at the end. instead, our hero has to think with his heart, which is what he's always done best anyway. our other favorite characters also benefit from real, believable emotions. when ryuoko says "tenchi... i love you very much..." in her sleep, she says it with such simple honesty that you believe her passions for better or worse later on. kiyone seems to care about mihoshi rather than angrily resenting her stupidity. (and let's face it: regardless of the series, mihoshi is never the brightest crayon in the box) ayeka shows a little backbone rather than being a simpering wimp. sasami even manages to pull the plot along rather than just being the little sister. washuu doesn't get developed quite as well as in the ova, but she gets a few good lines. and again, i have to say something nice about sakuya: how could tenchi resist a girl who is a: cute, b: is unwaveringly polite, c: has enough sense to bring him food when he's hungry, and d: never bashes, tortures, or mutilates tenchi or anyone else, and for that matter, never ever destroys his house. this is not to say i don't love the other girls and didn't root for them, but a worthy rival brings out the best in everyone. i cared about the characters, i cared about the story, i didn't mind the art direction at all, and in the end, i don't think you can ask much more of a series.