Tenchi Muyo! (OVA)

While spending a summer with his grandfather at the family shrine, the adolescent Tenchi accidentally releases the demon, or whatever, that had been imprisoned in a cave near the shrine. The demon, in the guise of a shapely young woman named Ryoko, later visits Tenchi at his high school and expresses gratitude for her release by trying to kill him. Although the school is destroyed, Tenchi survives. When he returns home, he finds Ryoko asleep in his bed.
Meanwhile, Aeka, Princess of Jurai, heads to Earth in her elegant wooden spaceship with her little sister Sasami, looking for her brother Yosho, who’s been missing for the past 700 years. Through a series of events that defies summarization, Ryoko, Aeka and Sasami all end up living in Tenchi’s home, which is transplanted to the countryside near the shrine. Two more women join them: the very sweet, very ditsy space detective Mihoshi; and, the greatest scientist in the universe, the 20,000-year-old Washu, who prefers to be called “Washu-chan.”
Although there are some spectacular struggles in space with powerful enemies, Tenchi Muyo! is mainly a harem comedy. Little Sasami regards Tenchi as a big brother, but the other women want to get him in the sack, and they’re not subtle about it. Tenchi, a decent and capable young man, presents quite a challenge for them. There is more to Tenchi, and his grandfather, than is immediately apparent.
There’s much to like about the Tenchi Muyo! OVA. The characters are distinctive and interesting, from Tenchi and the women to Ryo-Ohki, the cat/rabbit that is also a spaceship. Even Mihoshi, who could have been just an annoying blonde joke, is likeable. (I gather that in subsequent iterations of Tenchi Muyo! she becomes irritatingly stupid.) The story is a nice mix of science fiction and fantasy, humor, action, cuteness and elaborate hair styles. However, I can’t give it an unqualified recommendation. Some of it is very off-color, and what you see of Ryoko in the fourth episode goes beyond mere fan service. It’s definitely not for kids.
The Tenchi Muyo! OVA is the beginning of a vast franchise that includes teevee shows, movies and various spinoffs. According to what I’ve read, most of it is inferior to the initial OVA. Someday I might look at Magical Project S, in which Sasami becomes a mahou shoujo, but the rest I’ll probably skip.