What I consider to be the best marketable plush toy idea to come out in a decade, Ryo-Ohki, gets introduced for the first time in this episode. Ryoko's ship, Ryo-Ohki, in danger of being destroyed when Ryoko decided to sacrifice her ship to insure that Ayeka did not have one, reproduced itself by laying its own egg. It's quite a surprise when it turns out that a fuzzy, cuddly carrot-munching ball of fur is actually a spaceship. Ayeka, depressed over the loss of her ship and only means of contact with her homeworld, is rather reluctant to associate with anyone outside of her room at the Masaki residence. Needless to say, Ryo-Ohki is just what the doctor ordered. We also get some other insights into the Masaki family history: the ken kata (sword forms) that Tenchi and his grandfather are practicing are of the same style as practiced on Jurai -- for the most part, anyways. Once again, with some incidental help from Ryo-Ohki, a romantic interest is generated between Tenchi and Ayeka.
Much of this show focuses on Ayeka's character, and her growing interest in Tenchi. Ayeka's theme, a wonderfully introspective piano piece, punctuates various flashbacks, which primarily focuses on Yosho, the former crown prince of Jurai, and Ayeka's would-be fiancé. Yosho was also Ayeka's half brother. A very key moment of foreshadowing occurs when Ayeka bumps into Masaki Kazuhito, but we'll no doubt get to see how this ties in later in the story. Part of the significance of the Jurai trees is also revealed, when it's discovered that the holy tree of the Masaki shrine is actually Funaho, Yosho's ship. This episode also features some wonderfully rich backgrounds, especially when we flash back to a very young Ayeka spending time with Yosho in the fields of Jurai. Best episode of the series so far... - AN
Enter Ryo-ohki, the cuter of the two cute elements in this series (the other being Sasami). I'm not sure what it is about this little cabbit which appeals so much but she's so cute! (Needless to say, I've got two of the dolls...) This episode centers primarily around Ayeka's character and her background as well as a bit on developing a relationship between her and Tenchi. The various flashbacks to past occurances between Ayeka and Yosho foreshadow certain upcoming events. Not just the things Akio mentioned but also the presence of the royal flower from Jurai. Ryo-ohki adds a certain amount of comic relief to what is otherwise a melancholic episode and is used liberally throughout to keep the overall light feeling of the series. (Especially when she first goes out to Ayeka!) The animation itself continues to be very good and the music for Ayeka's theme is probably my favourite for the Tenchi series; very melancholic and introspective. While the episode itself ends on a fairly light tone, you get a fair amount of insight into Ayeka's character and personality and the overall tone is a bit melancholic. Now if only Pioneer hadn't done the all-caps shouting... -JYN