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Tenamonya Voyagers Anime Review

Tenamonya Voyagers Box Art

Tenamonya Voyagers

3 stars / OVA / Comedy / 13-up

Bottom Line

An old-pop-culture-centric comedy that is funny for the right crowd and visually spectacular, but hard to appreciate for most.

It’s Like...

...Yamamoto Yohko, Starship Girl meets Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei.

Vital Stats

Original Title


Romanized Title

Tenamonya Boijaazu

Literal Translation

Tenamonya Voyagers

Animation Studio

Studio Pierrot

US Release By



Girls-on-the-run-in-space Parody

Series Type



4 25-minute episodes

Production Date

1999-06-25 - 1999-12-18

What's In It


Look For

  • Gunfights
  • Catfights
  • Fistfights
  • Schoolgirls with "Schoolgirls"
  • Super Technology
  • Space Ships
  • The Biggest Darn Mech You're Ever Gonna See
  • The Silliest Little Battlesuit You're Ever Gonna See
  • Chases
  • Slapstick
  • Parodies Galore
  • Weird
  • Stupidity. Lots of Stupidity.

Objectionable Content

  • Violence: 2 (moderate)
  • Nudity: 3 (significant)
  • Sex: 1 (mild)
  • Language: 2 (moderate)

full details

See Also


  • None

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Plot Synopsis

Ayako, a freshly graduated high school teacher, and Wakana, a star athlete on a sports scholarship, arrive at their new school only to find that it's gone out of business. That leaves them broke and stranded on the far side of the galaxy, with nowhere to go but back to the middle of nowhere--Earth. Fortunately for them, Paraila, another "high school student" falls out of the sky (literally) and just happens to be going to the same place. Of course, in her case it's because an obscure legal loophole erases the criminal record of anybody who sets foot on Earth, but that's an unnecessary detail. That puts two clueless Earthlings and one of the most dangerous criminals in the galaxy on the run from both the police (including the madwoman who commands them) and the gang that Paraila's unsuccessful coup de tat was supposed to make her the boss of. Add one more young gangster trying to show her worth, and you've got four women up against a good portion of the military might in space.

Quick Review

Switch to Full Review

Tenamonya Voyagers is a hit-and-miss pure-comedy romp. On the up side, it's got a hefty budget, there's no annoying plot or drama to get in the way, and the silly humor and parodies of sci-fi and classic anime are certainly funny for fans of either. On the down side, the world and plot are devoid of solidity, a large percentage of the classic pop culture humor is going to be totally lost on a non-Japanese audience, the subtitles and dub do little to make up for the untranslatable humor, and considering the volume of stupidity in the show, laugh-out-loud moments are rather sparse. Even the high-budget animation goes to waste on account of the visuals, particularly the action scenes, being so chaotic. At least the acting is quite good in both languages, even if the humor is hard to catch in the Japanese and not carried over into the dub.

It's not a bad straightforward comedy, and fans of quirky parodies might love it, but if you can't stomach straightforward, silly girls-in-space action, don't even touch Tenamonya Voyagers--you might have an allergic reaction.

Read the full-length review...

Full Review

Switch to Quick Review

Tenamonya Voyagers is a short, expensive-looking, goofy comedy that parodies itself as well as a mountain of old Japanese pop culture. It's distinctive and keeps threatening to turn into something really hilarious, but suffers from comedy overload--too many jokes (half of which will be completely lost on non-Japanese), too little time. It's passably fun, but that's all.

The characters aren't self-aware or un-solid enough that it's apparent at first, but the in-jokes and parodies are so dense that after a while it's clear they're the point of the whole exercise. What little plot there is is random, confusing, and utterly pointless, but it doesn't matter. Basically, the series is a string of comic situations.

If you're wondering if there's any creativity or actual "sci" to the sci-fi, the answer is no. Other than a weird mecha supercharger disk, the technology and setting are semi-functional and little more--lacking in solidity and way too sloppy to appreciate as anything but a staging ground for the humor.

The cookie-cutter characters, on the other hand, are a functionally likable bunch. Ayako, the meek, naive schoolteacher, is my personal favorite. At 22, she's a rare "babe in space" between the ages of 19 and 300 and, refreshingly, acts (slightly) more mature than the usual crowd of 16-year-olds. Her gentle chastisements of the major crimes the bunch commit and beleaguered, see-no-evil approach to their adventures are both cute and funny. Her Japanese voice, Miki Takahashi, captures a hilariously accurate schoolteacher attitude, even if her dazed whining occasionally borders on annoying.

The main trio is rounded out by Wakana, the tough jock, and Paraila, the even tougher young mob boss on the run. The two of them basically argue through the entire series about how to get things done, which is lively without being grating. There's also Paraila's underling, but she doesn't do much. The obsessed policewoman villain, however, is impressively vicious and determined--I would have said too serious for this series, except the final episode turns that into the best joke in it.

The Japanese voice acting is quite distinctive considering how generic the characters are, thanks in part to a boatload of colorful accents. The dialogue is also surprisingly natural-sounding, given the context.

The dub has a more mature-voiced flavor, and is cast reasonably well. The acting is very broad but adequate. Sadly, it's not all that funny. The problem is that Tenamonya Voyagers is one of those series that can't be translated smoothly into English, let alone spoken English, and there's not much effort to replace the untranslatable jokes with something more dub-friendly.

That gets at the main issue with the series: Assuming you go for silly parodies, will you think this one is funny, and how many of the jokes will you even notice?

Quantity certainly isn't an issue. Tenamonya Voyagers starts silly, ends with a big joke (of the "when you think about it..." sort), stuffs lots of gags in between, and tosses more in the background for good measure. Styles run the gamut from blatant pratfalls to offhanded parody, and everything in between. Drama is nowhere to be found.

Unfortunately for the average English-speaking viewer, you'll be lucky if you get more than half the jokes.

On one hand you have stuf that's more or less universal: Slapstick, general silliness, and good old-fashioned stupidity. Taste means a lot in comedy, but while it never eases up, it's also not as funny as it should have been, because the rhythm and all-important comic timing are off. Not to say that the jokes aren't funny, and it gets better toward the end, but the humor suffers from rushed punch lines and time-compressed gags. I actually found it funnier the second time through, since I was more tuned-in to the timing.

Next up are parodies of all things sci-fi. Some of the send-ups are straightforward--the last episode features a classic "survive the malfunctioning spaceship before it crashes into something" trek loaded with outright stupid challenges. Elsewhere classic sci-fi scenes are juxtaposed with old-movie standbys. For example, after a massive space battle, the police chief boards a criminal battleship in a Japanese police car flanked by huge spider mechs as part of a riff on '70s crime dramas.

Which brings us to the most distinctive feature of Tenamonya Voyagers: It parodies dozens of very old Japanese TV shows. Some of these are anime classics (sports anime, Galaxy Express), but others (such as the opening and end themes) are from much more obscure series or live action TV shows that most people outside of Japan (and born after 1970) have probably never even heard of. These references might be very funny, but for most non-Japanese only those few that relate to anime or obvious live action genres (samurai films, most notably) are likely to register.

To go with that, the Japanese dialogue is loaded with puns, old pop culture references, funny gangster accents, and general goofiness (children's games and silly ways of saying things). If you don't speak Japanese (and well at that), all but a handful of these will go right by you. The subtitles cover a few of the dialogue-based jokes (a word game, for example), but the translators let most of it slide (including that same word game in another scene).

If this had been, say, an AnimEigo release with obsessive liner notes and meticulous translation, there would have been volumes to read through, but Bandai just didn't try that hard, so for most this chunk of humor will go unappreciated or entirely unnoticed.

The dub has its own funny moments, but there isn't a major effort put into clever dialogue or replacements for the jokes that don't translate. This entire category of the humor is more or less nonexistent in that version.

That covers the funny, but there's one more thing: Fanservice. The jokes are clean, and while the series is sprinkled with awkward camera angles and compromising positions it's not noteworthy. Until, that is, the last episode, a malfunctioning-climate-control-induced parody of the must-have hot springs episode. The four main characters (and one more, for good measure) spend very nearly the entire episode--a fourth of the series--naked. Or, rather, wearing makeshift bikinis made up of an ever-changing array of just about everything you can think of: Baseball equipment, cooking utensils, and, my favorite, goldfish in plastic bags. Humorous, probably; Titillating to some fans, definitely; In extremely poor taste, your call.

Moving on, Tenamonya Voyagers is a surprisingly attractive and incredibly expensive-looking series. It is absolutely loaded with creative camerawork, odd angles, and several highly stylized scenes with moody lighting (all parodies of more serious fare--it's otherwise a very colorful series). The art is detailed and the backgrounds richly painted (though some are too abstract for my taste). The sharply drawn character designs aren't quite as memorable, but the leading ladies are comely and relatively distinctive.

Every single bit of the animation is fluid, but the high budget is half-wasted--the visuals match the random and chaotic plot too well. The action scenes in particular are so furious that it's hard to tell what's going on. The chaos elsewhere is more restrained but still bad enough to contribute to the weak comic timing. I also didn't like some of the character animation--facial expressions that, while not particularly exaggerated, were stylized in a cartoony way that's not my thing.

The background music is grand and fairly good, with a crooning classic end theme and a catchy instrumental march (from an old comedy show) for the opening--you might be stuck humming that one for a few days.

All in all, Tenamonya Voyagers is a hit-and-miss pure-comedy romp. On the up side, there's no annoying plot or drama to get in the way, and the silly humor and parodies of sci-fi and classic anime are certainly funny for fans of either. On the down side, the world lacks solidity, a large percentage of the classic pop culture humor is going to be totally lost on a non-Japanese audience, and considering the volume of stupidity in the show, laugh-out-loud moments are rather sparse.

It's not a bad straightforward comedy, and fans of quirky parodies might love it, but if you can't stomach straightforward, silly girls-in-space action, don't even touch Tenamonya Voyagers--you might have an allergic reaction.

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Related Recommendations

Very similar to Yamamoto Yoko: Starship Girl, though that series is less wacky. Project A-ko is also in a similar vein, but is more consistent, features a much more solid world, and the references are mostly anime-based so easier to get. A lot of it also reminded me of Battle Athletes Victory, and it of course has something in common with just about every comedy involving a bunch of girls in space.

Notes and Trivia

Tenamonya Voyagers is an original concept by Ryoe Tsukimura. It was, apparently, the first anime OVA released exclusively on DVD in Japan.

This series is absolutely loaded with in-jokes, parodies, and references. A couple of major ones that most non-Japanese viewers will totally miss: The opening theme is the "Geba Geba March," the opening theme from "Geba Geba Kyuu-juppun," a live action sketch comedy series that aired from 1969-71. It was popular, but was cancelled on account of being a bad influence on kids. Similarly, the end theme is a very old classic pop song.

Making a list of the rest would be an interesting pop culture exercise, but would also take a very long time. The Galaxy Express 999 train will most likely ring a bell, and if you're well versed in old anime, you may notice other references.

US DVD Review

The DVD isn't remarkable except for its low price when it first hit the market, but is another solid Bandai production. The only extra is an image gallery, but the menus are cute and the disc features a very sharp video transfer and crisp 3-channel Dolby audio in Japanese and English, plus of course a subtitle track.

Parental Guide

Mostly quite clean, but the vast not-quite-nudity in the final episode easily brings it into the 13-up category, if not 16-up.

Violence: 2 - Lots and lots of fighting, and mass havoc, but nothing bloody or very serious.

Nudity: 3 - You don't technically "see anything", but the sheer volume of skin (and fetish-like items used to cover the rest) in the last episode rates a 3 at minimum.

Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - An off color joke or two.

Language: 2 - Paraila has a bit of a dirty mouth, but the language in the subtitles isn't too bad.

Staff & Cast

Original Japanese Cast

Ayako Hanabishi: Miki Takahashi
Wakana Nanamiya: Tomoko Kawakami
Space Trash Paraila: Yuko Mita
Maako of Yaizu (2-4): Ikue Ohta
Tatsue Yokoyama: Mika Doi
Narrator: Ryoko Kinomiya

Episode 1:
Commander: Yasutsugu Ishii
Operator A: Takashi nagasako
Operator B: Kumiko Yokote
Operator C: Mitsuaki Hoshino
Man: Kazuya Nakai
Flight Attendant: Yumiko Nakanishi
Soldier A: Nobuyuki Tanaka
Detective: Shoji Izumi

Episode 2:
Zeitz (Ice Planet): Masashi Ehara
Yulito (Magnetic Storm Planet): Masashi Ehara
Van Juzer (Dust Storm Planet): Masashi Ehara
Juro (Metal Crust Planet): Masashi Ehara
Policeman A: Kenji Nomura
Policeman B: Daisuke Kishio
Chief: Shoji Izumi
Man A: Koji Yusa
Man B: Nobuyuki Tanaka

Episode 3:
Zeitz (Ice Planet): Masashi Ehara
Yulito (Magnetic Storm Planet): Masashi Ehara
Juro (Metal Crust Planet): Masashi Ehara
Murakami: Koichi Sakaguchi
Guy Crusher: Hisao Egawa
Dealer: Shoji Izumi

Episode 4:
Elaine: Mika Yukino
Policeman: Koichi Sakaguchi

English Dub Cast

Samantha Ferris, Marcy Goldberg, Maggie Blue O'Hara, Nicole Oliver, Kelly Sheridan


Director: Akiyuki Shinobu
Original Story: Ryouei Tsukimura (Tenamonya Project)
Writer: Ryouei Tsukimura (1, 2), Masashi Kubota (3, 4?)
Character Designs: Masashi Ishihama
Mechanical Designs: Noriaki Tatsura, Naoyuki Konno, Yusho Okada
Art Director: Junichi Higashi
Animation Director: Masashi Ishihama (1, 2, 4), Yuji Moriyama (3)
Director of Photography: Takashi Azuhara
Mechanical Animation Directors: Ryuji Shromae, Noriaki Tetsura, Naoyuki Konno
Storyboard: Noriyuki Abe
Producers: Shigehiro Suzuki, Masashi Kubota (4)
Executive Producers: Shigeru Watanabe, Yuji Nunokawa
Music: Masamichi Amano

Animation by: Studio Pierrot

Opening Theme

"Geba Geba March"
Composition and Arrangement: Hiroshi Miyagawa

Ending Theme

"Dareka ga Kaze no Naka de"
("Someone Inside the Wind")
Lyrics: Natsuto Wada
Composition: Hitoshi Komuro
Arrangement: Takeshi Ohta
Performance: Ichiro Mizuki

Additional Music

Episode 3: "Hoshiki Hitoyo" ("Desirable Person"[?])
Lyrics: Matomaru Fukushi, Seidou Fuji, Yasuteru Miura
Composition: Tomaru Fukushima
Arrangement: Tatsuya Nango
Performance: Jiro Kanmuri

Episode 4: "Akai Kutsu" ("Red Shoes")
Lyrics: Ujo Noguchi, Nagayo Motoori
Arrangement: Masashi Wakamatsu
Performance: Eriko Noguchi, Morinoki Children Chorus

By Bandai Visual, Studio Pierrot


Available in North America from Bandai on one bilingual DVD volume, which was re-released in 2004, apparently with no changes at all; it's out of print at the time of this writing.

Amazon has new and used copies of both the 2000 and 2004 version listed; the former is much cheaper: Tenamonya Voyagers, Tenamonya Voyagers (2004 release).

Looking to buy? Try these stores: RightStuf (search) | AnimeNation | Amazon