Whatever fit of particular insanity that has grabbed me and hasn't let go...made me go out and buy the last three DVDs of the Tenchi Muyo series.
Now, mind you, Zakuboy here has been a Tenchi fan for years-but, it's a particular kind of fandom to it. I can't stand most of the "spin off" series, with the exception of the Tenchi Muyo TV series. The rest...disturb me on so many levels. Except for the TV series (which they renamed Tenchi Universe), which I liked because it told the story, with a bit longer of a draw and a bit more characterization, the rest seemed to be working on the nigh-traditional "harem anime" concepts.
Except for the "Pretty Sasami" ones-but those were sailor suits parodies. Not bad ones, either...
What appealed to me initally? Tenchi, at least in the first two OVA series, was a proactive character. Yea, he was often confused, often running fifteen minutes behind the facts. But, as we see in the first episode-when he realized that Ryouko could be stopped by taking away her gem, he tried to get it. He even tried to fight Ryouko with a piece of rebar, probably knowing that it was useless. And, when he got a grip, he damn well got a grip-he didn't hesitate to go and rescue Ryouko from Kagato, or Washuu from Dr. Clay.
What happened in the third OVA series? Steve put it best-he pretty much became another harem anime male lead. I liked the "wood chip on the waves" analogy he used-instantly, he got tossed around, confused, and treated as-if the slightest bit of stress would be massively fatal to him. Hell, I could see the sources of stress...and they did suck. But, the way they were handled...you could see the traditional harem tropes being warmed up and ready to be inserted painfully into the story.
This pissed me off-I'd rather have the storyline as abandonware than this bad ending, which seemed to have been a Gainax ending.