Wednesday, 13 December 2006 00:00

Tenjho Tenge (TV, 2004)

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Bob and Souichiro show up at Todo High School one day determined to kick everyone's ass and prove they are the strongest. Problem is they picked a school that has turned out top Z level fighter martial artists since the Meiji era...did they even have High Schools back then? And they show up with a power level of maybe 50...bad move on their part.


Originally Posted on "Where No Anime Goes Unpunished."

First thing I'm going to do is warn you. I'm about to switch liberally between the manga and the anime. If you look carefully you can see when I'm talking about one or the other.

To be honest the way I was introduced to this series has sort of melded in my head in some mishmash of cataclysmic parts churned and burned into something that resembles what happens to Chex when you leave it in milk too long. Which oddly enough, fits the series quite well...especially if you don't add sugar to make the shit edible.

Actually, I take that back. They added sugar...oh did they add sugar. It still didn't make it worth watching much more than a couple of eps however. Mind you, at the time I quit watching the anime, that's all there was of it was a couple eps. The rest of what I know was the manga it was adapted from that was "written" and drawn by a man who goes by the presumptuous and, as far as actual writing goes, completely contradictory title of Oh! Great.

Tenjo Tenge has great characters. Excellent fighting. Damn good fanservice (it's better...MUCH better in the manga). Interesting dialogues. One would think this would be all it needs, but the series is missing one vital...extraordinarily VITAL component. It lacks plot direction.

Oh! Great couldn't tell what story he wanted to tell, who he wanted it told by, where he wanted to go with it, and what things to include in it. So what we get is the aforementioned hodgepodge of what used to be cool shit that I've seen in several anime series mixed up in a mass of goo that separates into its components at first opportunity like oil water, and tar on a road on a rainy day.

Oh, and let's not forget the anime's contribution to it. It took what had hard core hentai in it and toned it down to a PG-13 pushing R rating. Yeah, that's right...the manga has hard core hentai in it...LOTS of it. To give you an idea, Bob...the black guy the racist bastards couldn't eve be bothered to name in the opening rap song...once had to fight, or should I say, out fuck the girls of the whore club of the high school he was at. And he did...I find that so damn cool for some reason, but with all the other shit going on in this manga, I was trying to keep myself from taking thumbtacks and driving them into my skull to drain the bad memories out.

Bob also has a girlfriend. Don't ask too much about her though. Her only purpose was to get raped in the third chapter and be Bob's fuck toy for the rest of the series. I shit you not.

Anyway, maybe I should get to the story and talk about the Sugar (capital 'S' there) I mentioned before.

So they come to school and start beating the living Hell out of anything that moves. That's when they run into Masataka, who shall hence forth be named Plot Device, and Maya Natsumi. I'd like to get to Plot Device, but I should talk about Maya first. She is the only thing worth watching in this series. I honestly believe the cool factor she represents has allowed this series to continue on far longer than it probably should have. In fact later, in one of the many sudden lurching shifts in direction at lightspeed that toss us completely out the space time continuum, the story talks for quite some time about her backstory and her relationship with Plot Device's, I have to WAIT to rant about this son of a bitch.

Maya at this point is in her Yoda mode. Imagine a cute little martial arts master that Plot Device carries on his shoulder that's about as big as the green old guy that dresses in a Kimono, and there you got Maya. Maya then proceeds to teach Souichiro a lesson in pain by transforming into her adult mode and knocking him through the building into the girls shower some few hundred feet away and below. Maya is hot in a way that few anime females achieve. Maya's got an attitude. Maya is a powerhouse...honestly you have to check this girl out to just drink in the shear badassitude she represents. Unfortunately she couldn't carry the series very long with me.

So there goes Souichiro into the girl's shower, where he meets Aya...Maya's little sister, who, in traditional anime plot device, falls in love with the first man who sees her naked. Souichiro, suddenly turns into a harem anime protagonist in the face of the booty she so willingly offers. Aya, also in typical anime fashion, gets lectured about this situation by Maya (something about no one taking that bit of their family traditions serious anymore) and Aya saying it was more than that...barely any time after meeting him...yeah, right, sure. While Bob is off being shown fucking his girlfriend in all its hardcore splendor, we get a harem anime protagonist...actually, he's more like a Ranma Saotome that admits to losing now that I think about it.

Yes, Ranma loses. All the time. He's too much of an egotist to admit it...then again there aren't too many people in Ranma 1/2 that are sympathetic enough for me to watch the series more than 3 seasons, but I'm here to talk about Tenjo Tenge, not Ranma 1/2...which I will probaly never do.


Anyway, Aya...tends to annoy me. Especially when her sister is so much the badass, watching this typical anime girl tends to grate on my nerves.

After piquing the interest of the Execution Group that runs the school, the send out an envoy who beats the shit out of our two heroes and rapes Bob's woman (Yes, he did...don't fucking tell me he didn't, that's Bullshit); in reverse order. So they join the Jyuukenbu club to seek vengeance, get stronger, and that's where the story, such as it is, really begins.

Now I can discuss Plot Device. Hoo boy, this fucker makes me want to gag every time I see him...and he started out so cool too, but don't they all? He is there to get angry and beat up Souichiro in a most bad ass fashion in the second ep...and nothing. Yup, he kinda hangs out for the rest of the story (despite supposedly training our Goku and Krillain rebirths) and get beat up. Actually, in the manga I recall one part where he goes, "For the first time in a long time...I'm angry!" Gee...guess the author remembered you existed...but then the author does shit like that a lot.

Within only a few months Souichiro starts pulling of Super Saiyan Goku shit, and ol Bob and Plot Device are left in the mire, muck, and offal of being a DBZ human. Mind you Plot Device kept saying that Bob had the same potential as Souichiro, but that never panned out...and how could it? Souichiro is Goku/Ranama and Bob is black. Hey, at least he gets laid, so don't feel too down about it.

What's really funny is that Plot Device's brother is the most badass person in that school. As one guy put it, there's one year...and a Saiyan level of power between the two. Poor dumb bastard, you'd THINK there'd be some angst, conversation, and quite a bit more there, but there's NOT!

Interesting to note that Plot Device starts out narrating the anime as if he's the point of view that the anime is being told from. However, the point of view changes to omnipresent, then to another character, then back to Plot Device who again starts narrating...the transitions are not fluid and they HURT just to watch. PLOT. CONSISTENCY. IS. A. GOOD. THING. OH! GREAT!

By the third episode you can tell that the author was just pulling shit right out of his ass and making this up as he went without any planning whatsoever. Mind you, if he did plan this, he needs to be sent to the same place George Lucas, Aaron Archer, and Masaki Kajishima need sent because, DAMN. His skills were beyond sucking.

Oh! Great's artwork is beyond reproach. It's beautiful, though I'm not too sure about the anime translation of it. His story telling skills are in dire need of being sent back to grade school...and I'm talking Kindergarten level. I've never seen a manga-ka more in need of a script writer than this man here. Honestly, he needs to spend a lot of time getting pounded in the fanfiction circuit so he can learn what it is he's doing and what not to do...and I don't mean on that waste of space people are just as bad as he is.

I feel SORRY for the anime director. He was handed this and told to work with it. Were I him I'd have looked at my boss and said, "Do something with this?! There's nothing HERE to do anything with!" Honestly, this thing needs a complete rework. Scripting, flow, consistency, attention to the characters...the rest is actually pretty good.

If all you're looking for is fighting and boobage, you've come to the right place. If you're looking for anything more, go get the foreign film, "Volcano High." It has everything that Tenjo Tenge lacks and tells about the same type of story. Or should I say, tells the story Tenjo Tenge failed to tell.

Oh, and support Maya Natsumi...that girl needs all the fans and...heh, support...heh...she can get. I know *I'd* be more than happy ^_-

Character Japanese Actor/Actress US Actor/Actress
Souichiro Nagi Souichirou Hoshi Steve Staley
Bob Makihara Shinichiro Miki Jamieson Price (As Taylor Henry)
Maya Natsume Aya Hisakawa Wendee Lee
Aya Natsume Minori Chihara Tiffany Hsieh
Masataka Takayanagi Tomokazu Seki Johnny Yong Bosch (As Kevin Hatcher)
Mitsuomi Takayanagi Toshiyuki Morikawa Kurt Strauss
Emi Isuzu Haruhi Terada Kate Davis
Bunshichi Tawara Kazuki Yao
Tsutomu Ryuuzaki Kenji Hamada
Kouji Sagara Kenta Miyake George C. Cole
Masahiro Sanada Akira Ishida
Chiaki Kounoike Ryoko Shiraishi Julie Ann Taylor
Shin Natsume Shuichi Ikeda
Dan Inosato Junichi Sawabe

Additional Info

  • Title: Tenjō Tenge, 天上天下
  • Genre: Action, Martial arts, Hentai
  • Director: Toshifumi Kawase
  • Studio: Madhouse
  • Licensed: Geneon
  • Network: TV Asahi, Nagoya Broadcasting Network, Fuse TV
  • Format: Television
  • Episodes: 24, 2 OVA's, 1 Movie
  • Animation: TOASTY! (+4)
  • Writing: Nuke it from Orbit!! (-5)
  • Pacing: Nuke it from Orbit!! (-5)
  • Voice Acting: Good (+2)
  • Soundtrack: Above Average (+1)
Last modified on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 00:13

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