Tenjho Tenge Vol. #1 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Release Date: Monday, May 08, 2006
What They Say
The New Kids in Town...
Souichiro and Bob want to rule their new school, but just as they begin cracking heads, their plan is shot to hell. It starts with the Natsume sisters and their Juuken Club. If the older sister, Maya, isn't kicking their ass, then the younger sister, Aya, is trying to force-feed Souichiro and make him her husband. Then there's the Student Executive Council that sends executioners to "educate" anyone who questions the council's authority! Their education is just the beginning!
1. Fight 01 - Sanctuary
2. Fight 02 - Defeat
3. Fight 03 - Executioner
4. Fight 04 - Suspicion
A new fighting series kicks off in the UK, as high school kids get rough and ready in the anime adaptation of Oh! Great's Tenjho Tenge.
I listened to the English language track for my main review, and noticed no dropouts, distortions or other technical problems with the disc; it's a pretty standard stereo mix. The dub, produced by Bang Zoom! is quite good at times, although on occasion it does seem to be a bit "by-the-numbers", lacking a bit of passion and personality. Wendee Lee is a great fit for Maya though, it has to be said.
I spot-checked the Japanese track, and noticed no issues in the areas I checked.
Being a very recent show, this disc looks pretty good. Presented in full frame, colours are vibrant and I didn't notice any aliasing or cross colouration. There were a couple of moments of pixellation during certain scenes (noticeably at one point when the whole screen is covered in fire), but other than that it looks good.
Subtitles are in a yellow font which is easily readable, and I noticed no spelling or grammatical errors in them.
No packaging was included as this was a check disc.
The menu system is pretty good this time around, with the main menu sporting the cover image of Maya in the background, the show's logo in the centre and selections down the left had side. An amusing animation of Souichiro running is to the right of the screen, and the opening theme plays over this menu. Sub-menus follow the same scheme, but are all static with their selections along the bottom. The menu may be simple but it's functional and access times are nice and fast.
The only extra here is a textless opening. Joy!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Upon its debut in Japan, and later in the US, it would be fair to say that Tenjho Tenge, a series co-produced by Geneon USA, was surrounded by a fair bit of controversy. Fans of the original manga were up in arms that creator Oh! Great's story had been altered in places, was quite toned down for TV and, naturally, some of his renowned fan-service was missing. While they may all be valid points, many people, myself included, won't have read the manga thanks to its hacked-to-pieces release in the US, so the anime is all I have to go by. And from this first volume, the show does struggle to distinguish itself in many ways, though a relatively interesting story is beginning to develop.
The series opens with two boys, Souichiro Nagi and Bob Makihara, kicking down the doors to Todo Academy and beating up fellow students. Their one goal? To become the school's ultimate fighters and to rule over everyone there. But they don't expect to be met by a tiny little girl on a boy's shoulder, and that's exactly what happens. The young girl transforms in front of their eyes into a buxom beauty, and she means business, as she smacks Souichiro out the window, with him crashing through the roof of a building nearby. The girl is Maya Natsume, leader of the Juken Club, a club where people train in martial arts. The other members are the boy who was carrying her, Takayanagi, and her sister, Aya.
Bob soon backs off Souichiro is defeated and he gets thrown to the floor by Takayanagi, but things are only just beginning. It just so happens that the building Nagi crashed through was the shower room, where Aya was. Since he ends up seeing her naked she, in her family's ancient tradition, decides he should now be the one she marries. Maya isn't too happy about it, but that doesn't stop Aya chasing Nagi all over school trying to get him to eat her lunches and things.
Souichiro's not too impressed though, and ends up getting in a fight in the canteen with Takayanagi (who rather likes Aya and is more than a bit jealous of Nagi). Souichiro, though physically strong, doesn't harness his powers well though, and is decimated by the Juken Club member. This leads to him going on a bit of self-discovery, but eventually he and Bob end up joining the Juken Club to become stronger, with Souichiro aiming to be the strongest in 3 months. But the new-look Juken club has something else to deal with. The Student Council want to dish out punishment to Souichiro and Bob for what they've done, and send in the executioners...
...And it's relatively obvious where things go from there. Much of the remainder of the disc is given over to setting up what will no doubt be a massive battle with the Student Council, as the unlikely team mates in the Juken Club continue to train. The story is actually quite interesting and is set up pretty well. Although it's not too hard to predict exactly what will happen as it goes along, it builds on itself quite nicely and it looks like things with the Student Council could get very interesting.
The characters all have some interesting traits and their paths end up becoming intertwined quite well. Maya makes an interesting leader of the Juken Club, clearly being the most advanced with her techniques, and she also has a pretty wicked sense of humour. She's full of charisma and attitude, and is sexy as well. I love how she spends much of her time in the small form so as to preserve her Chi; it may be a pretty silly reason but it gives another aspect to her character. Her sister, Aya, may be ditsy but she packs a mean punch, and is so different to Maya in many ways that you might not think they're sisters. The way she devotes herself to getting Souichiro is strange and silly as well (and had me thinking "harem anime" straight away), but it does lead to some laughs. And thankfully it doesn't seem as though she'll just take a back seat in her pursuit either.
Speaking of Souichiro, he's a pretty interesting boy as well. Seeing his backstory (being bullied as child) at least shows us why he just wants to be a tough guy, and naturally he's really strong but doesn't fully know how to use his strength. His attitude gives him a certain character though, that makes me want to see more of him and how he develops. We don't get to see a great deal of Bob that is of much consequence, other than he has a girlfriend (Chiaki) whose used by the Student Council. And finally of the main players there's Takayanagi (what's with the name?!), who is pretty nonchalant in how he approaches some things given his strength, but it also looks like there'll be something of a rivalry with him and Souichiro, particularly for Aya's affections.
Rounding out the characters here are the Student Council members. We don't get to see all that much of them, although it appears we have more weird and wonderfully designed members showing up in the future. The use of the fire chi and all is a little bit over the top, but it looks like that's all going to be part and parcel with the show, as it is with many fighting shows. There's also an interesting relationship between Takayanagi and his brother, the Student Council president, which it'll be interesting to see develop.
At this stage one of the things that is a little disappointing is the animation in the fight scenes. While the character designs look pretty cool, there's a lot of still panning and such that doesn't do a great deal of justice in bringing it to life. The fights all sound really brutal, and look it to a degree, but they could really benefit from being a little more fluid. The music isn't anything particularly special, though the opening theme, "Bomb A Head" has really grown on me.
In its first volume, much of the story of Tenjho Tenge is setting up what is to come later, but it's built an interesting foundation using a good variety of characters. Truth be told it probably won't set your world on fire, since if you've seen other fighting games it's not hard to guess where things start to go, but so far it's pretty entertaining and I'll be interested to see where things go from here.
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (2.0),English Subtitles,Textless Opening
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Philips DVP5100 free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.
Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C-
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: MVM Entertainment
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tenjho Tenge