Tenjho Tenge Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tenjho Tenge

Tenjho Tenge Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     July 29, 2005
Release Date: August 16, 2005


Tenjho Tenge Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Maya decides to break up the Juken Club's combat training camp with a recreational trip to the bowling alley. Unfortunately, the Executive council takes advantage of their relaxation by sending all of their main Executioners to attack! How will the Juken club handle the combined might of the Council's army and its elite members?!

The Review!
After a strong opening volume, Tenjho Tenge settles down a bit and focuses on moving the fights forward while teasing a few ideas of what it's all about.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for this track is pretty solid and makes good use of the directional channels along the forward soundstage for the action sequences and on a few occasions for the dialogue as well. While not a completely immersive track, it does a good job of bringing the action sequences out in a strong manner that provides plenty of oomph to it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no trouble with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Being such a recent show, the transfer here looks really good with bright vibrant colors, solid backgrounds and plenty of visible detail. The show manages to avoid some of the pitfalls of a few other recent shows as it doesn't rely too heavily on pans and stills to get things done as there are a lot of scenes that just have small bits of movement that help the flow of things. The transfer is relatively free of problems such as cross coloration or issues with the gradient being visible. There is a bit of stuttering in a few scenes during a couple of the pans across the background but that's just inherent in the source itself. A few scenes here are really standout but the transfer overall is solid and looks good but doesn't really leap out throughout.

Packaging:
Using the same artwork as the Japanese release, Aya gets to show off plenty of skin against as she's down to the white bra and panties and plenty of fluff while the background is a headshot of Nagi that's done in a bluish filter. I like how the two pieces combine here and especially how it lets Aya stand out more because of it, though part of her design just doesn't look right around the waist and hips. The back cover has an interesting looking layout to it with some sort of concrete style wall with various sections to hold the summaries, shots from the show and the production information. The technical information is listed all over the place so it makes it a bit difficult to track down things. The insert for the release has the same artwork as the front cover minus a couple of small logos while the reverse side has a pencil illustration of Aya and a listing of the release months for all eight volumes. What's really nice is that with the clear keepcase, the reverse cover is the same as the front cover but the back panel is the expanded version of the illustration that has Aya's hair flowing across it as well as getting some nice ass imagery of Isuzu, all of which is free of logos and text.

Menu:
Using the same artwork as the front cover and animating in a few cherry blossoms to fall over it, the main menu is a good looking piece with a brief instrumental music loop that ends kind of awkwardly before it cycles over again. The artwork looks really nice here and more vivid than the printed cover. The navigation selections are lined along the left with a blue/purple hue as well and blend well, almost too well, into the artwork but are still visible enough. Access times are nice and fast and the menus easy to navigate. The players' language presets were read correctly and we had nothing to change once it started up.

Extras:
The only extra included in this release is a clean version of the ending sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The opening volume of this series, while nothing mind blowing, was a very enjoyable piece for a lot of reasons. At the same time, a lot of people and myself included have gone into the whole property with something of lowered expectations. Knowing ahead of time that the anime series was softened up from the original manga meant you knew you weren't going to get the same kind of nudity or the same kind of violence. And hearing that the plot isn't all that strong didn't exactly help that either. But with those lowered expectations, the show managed to prove itself to be quite a lot of fun and certainly a good way to pass an hour or two.

The tricky part comes in sustaining that for more volumes. The second volume drops the episode count down to three and it covers for the most part one long fight sequence from start to finish among various parties. Surprisingly, it kicks off with the Juken Club taking a break from their training over the last three months by heading to a bowling alley and kicking back there. Everyone's really gotten into it and is having fun except for a few of them. Aya's heavily distracted by what she thinks her sister may have done with Nagi while Nagi doesn't want to waste any time like this and wants to go back to training. Maya's got right though by saying that the spirit may be willing but the body needs rest and so does that spirit.

The bowling part is relatively minor but it's good to see Chiaki back already and for several of them to just be having fun for a bit. This doesn't last too long though as the Executive Council has reinforced the order to have the club taken down and has assigned Tagami to help Sagara in doing just that. There's a bit of distrust over that but Isuzu settles them down as the scope of the operation takes on a larger size. There's fear of someone in that club being more than they are now and they should be eliminated before they get to that level. So what better place to do that than in a bowling alley and four separate fight sequences that play out over all three episodes.

Each of the fights has different advantages to it that make them work. Maya ends up taking on Isuzu in the women's restroom and we get to see what kind of fighter that Isuzu is really like. It's an amusing fight since it involves lots of clothing being torn in creative ways but it also provides for a really hilarious and surprising twist to Isuzu that I never expected and it's one that Maya really uses to her advantage at one point. Aya's fight with Tagami is more serious since he's been wanting to take her down since he first met her but he's not happy that she's not putting out the same kind of vibe and energy that she once was and is almost insulted by it. His pole-arm attacks are fun to watch though as the two go at it in a stairwell before ending up on the roof with all the neon lights.

Nagi ends up heading off to try and help out Aya and Maya but his luck has him running into Sagara along the way. Sagara amuses me since his wrestling angle reminds me of characters from other shows such as Airmaster and Mucha Lucha. We get to see some of the heartache that he's had to go through to get his club off the ground and what he's sacrificed for it as that's what motivates him to work for the Executive Council. Going against Nagi, whose style is still somewhat undefined as he undergoes all of the training that Maya's giving him, finds that he's not as easy to beat as he initially thought since his body is conflicted in how to fight. The nice part to it was that there is a sense of honor between the two in how they're approaching each other.

My favorite material comes from those that remained in the bowling alley itself with Takayanagi and Bob. Something like fifty of the basic thugs employed by the Council are there to take them down and it was great to see Takayanagi simply take control of the situation. The character's appearance and overall attitude generally screams that he's going to be the doormat of the series and he is in certain ways, but when it comes to the fighting and his level of confidence there he's on par with Maya. He's able to assess the situation quickly and easily enough to know that he can take down a crowd this size of Bob is focused on protecting Chiaki above all else. Watching Takayanagi fight is just one of the highlights of the show for me since he seems to break the standard mold for this kind of character.

In Summary:
The plot is minimal for this volume as it keeps things flowing through the action sequences that happen fairly quickly in realtime but cover all three episodes. It's a good self contained arc that helps to get the characters back into action again after some training and to set up some ideas of what's going to come in the future. Tenjho Tenge isn't a series that's looking to be all that deep or have a lot of meaning to it but I'll be damned if it's not enjoyable. These episodes went by fast but they were fun to watch and has just enough quirks and the like to it that it's interesting as well.

Like a lot of fighting based shows, it's not something that's going to be massive across the board with fans, but it's proving itself to be quite enjoyable and it left me with a smile on my face. Thinking about it a day later after seeing it, I'm still remembering it well and already wanting to watch it again. Sometimes some shows with low requirements for viewing are more than welcome. Tenjho Tenge doesn't ask a lot from its viewers other than some suspense of disbelief and in turn it provides some great fun.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Ending Sequence

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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