Tenjho Tenge Vol. #3 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • 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. #3

By Chris Beveridge     September 12, 2005
Release Date: October 18, 2005

Tenjho Tenge Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
The head of the Executive Council has arrived and the Juken Club is in for some major schooling. During this time Aya begins feeling the true power of the Dragon Eye as it compels her to destroy her enemies. With this over-powering emotion, will Aya be able to retain her own identity? This is only the beginning as the age old conflict between Maya of the Juken Club and Mitsuomi of the Executive Council is brought to light.

The Review!
The brutal fight hits its climax with this volume before it shifts into a lot of flashback to explain exactly what's going on here.

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.

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.

Continuing to use the Japanese covers, this volume gives us a really enticing background image of Maya while the foreground has the young looking Mitsuomi with his clothing in shreds and the numerous buckles coming loose. Both designs have their appeal and work their respective audiences and combine overall to a decent looking piece though I think the series logo could still use some real work. 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 Maya's hair flowing across it as well Mitsuomi's image being larger and more visibly detailed.

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.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Tenjho Tenge hits its third volume, the frustration with it becomes more apparent due to the low episode count. Much like the second volume, by the time things were really kicking into gear and you were on the edge of your seat with the fight, the volume is over and you're left with a lack of fulfillment. The episodes themselves are quite enjoyable and fun to watch and they do move things forward but when it finishes – and feels like it finishes so fast – you almost want to scream about it.

The first two episodes here for the most part concludes the fight in the bowling alley that started in the previous volume. While there is an overall arc being told here for the story and there is plot, the focus continues to be pushing forward these elements throughout the fights themselves and building up the characters. It is very light on that overall plot but since the fights are rather enjoyable and more violent than usual, there's something appealing about it with its no holds barred approach. The previous volume brought a few of the fights to a finish and these for the most part don't equal those but they do give you a real sense of the powers at play here.

With Mitsuomi now taking an active part in things, he's got his own little plans whirring about and he makes an attempt to woo Bob from Maya's training by telling him just how far he can go under the direction of the Executive Council. Doing this in front of Masataka is bad enough but his with his girlfriend there standing by him and the thought of her being hurt as she was before running through his head, you know there must have been some temptation there with him to go for it. But sticking to his guns leads to Mitsuomi showing just how much of a badass he is by first making sure his younger brother knows that he still has an immense amount of time to go before he can catch up to him. This bit of family love is brutal and it really shakes up Bob right from the start but it does show him that even if the fight is decided before the first punch is thrown, he has to try anyway and do what he can.

Convergence plays a key role as everyone ends up back in the bowling alley just as Masataka and Bob are completely out of the picture and Mitsuomi is almost in the mood to do more damage. The expected way of it playing out such as seeing Aya or Maya do something unexpected doesn't happen but instead we find that Nagi has completely lost it at the idea of both Bob and Masataka being taken down so easily apparently and he ends up going into overdrive of sorts. This is when we start to see what Aya sees in him and what makes up his real power and keeps him going. Even Mitsuomi is surprised by this as they start really trading blows and damage across each side in a very brutal piece.

The greater revelation of what Nagi is here is a key piece and the fight with him is just really well done, even the way Bunshichi shows up at the right time and comically ends the entire thing, defusing all the tension. What it leads into is the real meat of things that will explain the situation in the present as Maya gets them all out of the building and starts talking about the past. It goes back to when Mitsuomi and the others were early into the high school career and part of Team Katana and making a reputation for themselves. Giving them grief at the same time is someone hunting down Katana members and making examples of them. Thrown into the new school year is the arrival of Maya as a new student and the way Mitsuomi, much younger and looking a lot like Nagi in a way, finds himself enthralled with her. It has all the hallmarks of how a series like this would start but with a different set of characters but tied to the existing story arc. Seeing things slowly becoming tied together works out nicely here and the difference in their relationships only makes you want to see it all fall apart more just to see how it all happens.

In Summary:
Beyond the frustration of the episode count, this volume felt just like the previous one in that I got to see a number of very violent fight sequences with interesting characters and styles but also quick proof that those at the top aren't as secure as they think. They're all dealing with the concept of someone younger always coming up the ranks and have to deal with that though the problem this time is that there's a lot of history between the two sides and plenty of family relations as well. The flashback starts down an interesting path of fleshing out the present and hits up a number of interesting exciting options. While not on the edge of my seat quite as much, this is a solid follow-up and it sets the stage nicely for telling more of the back story and then re-engaging in the present with more oomph to it.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

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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