Tenjho Tenge Vol. #4 - 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: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tenjho Tenge

Tenjho Tenge Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     December 19, 2005
Release Date: December 13, 2005

Tenjho Tenge Vol. #4
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
Shin Natsume is Maya's older brother and leader of the motorcycle gang, Katana. However, there is someone taking out their members. Bunshichi and Mitsuomi seek out the culprit and are surprised with what they find. In the end Bunshicihi will find himself pitted against the most powerful fighter he has ever witnessed.

The Review!
Tenjho Tenge spends more time in the past as we see Shin take on the blade and the responsibility for what Maya has done.

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, the cover for this volume is filled with pinks and purples that work well overall, particularly with Kuzuhara providing the larger background face shot that has her hair blowing about. Shin's not quite as slick with the purple and white but it does give him a cold and distant look that works well. 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 Mitsuomi 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 Shin'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)
Tenjho Tenge hits the halfway mark with the fourth volume, not something that's a lot of fun since it's taking a lot of time to get there and the show is more focused on the fights for a lot of the first half. It also has the fact that it's shifting to the past to explain the present pretty heavily so the characters we got the most attached to are essentially not here other than a younger Maya. Getting to see the others that are very strong in the present in their earlier form, like Bunshichi and Emi, works out nicely though since their relationships are just starting to form.

Maya's plans regarding her hunting of Team KATANA have fallen into heavy problems now that Shin has run off with the sword she was using. His getting the mental push to protect Maya and take over what she's been doing has him running wild which has confused a lot of people over it. His attitude has changed noticeably and his personality overall is becoming darker and more bloodthirsty as he rides around with the sword on the back of his bike. Whoever he seems to come across ends up becoming a messed over victim of his skills and almost evil energy that seems to permeate him.

With more bodies piling up, those around them are trying to figure it all out while the larger forces, such as the family clans that work for the Takayanagi's put all of their own forces into manipulating things. The Takayanagi clan has been in power for so long and has little intention of losing it that they use those below them well, which brings new people into the game such as Emi as she's grown with her assassination skills. In one of the more amusing scenes, she ends up against Bunshichi a few times and finds herself being cornered where he tells her he'll go easy if she'll just give up her body to him. She's plenty defiant about it through and through but it's how members of her family help her out that's hilarious as they just try to run him down. While Emi isn't exactly the most powerful in the present, seeing how she is at this stage compared to how she was during her fight with Maya shows just how much more powerful she has become.

Bunshichi really is the main star of this volume when things shift away from Shin and Maya, both of whom are more catalyst characters at this point that move around and get others to move and take actions for and against them. Bunshichi's the one that finds himself doing things on his own, being attacked outright and making headway to try and stop Shin from what's going on. Shin's left such a bloody trail of friends and others from the school that the usual rules are starting to break down and old friendships are falling by the wayside. Bunshichi's been one of the more intriguing characters just based on his attitude and design in the present where he's been underused but he more than makes up for it here and seeing him in a more reckless manner is a lot of fun, particularly since he's getting his ass handed to him fairly regularly throughout here.

In Summary:
As fun as the action and events here are, it's still hard to connect to this set of characters for a lot of reasons, from the episode count, the length of time it's taken to get here and the shift away from the original cast that may have gotten people hooked from the start. These episodes are still fun though and the action is solid as it explains plenty of what's going on in the present. So much of this series is wrapped up in the way the relationships of a lot of people have evolved over a short period of time, many of which are based on centuries old family clan relationships, that this is important things that needed to be covered. In manga form, a shift like this isn't as dramatic since you know you'll get back to the story proper at some point. The anime is harder though since it's set for a short time and is already running so close to the early volumes of the manga. It's unfortunate that more shows don't wait for more manga to be ready if they're going to use that for source material instead of creating original shows. So many shows that could have been much better have suffered because of this and parts of Tenjho Tenge do as well.

Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

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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