Mania Grade: B
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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. #5
By Chris Beveridge
February 23, 2006
Release Date: February 14, 2006
What They Say
After the bloody fight between Shin and Bunshichi, the Katana gang breaks up and Mitsuomi's life is forever changed. Back to the present, the Juken club's resolve has grown ever stronger with Maya's story - a much needed source of strength when the entire school targets the club after their incident with the Executive Council. But then another bomb is dropped when Maya receives a severe sentence by the school. The Review!
The back story finally comes to a conclusion and events shift back to the present where Souichiro and the rest deal with all they've learned.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:
The Japanese covers continue to impress here as this one provides a great shot of the ever so wrong pint sized Maya looking far too sexy in the foreground while a green filtered background has the damaged version of Shin taking up most of the space. The look and detail of the artwork is fantastic here just as it has been for previous volumes. 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 Takayanagi 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.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:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tenjho Tenge continues to be a frustratingly enjoyable series though this volume finally gets us to a point where it should be far less so going forward if we're lucky. We're still going to be frustrated by the low episode count of each volume but in other areas it's looking good as we get the final two episodes of the journey into the past with this volume and the final episode, amusingly named "Conclusion", sets us back into the present with characters we realize we really missed a lot.
The first two episodes pick up where the storyline left off with Shin and Bunshichi really getting into it as Shin is being challenged in his use of the Dragon's Eye power but also in that Bunshichi seems to be something of a guard against Shin's power being wielded too far and wide for those who want to control him. So much of Shin's life seems to be manipulated and controlled where he doesn't realize it that knowing that Bunshichi has known him for twelve years at this point really suggests something along those lines, especially considering how the fight ends up going when Shin starts losing control and begins to stab wildly with the massively long sword he's got in his possession.
As intriguing and brutal as the fight is though, it's the way things play out afterwards where the real changes occur as the Takayanagi family seems to now discredit anything that Shin may have brought to the table and seem to be effectively taking him off the table as a consideration for their plans. His younger brother gets a brief mention here with his father but most of the time is spent seeing the other pieces in this strange game move about such as Shin's now former girlfriend who can't have anything to do with him. She goes on some about what went into her originally coming to him and how she had learned to love him along the way but things have gone so wildly different than expected that it's all up in the air now.
Mitsuomi and Maya play a large role in all of this since they're the ones that evolve from all of this into the real powers in the school in the present so some understanding of what's motivating them comes from the events that play here. Maya's not wanting anyone to take down Mitsuomi since only she can makes for some interesting times as he's still not sure of himself and not anywhere near full power so he'd be taken down easily which leads to her defending him at times. The Mitsuomi we see here as he finishes out his time with Katana and the one we know from the bowling alley incident are so wildly different that we really don't get the answers here to his transformation but the seeds of it are visible.
The shift back to the present is most welcome though as we get back to hanging out with Souichiro and Bob as well as Maya, Aya and Takayanagi. Their return to the school after all that's happened has put Souichiro in a position of being a real contender and top dog to deal with so he's got all sorts of challengers that are now ready to come at him which he's more than eager for since he wants to grow and build his abilities and fighting will do that more than training sometimes. Bob's up for the run as well though Chiaki tries to find a way for him to avoid school altogether. You have to love it when a women offers sex and working for a living so the guy can stay home. The school situation has definitely changed and this episode puts it into context nicely as it goes along and we can see the challenges that Souichiro has to face now. There's plenty afoot as Maya's side story starts showing as well which just gets you wanting more episodes right now to see where it's all headed..In Summary:
The frustration of this show is strong and it's not helped by the fact that I can't even go to the manga to get a fix since that's just bizarrely edited anyway. This volume is a welcome change from the last couple though as the overly long story as told by Maya about the past comes to a conclusion and the present day stage is being set up again. This volume does have some brutal fighting in it though which certainly helped and there is a lot of material covered in regards to the agendas and plans by the family's behind a lot of what's happening here. The series continues to strike me as one that will play out much better in larger batches of episodes or even a marathon session to soak it all up. On the bite sized level like this, it's entertaining but ever so frustrating at the same time.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
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.