Tenjho Tenge Vol. #8 - 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: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tenjho Tenge

Tenjho Tenge Vol. #8

By Chris Beveridge     August 11, 2006
Release Date: August 15, 2006


Tenjho Tenge Vol. #8
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Everything is coming to a head as secrets are revealed and hidden potential is realized in this smashing final volume!

The Review!
Tenjho Tenge comes to something of an end as it had caught up to the manga releases.

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 final volume has a really neat design and feel to it as it centers around an image of a scantily clad Maya while all around her are illustrations of the characters from various points in these episodes. The mixture of the less vibrant but more detailed designs and the amount of variety to it, especially in how Maya is "clear" and the others shines through it, it all looks really good here. 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 a shot of Souichiro in color with lots of blood flying as he fights while a black and white shot of Shin is behind him. The reverse side just has a small shot of Maya in her tiny form and a list of the volumes with the available now stamp next to it. Breaking from tradition of the previous volumes, the reverse side of the cover has a slick action shot of Souichor as well as Aya.

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 included extra here is the clean version of the ending found on the OVA episodes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the eighth volume in the series, we get the final two episodes that were broadcast on TV in Japan and then the two OVA episodes that followed it up. Unsurprisingly, there isn't a huge or even noticeable difference in the quality of the animation in the shift but it at least stays consistent and doesn't get worse. What's interesting to me though as I go through these episodes is that my opinion of the series has changed slightly but mostly solidified.

With so much of the show going back to the past, this volume does a good job of finally bringing us to what you could call a conclusion to that segment of the storyline. The Juken club finds itself in an awkward place in that among its members, there is a clear split about their goals and intent to fight. Maya's done her best to keep true to what Shin has asked her and has tried to keep Mitsuomi away, but in the end, even after they take a picture together and are all seemingly getting along, their paths lead them to the final battle between the two men to determine dominance not only within the club but also for the position of the President of the Executive Council. Mitsuomi has decided that in order to find that one true martial artist that is the goal of his family, he has to change how things are done because he has so little time left himself.

In a way, there isn't a lot of tension to these final moments which stretch out through the first two episodes. We know from the present day episodes that Shin does and that it was Mitsuomi that does it, but seeing it play out brings out a lot of power and emotion as the fight is just as brutal as one would have imagined after all this time and seeing how Mitsuomi has grown in his strength and abilities. The culmination of the battle between the two sides isn't clean though as there are plenty of those who are watching on that get involved in some way or another and even though Mitsuomi won, it's not a win that he can be proud of or even understand on some level. Kuzunoha really shines well here and her position both as assigned to and as she eventually felt towards Shin is one of the highlights of this sequence.

With all of this told in flashback, ostensibly as the story that Bunshichi has been telling to Bob's most buxom girlfriend, we get to shift back to the present where she's understanding more about Maya and how she is affecting the lives of the guys she's so close to, but we also find that both Bob and Souichiro have been listening in to this tale and their respect for Maya has grown tremendously because of it. With the events in the present focusing around Aya's theft of the Reiki and her attempts to deal with the way she feels about Souichiro and his feelings for Maya, the show has a very different feel from the storyline in the past but there is a lot of overlapping in how it occurs. There's a sense of tying up certain loose ends here and in a way it does feel rather like the close of a certain arc in a large book.

What was interesting for me in watching this final volume is that between it and the previous volume, I ended up reading all eight of the released Tenjho Tenge manga releases from CMX. Having heard many of the complaints about how the anime was toned down from the original (and knowing the edits made to the manga), I ended up coming away with a bit more appreciation for the anime as an adaptation since it didn't keep in the same amount of fanservice but still had some. While any adaptation has its differences, and I'm sure that parts of how the anime played out in previous volumes has fallen from memory, I think they did a pretty good job covering the first eight volumes of the manga in this form. It is sort of anti-climactic in that the big tournament is the next phase and it's not animated but that does work as a point of closure to happen.

In Summary:
Tenjho Tenge is a show that had me on as a fan just from watching the opening sequence alone but as it progressed and wanted to tell the story that leads up to the present instead of the present, I got more and more into it. There's a good layer of history to the story that it wants to tell, and by all indications of future manga chapters, it has an even lengthier history that it wants to get into. While I have no hopes for more anime to be made of it, it'd definitely be something I'd want to see. The series will certainly have its fans but I can understand why those who enjoyed the manga may be put off by the tamed down adaptation, but I think it works well enough in itself to be a lot of fun and with plenty of sex appeal.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Closing #2

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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