Based upon the manga by Oh Great! (aka Ito Oogure)
Directed by Toshifumi Kawase
Music by Akio Togashi
Dindrane's Anime Warnings:
- Good lord, at the jubblies
- Death and blood-spatters galore
- Coarse language
- Ill-mannered teenagers who need a whuppin' (and generally get one)
Released by: Geneon
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Fans of fighting and fighting games will love it.
Tenjho Tenge centers upon Todo Academy and its Juken Club, which is ruled by sisters Aya and Maya Natsume. The Juken Club has an ageless battle versus the school's Executive Council, and in volume three, we get to learn a bit more about why. Volume three starts by concluding the bowling alley combat begun in the previous volume, which allows for some quality character development. The Executive Council, however, has designs upon Maya's disciple Bob and attempts to turn him from her path and onto their own. Nagi, too, gets some important screen-time as the battles and interpersonal complexities heat up. Finally, Maya reveals a bit about how all this action started, when she tells the others about her earlier days in Club Katana with some mystery person hunting the members down one by one.
The show is still a bit frustrating in that the episodes are way too short to do all that they are asked to do, especially given that each disc only has three episodes, chopping the show up rather meanly. The show is focused upon the action and all the battles, but are hints that there's so much more than that going on; rushing through each episode just leaves hints to what "more" there is. As the show stands, it's really almost like a hybrid between Battle Royale and Cromartie High School, with less explicit plot or character development (and less humor). It's good, but it could be better. Incidentally, if you're sucked into the story, CMX has licensed the manga, and has been publishing it. Be warned that the manga contains a great deal more violence and sexuality. (Editor's note: Last time I checked, CMX, an imprint of DC Comics, had been taking flak for editing the aforementioned sexuality especially.)
The visual and audio quality are both quite good. The show looks great, even during the special effects or heavy fighting sequences. Some anime shows have trouble with graphics during quick cut scenes, but this one handles them with aplomb. The digital transfer was also handled well, with no aliasing problems or other errors. The soundtrack is of higher quality than most action-oriented shows, proving that the producers didn't view this one as a "throwaway" title and as such did their best by it.
There are, rather disappointingly, no special features whatever on this release. Having only three episodes on these discs may be a good business decision because you just barely get into a battle, and it's over, leaving you ready and willing to buy the next disc, but it's frustrating for the viewer. Then, to add insult to injury, there are no special features? Unsatisfactory.
If you're fond of the "battle high school" genre, then Tenjho Tenge is for you, just respect the 16+ age rating. It may not shed light on ageless philosophical quandaries that have plagued humankind for ages, nor will it likely bring you closer to God, your spouse, your children, or your pets, but it is a lot of fun and screams out for a fighting game to be made of it. After all, we all know that high school can be deadly; we just had no idea how literal that could be. Fans of more cerebral titles, however, may be frustrated.