Otaku Corner: Tenjho Tenge Vol. 2

Tenjho Tenge heats up in second volume of action

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome back to another installment of Otaku Corner. This time, we’re going back to school, which means we’re enrolling again at the renowned Todo Academy where students learn the three basics: Reading, writing and ass-kicking (yes, I said ass-kicking.) So, grab your backpacks, bento lunches and your grappling gear because it’s time to check in with the Juken Club in the latest installment of Tenjho Tenge Volume 02: The Battle Bowl.

Based on the manga series by Oh! Great and released by Geneon Entertainment (USA), Tenjho Tenge follows the story of Soichiro Nagi and Bob Makihara (aka the Knuckle Bombs), who plan to add Todo Academy to their list of conquered territory. Their plan quickly falls apart when they meet Aya and Maya Natsume, members of the Juken Club, which stands against the student Executive Council. After altercations with the council, Soichiro and Bob join Aya and Maya along with Masataka Takayanagi to fight the council, unaware that they are now locked in a 400-year battle that has yet to be resolved.

Tenjou Tenge Vol. 2
Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

During golden week (Japanese May holiday), the Juken Club begins their training to prepare for future attacks from the Executive Council. At this time, Maya has a great idea to go bowling to give the club a break from training. Unfortunately, the council makes immediate plans to send their forces led by its most terrifying members to crush the Juken Cub for good. In three episodes, the Juken Club are separated from each other facing off the council’s most feared “executioners,” who consist of vice chairman Emi “The Black Blade” Isuzu, who hates Maya with INTENSE passion; Shirō “The Last Samurai” Tagami, who gives Aya a major battle; and, Koji “Saga Mask” Sagara, who challenges Soichiro for free passage into the rest of the bowling alley.

Meanwhile, Bob and Masataka deal some serious damage to the Council’s army while protecting Bob’s girlfriend, Chiaki Kounoike. After their separate victories, the Juken Club looked as if they were going to escape a vicious gauntlet, until the Council’s president shows up ready to deal his own brand of justice.

After watching this volume of Tenjho Tenge, I felt that although the battles were drawn out, they still kept the action intact. I personally like the way episodes were written to give the Juken members a chance to test their new skills while allowing the backstory of the executioners to come full circle, showing the reasons why they fight for the council so much. You’ll still get the usual fan service moments, but the stage is set for future episodes that will deepen the story line. Also, adding more punch for the dollar, three new series coming from Geneon and the non-title ending made me feel that I was not getting a case of buyer’s remorse. Geneon USA and Bang Zoom! Entertainment deserve credit as well with a smooth English adaptation and translation as well as having excellent voice acting from Steve Staley (Soichro), Wendee Lee (Maya) Stephanie Sheh (Aya), Johnny Yong Bosch (Masataka) and Jamison Price (Bob). Credit also goes to Kate Higgins, Paul St. Peter and Dave Mallow for their respective roles of Emi, Tagami and Sagara.

Tenjho Tenge continues to keep its successful blend of school drama with intense martial arts action that puts the series in a class by itself. Will the Juken Club survive the wrath of the Council’s president? Keep it here in Otaku Corner to find out.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner: Tenjho Tenge Vol. 1

Don’t miss a great fighter anime in Tenjho Tenge

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome back, readers, to another edition of Otaku Corner. I know that most of you wanted to get back to the battle between Ryuzaki and Light in “Death Note,” but in this edition, I think we all need to take a mental nap from that EPIC battle. For now, let’s take a break from an EPIC game of cat and mouse and enjoy a nice high school anime filled with romance, comedy, and yes, my fellow fighting otaku, plenty of beat downs. Grab some popcorn, get your other favorite anime-viewing snacks and refreshments together and kick back for the first volume of Tenjho Tenge (Heaven and Earth).

Based on the worldwide smash manga series originally appearing in Shuiesha’s V Jump”comics by Oh! Great, and produced by Geneon Entertainment, Tenjho Tenge focuses on 15-year olds Souichiro Nagi and “Bob” Makihara (aka the Knuckle Bombs) who are newly enrolled students at Todou Academy with plans of conquest as they did with their previous schools. However they soon discover that Todou is not some ordinary Japanese high school, but is really a school that was founded to teach and preserve various martial arts. After DESTROYING the senior class, Souichiro and Bob are single-handedly defeated by Maya Natsume, captain of the Juken club and her second-in-command Masataka Takayanagi. Souichiro is then hunted down by Maya’s sister, Aya, Tenjho Tenge dvd coverwho instantly falls in love with Souichiro because of a Natsume woman’s tradition. This sets off events in which the Juken Club is involved in a decades-old feud.

The first four episodes have a strong background story, especially with Souichiro after he was defeated by Masataka Takayanagi that reminds him that losing is never an option. In between the romance and chase of Souichiro by Aya, we learn more about the sisters Natsume who are strong willed but have their own unique abilities. Here’s a heads up: Tenjho Tenge nearly goes beyond the standards of fan service with the panty shots, views of the Natsume sisters’ breasts and the usual tough guy talk and battles that will make its viewers think it’s a cross of Fist of the North Star and Battle Royale but in an acceptable viewing format.

Besides the four episodes, the DVD includes, in addition to upcoming Geneon titles, clean openings and closings with the two main songs. I especially enjoyed having Lyndsey listen to TT’s opening song EVERY episode (yes, my evil plan did work. Editor’s note: No, it didn’t. He thinks it did. That opening — Bomb-a-Head — is one of the worst songs I have ever heard). I want to commend Geneon Entertainment’s U.S. branch for producing and dubbing alongside BangZoom! Entertainment and for choosing the great cast that included Johnny Yong Bosch, Stephanie Sheh (Bleach) and Wendee Lee (Cowboy Bebop) playing their respective roles. In short, Tenjho Tenge Volume 1 gets a 4.

Tenjho Tenge is, without doubt, a mix of all anime high school dramas , but with more kick. I’m very excited that this series will re-release its awesomeness soon thanks to the good folks of Discotek Media since Geneon USA is no longer in business. But for good laughs, martial arts action, high school romance (minus the overused clichés) and fan service, TT is good for you. Now to give the HBJ group their new official theme song, Bomb-a-Head.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large for Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com