Tenjo Tenge: Full Contact Edition 2-In-1, Vol.10, which packages together volumes 19 and 20 of the regular run, is out now from Viz Media. For all its over-the-top sex and violence, the constant jumping back and forth from different time periods, and the increasingly both existential and philosophical statements on life, the universe, and the fighter, Oh! Great shows us that Tenjo Tenge isn’t just about drawing the Natsume girls naked every 10 pages between throwing an endless barrage of randomness at us, and instead begins to carefully weave everything together into the story he has been planning all along, giving us a big pay off as he pens it all masterfully in a giant swoop, with clarity and payoff all the way. It is still a 90% ass-kicking fight manga, but for anyone who has wondered what the title was doing on Viz’s Signature Line, the answer becomes clear here as Oh! Great proves page after page he has what it takes to be a master story teller.
All the previous volumes culminate here, but as they do, it is in fast and furious spurts between the massive amount of fighting going on. Two big huge fights are taking place. The first is between Mitsuomi and Bunshichi, the long awaited fight that started up last volume, which plays out blow by blow, coming to a conclusion here as Bunshichi unexpectedly falls in the end to Mitsuomi’s fist. Within moments, though, little brother and rival club member Masataka shows up, proving he just may be as strong as his brother. At the bottom of the building in the lobby, another nasty fight is taking place as well, as Nagi goes toe-to-toe with Kabane, who uses a variety of techniques, including an odd one where he combines with his own sister. All of this is to waste as Nagi unleashes all the dark dragon energy inside of him! Kabane, not one to lose without meaning, takes out all the building supports, causing the tower to suddenly collapse as the variety of fighters are suddenly surrounded by destruction! All of this still turns out to be nothing compared to what is actually happening inside of Nagi, and after we see him battle through a variety of inner demons from his past to his past life in the mind’s eye, Nagi reawakens the true power inside of him and the God Susano-o becomes reborn in place of Nagi’s body. One by one, the cast of Todo High becomes painfully aware of what is going on, and before they know it, Nagi/Susano-o enters the top floor of the plummeting building to square off with Mitsuomi himself.
Some epic stuff going on here. For an artist who likes his flashbacks, it threw a few readers for a loop a few volumes ago when his flashbacks went suddenly to ancient Japan. Then shortly after with the introduction of witch craft as a weapon, as well as our heroes being reincarnations of several ancient warriors, the series was going to from a slightly weird high school fighting fantasy to a full on fantasy tale. However, Oh! Great pulled it all together here, bringing it back to present day, tying in the ancient reincarnation plot to have gravity for the present, and doing it all fairly flawlessly. The dramatic arc deepened amongst the characters here, and the payoff for the long term readers is all the fights that we have have been waiting to happen since the first story arc finally happening here, of course in typical over-the-top gory fashion. The fighting visually looks fantastic from Oh! Great’s pen, who by this time in his career was very comfortable with drawing non-stop violence, doing it well, and then being able to excel it further by presumably having the permission from his editors to really let loose and do whatever he wanted with the story as long as it would pay off, and they pay off starts here. Yes, sprinkled between is lots of nudity, handfuls of sex, and endless blood, but underneath it all, like the Japanese novel Battle Royal, Oh! Great is really saying something more here about life than just what is at face value (but hey, you gotta keep the fan boys happy).
Tenjo Tenge: Full Contact 2-In-1 edition, Vol.10 is available in print from Viz.