Title: Tenjo Tenge
Publisher: Viz Media (Viz Signature)
Volume: Volume 2 (contains volumes 3 and 4 of 22), $17.99
Vintage: 1999 and 2000 by Shueisha in Japan, August 16, 2011 by Viz Media
Genre: Action, martial arts, romance
Some people fight, some people get beat up, Aya goes berserk, and we finally learn what (most of) the fuss is about. Oh, and there are boobs and pantie shots galore. All you could ever want in a volume of Tenjo Tenge. …. Alright, alright, I’m a bit bitter about it, but I should put a little effort in at least. Everyone was in the middle of a vicious battle at the bowling alley. Maya has just wrapped up a fight with expert knife wielder Isuzu, which has a rather embarrassing end. Soichiro is busy wrapping things up with Sagara, but it takes some simple advice from the barely standing Maya to help him finish the monster of a man off. It’s far from easy, but once Soichiro hears Sagara’s reasons for fighting, he flips and goes all out. Meanwhile, up on the roof, Aya and Tagami continue their battle, but as she continues to fight, Aya is overtaken by the power of the Dragon Eyes and unleashes its fury on Tagami. Knowing their connected somehow, Maya sends Soichiro out to calm Aya down, but they have no time to rest, as news from below reaches them about Executive Council president Mitsuomi Takayanagi’s surprise arrival. As Maya rushes to save the others from his wrath, Bob and Masataka must deal with Mitsuomi and his bodyguard Kagurazaka. Mitsuomi, impressed with Bob’s skills and spirit, offers him a place in the Executive Council, but Chiaki knocks some sense into her man before he can give an answer. When the rest of the gang arrives on scene, Soichiro sees his friends lying unconscious on the ground and snaps, attacking Mitsuomi. However, before things get too out of hand, Bunshichi Tawara, Mitsuomi’s friend and advisor, appears and quells the battle. When the smoke clears, Chiaki demands some answers as to why her boyfriend must get his ass handed to him because of her. Maya tells her just enough, but hardly all of what is really going on. All she reveals is that her brother, Shin, was killed by Mitsuomi in a battle to the death. However, Mitsuomi did not survive without permanent damage, and in reality is barely able to keep his body pulled together to keep living. Back at school, things take a turn for the worse when Maya is expelled, and Soichiro and Bob decide to take things into their own hands and confront the Executive Council to get the decision overturned, though first they stop by the hospital to get some revenge for Chiaki. Their actions are hot blooded and premature, of course, and amount to little. Unfortunately, in the heat of the battle, Soichiro lets a romantic confession slip, sending Maya into a spiral of depression, jealousy, and hatred, amplified by her Dragon Eyes power and the supernatural sword Reiki. Severely outmatched by Bunshichi, Bob and Soichiro are delivered bloody and beaten to Chiaki, who then convinces Bunshichi to give her the skinny on Maya and Mitsuomi’s relationship. In this flashback, we see the day Maya and Mitsuomi met, the moment Mitsuomi fell in love with her, and the moment Mitsuomi began wanting to kill Shin.
I decided to go ahead and give the series a second shot with volume 2. I thought, “Oh, surely it will get better.” Then I opened up the book and my hopes were immediately dashed (though I didn’t even have to open the book for the first panty shot). The first page is a color image of a topless girl standing in front of a totally naked guy (huh, there’s a surprise). Boobs are popping out on color pages two and three, and color page four has a topless girl in cheeky shorts with cat ears and a cat tail. It’s not getting better. The story keeps getting dumber, too. Now it’s degraded into a lover’s spat (Mitsuomi fell in love with Maya, who only had eyes for her brother, which made Mitsuomi jealous, and is part of the reason why he killed Shin, and now he’s all pissy because she won’t take him back). The whole thing is just so ridiculously implausible, but maybe that’s the point, and maybe that’s why people like it. Personally, I don’t get off on that kind of violence. As I was sitting around wondering why I’m continuing to torture myself, and about how seriously I’m supposed to be taking such a ludicrous series, one of the characters said: “Anyway, are you all going to high school in some alternate universe? Killing people, demons, et-fucking-cetera. What the hell is wrong with you guys?” My sentiments EXACTLY, except applied to Oh!great. Though, does this mean even he knows he’s writing a nonsensical mess? That would be fine, I guess, but I’m not really into the “absolute nonsense” genre. I’m not getting anything at all out of this series, except a constant feeling of irritation while reading it. If it weren’t for the incredibly high amount of fan service (panty shots, boob shots, plus the spewing blood and brutal combat, etc.) in this series, I doubt there would be anything to hold this thing together. It’s annoying, but the story isn’t good enough to carry the series without the outrageous violence and nudity to draw in readers. Without the fan service, there would be almost nothing left. Sorry, but I’m through trying to dig out the merits of this series.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.