The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Tenjho Tenge

Title: Tenjho Tenge
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Madhouse Studios/Avex/Geneon Entertainment/TV Asahi
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 1 Apr 2004 – 16 Sep 2004

Synopsis: Toudou Academy is a high school that houses some of the world’s strongest martial artists. Brutal brawls occur with relative frequency and only the the “Enforcement Group” keeps order in this cutthroat arena. One day, two freshmen, Nagi Souchirou and Bob Makihara, decide to turn the entire academy into their turf by beating up everyone who disagrees. After several easy victories, they eventually meet up with the Enforcers and they are thoroughly walloped. Humbled by their astounding loss, they request the tutelage of Natsume Maya, the only person who is willing to stand against the corrupt Enforcers.

The Highlights
Action: Stylish, energetic and well thought out.
Music: Above average with an insanely catchy OP.
Story: Split into two separate but related tales.

Tenjho Tenge is a shounen action anime for adults. Though there are liberal doses of the genre tropes, the story is more intricate, the violence more visceral and the fan service could only be more gratuitous if there were visible, bouncing tits. For those of you who are still hardcore shounen action fans at heart, this anime is an above par example of how an old mold can be revamped into a stylish and sexy product that doesn’t require condescending.

The show can be considered as a fusion of two distinct stories. The first is the primary tale of Souchirou Nagi and his friends as they fight their way through fate, leaving behind a pile of bloody faces, broken bones and ripped clothes. The second is a prolonged flashback that sets up the history behind the circumstances and fleshes out part of the cast. Both stories are fun to watch, but the latter is more of a drama, and it assumes a serious tone of redemption, friendship and vengeance. Though the melodrama is rarely compelling, the overall story is easy to enjoy.

Like with many other action shows, the fights and the story run hand-in-hand as the characters meet their limitations and surpass them through training and plot devices. The music sets the energetic mood, and the animation is fluid and detailed. Each fight usually only takes a few minutes to finish, but the way they are paced may feel a bit slow to some. However, with Madhouse at the helm, the fights are quite exciting when the characters actually start moving.

What makes Tenjho Tenge hard to truly recommend is that it requires a very strong tolerance for its less than savvy conventions. The show may be seriously toned down from the manga, but both fan service and violence are gratuitous to a point that they can be considered the selling point, and some of the characters are dug out of the pit of unforgivable clich├ęs. Also, because the story is fragmented into two parts, there’s a lack of continuity, and when the main story cuts off at the end, many will probably be left wondering why the show spent so much time on such a long flashback.

Tenjho Tenge is ultimately a gateway to the slightly superior manga. It’s a decent way to blow off steam for those who like the shounen action style and are willing to read the manga afterwards. For everyone else, watch the OP since that’s the only thing that’s truly worth the time.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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