Cover of the first volume of the manga
|Genre||Action, Martial arts, Romance|
|Written by||Oh! great|
|Original run||1998 – 2010|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Toshifumi Kawase|
|Produced by||TV Asahi
|Written by||Toshiki Inoue|
|Network||TV Asahi, ABC, NBN, HAB, eat, AAB, abn, OAB|
|Original run||April 1, 2004 – September 16, 2004|
|Original video animation|
|Directed by||Toshifumi Kawase|
|Written by||Kazuhiko Inukai|
|Released||March 16, 2005|
|Original video animation|
|The Past Chapter|
|Directed by||Toshifumi Kawase|
|Released||March 30, 2005|
Tenjho Tenge (天上天下 Tenjō Tenge?, lit. "Heaven and Earth"), also written as Tenjo Tenge, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Oh! great. The story primarily focuses on the members of the Juken Club and their opposition, the Executive Council, which is the ruling student body of a high school that educates its students in the art of combat. As the story unfolds, both groups become increasingly involved with an ongoing battle that has been left unresolved for four hundred years.
Tenjho Tenge was serialized in the magazine Ultra Jump from 1998 to 2010, and collected into 22 volumes by Shūeisha. It was adapted into a twenty-four episode anime series and aired on TV Asahi between April 1, 2004 to September 16, 2004. A two-episode original video animation was also made and aired on March 16, 2005. Both versions of the series have been licensed for release in the English language by two different companies. The manga was licensed and released by CMX beginning in 2005, which came under criticism by fans for editing its sexual content. When CMX closed down in 2010, after releasing 18 volumes, Viz Media picked up the rights and completed their own release of the series in 2013. The anime was licensed and released by Geneon Entertainment, also beginning in 2005, however, it is now licensed by Discotek Media.
The plot begins with Souichiro Nagi and his friend Bob Makihara going to their first day of high school at Toudou Academy. They had intended to rule the school by beating up anybody that got in their way, as they had done at their previous schools. They soon learn that Todo is no ordinary high school, but rather a school that was founded to teach and integrate different fighting styles. Its students are skilled in the various arts of combat with some students possessing supernatural abilities, such as pyrokinesis, precognition, and superhuman strength based on the abilities to use their "spirit" or "ki" in Japanese. After an altercation with the Executive Council, Souichiro and Bob join the only surviving club that opposes them, the Juken club. As the storyline develops, both groups find they are becoming increasingly involved in a long enduring conflict that was left unresolved from the Japanese Feudal era by some of the characters' ancestors.
Style and themes
Tenjho Tenge uses a character-driven plot. The story uses a dramatic structure in the form of story arcs, which is common for the medium. Oh! great often employs the literary techniques of flashback and back-story for long stretches of the storyline.
These techniques are used to enforce the notion of determinism which is used throughout the story. Much of the combat used in Tenjho Tenge encompasses many philosophical and strategic concepts that is used in Japanese martial arts, such as kiai, aiki, and maai.
- Maya Natsume (棗 真夜 Natsume Maya?)
- A third year student and the current leader of the Juken Club. She is very skilled in various martial arts, but does not possess the Dragon's Eye like her siblings. For this reason her father entrusted her with the cursed sword Reiki. Early in the series, she would use a body manipulation technique to revert herself into her childhood form to conserve her ki. She also has an argument to settle with Mitsuomi Takayanagi.
- Masataka Takayanagi (高柳 雅孝 Takayanagi Masataka?)
- A second year student and Mitsuomi's younger brother. Most of the time he has an easy going personality and is somewhat shy, but his demeanor changes when he becomes angered or serious. When this happens, he becomes a very formidable combatant.
- Aya Natsume (棗 亜夜 Natsume Aya?)
- A first year student and the youngest of the Natsume family. In the manga she has brown ankle-length hair, although her hair is ginger for the anime. Like her brother Shin, she has the power of the Dragon's Eye. Although she has problems consciously activating it, she seems to have better control of the power than her brother. She also is in love with Souichiro, she constantly tries to win his heart. She is mostly seen fighting with swords whenever possible.
- Souichiro Nagi (凪 宗一郎 Nagi Sōichiro?)
- A first year student and self proclaimed hoodlum. He always wear a black long coat. He is very resilient and manages to surprise watchers by battling against the odds. He is the heir of the Demon Exorcist family. His family's supernatural power is called the Dragon's Fist, which gives them the ability to take supernatural powers from others and use it as their own. This power is often feared and misunderstood by others which caused Souichiro to be socially rejected. He is actually stronger than Makihara.
- Bob Makihara (ボブ 牧原 Bobu Makihara?)
- A first year student of African descent. He has been friends with Souichiro since elementary school. He is athletic and practices the Afro-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira.He often has a cool head and always look after his girlfriend Chiaki. Chiaki is the most important person for him.
- Mitsuomi Takayanagi (高柳 光臣 Takayanagi Mitsuomi?)
- The current president of the Executive Council and of the head of the Takayanagi family. He is a third year student and the top ranked fighter of the whole school. He is a highly skilled and dedicated martial artist. Because of an incident with Shin and the Dragon's Eye, he is only able to use his formidable abilities for about three minutes at a time.
Tenjho Tenge was serialized in the Japanese monthly manga magazine Ultra Jump from 1997 to 2010. It was author and illustrator Oh! great's first crossover mainstream manga from writing and illustrating pornographic series. About twice a year, its publisher Shueisha compiled five of the chapters into tankōbon volumes, with the first released on May 19, 1998 and the twenty-second and final volume on November 19, 2010.
Tenjho Tenge was licensed for an English language publication by CMX, an imprint of DC Comics, as one of their launch titles in 2004. Their version of the manga is heavily edited/censored in order for them to give it a Teen "rating" "...to give it the widest possible distribution in the United States". According to CMX, these changes were made in conjunction with Shueisha and Tenjho Tenge creator Oh! great, who examines each of their changes. This censorship however garnered quite a bit of controversy, see Controversy section for more info. CMX released eighteen volumes in North America before the company was shut down in July 2010.
In November 2010, Viz Media acquired the rights to the Tenjho Tenge manga, stating that their version would be 100% uncut and faithful to the original Japanese. From June 21, 2011 to February 5, 2013, they released the series bi-monthly in eleven 2-in-1 volumes, which collects two individual volumes into a single large one. Viz's releases also includes omake, color pages from the series' original run in Ultra Jump, and since each release will cover two volumes, the second cover will be printed in as a color page. The manga is also published in many other countries, such as in Taiwan by Sharp Point Press, in France by Panini Comics, in Germany by Planet Manga, in Mexico by Grupo Editorial Vid and in Brazil by Editora JBC.
The Tenjho Tenge anime was directed by Toshifumi Kawase, animated by Madhouse, and produced by TV Asahi and Avex Mode, the animation division of the Avex group of companies. The twenty-four episodes were originally aired weekly on TV Asahi in Japan on Thursdays from April 1, 2004 to September 16, 2004. These episodes were made into eight-volume DVD box sets. Two additional episodes were broadcast by TV Asahi in Japan on March 16, 2005 and released in the form of an original video animation named Tenjho Tenge: Ultimate Fight. The anime follows closely to its source material up to the manga's eighth volume with the exception of the sexual content which was toned down. The anime has been dubbed into English, French, German and the Tagalog language. The anime series has been licensed for the English language by Geneon Entertainment, and has released all episodes except the DVD special named Tenjho Tenge: The Past Chapter, which is the back-story told through flashbacks in the second half of the anime TV series condensed into the size of four episodes. The series was broadcast in North America by the cable channel Fuse TV.
Although not mentioned on the Geneon Entertainment's website, or the Tenjho Tenge mini-site, the OVA is available on the last volume, sometimes listed as Episodes 25 and 26. In Australia and the UK, the series was released over seven volumes, and include the OVA on the seventh disc. Almost 5 years after the closure of Geneon USA, Discotek Media re-licensed the series for a DVD release in 2013.
The anime's music, including the background music and theme songs, were composed and performed by various artists, such as m.c.A.T and Aiko Kayo who provided the opening and closing themes songs of the anime. In 2004, Avex record label released the Tenjho Tenge soundtrack and a single. In 2005, Avex released two character collection albums.
The Tenjho Tenge manga is described as an "...engaging mix of action and comedy together while wrapping it all up in a large plot that's fairly dark and really violent at times". It is also known for its fighting, spontaneous nudity, and somewhat explicit sex scenes. Its creator, Oh! great, is known to flavor his works with wanton sex and violence,. Oh! great uses sex as an important aspect of the storyline by using it as a powerful motivator both negatively and positively. He often has his characters contemplate the significance and importance of fighting as well as the meaning of strength. This conscious deliberation of subjective reasoning and objective truth between characters is the most imperative aspect of story and is considered to be rare in manga. Readers may find that Oh! great's narrative is occasionally hard to follow and at times the plot moves slowly. One reviewer found that the frequent explicit scenes were disruptive to the flow of the story. The artwork in Tenjho Tenge is considered by many to be remarkable, even more so after the manga's third volume was released because of inconsistency early on in the series. Oh! great is known for his characters to have unrealistic body proportions, and Tenjho Tenge is no different. The majority of the female characters have "...ultra large breasts..." and the males characters are extraordinarily muscular, but this facilitates the characters personalities to come through in their distinctive features. Overall, the Tenjho Tenge manga is well received having sold over 10.7 million copies, and its volumes regularly being in the top twenty best-selling manga for Japanese Tohan charts and North American Diamond Comic Distributors charts.
The Tenjho Tenge anime is described as a significantly toned down version of the Japanese manga, but still retains most of the spirit of its predecessor. Much of the nudity was removed by the animators, but was made up in the way of sexual innuendos, gratuitous cleavage, and panty shots. Since the anime is a close adaptation to the manga, critique of the plot is comparable to the manga's. Some reviewers felt that the anime was handled in a frantic and ill planned manner that made the conclusion not satisfactory even with the original video animation. The animation done by Madhouse is considered to be well done. They used bright vibrant colors, solid backgrounds and plenty of visible detail with very little pixelation or jagged movement, but at times used repeated character shots and animations. The animation done during the fight scenes is done in real time and is done as close to reality as possible while still bending, and often violating, the laws of physics. The early fight scenes are thought to be the "...most intense seen in recent anime". The quality of animation in these scenes does drop somewhat over time, but the action still looks better than the average fighting anime. Both the Japanese and English voice acting are considered to be good, but the English dub at times can be a little uneven. The English dub on occasion has poor dialogue which causes it to lose much of the anime's sincerity. Overall, the anime is considered to be above average, but suffers from a lack of a good ending, mainly because the anime only covered the first arc of the story.
The series' original soundtrack is considered to be average. Most of the music does well with setting the tone within the anime, although some reviewers found it to be somewhat repetitive. Some found the drama tracks to be unsatisfactory, even though they were "well executed". For many, the highlight of the soundtrack is m.c.A.T's "Bomb A Head!", which was used as the anime's opening song.
CMX came under a great deal of criticism for its edits from readers. These edits included the length and breadth of the book, censoring out anything they felt was questionable for a teen audience such as covering up or removing nudity, fanservice, and sexual innuendo as well as a removal of an omake chapter. This was done by a brand whose promotional material asserts that it offers "pure manga — 100% the way the original Japanese creators want you to see it." One of grievances made against CMX is that the edits are not only severe, but very noticeable. One review states it is "possibly the most heavily censored title in the history of the North American manga industry."
In response, protesters boycott the edited version and even started up their own website. Immediately following the controversy, Jake Tarbox, group editor of CMX, resigned from the company. "Tarbox was widely blamed by the fan community for the censoring of Tenjho Tenge, although inside sources suggest that Tarbox was not responsible for the decision to censor the manga." In the face of complaints, CMX had internal discussions about the possibility of publishing an unedited version of Tenjho Tenge, but decided to complete the current version. At the 2007 Anime Expo, CMX announced that they planned to change Tenjho Tenge's rating to Mature beginning with volume fifteen, but warned that it still would be edited, but more lightly. Jason Thompson declared CMX's censorship of the series one of "The Greatest Censorship Fails" in manga.
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- Official website (Japanese)
- Official anime website (Japanese)
- Viz Media English manga website
- Geneon English anime website
- Madmen English anime website
- Tenjho Tenge (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Tenjho Tenge (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Harris, Franklin. "Censored book not a good start." The Decatur Daily. Thursday March 10, 2005.