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Tenjou Tenge (天上天下, Tenjō Tenge, lit. "The Heaven and The Earth") 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, published by Shūeisha, from 1998 to 2010. It was adapted into a twenty-six 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, Viz Media picked up the rights and continued releases the following year. The anime was licensed and released by Geneon Entertainment, also beginning in 2005.
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 Toudou 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.
Duration: Manga Volumes 1-4, Episodes 1-17
Duration: Manga Volumes 4-8, Episodes 18-24
Feudal Japan ArcEdit
The New Susanoo ArcEdit
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.
- 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. 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.
- Souichiro Nagi (凪 宗一郎, Nagi Sōichiro)
- A first year student and self proclaimed hoodlum. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Main article: Chapters
The Tenjou Tenge manga was first serialized by the Japanese monthly manga magazine Ultra Jump, by the publisher Shueisha in 1997. Its serialization was Oh! great's first crossover mainstream comic from writing and illustrating pornographic comics. About two times a year, Shueisha compiles five of Tenjou Tenge's chapters into bound volumes. Tenjou Tenge has been licensed for the English language publication by CMX, which is an imprint of DC Comics. CMX version of the manga is heavily edited in order for it to be rated as Teen "...to give it the widest possible distribution in the United States". According to CMX, these changes were made in conjunction with Shueisha and the Tenjou Tenge creator, Oh! great, who examines each of the CMX's volumes and their changes. As of January 2010, 21 tankobon have been released in Japan, and 18 volumes in North America.
- Main article: Episodes
The Tenjou Tenge anime was directed by Toshifumi Kawase, animated by Madhouse and Dr. Movie, and produced by TV Asahi and Avex. 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 where 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 Tenjou 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 Tenjou Tenge: The Past Chapter, which is the back-story told through flashbacks in the second half of the TV anime condensed into the size of four episodes. Although not mentioned on the Geneon Entertainment (USA) website, or the Tenjou 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.
Comparison between anime and mangaEdit
Both the manga and the anime follow the same storyline. Both the CMX manga and the anime tone down the sexual content and profanity of the original Japanese manga. Another disparity is that the hair color of some of the characters in the anime does not match their hair color depicted on the colored covers of the manga.
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 whom provided the opening and closing themes songs of the anime. In 2004, Avex record label released the Tenjou Tenge soundtrack and a single. In 2005, Avex released two character collection albums.
The Tenjou 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. Since the manga is mature in nature, one reviewer found the various explicit sex and nudity scenes disturbing. The artwork in Tenjou 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 Tenjou 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 Tenjou 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 Tenjou 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 original soundtrack for Tenjou Tenge 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 their 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 Tenjou 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 Tenjou Tenge, but decided to complete the current version. At the 2007 AnimeExpo, CMX announced that they planned to changed Tenjou Tenge's rating to Mature beginning with volume fifteen, but warned that it still would be edited, but more lightly.