Tenjou Tenge (天上天下, Tenjō Tenge, lit. "The Heaven and The Earth") was a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Oh! great. The story primarily focused on the members of the Juken Club and their opposition, the Executive Council which was the ruling student body of a high school that educated it's students in the art of combat. As the story unfolded, both groups became increasingly involved with an ongoing battle that was 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 are 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 the fans for editing it's sexual content. When CMX closed down in 2010, Viz Media picked the rights up and continued releases the following year. The anime was licensed and released by Geneon Entertainment, also beginning in 2005.
The plot began with Souichiro Nagi and his friend, Bob Makihara going to their first day of high school at Toudou academy. They intended to rule the school by beating anybody up that got in their way as they did at their previous schools. They soon learned that Toudou was not an ordinary high school, but rather a school that was founded to teach and integrate different fighting styles. It's 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 joined the only surviving club that opposed them, the Juken club. As the storyline developed, both groups found out that 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 was very skilled in various martial arts, but did not possess the Dragon's Eye like her siblings. For this reason, her father entrusted her with the cursed sword called the 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 had an easy going personality and was somewhat shy, but his demeanor changed when he became angered or serious. When this happened, he became 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 had the power of the Dragon's Eye. Although she had problems consciously activating it, she seemed 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 was the heir of the demon exorcist family. His family's supernatural power was called the Dragon's Fist which gave them the ability to take supernatural powers from others and use it as their own. This power was 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 was friends with Souichiro since elementary school. He was athletic and practiced 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 was a third year student and the top ranked fighter of the whole school. He was a highly skilled and dedicated martial artist. Because of an incident with Shin and the Dragon's Eye, he was 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 called Shueisha in 1997. It's serialization was Oh! great's first crossover mainstream comic from writing and illustrating the pornographic comics. About two times a year, Shueisha compiled five of Tenjou Tenge's chapters into bound volumes. Tenjou Tenge was licensed for the English language publication by CMX which was an imprint of the DC Comics. The CMX version of the manga was 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 are made in conjunction with Shueisha and the Tenjou Tenge creator, Oh! great who examined each of the CMX's volumes and their changes. As of January 2010, 21 tankobon are 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 are originally aired weekly on TV Asahi in Japan on Thursdays from April 1, 2004 to September 16, 2004. These episodes are made into eight volume DVD box sets. The two additional episodes are broadcasted 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 followed closely to it's source material up to the manga's eighth volume with the exception of the sexual content which was toned down. The anime was dubbed into English, French, German and the Tagalog language. The anime series was licensed for the English language by Geneon Entertainment and released all episodes except the DVD special named Tenjou Tenge: The Past Chapter which was the backstory told through the 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 was 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 included the OVA on the seventh disc.
Comparison between anime and mangaEdit
Both the manga and the anime followed the same storyline. Both the CMX manga and the anime toned the sexual content and profanity of the original Japanese manga down. Another disparity was that the hair color of some of the characters in the anime did not match their hair color depicted on the colored covers of the manga.
The anime's music including the background music and theme songs are 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 Tenjou Tenge soundtrack and a single. In 2005, Avex released two character collection albums.
The Tenjou Tenge manga was described as an "engaging mix of action and comedy together while wrapping it all up in a large plot that was fairly dark and really violent at times". It was also known for it's fighting, spontaneous nudity and somewhat explicit sex scenes. It's creator, Oh! great was known to flavor his works with wanton sex and violence. Oh! great used sex as an important aspect of the storyline by using it as a powerful motivator both negatively and positively. He often had 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 was the most imperative aspect of story and was considered to be rare in manga. The readers may find out that Oh! great's narrative was occasionally hard to follow and at times, the plot moved slowly. Since the manga was mature in nature, one reviewer found the various explicit sex and nudity scenes disturbing. The artwork in Tenjou Tenge was 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 was known for his characters to have unrealistic body proportions and Tenjou Tenge was not different. The majority of the female characters had "ultra large breasts" and the male characters are extraordinarily muscular, but this facilitated the characters' personalities to come through in their distinctive features. Overall, the Tenjou Tenge manga was well received having sold over 10.7 million copies and it's 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 was described as a significantly toned down version of the Japanese manga, but still retained most of the spirit of it's 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 was a close adaptation to the manga, critique of the plot was 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 was 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 was done in real time and was 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 dropped somewhat over time, but the action still looked better than the average fighting anime. Both the Japanese and English voice acting are considered to be good, but the English dub at times could be a little uneven. The English dub on occasion had poor dialogue which caused it to lose much of the anime's sincerity. Overall, the anime was considered to be above average, but suffered 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 was considered to be average. Most of the music did 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 are "well executed". For many, the highlight of the soundtrack was 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 the readers. These edits included the length and breadth of the book, censoring anything out that 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 asserted that it offered "pure manga — 100% the way that the original Japanese creators wanted you to see it." One of grievances made against CMX was that the edits are not only severe, but very noticeable. One review stated that it was "possibly the most heavily censored title in the history of the North American manga industry."
In response, the protesters boycotted the edited version and even started their own website up. Immediately following the controversy, Jake Tarbox, the group editor of CMX resigned from the company. "Tarbox was widely blamed by the fan community for the censoring of Tenjou Tenge, although the inside sources suggested 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.