NOTICE: This review covers both the series, the extra OVAs, as well as the manga version, which I needed to include as means to prove what A FAKIN PIECE OF SHIT this show is.
- Animated by studio Madhouse, the king of animated series. This is definitely one of their lesser works though.
- Directed by some nobody who never did something good, so moving along…
- Based on the manga by Oogure Ito, the guy who also made Air Gear. Well, he is not someone big but he has a big fanbased of shonentards to consider himself successful up to a point.
SCRIPT & CAST
Tenjho Tenge was one of the first fighting series I watched after I became a hardcore viewer and I must say I was thrilled with it at first. The story looked very promising, there was a lot of brutal fighting as well as fan service, and the characters had a crazy side to them, turning the whole show to a very dark and erotic psychological thriller at times. Being still fresh out of my teens and not that fond of fighting shonens with their over-idealistic characters and lack of brutal action, I was quickly attracted to its raw nature. “Hey this is a hardcore fighting series for a change” is what I was saying.
Why wouldn’t the initial episodes be amazing? You have these two delinquents busting into their new school and threatening to be the top badasses, beating the crap out of everyone who disagrees. One of them is a black guy simply called Bob, with Rasta hair and a super hot babe to score with every night (if you happen to read the manga). The other guy is… Oh who cares about him; he is the typical shonen blockhead; let’s just focus on Bob and his super hot chick. So, on the first episode alone they create havoc in their school and they get to meet some chick who transforms to a loli as means to save power. And a nice ecchi bath scene. And sculls busting, teeth falling, noses needing a surgeon. And some shady super powerful man who can kill an ox with a punch standing in their way to the top. Yeah baby; this is the stuff of brilliance!
And then… well… something went wrong. After a few episodes the story moves to a long flashback arc as means to explain the backdrop stories of everybody BESIDES Bob and that other guy I don’t care about. Hey, what kind of a switch of focus is this? Anyways, I was willing to accept it since it offered a nice immersion to the adversaries and the hot super chick turning loli. It was nice to see them getting fleshed out and offering the setting some nice background. The amount of comedy and violence though was lowered significantly and turned to a mostly social drama with overblown dramatization, which is far from the initial feeling of the show. And no Bob scoring with his chick either, so no fun.
And then the final episodes arrive and the flashback is over. Back to the present where the duo gets ready to take on the big badass ox-killer. And since he is now fleshed out more THAN THE LEAD DUO he is even more interesting to see how he deals with Bob and that other guy I don’t care about. So here I am getting ready to see an amazing non-stop battle for two episodes in a row… I get nothing… and it ends… WTF!!!
Seriously, it was just another case of an incomplete manga adaptation and it even stopped in the most inconvenient point. I was so hyped, I rushed to read the manga from the start (in case they changed something). Well, apart from censoring a lot of sex and brutal violence the story was identical up to the point the series ended. After that, the story continues with that blunt blondy I don’t care about training with a bunch of weird martial arts masters as means to learn some super technique to beat the GAR villain. WTH, Bob turned to a stunt and the story now turned to a Naruto training arc??? Hardly any fun with the action and the violence and the fan service all being dull. To hell with this crap…
So the animators decided to continue with the story after the training arc is over and the two of them enter a fighting tournament where the main bad guy takes part in too. FACEPALM they used to play dirty and there was yakuza organizations doing all sorts of illegal activities and now THEY PLAY BY THE RULES??? This is going against the very thing I loved in the show; no tournaments, no laws, no fair play, lots of ecchi and brutal beating. And now they have a referee telling them how to play??? FU!
The second season was also a complete waste of time as it was not a series but just two OVAs that skip most of the training and make no sense as they feel completely rushed and vague. And again end as the match begins! WTH, this is totally infuriating!
So I keep following the manga afterwards as means to see the final battle there. AND I AGAIN GET SHIT! The story is again going into another flashback arc, this time going centuries back to the feudal era and showing the creation of the illegal organization and the roots of the weird superpowers everybody is using. Although that again offered even more immersion and fleshing out to the setting, it completely left aside its main attractions; Bob and the ox-killer; and went ahead at introducing lots of people doing lots of overblown drama things, that by the time of the shows’ present are either dead or old grampas nobody cares about.
And that was the last straw; I dropped the series entirely. You stupid mangaka, you don’t flesh out the setting by completely forgetting its main characters for a hundred chapters. You offer it piece by piece and not all at once. I was in for Bob and the GAR villain and not for the stupid explanations of how Japan was isolated from the rest of the world 400 years ago. I DON’T CARE ABOUT THAT; I WANT TO SEE BRAWLING!!! And so does everybody else who begins this series. If we wanted a history lesson, we would be watching History Channel. And if we wanted good samurai drama, we would definitely not look it in a show which begins with school delinquents smacking people in modern Japan. SO WHY ARE YOU BETRAYING YOUR OWN FANS LIKE THIS???
The show lacks direction and consistency. It begins as something and abruptly changes to something else, then returns to the first idea and then switches back to the other. This is not only confusing, it is also like going out of character, off topic, and into the recycle bin. BAD! BAD DIRECTING!
Bottom line, the show is very exciting for a few episodes with the brutal fighting and the ecchi but then the mangaka doesn’t know how to develop his original idea and trashes the premise with long and boring flashbacks, instead of offering them bit by bit as the story moves on and the characters are not neglected in favor of infodump. The production values are ok for such a show BTW, I have nothing against them other than censoring all the juicy parts of the manga and not being SUPER AWESOME in terms of detail and animation. And Bob is such a cool dude to look at. Too bad the mangaka is a racist and dumped him so he can focus on that other blockhead blondy, who is a Naruto look-alike. SCREW YOU!
So no, I do not recommend this anime. It will give you a candy and then it will punch you in the guts and pull it out of your mouth before giving you a boring history book and demanding from you to read it. TO HELL WITH IT!
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 6/10
General Artwork 2/2 (very good for its time)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 1/2 (typical modern Japan stuff)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 2/10
Premise 1/2 (simple)
Pacing 0/2 (random time skips and flashbacks)
Complexity 1/2 (many stuff happen but most are eventually useless)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 0/2 (doesn’t have one)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 2/2 (cool/sexy)
Personality 1/2 (basic macho stuff)
Backdrop 2/2 (everybody has a story to tell)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 0/2 (incomplete story, so it doesn’t exist)
VALUE SECTION: 3/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too many random plot switches)
Memorability 2/4 (Bob and the ox-killer are great, the rest are meh)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Art 0/1 (looks typical)
Sound 1/2 (cool song)
Story 0/3 (bad directing of a simple story gone haywire)
Characters 2/4 (Bob and the ox-killer are great, the rest are meh)