Tenjo Tenge 3 (omnibus ed.)
October 26, 2011
Oh! great – Viz – 2011 – 22 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols. 5-6
I know I’m breaking my own rules by covering material I’ve already covered. But Tenjo Tenge is so good, and I’m just so happy it’s getting a second chance in such a nice format.
It is still completely uncensored, which is obvious by the sex scene that starts off the volume, along with all the color images that are various stages of naughty. All of it is in there, though.
This is the meat of the flashback story arc, and this is a big part of what makes this series so good. As I said, I think it’s a lot better than most fighting manga. Instead of fighting for noble causes, or to perfect one’s self for some greater good, the characters simply fight because they admire strength, and there’s a kind of purity to that. All of them look up to someone, and in the past, we find out that the someone is Shin. But unfortunately, Shin is a carrier of a supernatural ability, the “Dragon Eyes,” and when he is using his ceremonial sword, he literally turns into a crazy psychopath that not even his friends or sister want to be around.
There’s also the dangerously close relationship between Maya and Shin. Oh! great is surprisingly low-key about this (given how unsubtle he is about most anything else), and much is implied between the two, but not shown. I did like that this was a terrible, dangerous thing, and that both Shin and Maya recognized the destructive behavior in each of themselves and tried to stop it. Maya is less dangerous than Shin, but Shin is in a better place by the end of the volume.
Two of the key characters in this flashback arc are Mitsuomi and Bunshichi. Both are true friends to Shin, but Shin… just can’t. He can’t seem to bring himself to treat them as such, but part of Shin’s behavior is explained away by the end of the volume. Mitsuomi is scared stiff after seeing Shin “vent” on a group of students, and that his fear stops him from being an effective fighter is a plot point throughout. Bunshichi, however, isn’t afraid, and it’s Bunshichi, an untrained fighter with no special powers, who is the only one that wants to face off against Shin to stop him.
Shin, Mitsuomi, and Bunshichi are all interesting characters, and the story takes its time to develop them quite well. It goes a little over-the-top with some self-destructive metaphors for Shin, but other than that, the slow and very deliberate character development in what is otherwise a brawling manga makes this very much one of my favorites. It’s hard not to like the three boys and Maya, and each volume only brings you into the fold that much more. And I also like how low-key the romances are in this series (again, which seems unlikely given how tasteless other aspects of the series are, but it’s true). One romance that seems overt winds up being a sham, and actually, the female character is shamming two of the males. One realizes it, and one doesn’t and gets his heart broken. There’s the subtle, but very intense relationship between Shin and Maya, and one that’s just getting started between Maya and Mitsuomi. Again, a lot of the romance seems to be based on admiration, and not actually on falling in love, which is something else I love about this series.
If you’ve read this far and still don’t like it, the series is probably not for you. But this is definitely some of the best storytelling the series has to offer, and this is what made me fall in love with it. Do give it a try, I promise it’s more than it seems.