Tenjo Tenge 4
December 15, 2011
Oh! great – Viz – 2011 – 22 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols. 7-8
Oh, Shin Natsume. This omnibus contains Shin’s self-destruction, as well as the event that led to Mitsuomi becoming who he is today. And in a more fun turn of events, we also get to see part of one of the school tournaments, the ones that decide the new Student Council. The outcome should be fairly obvious, given the fact that Mitsuomi is the current president, but… the fact that him being president meant that things in the past had to go down as they did wasn’t something I had connected. Also, this early tournament isn’t nearly as fun as the one that comes up at the end of the series (mostly because Sugano’s fight in volume 17 is so fantastic), but it’s still pretty great to see the Juken Club handing defeats out to so many tough customers. And it’s fun to see Mitsuomi and Maya enjoying themselves, too.
If you’re tired of the flashback, don’t worry, because it ends at the beginning of volume eight. It was hard for me to get my bearings in the present again, simply because I had grown so attached to the characters in the flashback story. But a for-real duel between Aya and Maya brings things back in order pretty quickly, and the special training for the next big Student Council brawl starts after that. Nagi’s training in particular is something to look forward to, because his “full potential” hasn’t actually come up yet. That’s a story for the next volume, though.
There are two scenes in particular that are just… the best. One is a scene from the flashback where Mitsuomi shows up at the Natsume residence to beg Maya to let him help her keep Shin under control. As she considers taking Misuomi’s help, Shin appears behind Mitsuomi with a sword. Mitsuomi can’t see him. And Maya knows that she can’t get anyone else’s help without Shin killing them for taking her away from him. Oh! great lays the scene out perfectly. It’s very powerful. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.
The second scene is the whole, lengthy swordfight between the Natsume sisters. It takes turns being sad, happy, looking like a serious fight and just exercise, and even who is winning when. And again, Oh! great has a talent for laying out action scenes and emotional moments to give them the biggest impact… not to mention that both combatants this time are beautiful women, which is something he clearly loves to illustrate. But this, too is a very moving scene. It won out over Shin’s last fight as my favorite in this book, and Shin’s last fight was also pretty great.
Trying to explain this, it is difficult to get across that it’s more than just a fighting manga. Yes, they brawl a lot, and most of what they do here is preparation for or fights in the school tournament. But the flashback fights in particular are packed with character history, and it’s hard not to appreciate both fights between Shin and Mitsuomi as exactly what they are – a friend trying to stop another friend from turning into a violent monster. And Mitsuomi loses the last fight, in more ways than one (again, not a spoiler, since we know the status of both Shin and Mitsuomi in the present).
One thing that still doesn’t quite make sense to me… Mitsuomi’s power is just puzzling. Why did a punch from Shin make him the perfect warrior in short bursts? That’s slightly outside the realms of believability for this series. Then again, we see two of the fights with Fu Chien here, and he only gets more ridiculous every time he comes back for more, so what can I say?
It’s really, really worth checking out, though. If you enjoy fighting manga, this puts a lot of story behind all its brawls, and it’s hard not to like all the characters by this point in the series. Oh! great has a knack for being able to pack a lot of emotion into his story and really wrings all he can from the turning points in the plot. Plus, he’s a really, really great artist. I reviewed this content twice because I really, really think it’s worth picking up. Don’t miss the second chance, it’s got an especially nice package this time around!