Tenjo Tenge 5 (omnibus ed.)
April 3, 2012
Oh! great – Viz – 2012 – 22 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols 9-10
Ah, Tenjo Tenge. The great polarizer. It seems you either love this series or hate it, and admittedly, both sides have good reasons. But I love it, and I’m going to continue to savor these pre-timewarp volumes. Even this one, where something nasty happens to poor Enma.
But before that, we meet the last two members of the Juken Club. For real. Both of them are priceless. We’ve already got more warriors, macho and feminine, than we can handle, so the last two members are something special.
One of them is named Kurei. He is small, and does not fight. He’s really more on the intelligence and strategy side of things. The thing about Kurei is that he looks like an alien. He is drawn to look like an alien grey. The book can’t stop making jokes about this, and I don’t want it to, because they are always funny. This is my third time through Tenjo Tenge, and I’m still not tired of these Kurei jokes. He does bring something to the table, since he offers knowledge and gossip about opponents, but this always comes with a healthy joke along the lines of a crop circle appearing in his place, or something like that.
The other member is Kagesada Sugano. He and Maya are my hands-down favorite characters in the series. He’s the one that is referred to as “dirtbag” in the flashbacks, and was dragged into things simply as another member to pad out the Juken Club roster. In this book, his specialty is shielding himself behind a harem of tough ladies that fight for him. He’s a specialist at dirty tricks and fighting, something Nagi isn’t quite prepared for, but should be. Kagesada is hilarious, perhaps moreso than Kurei (his first scene is outright pornographic, even with the stupid joke that dodges the innuendo on the next page. I still love it). But Kagesada is also a great fighter, and he gets one of the best fights in the series later on.
The first volume here is a lot of training for Nagi and Aya, which is important in its way, and also introduces all but two of the old generals of the Takayanagi family (one is a notable exception, the other missing member is a Natsume). We also learn of some of the power dynamics of what’s going on, and about the F faction. All of this is important, but the second half contains the more interesting story.
Here we see the old and new Takayanagi ways in action, those that follow elder Dogen Takayanagi versus those who follow Mitsuomi Takayanagi. There’s a very powerful secret attack sealed at the Enmi temple, and the new Takayanagi followers want it. The temple is razed to the ground, and the heir seeks out Aya Natsume for help rescuing the head priestess, Enmi, who was taken prisoner in order to learn where the scroll was. The Enmi temple is one of the red feather/mystical branch families of the Takayanagi, and they specialize in terrifying illusions that confuse the opponent.
The meat of this fight is between Tsumuji and his father. Both are masters of the spear, but they have had a falling out and… family troubles, to put it lightly. Tsumuji augments his spear powers with robotic arms, and none of the fighters can get anywhere close to him due to all the spears and arms. They find a way, and defeat him, only to realize he has a red feather “magic” power too, and things get ugly when a group of red feather magic users get together.
Again, I’ve talked about this before, so I don’t want to get into much more depth. But I still love this series, and I still think the mix of good-looking art, well-drawn action, and increasingly cosmic motivation is a fantastic combination. I’m still quite pleased with the new Viz omnibus treatment, all the color pages and the fresh translation and whatnot, and couldn’t be happier that this is getting a second chance at life in English. I hope it’s finding its audience.