Tenjo Tenge 6 (omnibus ed.)

July 5, 2012

Oh! great – Viz – 2012 – 22 volumes
this omnibus contains Japanese vols 11-12

Okay, so here’s where you have to start bearing with it, because things start to drift for a minute here. As much as I like the macho charisma thing this series has going for it, this is two volumes of the main characters fighting very powerful opponents, wondering if they can win, and pondering the nature of strength. As cool as the fight in volume 12 is (and it is very, very cool), it lasts the whole volume, and Masataka is much cooler when he doesn’t lose faith in himself and have to think about what makes him strong.

Granted, this is done as a reference to the flashback arc we just read. The metaphor is almost exactly the same as when Takayanagi the elder has to fight Shin and loses himself to fear. This fight also involves Bunshichi, who could sit and read the newspaper for an entire chapter and I’m sure it would still be entertaining. The effortless way he casually beats up the mecha-zombie that trounced the Juken Club is something to behold. But again, this casual fight goes on while he’s coaching Masataka not to repeat the past, and Masataka reflects on conversations he’s had on the topic, et cetera. Deep thoughts aren’t really the thing that Tenjho Tenge does best, but it’s still necessary, in this case, and I’m glad it was Masataka that had the crisis of faith moment.

A little earlier, we get to see the end of the fight with the Tsumuji heir, the entrance of a very dangerous man, and a fight with a girl named Madoka. The Tsumuji fight… hm. I almost want to say it ends how you would expect. There is, indeed, a victory for the good guys, and Tsumuji doesn’t kill Nagi. But once that happens, everything else sort of falls apart. Nagi’s mother shows up to contain his power. That doesn’t go well. Everyone has to visit the hospital, and Nagi is kidnapped by the aforementioned Bad Man.

This part sticks in my mind, and probably will forever, because of Nagi’s mother. She does the thing she does because she knows she has to, and sacrifices because of it. Waking up at the hospital and realizing what she lost, she gets another very terrible shock. She’s the one that makes this part hard to read. Tsumuji is gravely wounded, and Nagi is kidnapped, but Nagi’s mother. This is a pretty powerful scene.

With Nagi out of the picture, the fight with Madoka brings some focus back to Bob. He’s a bit frustrated at Maya’s insistence that he practice basics, and the executive council sees more potential in him still. Madoka is sent out as an F hitman to stop him before he figures out his full potential, but the fight only makes him realize just how awesome he is. He still doesn’t do very well, but for someone with no fancy powers and who hasn’t trained in a fancy dojo like Maya and Aya his entire life, he’s pretty fantastic in a fight. I can’t wait to see more of that.

And the fights are good, as always. Very good. But again, there’s an awful lot of sitting through philosophy of strength and destiny. Those are themes of the series, and we’ve been getting that all along, but it just feels particularly heavy-handed here.

The next volume or so will talk more about the Bad Man, and we’ll get another flashback. Unfortunately, said flashback is the worst part of the series, and I’m sorry for that. But I’ll gladly sit through it once again in order to read the Student Council Tournament again. Just know that’s waiting for you afterwards.

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