Tenjo Tenge
(Heaven & Earth)
Mangaka: Ou Gureito (Oh!Great)
Publisher: Shueisha
Status: 7 volumes released and still running in the montly Ultra-Jump.

reviewed by: Joy
date of review: 24th February 2002

The Basics
Tenjo Tenge is drawn by the mangaka Ou Gureito (aka Oh!Great), and runs in the monthly comics magazine Ultra-Jump. Due to its hard-core shounen series nature, it contains mostly of fighting, spontaneous nudity, and somewhat explicit sex scenes. It could vaguely be considered hentai, but not quite.

The plot centers around Toudou Gakuen, a high school famous for its various martial art clubs and the powerful executive committee responsible for maintaining order in the campus. The school itself is the battleground where each club constantly compete with the others to eliminate the weaker one(s).

Story and Characters
On the first day of school, Nagi Souichirou and his partner Makihara Bob attack the high school senior's classroom as their first step to taking over Toudou Gakuen. However, their plans are put to a stop by the apperance of a short but extremely powerful elementary-looking girl. Introducing herself as Natsume Aya, the girl transforms into a stunning beauty (popping out of her school uniform due to this sudden change in body size) and overpowers Souichirou. As if that's not enough, Maya's attack sends Souichirou flying...right into the school shower room! Souichirou lands on Maya's younger sister Aya, who immediately falls in love with him. And so, Souichirou and Bob begin their not-so peaceful school life in a mist of confusion.

Unfortunately for them, the school's executive committee will not stand quiet to this unlawful disruption of peace. Mistaking the two men as in the same forces as the Juukenbu (the club where Maya is a captain of, and which openly defies the committee's rule), the committee issues a "unrestricted" sanction against them and sends 2nd year Ryuuzaki Tsutomu to carry out the task. Tsutomu easily teaches Souichirou and Bob what it means to really lose, and as a result the two now recognize the fact that they are weak. To become stronger so they can avenge their defeat, the two join the Juukenbu, forming what would eventually be the most powerful team ever.

As a part of their training program, Souichirou, Bob, and 2nd year Takayanagi Masataka go to stay at the Natsume household during the school break. Maya discovers Souichirou's hidden strength and decides to help him bring it to its full potential. Meanwhile, Aya isn't so amused, worrying that there may be more going on between her sister and Souichirou than they both care to tell her. One night when the team is at a bowling club, disaster strikes. The executive committee sends out some 200 men to ambush the five Juukenbu members. While Matsutaka is able to keep most of the men occupied, misunderstanding and jealousy form a rip between the Natsume sisters and they split up. The committee elites confront the separated sisters and battles begin.

Unknownst to them all, this is only a small part of what's to come...

Nagi Souichirou - Hero of the story. 1st year student and a delinquent before becoming a Juukenbu member. He and Bob complete the "Knuckle Bomu" technique together. He's also cursed(?) with the Magabarai Tribe's blood. Souichirou loves Maya, who doesn't know (nor return) his feelings.
Makihara Bob - 1st year student and a delinquent before becoming a Juukenbu member. Souichirou's partner. Bob is black and a second generation Japanese. He has a girlfriend who doesn't attend Toudou Gakuen.
Natsume Aya - Heroine of the story. 1st year student and a Juukenbu member. Maya's younger sister. After her brother's death, Aya becomes the only person capable of using the Ryugan (Dragon-Eye) power. [The Ryugan enables its owner to forsee all things past and future]. It was love at first sight when Souichirou falls on her (literally) in the school shower-room.
Natsume Maya - 3rd year student and the Juukenbu captain. Leader of the Anti-Executive Committee group. Aya's older sister. Has deep feelings(?) for her older brother Shin. Because she has no special powers which could drive her mad (unlike Aya and Shin do), she becomes the successor of the Natsume School of Martial Arts. She used to be Mitsuomi's girlfriend, and although they had broken up, she still has feelings for him.
Natsume Shin - Deceased. He was both Toudou Gakuen Executive Committee's main chief and the leader of the motorbike team Chi-KATANA. He was Maya and Aya's older brother, Bunshichi's best friend, and Mitsuomi's object of admiration. He harbored deep feelings(?) for Maya due to a certain incident in his childhood, and was over-protective of her. Wielder of the demonic Japanese sword Chokutou Reiki and owner of the Dragon-Eye. Died in a battle against Mitsuomi 2 years ago.
Takayanagi Mitsuomi - 3rd year student. Toudou Gakuen Executive Committee's main chief and the campus' strongest man. Ex-member of Chi-KATANA. He's also Masataka's older brother and Maya's ex-boyfriend. He supposedly "killed" Natsume Shin during a combat 2 years ago, thus ending his relationship with Maya. However, he is still very much in love with Maya.
Takayanagi Masataka - 2nd year student and a Juukenbu member. Mitsuomi's younger brother. Due to his family background, he starts learning hand-to-hand martial arts since he was very young. Due to reasons unknown, there seems to be a gap between him and Mitsuomi. Masataka is really popular among the female students, but he doesn't seem to notice any of them. Instead, he falls in love with Aya on first sight, and although he already knows Aya's interested in Souichirou, he is still trying to win her affections. The "comic-relief" in the series. ^_^;;
Isuzu Emi - 3rd year student. Toudou Gakuen Executive Committee's vice-chief. She is in love with Mitsuomi, and considers Maya her eternal rival. Has some as-of-yet unknown relationship to Mana
Kuzunoha Mana - Deceased. 2 years ago, she plays the role of "Shin's girlfriend" under the Takayanagi Family's instructions. While she has slept with Mitsuomi on several occasions, her heart truly goes to Shin. She's also jealous of Shin's affections for Maya. Possibly the only person who can "restrain" Shin, she also cares for his welfare.
Tawara Bunshichi - He's 20 years old but is still a 3rd year student due to repeating his grade thrice. Toudou Gakuen Executive Committee's adviser. He may not look it now, but 2 years ago he was Chi-KATANA's second-leader and the strongest man in Toudou Gakuen. He was Shin's best friend.

The Review
The artwork is stunning. More so once you get past volume 3. When I first read Tenjo Tenge, I didn't pay much attention to the plot because the art was so gorgeous it was all I could look at. Aside from the woman all having impossiblly sized breasts and the man all looking like they go the gym 24 hours a day, there's a smooth feel to the figures that make them appear well-rounded and life-like. There's no rigidity here, nope. It also doesn't hurt that most of the cast are very pretty and handsome. ^O^ Speaking of which... It's also because of the fact that the mangaka is not afraid to disfigure his characters that I adore his artwork style. Good looking or not, when one of his characters goes berserk, the character truly GOES BERSERK, in *all* manners of speaking.

However, I'll admit the various explicit sex and nudity scenes were very disturbing (even now), because while I don't mind them in general principle, these scenes do not always fit with the flow of the story. Sometimes you'll be in the middle of a battle scene, and BANG! the mangaka slaps 2-3 pages worth of sex right in your face. It's enough to make anyone go "now where did THIS come from?" And, while the parts with Mitsuomi and Mana are there for very good reasons (to push the plot forward), Bob's girlfriend seems to only exist in the manga so Bob and her intimate plays can be of "fan-service."

So what about the plot? This is a shonen fighting manga, so it only needs to do one thing - provide the openings for more battle scenes. Still, it appears that there IS going to be a well-developed plot after all (I suspect that the mangaka originally hadn't plan for such a long serialization, and so later had to spend more time creating a working plot). Somewhere near the end of volume 4, the story moves into the Past Arc, covering the events which happened 2 years prior to present time. Here you get to look at characters such as Shin, Mana, and younger versions of Maya, Mitsuomi, and Bunshichi. It is my own (biased?) opinion that the Past Arc chapters [chapter 25 (end of volume 4) through chapter 46 (beginning of what's to be volume 8)] make the best chapters in Tenjo Tenge. They have a good supply of plot and character developments, not to mention the past reveals all the hidden secrets and conspiracies that make up the Toudou Gakuen and lead to the present. I would buy Tenjo Tenge for these chapters and these chapters alone.

Tenjo Tenge would be a great choice for people who love the shounen genre manga where fighting, nudity, and more fighting are to the extreme. Mind you, this is NOT your typical Shounen Jump series, for it comes with a more than healthy dose of violence (both physical *and* sexual) And although there are some complicated love relationships, they are not what one would expect to see in a shoujo series either. I personally love this series to bits, but I only recommend it to the people who can take the whole series as it as, obscenity and extremes included.

Ultra Jump's Oh!Great page: Contains short synopsis and cover images of each Tenjo Tenge manga volume.

Volume 1: ISBN 4-08-875656-8, published 1998/05/19 (505 yen)
Volume 2: ISBN 4-08-875741-6, published 1998/12/11 (505 yen)
Volume 3: ISBN 4-08-875808-0, published 1999/07/19 (505 yen)
Volume 4: ISBN 4-08-875886-2, published 2000/02/18 (505 yen)
Volume 5: ISBN 4-08-876097-2, published 2000/11/17 (505 yen)
Volume 6: ISBN 4-08-876174-X, published 2001/06/19 (505 yen)
Volume 7: ISBN 4-08-876253-3, published 2001/12/10 (505 yen)

The series is still running in the monthly Ultra Jump, and since the manga volumes average about 6-7 chapters each, approximately two volumes are published every year. Volume 8 should be due for release sometime in June or July of 2002.

Translations: As far as I know, currently no public online translations of Tenjo Tenge exists. However, Katherine had started to translate volume 1 (and completed one chapter at least). I'll be translating the rest of the series starting March, but I make no guarantees for the speed of this translation project. =P

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