Tenjho Tenge
Volume 1 - Round One

Starring (voice): Aya Hisakawa, Minori Chihara, Shinichiro Miki, Souichiro Hoshi and Tomokazu Seki
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 08 May 2006

It's another academic year at the Toudou academy and Souchirou Nagi and Bob Makihara, two juvenile delinquents who spend their time taking over school, start their new campaign of violence in order to be the top dogs. But things do not go to plan when they come up against the members of the Juuken martial arts club...

So another teen fight comedy that stays just this side of Hentai. To be honest I wasn't expecting much from this genre given how naff Battle Vixens was. Luckily, Tenjho Tenge spends more time on the story and less on school girl panties. The animation is good and in some places great, though the character designs give away the fact that this has been produced by Studio Madhouse, the character of Souchirou looks a little too much like Vash from another of their shows Trigun.

The sisters, Maya and Aya Natsume, form a double act. Maya is the older wiser sister who has the unnerving habit of turning from a Yoda like midget to an over buxom fighting hellcat. Aya, plays the kooky light weight. When Aya falls in love with Souchirou, it at first seems odd until you discover that if a woman in her family exposes herself to a man then she has to marry him. An accidental fall through the girls shower room roof seals Souchirou's fate and brings much comic relief to the show as he initially attempts to avoid Aya's attentions.

Episode one, Sanctuary, introduces us to the characters. Not much really happens in this episode as its main task is to introduce the characters, their context and get the ball rolling on the story. My first impressions of the show were not great from this story, especially when Maya turns from Yoda to a 38DD girl for no real reason, except that she can. The show was not a total disappointment, for one there was a character called Bob; Bob is so much easier to spell than some of the Japanese characters.

So on to episode two, Defeat, and thankfully there is less cleavage and more story on show this time. Masataka Takayanagi, friend of the girls and member of the Juuken, and Souchirou are beating the living days out of each other. Rather than reduce the show to displays of mindless violence we actually start to find out just why Souchirou and Bob go around picking fights. Picked on and abused by local thugs and abandoned by his mother, as a child, Souchirou has a pathological hatred of loosing. Bob... well he's just Bob and he likes to hit people. Takes all sorts I guess. Souchirou and Bob discover that the school has a darker side. The Student Executive Council is on the boys' case, in order to punish freshmen the Council employs executioners.

The third and final episode on the DVD, Executioner, opens with Bob's bike being firebombed as a first strike by the Council. The boys catch up with Ryuzaki, the executioner. With the boys seriously outmatched Aya rides out to help them, arriving too late she attacks Ryuzaki only to be humiliated. He warns the Juuken that the Council have decided that the boys should go from the school and no limits have been placed on the punishment required. Bob and Souchirou decide to join the Juuken in order to become stronger.

Some note must be made of the opening title sequence, Madhouse do these very well. The grungy feel of Trigun has given way to a particularly good heavy bass dance track, called Bomb a Head! V by m.c.A.T, with some great animation. Unfortunately, the level of animation does not match that of the show, but hey it's a TV program, so what are you going to expect. The closing title song is a bit pants (no pun intended), but hey that's what the fast forward button is for.

The extras are almost non-existent - though the textless opening sequence is worth playing over again. Audio is Japanese or English stereo.

So a show that turn out to be much better than the usual panties and fights fare. If you can put up with the very infrequent gratuitous sexual act then this looks to be a show well worth adding to your anime collection.

Charles Packer

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