Manga: Tenjho Tenge

Souichiro Nagi and his half-Brazilian friend Bob Makihara are a pair of street smart Delinquents itching to prove that they, with their superior martial arts skills, are the toughest new kids in town when they transfer to their new school, Toudou Academy, from the very first day alone. Unfortunately for them, Toudou is no ordinary high school — it is a school founded on the principles of teaching and integrating various martial disciplines, meaning every single student can kick ass, physically and supernaturally... and Souichiro and Bob are but small fry in a fish tank full of sharks.

Then there's the Executive Council, which dislikes any independent martial artists. After they were schooled as to how powerful Toudou's students are, Souichiro and Bob, through a series of odd happenings, wind up joining the only viable opposition, the Juken Club. Among its members are Maya Natsume, the voluptuous functioning leader who can turn into a childlike form to conserve her ki and harboring a long-standing feud with her ex-lover and Student Council President, Mitsuomi Takayanagi; her younger sister Aya, who forged an Arranged Marriage with Souichiro after seeing her in the showers (which led to his and Bob's admission to their club); and Masataka Takayanagi, Mitsuomi's rebellious younger brother.

As the battle between both groups rage on, however, it is slowly revealed that their feud goes a long way back to Sengoku Japan, when the characters' ancestors waged a blood feud left unresolved until the present.

Tenjho Tenge ("Heaven and Earth") is a 1998-2010 manga series created by Oh! Great and published by Shuueisha under the "Ultra Jump" label, with a 2004 anime adaptation by Toshifumi Kawase and Madhouse, as well as two OVAs in 2005 and 2006.

Its American release by CMX, was rather notorious for severely toning down the fanservice (with Oh! great's permission, which was poorly conveyed to the audience) to make it suitable for a "T" rating rather than the "M" it would otherwise get. Indeed, the series was advertised as "Pure Manga—100% the way the original Japanese creators want you to see it." Many fans were dismayed, especially those who had bought the first volume specifically to see the naked women Oh! Great's manga creations are noted for. After CMX ceased publishing, Viz rescued the manga's overseas license and put it under its Signature Line, with noticeably less censoring.

The anime adaptation was licensed for a US release by Geneon, though the company eventually went under and the DVD release went out of print. Discotek Media rescued the show and released a DVD set in May 2014.

A Character Sheet is available for this series.

Tropes associated with Tenjou Tenge include:

  • Aborted Arc: Some readers felt that Tenjho Tenge was wrapped up so quickly after the last flashback arcs because Oh!Great wanted to focus more on Air Gear.
  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: The members of the Executive Council have the authority to kill people who they think are causing problems in the school.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade
  • All Love Is Unrequited: When it comes to Seinen shows this is probably one of the best examples of this, it seems to be that the only exceptions are Bob and Chiaki. (However, Bob gets less screentime over the course of the series and Chiaki was fairly minor to begin with.)
  • Aloof Big Brother: Mitsuomi towards Masataka. The Natsumes are a partial subversion; while Maya may seem aloof towards Aya it is clear that she does look out for her, whereas Shin was almost too attached to Maya.
  • An Arm and a Leg
  • Antiquated Linguistics: All of Maya's lines.
  • Arc Welding
  • Art Evolution: The art was excellent to begin with, but Oh! Great has unmistakeably improved. Compare this to this.
  • Author Appeal: Fighting, big breasts, and possibly bondage, depending on how you look at it.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Enforcers, and how. The President of the group is officially acknowledged as the strongest fighter in the school. Just look at Mitsuomi's transformation from freshman to top dog: freshman; topdog.
    • This is to be expected, considering that the new student council is determined by a school-wide tournament, with the winning group becoming the council. The first rounds of the tournament are essentially a large chaos match where opposing groups can attack one another any time and anywhere, with only the order in which they face one another being determined by the tournament. It becomes a more conventionally organized tournament in the final rounds, but throughout the entire thing, it's acceptable to use real weapons, potentially lethal moves and a variety of tactics that can easily be lead to the death of the participants. Naturally anyone who makes it out on top of this is undoubtedly one of the baddest of the badasses in the entire school.
  • Author Filibuster: During the last chapter the monologues can become a little too heavy.
  • Babies Ever After: Bob and Chiaki have the most adorable child ever.
  • Bad Ass: So many different examples. Standing out is Mitsuomi, who seems to be a homage to Fist of the North Star.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Subverted.
  • Becoming the Mask: Mana, transitioning from fake girlfriend to the real thing.
  • Biggus Dickus: Bob. "Show me your power." "ORAAA!" * drops trousers* * everyone flees*
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Mitsuomi sports these.
  • Bi the Way: The infamous Aya X Chiaki scene.
  • Black Best Friend
  • Black Comedy Rape
  • Black and Gray Morality: While the truly villainous characters are fairly easy to spot, the good guys aren't squeaky clean either.
  • Bleached Underpants: Actually not very bleached at all.
  • Book Ends: The last chapter of the series echoes many, many scenes from the first chapter, including the first battle between Souichiro and Masataka, all the way down to the return of the original hairstyles and looks for many of the characters.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Part of the reason for Shin's madness, though no incest actually occurred between them.
  • Bruce Lee Clone: Inosanto Dan.
    • Who is also a Shout-Out to Eskrima master Dan Inosanto, a real life pupil and friend of Bruce Lee's. He even appears in Game of Death.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Bob is a nearly seven foot tall black man - but he's still half-Japanese. (Despite this, he is still called 'foreigner' by pretty much everyone.)
  • Covers Always Lie: One could think Masataka Takayanagi is The Protagonist by just looking at the manga covers and comparing them; 1) Because he is one of the few male characters to feature on the covers, girls are more prominent, 2) He has two solo coversnote , while the de facto protagonist, Soichiro Nagi, has just one solo cover note . Also the cover page for Chapter 130 has Masataka laying down with Aya and Maya for no real reason besides a visual metaphor, while it is Nagi whom both sisters are more "friendly" with.
  • Crash-Into Hello: After being knocked out of a third-story window and falling through a roof, no less.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Masataka Takayanagi.
  • Dance Battler: Bob.
  • Dancing Theme: "Bomb A Head!" by m.C.A.T., though mostly Bob and Aya getting down. Check it out.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique
  • Decoy Protagonist: Soichiro Nagi is this, to a certain extent. He's set up to be the grand hero, but in the last five or so volumes, he isn't as involved in the more important conflicts like Masataka is, and in the end, (not that it's his fault) he's gone from being the protagonist to being the antagonist, leaving Masataka and Maya in the sort of "central protagonist" spot.
  • Demoted to Extra: Takayanagi was initially relegated to this fate, but he's soon back in the spotlight during his battle with Mitsuomi, which he won handily despite the collapse of the building around them. From then on, he remains important, as he is the one that has to battle Souichiro at the end of the series and buy enough time for the Natsume sisters to help Souichiro destroy the Susano'o power.
    • His battle with Fu Chien was a pretty big spotlight moment, too.
    • And let's not forget Nagi, who seems to have steadily drifted out of focus as the primary protagonist since the first flashback arc up until the beginning of the tournament where he became the Big Bad, sorta, and even then he spent several chapters before the finale wandering around off screen. Of course, no one even comes close to the demotion suffered by Bob Makihara, who went from being a secondary protagonist to being a relatively low-level (if very likable) supporting character.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: For such a dark series, it's a pleasant surprise that they do!
  • Ecchi: and beyond.
  • Erotic Eating: Typically Turned Up to Eleven in ch. 56.
  • Expy: Several of the characters in Tenjho Tenge can be considered a blueprint for characters in Oh!Great's other manga series Air Gear. For example:
  • Eyepatch of Power: Nagi's mother.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: At least on a manga cover.
  • Gag Boobs: Most of the female cast, especially in the case of the two Natsume sisters. One of Sohaku's minions Lampshades this in comedic fashion, transforming into Aya and mockingly throwing around her large breasts, asking "How do you even fight with these?"
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot/Les Yay: This, like other examples of jiggle shows in anime does have its share of potential Les Yay. The biggest example is the fairly infamous scene with Aya and Chiaki early in the series, with slightly different ways of Chiaki seducing Aya but Aya ending up getting away. In the Anime they were both wearing towels covering their naughty bits and Chiaki is trying to seduce her. In the Manga they were both seen nude and while Chiaki is just seducing Aya it really looks like they are having sex. Both of them ended in the same way though; Aya using her powers to get away and both of them apologizing over how that happened.
    • Unfortunately, the above scene comes closely after Chiaki's assault (outright rape in the manga) by Ryuzaki.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Aya Natsume certainly feels this way towards Maya over Souichiro. Granted, it seems fairly onesided as we don't yet know what Maya feels towards Souichiro, but given the latter's admission that he loves her, one could argue that Aya has good reason to feel like this. It doesn't help that within the school she's usually just referred to as "Maya-chan's little sister."
  • Groin Attack: There is one body part that a man, even one who can beat up 80 other guys without breaking a sweat, can never make stronger, apparently (poor Masataka...).
  • Guilty Pleasure: Oh yes...
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Played with. While some characters are simply Bad Ass by nature and never have to study or train - Bunshichi, for instance - and others are born with amazing powers that give them an advantage in combat - like Aya, say - other characters are just more or less ordinary human beings who train constantly. Masataka especially averts this, beating a character who is only a few steps away from physical godhood with no special powers other than the ones he's earned through a lifetime of grueling effort. His brother is the same. Honorable mention to Kusagano who also managed to take down gifted martial artists despite being known as a Non-Action Guy - he trained himself like mad for three years to do it.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Maya makes one for Souichiro.
    • Makiko makes two, though the latter is more permanent.
  • Hypocrite: Sohaku, Makiko, Maya... one of the themes of the setting is how much of a hypocrite most characters are and what consequences this had in the people around them.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In Episode 1 of the anime, Aya keeps trying to make Souichirou eat her homemade bento. She finds him on the roof with Bob...
    Aya (English ver.): Oh, I get it: You wanted to come here so you could eat in peace. (Leaps over the fence.)
    • This particular humour is lacking in the Japanese version; Aya only comments that one can eat a leisurely lunch on the roof.
  • Infodump: One third of Tenjho Tenge. The other two thirds: violence and weird sex.
  • Jerk Ass: Many characters can come across this way at times. Special mention must go to both Souichiro Nagi and Mitsuomi Takayanagi.
    • They both become full-blown Jerks With a Heart of Gold by the end (in Souichiro's case, after he manages to get rid of Sohaku possessing him).
  • Jiggle Show: This is pretty much one of the reasons why fans deem this as a "Sister Series" to Ikki Tousen.
  • Kudzu Plot: Not really, but it can take a dozen readings and a couple of crazy pills to catch half of the plots in the series... probably.
  • Lady of War: Nagi's mother.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Fights with no rules of engagement are the norm in this series, but Saga Mask grants a concession when Nagi yells "Rope!" with no rope anywhere around, betraying that he is actually rather noble and not brutal like he claims to be.
  • Logical Weakness: Saga Mask (correctly) points out that no matter how strong you are, the human body is simply not designed to strengthen its joints. This is only an issue if say, you're fighting some with an encyclopedic knowledge of wrestling moves.
  • Long Runner: The manga started in 1997, and took thirteen years to finish.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Sohaku.
  • Mistaken for Gay: See Not What It Looks Like. Thankfully, it's all cleared up in the next page.
  • My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours
  • Ms. Fanservice: Most of them, but Chiaki in particular.
  • Naked First Impression: Combined with a form of Accidental Marriage.
  • Necromancer: Sohaku, and later, Souichiro.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Souichiro Nagi receives one when he attempted to play Combat Pragmatist with Masataka Takayanagi, an actual superpowered martial artist.
    • Done again by Shin to his friends (according to paramedics, the girl had her face so mutilated he nearly vomited), Bushinshi to Shin in the Manga (taking him down with only one hit) and Nagi Vs Kabane.
  • Not What It Looks Like: What would you have thought if you walked in a room and found this?
  • Oblivious to Love: Poor Masataka. Aya just doesn't see anyone but Souichiro. She later admits, when he confesses his feelings to her, that she would LIKE Masataka that way if it wasn't for the fact that she just noticed Souichiro first.
  • Ojou Ringlets: Emi Isuzu has these.
  • Orochi: Though not explicitly stated, Souichiro's Mega Manning of the powers of the other Red Feather families (also called Dragons) has caused him to fall victim to With Great Power Comes Great Insanity/Superpowered Evil Side. Most recently, when he uses his powers he even LOOKS like he has snake/dragon heads sprouting out of his body. The translation refers to him as 'Snake God' at one point. Add to that the references to Amaterasu, Tsukiyomi, and Susanoo, and we would have the complete set of references to Shinto mythology.
    • In volume 14, Tetsuhito relates a tale about the Takayanagi clan's origins that is presented as the historical event that inspired the myth of Susanoo's slaying of Orochi.
  • Panty Shot
  • Pigeonholed Voice Actor: In the anime.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Used a lot.
  • Physical God: Souichiro as the Ultimate Warrior/Susano'o.
  • Rape as Drama
  • Really 700 Years Old: Sohaku's special power allows him to prevent the onset of age in himself and others and additionally allows him to transfer his consciousness from one body to another via eye transplants. This results in Sohaku being considered effectively immortal and it is estimated that he could be thousands of years old.
  • School Of Hard Knocks
  • Sex Face Turn: Mana
  • Shout-Out: At one point during his Training from Hell, Souichiro starts going Super Saiyan. Then his teachers tell him to cut it out.
    • Souichiro asking how Masataka hit him with a "Ka-XX-ha-me-ha" in the first few chapters.
    • All the "heroes" seen in Sugano/Asshat's mental image of a heroic punch, including what appeared to be Superman in a ninja mask and Super Saiayjin Goku with a fu manchu.
    • Late in the manga, the Juken Club fights Tekken characters - actually, a cosplaying group.
  • Straw Misogynist: The whole story is packed to the bursting point with it and includes both villainous and heroic examples.
  • Tough Love: And how. This is the only way to describe the relationship between the Takayanagi brothers. Basically Masataka gets the stuffing knocked out of him by his older brother all in the way of making him "stronger".
  • Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: Souichiro tries this on with Masataka. It ... doesn't end well.
  • Villainous Fashion Sense: Mitsuomi, all the way. When he's not dressed to fight, he wears clothes that are either intimidating or plain silly-looking depending on the context.
  • Wall of Text
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Volumes 5-7 are 99% flashback, as are Volumes 15 and 16.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: People who possess supernatural powers have difficulty learning to control them and sometimes end up going crazy. A textbook example is Shin, and later Souichiro falls prey to this hard, becoming the physical embodiment of the Ultimate Warrior Susano'o.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Aya's school outfit often displays this. Maya- when she does wear the school uniform - also demonstrates this.

Alternative Title(s):

Tenjou Tenge