Follow TV Tropes


Manga / Tenjho Tenge

Go To
Bomb A Head!

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 manga series created by Oh! Great and serialized in Ultra Jump from 1997 to 2010. A 24-episode anime adaptation by Toshifumi Kawase and Madhouse aired in 2004, 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. According to the group editor in charge of CMX at the time, this was the result of DC executives habitually agreeing to publish manga without having anybody read them first. They signed a deal to localize Tenjho Tenge based solely on its popularity in Japan, and the deal specified a "T" rating because that was what was perceived as marketable in the US. It wasn't until after the publishing deals were signed and CMX started translation that they realized the mistake they had made. After CMX ceased publishing, Viz rescued the manga's overseas license and put it under its Signature Line, with noticeably less censoring. However, if you want to see it 100% uncensored, you either have to get the Japanese version, or the Argentinian version by Ivrea now long out of print.

The anime adaptation was licensed for a US release by Geneon note , 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.

This manga provides examples of:

  • 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: Being a Power Nullifier, Reiki is a katana that can cut through superpowers.
  • Achilles' Heel: Masataka earns the ridicule of his peers by accidently catching his foreskin in his pants' zipper after beating several opponents.
  • 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: Has happened to Souchiro's mother in her backstory. Happens to her again when she stops Soichiro from being devoured by his own dark ki.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: All of Maya's lines.
  • Arc Welding:
    • All the random battles in the first chapters are just the tip of the iceberg, the iceberg being the battle between the Juken Club and the Enforcers.
    • The battle between the Juken Club and the Enforcers is then revealed to be just the tip of another iceberg, the iceberg being a battle between superpowered and immortal entities that began hundreds of years ago.
  • 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.
  • Babies Ever After: In the Distant Finale, Bob and Chiaki have the most adorable child ever.
  • Badass Longcoat: Soichiro Nagi in his uniform.
  • Badass Normal: Masataka Takayanagi and Bunshichi Tawara become the most notable examples at the end, but every fighter who hasn't won the Superpower Lottery is one of these. For example, Koji Sagara/SAGA MASK is less powerful than the rest of the cast, but he can still kill a bear with his bare hands.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Varies, depending on whether the author felt like drawing nipples or pubic hair on that day. (Spoiler: he often does).
  • Becoming the Mask: Mana is Shin's girfriend as part of her family's efforts to control him. After a while, though, she has started really falling for him.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows:
    • Mitsuomi sports these.
    • Soichiro's flamed brows cross over into Unusual Eyebrows.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Bob punishes his girlfriend's rapist by shoving a broom handle up his ass and exploding firecrackers around his balls. Still, it's pretty hard to feel empathy for the guy.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The battle between Mitsuomi's group and Souhaku. The latter is clearly the Big Bad, but Mitsuomi is willing to start a war between superpowered and non-superpowered people to oppose him.
  • 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).
  • Cosmic Deadline: 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.
  • 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 covers,note  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 spends a lot of time being a Nice Guy and/or the Butt-Monkey of most jokes, but when things get serious he shows he's one of the most competent fighters out there.
    • "Asshat" Sougano is a joke for pretty much everyone... until it's revealed that after his greatest failure he started really training himself and by the time the story starts he has become a Badass Normal.
  • Dance Battler: Bob finds out this is his natural style, and the only way he can hope to catch up with the other main characters.
  • Dancing Theme: "Bomb A Head!" by m.C.A.T., though mostly Bob and Aya getting down. Check it out.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique:
    • Soichiro's "Dragon Fist" lets him absorb other people's ki and powers. The problem is, the more ki he absorbs the more he's at risk of losing his personality and becoming the incarnation of the "God of war".
    • Aya's "Dragon Eye" lets her see her opponent's moves in advance and even have visions of the future, but this power isn't good for one's mind either.
  • 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:
    • Subverted with Masataka: during the middle phase of the story it seems he'll be relegated to this, but after his battle with Fu Chien he starts getting back in the spotlight and even becomes the Deuteragonist.
    • Bob Makihara starts as Soichiro's best friend and lancer, but he Can't Catch Up and rapidly loses relevance in the latter part of the series, becoming a pretty strong and very likeable supporting character.
    • Soichiro himself can be seen as this in the last arc, since he's traveling and fighting offscreen while the story revolves around the other characters finding a way to stop him when he returns.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: For such a dark series, it's a pleasant surprise that they do!
  • Ecchi: One of the main characteristics of this series.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Mitsuomi Takayanagi becomes one of the best fighters around during his first year. Then, Shin blasts his heart with a ton of ''ki'', giving him supernatural strength and metabolism.
  • 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 wears one of those to cover the scar left by Souhaku removing her eye.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: At least on a manga cover.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: This, like other examples of fanservice anime, does have its share of sensual encounters between girls. 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.
    • The "infamous" part comes from the fact that the above scene comes closely after Chiaki's rape 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 Maya, 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 badass 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 or Soichiro - 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. 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... They all get called on it sooner or later: 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.
  • Jerkass: 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).
  • 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. Special mention to when she replaces her lost arms with arms made of steel and kept together by her ki, which she uses to stop the God of War.
  • 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.
  • Little Miss Badass: Madoka Mawari and her many swords, including a BFS and a pair of flaming ones.
  • 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 Masked Luchador 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: There's sort of a chain of these, ending with 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: How much ki a fighter can use plays a big part in his strength.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Most of them, but Chiaki in particular.
  • Naked First Impression: Aya and Soichiro, combined with a form of Accidental Marriage.
  • Necromancer: Sohaku's power. Later, Soichiro becomes able to use it too.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Soichiro Nagi receives one when he attempts 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).
    • Bunshichi suffers one of these from Shin using Reiki, then gets up and delivers one on Shin without Reiki.
    • When Soichiro starts losing himself to the dark ki he absorbed with his Dragon's Fist, these ensue.
  • No Romantic Resolution: Maya and Mitsuomi don't really get any actual closure before her Heroic Sacrifice in the ending. The manga's ending implies eventual Souichiro/Aya and Masataka/Madoka, but it's never actually shown happening.
  • 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.
    • Masataka himself is oblivious to Madoka's crush for him.
  • 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. Towards the end, 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.
  • Pigeonholed Voice Actor: In the anime.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Used a lot, expecially during the first flashback involving Maya, Shin, Mitsuomi and Bunshichi.
  • Physical God: The Big Bad wants to create one of these, making Soichiro become Ultimate Warrior/Susano'o, and later possess him.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking:
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Rape as Drama: Happens to Chiaki near the beginning, kickstarting the war between the Juken Club and the Enforcers.
  • 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: The school in question is actually part of a scheme to bring the strongest young fighters in one place and breed them by making them fight against each other.
  • Sex–Face Turn: How Mana starts actually supporting Shin and helping him control his Superpowered Evil Side.
  • 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.
  • Stock Foreign Name: Japan's idea of a generic black guy name is Bob. Guess what the anime's Token Black guy's name is?
  • Straw Misogynist: The whole story is packed to the bursting point with it and includes both villainous and heroic examples.
  • Tough Love:
    • 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". Then, Masataka returns it by kicking his older brother's ass to stop him from sacrificing his life.
    • Towards the end, Soichiro's mother feels guilty for not having done this enough to her son.
  • 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: Happens quite often during the second flashback. Ohgure really loves historical Japan.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Heaven And Earth, Tenjou Tenge