Tenjo Tenge: Full Contact Edition 2-in-1 cover is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.
Rated “M” for “Mature”
Tenjo Tenge (originally Tenjho Tenge) is a martial arts manga from creator, Oh!great (the penname of Ito Ōgure). It was serialized in the Japanese magazine, Ultra Jump, and was first licensed for publication in North America by CMX, the now-defunct DC Comics manga imprint. Tenjo Tenge is a seinen manga – comics for adult men – and features profane language, nudity, and sexual situations. CMX edited those scenes and images from its editions of Tenjo Tenge, in order to make the manga “teen friendly.”
VIZ Media is now the North American Tenjo Tenge license holder, and they’ve decided to keep it real. They will publish the series intact with adult and adult-oriented material not removed from the original graphic text. In Japan, Tenjo Tenge was collected in 22 volumes, and each VIZ Media volume will contain two of the original volumes.
Tenjo Tenge: Full Contact Edition 2-in-1, Volume 1 collects Vols. 1-2 of the Japanese editions. These first 12 chapters introduce readers to many of the main players and subplots of the series. Todo High is an academy that is dedicated to training students in the art of combat. Soichiro Nagi, a street brawler and self-proclaimed hoodlum, and his friend, Bob Makihara, a teen of African descent who practices the Afro-Brazilian martial art, Capoeira, are the newest students at Todo.
Soichiro thinks that he is ready to defeat anyone, but he isn’t. He and Makihara join the martial arts club, Juken Club, where they are joined by club leader, Maya Natsume, her sister Aya, and the formidable Masataka Takayanagi. Maya, who can shape-shift her body between buxom teen and bratty pre-teen, takes it upon herself to train Soichiro until he reaches his full potential – even if it kills him. Meanwhile, Juken’s rival, the Executive Council, takes notice of the new members, which leads to a fists-of-fury showdown and surprising revelations.
THE LOWDOWN: To put it simply, Tenjo Tenge is a martial arts fight comic book, and that’s the main draw. The characters are certainly interesting. They have special, even super powers, quirks, histories, and personal mysteries, but the best thing about those characteristics, conflicts, and motivations is how they serve the combat scenes.
The level and manner of the explicit content here can be surprising, even shocking. Of course, I may be the only old prude who thinks the story is just a tad bit glib about rape. Some of the material is gratuitous (like the girl-on-girl scenes), and readers may debate how necessary this material is to the narrative. This adult content, however, does give the series an edge, especially because so much of this series is comic in tone. The coarse language and behavior seem to make the fighting that much more biting.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Readers looking for R-rated, T&A martial arts will get that in Tenjo Tenge.