Tenjo Tenge Full Contact Edition Volume 11 cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.
Rated “M” for “Mature”
Tenjo Tenge: Full Contact Edition 2-in-1 is a VIZ Media project that reprints Tenjo Tenge with its vulgarity and explicit depictions of sex and violence intact. Tenjo Tenge is a martial arts and seinen manga (comics for adult men) from manga creator, “Oh!great,” the penname of Ito Ōgure, who also created the shonen manga, Air Gear.
Debuting in 1997 in the magazine, Ultra Jump, Tenjo Tenge is set in and around Todo Academy, a high school dedicated to training students in the art of combat. The series focuses on the members of the Juken Club and their opposition, the Executive Council, which is also the student group that rules Todo Academy.
Each volume of Tenjo Tenge: Full Contact Edition 2-in-1 gives readers two volumes of the series in one single graphic novel. And yes, unlike an earlier English-language publication of the series, the Full Contact Edition retains the violence and nudity depicted in the original Japanese publication. Tenjo Tenge: Full Contact Edition 2-in-1, Vol. 11 collects the chapters Fight: 124 to Last Fight, which were published in Volumes 21 and 22 of the Japanese editions.
Tenjo Tenge 21 begins with the epic battle between Mitsuomi Takayanagi and Susano-O the Swift, who is the Supreme Warrior. At the heart of Susano-O is Sohaku Kago, but it is Soichiro Kengo Nagi’s body that is the vessel for this seemingly undefeatable Supreme Warrior. Meanwhile, the goddess Amaterasu awakens in Maya Natsume, the third year student and Juken captain.
In Tenjo Tenge 22, Masataka Takayanagi takes the place of his brother, Mitsuomi, as the one to face Susano-O, who continues to gather the energy known as “ki” and grow more powerful. The second round of the 107th Imperial Martial Arts Tournament begins as the Juken Club takes on the 2nd Karate Club. When the Executive Club decides not to take on Juken, the 1st Kendo Club steps in to take their place. All the while, Masataka and Susano-O’s epic battle royale rages to a finish, while Maya makes a decision that will change all their lives.
THE LOWDOWN: With its 11th volume, Tenjo Tenge: Full Contact Edition 2-in-1 comes to an end. As with the previous volume, Volume 11 features some of the series’ best art. There are pages and sequences of pages in which the art is less sequential art and more illustrative, like paintings instead of like comic book art.
As the series advanced, Tenjo Tenge was a narrative that drifted through time, sometimes from chapter to chapter, and many times within individual chapters. Part of the series was about a never-ending battle of good versus evil, one that promises to continue after the series’ end – an after-story, so to speak. The other part of the series was a modern-day battle between cliques and clubs. There are rivalries and bonds between families that have lasted for centuries. The trappings of the modern world could not hide a hierarchy resembling the ruling nobility of a feudal state.
Tenjo Tenge conveys plot, character, and setting by depicting the action on planes physical and metaphysical. Literal and poetic, it is about reality, the natural world, and the supernatural. Tenjo Tenge’s art is a tour de force, and hopefully Tenjo Tenge: Full Contact Edition is, if not a permanent way, a long-lasting way to read it.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Martial arts comics readers looking for sexy, ultra-violent, R-rated, martial arts can discover the VIZ Signature title, Tenjo Tenge: Full Contact Edition 2-in-1, for years to come.