Tenjo Tenge, Vol. 2

By Oh!Great. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialized in the magazine Ultra Jump. Released in North America by Viz.

We left off last time in the middle of a big melee at a bowling alley, and that’s where we stay for about half of this omnibus volume (it was Vol. 3-4 in Japan), as our ongoing villains begin to show their badassery, and our heroes realize that they really aren’t strong enough right now to do much about it. Not even Maya.

In terms of plot, there is some stuff thrown to us. Aya’s supernatural powers become more clear in these chapters, and it’s noted that her sister does NOT have the same ability – despite apparently being able to turn into a little kid. Of course, with great power comes great responsibility, and Aya’s still a moody teenager – she knows there’s no one to blame regarding Soichiro falling for her sister, but gets jealous anyway, and luckily there’s a handy demon blade to bring out her darker emotions. We don’t get to see what happens with her here, but I imagine it won’t be pleasant.

Then there’s her sister Maya, who gets expelled from school as a consequence of ‘defying’ the executive council at the bowling alley. In the present-day, she’s seemingly trying to do what’s best for the club, despite having ‘I am doomed’ written across her forehead. We do start to get a look at her past towards the end, though, featuring a Maya who has all the bravado of Soichiro – and like Soichiro, gets her ass handed to her. Multiple times. We also meet her brother in the flashback, whose death plays such a huge role in the mentalities of the cast.

To be honest, after 2 omnibus volumes of Tenjo Tenge, the character I probably like and respect most is Chiaki, Bob’s girlfriend, who’s also the only non-combatant. Trapped in the bowling alley with the rest of the fighters, and at one point literally shoved into a locker to protect her, she nevertheless manages to talk Bob down when he’s given an offer by the head bad guy to join them so he can achieve his true potential. What’s more, her confrontation with Maya, and subsequent discussion with Bunshichi shows her trying to come to terms with the aftermath of her rape, and trying to help Bob by understanding exactly how it is things at the school got to this point. I know she’s merely a minor character, but she’s handled quite well.

All this chatter about plot and characterization is deceptive, of course. For all the demon powers, the tragic pasts, and the philosophy of why mankind fights, this is still just a lot of people hitting each other hard, occasionally contrasted with the nudity and fanservice. The appearance of depth does not equal actual depth, and so while Tenjo Tenge is an addictive page-turner, it’s still like eating cake rather than eating steak, no matter how many manly fights are in it.

Oh yes, and Masataka’s comic relief persona gets very old very fast.

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  1. I thought the secondery charcters had more intresting back stories I would have much rather read more about how Sagara ended up founding the wrestling club or more back story on Tagami. It says something about a sereis when the side charcters are far more intresting than youre main charcters.


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