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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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09/29/2005 Archived Entry: "Anime review: Tenjho Tenge, Round 02"

Tenjho Tenge, Round 02
Distributed by Geneon

Review by Tom Good

Welcome to a world where school has little to do with classes, teachers, or homework, but simply serves as a battleground for extracurricular martial arts duels between rival clubs. Here, the girls look like Pamela Anderson Lee but fight like Bruce Lee, and battles are guaranteed to lift their skirts or shred their clothes. Students never have to study or talk to their parents, but have plenty of time to go bowling and figure out miraculous new uses for their chi powers. This is the world of Tenjho Tenge (literally: "Heaven Above, Heaven Below").

A premise like this could be played for laughs, but for the most part Tenjho Tenge stays completely serious. Surprisingly, this works. The viewer may laugh at the strange proceedings, but the characters never do. By committing fully to its weird story and insisting on its reality, the show manages to bring viewers along for the ride. What this series offers is a journey into pure escapist entertainment, and as that it really succeeds. After a while, the idea that girls bring samurai swords and throwing knives to school does not seem that odd any more.

Like the other Geneon discs that I have reviewed, this one gets high marks for colors and picture quality. The English voice-overs are also quite good. I would recommend reading the first volume of the manga or watching part 1 before watching this DVD. Starting here with episode 5 will probably be confusing, because there is virtually no explanation of who the characters are or what has already happened. This is not a deep story, but it is strangely compelling, crazy fun.

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