Miscellanea and Ephemeron
11/12/2005 Archived Entry: "Anime review: Tenjho Tenge Round Three"
Review by Tom Good
Maya, the beautiful leader of the Juken club, executes a flying leg scissors attack, crushing her opponent's head between her thighs. This move not-so-coincidentally causes her miniskirt to ride up and expose her panties, and the sequence features a ridiculous zoom and slow-motion effect. Back on her feet, she turns towards the "camera" and asks, "was the fan service a bit much?" The delivery of this line slyly suggests that the question might be coming from the actress who plays Maya and not the character, almost like this is an outtake. Here in volume three, Tenjho Tenge starts to poke a little fun at itself.
There are plenty of other funny things in this story, but most are more subtle and not presented as overt jokes. During one battle, gorgeous chi effects crackle and blast through the space around the characters, enveloping them in glowing bands of powerful energy. When the pyrotechnics settle down again, the background reappears and we are reminded that the setting is not an ancient temple or mist-shrouded cliff, but in fact just a bowling alley.
In a more serious moment, Aya (Maya's younger sister) gets involved in a fight and discovers that she truly enjoys hurting her opponent, continuing to brutalize him after he is obviously defeated. The power of the "Dragon's Eye" technique seems to be tempting her to more and more violence. She looks to Souichirou for advice, but he tells her success in fighting comes from thinking only of destroying one's adversary.
Though Tenjho Tenge's hip-hop opening theme song has never really appealed to me, the incidental music on this DVD is very good, especially the dramatic strings that accompany some of the fights, and the English soundtrack is good. The parallel storylines and extended flashbacks make the plot non-linear and a little hard to follow. On the other hand this series is driven by art, style and attitude more than the exact details of the plot. This is the most playful round of Tenjho Tenge yet, and I thought it was a lot of fun.
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