This was a frustrating show. I loved the first six or seven episodes, and I thought the characters were great and the action was great and it was just an all-around fun high-school-students-battle-one-another-while-conveniently-exposing-their-underwear type of show. The animation was top-notch and the fighting was intense and there was even a surprising amount of character development. For instance, when I first saw Masataka I would have bet anything that he would have been a typical weak-but-nice character. And then what happens? He kicks Souchiro's ass something fierce. So by the time the sixth (or so) episode rolled around, all the characters seemed to have a pretty good relationship developing and their goals seemed all set out.
Then, just when everything was set up and I was really excited to see what happens next, it dumps all the best characters in favor of an all-too-long flashback. What the heck?
I'm not saying that the flashback had a bad story at all -- in fact it was great with it's own set of interesting and cool characters. It's just that it needed to be (and could have been) edited by maybe half. That's because by the time it wrapped up it had taken up most of the show and after a while I just wanted to get back to Souchiro, Masataka and the gang. I mean, learning about Maya, Mitsuoumi and Shin was all well and good, but I wanted to find out about the other "present day" characters too. Like why does Souchiro have so much potential as a fighter, and what's the history of him and his mom, and why did Aya fall instantly in love with Souchiro to the point where she automatically proposed marriage? And how did Masataka get so powerful and what's the history of him and his brother? In fact, after the flashback story ends Masataka fades into the background as pretty much a non-character. Which sucked because after he gave Souchiro his ass-whuppin' I was really looking forward to see what Masataka would do next.
Now I know this is an Oh Great! battle/fan service show -- hell, that's what attracted me to it in the first place. But you can't expect to start out with a certain set of characters and start to build them up and them dump them for most of the series. I mean, when you have only five characters represented in the show's opening animation, you'd expect that they'd get a little more air time at least. I don't know...
Anyway, speaking of which, this show had one hell of a catchy take-over-your-brain kind of intro. I still find myself singing "Bomb a head" out loud on occasion to the point where I can practically feel my brain cells breakdancing in my head. It's that bad (but in a good way).
As far as the ending of the show is concerned, there really isn't one. (Yet more evidence that the flashback should have been edited-for-time.) The show is apparently going to be concluded in two OVA episodes, but Geneon hasn't said (to my knowledge) when/if they will be released in the US. [Edit: After some research, I discovered that the last two episodes of the US release are in fact the 2-episodes from the OVA. So I guess we'll never get a chance to see the final tournament fight after all. There is also a movie that just re-tells the flashback arc called The Past Chapter. So there really is no new Tenjho Tenge.]
So in summary, Tenjho Tenge was a fan-servicey martial arts anime that followed up with some depth to the story. Unfortunately, that depth came came in the form of a good-but-over-extended flashback that crowed out some of the original characters. But when it's all said and done, nobody is going into this show expecting deep characters or story. They just want plenty of high-intensity fighting and exposed flesh, and on that this show undeniably delivers.