Jmanga review: Tenka Ichi!!

When I saw the description of Tenka Ichi!! on I knew I would have to read it because it contains so many plot elements that I enjoy. High school girl mysteriously transported to the past? Check! Unwittingly finding herself surrounded by handsome men? Check! Crossdressing? Check!

Tora is having a hard time fitting in at school due to her upbringing by her very traditional martial arts oriented family. Her pleas for a cell phone go unanswered, and her mannerisms make her a target of ridicule by her classmates. One day when she’s visiting a historical castle she meets a giant talking rabbit who warns her to be careful, Tora promptly freaks out, runs down a staircase, and finds herself transported back to the time period of Nobunaga. Tora is captured and sold to a mysterious one-eyed man named Muni. When Muni discovers that Tora’s a woman he remarks that he bought her because he planned to use her as a spy due to her resemblance to a dead page of Nobunaga’s. Now it is up to Tora to decide if she’s going to spy as a page or as a potential concubine for Nobunaga. Tora decides to be a boy, thinking “in this place women are defenseless.” Muni starts training Tora in marksmanship. Tora also spends time with Muni’s wife Kira, who helps her with her disguise. Some of Tora’s habits from her old life start to come in handy when it becomes clear that she might be able to set herself up as a fortune teller with her extensive knowledge of personality tests. Tora’s fortunetelling starts attracting attention and she’s summoned before Nobunaga. She manages to charm him with her inadvertently brash personality and knowledge of history. Tora is installed as a page with the capable Ranmaru, who is more than a little bit suspicious of Tora’s sudden elevation to page status.

The art in Tenka Ichi!! falls into the serviceable but not very distinct category. Everything is rendered clearly, but without that little bit of extra flair that would make me want to continue reading the manga for the art alone. Fortunately there were enough story elements in place that I was entertained. Tenka Ichi!! falls into the josei category, I think, which is why rape is treated as a real threat that Tora is constantly aware of. Her masquerade is largely due to her not wanting to be a defenseless woman trapped in the past, and the reality of this threat makes Tenka Ichi!! seem a bit grittier than similar shoujo stories that I’ve read. On the other hand, the giant rabbit in historical costume complete with ruff keeps popping up and giving Tora random bits of advice, which certainly provides a random surreal element to Tora’s adventures. A cast of handsome pages is introduced so quickly that I couldn’t really keep track of them, but I still found this volume entertaining. There’s a certain element of humor in Tenka Ichi!! that carried me through any rough patches with the story or art. It was pretty hilarious to see Tora psychoanalyzing Nobunaga with personality tests she probably first encountered in a magazine for teen girls. When Ranmaru takes Tora home because he has to teach her how to behave as a page his mother immediately starts banging gongs, sobbing and chanting to ward off the misfortune that has clearly befallen her family. This series would probably appeal to fans of Kaze Hikaru, Tail of the Moon, or From Far Away. I’m happy to see more josei that I’m interested in reading pop up on

Access to electronic copy provided by the publisher.

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  1. Yeah, this looks like a really promising series so far.

  2. “Tenka Ichi!! falls into the josei category, I think”

    It ran in Wings, according to JManga, so it’s more like older-teen shoujo. American publishers have been very squeamish about shoujo with sexual or “gritty” elements, preferring the lighter stuff; I think a lot of Anglophone readers aren’t aware of the scope shoujo covers. I’m hopeful that projects like JManga will help bring over more diverse stuff.


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