It’s hard to believe that I started this show all the way back in 2013. It feels like that was such a long time ago, but I suppose that’s the way it is for all shows that reach at least 50 episodes. The show definitely started out as one of the all time greats and had everything in its favor. Unfortunately, it started to peeter out a bit during the second half of the series. Perhaps it is a good thing that it ended before the downgrade could really affect its overall standing all that much, but it definitely would have been nice to have gotten that extra season. 100+ episodes of Tenkai Knights could have put it on the map or at least in the same conversation as Beyblade and the other big toy based shows back in the day. I’m assuming that many of my blog readers won’t even know what this show is because it’s so obscure, but you’re about to find out now!
The show follows four boys who find lego pieces and are chosen as the guardians of a mysterious planet in another realm. By activating the pieces, they turn into Power Ranger fighters and have to stop the dark armies led by Vilius. Of course, if the heroes die in the virtual world, they also perish in real life. Guren and Chooki don’t really give that last bit a second thought, but the other two need some time to wrap their heads around it. The heroes are strong and can usually stop the villains with ease, but the bad guys do have some advantages. For starters, they are on the planet 24/7 and can attack at any time. Guren and friends have to go to sleep or leave at some point and that’s when the villains can make their move. They have the superior numbers as well and I dare say that they had the better fighters for a little while. Of course, Guren and the others continued to improve at a rapid pace. By the end, the heroes definitely had the edge. Can the 4 part timers really stop Vilius for good though?
It should definitely give you some Power Ranger vibes. The series starts off with a lot of energy and really did everything right. Lets talk about the positives. The plot is pretty engaging and starts off rather rapidly. I’m always a fan of virtual world adventures and you could compare this to Sword art Online, but without taking itself so seriously. There are only 3 main villains, but they had a 4th and a 5th member for a while and they aren’t half bad when it comes to strength. Once the villains unlocked Titan Mode, they were always able to put up a fight.
The show got a lot of top notch voice actors here like Ichigo’s and Kirito’s to voice two of the main characters. I have to admit that this definitely added an extra layer of epicness to the show. The animation was also solid. I didn’t really care for the scenes where they are robots as much as it would take a noticeable dip, but they would still add a lot of budget to the big fight scenes at the end. If you were worried about the actual fights looking bad, don’t worry about it. The fights are still as good as you’d expect and probably even better than that. The colors were always very sharp and on point and the human animations hold up very well.
What really sets Tenkai Knights a bar above most of the competition is the dynamic array of music themes. The catchy “Tenkai whoaaaaaaa Tenkai” chant before every transformation is the definition of epic and really gets you ready for action. It distracts you from the recycled footage that is always used for the transforming moments. The battles all have great themes as well and there are just so many to choose from. I believe that part 2 of the show remixed the Tenkai theme and it wasn’t quite as catchy, but it was still solid. The soundtrack is definitely one of the best parts of the show, no question.
The main cast was really good as well. Guren does a good job of leading the team and he is certainly well suited for the job. He’s a natural leader and is a lot more ready for anything that the villains can throw at him. While he’s not quite as athletic as Chooki, he can more than hold his own in any event. His skills while in Tenkai form do certainly surpass the others by a wide margin. There’s really nothing to say against his character and he’s essentially just a kid version of the best protagonist that you can think of. He’s a hero who gets the job done.
Ceylan is Guren’s best friend and while he is not quite as outgoing, he’s always got a lot of jokes at the ready. He hits it off pretty well with the others, but is prone to quit or fall into a slump quite a few times. He just doesn’t have quite as much self confidence and determination as Guren, but very few characters do so it isn’t too much of a strike against him. His Tenkai form is ice themed so it’s not quite as cool as Guren’s flaming winged form, but it gets the job done well enough I suppose. By the end of the series, all four Tenkai warriors are very strong so it’s okay even if Ceylan isn’t the strongest. I’d put him at third for the record.
Chooki is pretty similar to Guren. He’s a natural born expert at just about everything and he’s always ready to make new friends. He’s just a cool guy who gets along with everyone and he does pretty well in the Tenkai fights. He’s an extreme contrast to Toxsa and helps to get the guy active in everyday life. Guren’s my favorite character, but Chooki’s definitely right behind him along with Gen. It shows how strong the cast is as Chooki could have easily been the best character in another show. It was an odd creative decision by the writers though since his character is just so similar to Guren’s. Usually a show will try to avoid that unless it goes for debates about leadership or something, but that never pops up.
Finally, we have Toxsa. He’s a big gamer so naturally that means that he isn’t very fit so he has a hard time keeping up with the others in the real world. He’s always talking about Doomsploder 5 and you have to admire his dedication to that I suppose. He’s the main comedy member of the group and really tries to slam the others with puns left and right. I like a good pun, but a lot of his jokes do tend to fall flat. He’s not a bad character, but Toxsa is easily the least interesting and a lot of his scenes are really just filler. It’s a shame since he talks such a good game, but still ends up being the weakest member.
Mr. White is the guy behind the group. He mysteriously knows a lot about the other world and is the one with the portal that sends the heroes back and forth. The show never really gets into his secret origin or that of Guren’s Dad since he seems to know more than he lets on. My personal theory was that Guren’s Dad is Beag’s human operator and Mr. White used to operate one of the robots. Maybe he operated one of the legendary council. It’s not like it’ll ever be explored though and Mr. White just comes across as annoying. He refuses to answer any questions and never makes himself all that useful. Beag is almost as bad. I can see what the show was going for with his character as he naively believes everything that the 4 heroes say and looks up to them quite a lot. He’s supposed to be charming and endearing, but he ends up being rather annoying instead. He also never really does anything to move the show along and could have been left out without really changing anything.
Gen was the hardcore rival of the show. At first he’s on the side of evil before eventually joining the heroes. I forgot what his exact goal was, but maybe he just treated the whole thing as a game. It seems like he was always going to betray Vilius so he just wanted to be the strongest being of them all. He sort of came close as the only ones who could stop him were Guren and Vilius. It’s safe to say that Vilius was ahead of him for just about the whole series. By the very end, I like to think that Gen and Guren were stronger than Vilius, but I suppose that it’s debatable. Gen was nerfed quite a lot when he turned good though. He suddenly stopped getting power ups and was heavily surpassed by the main 4. While he was a villain, Gen did quite well though. He was usually on the winning end of fights and he also rose the stakes. After all, he knew who the heroes were in the real world as well so they could never rest easy after that.
Beni was Gen’s partner and she certainly had fun with the battles. Her robot was incredibly fast and the writers clearly couldn’t decide how to defeat her. She’s the one character who basically never loses during the whole show and got to show up the heroes several times. They just couldn’t keep up with her and she would have made a great ally for the heroes to have. In arc 2, she couldn’t decide which team to help though so she ends up going back and forth between the two sides for quite a while. Maybe one day she will be a trusted ally, but even at the end it’s hard to trust her since she betrayed the heroes so many times. It didn’t even make sense when she helped the villains out, but I guess she likes to keep the heroes guessing.
Vilius was a very good main villain. He had a lot of power so he could back up his tough talk and he lived up to his reputation. I liked his design and his super forms made him even more dangerous. There was a brief moment near the middle where the heroes had actually surpassed him so the villain needed a power up for a change, but for the most part he did a really good job remaining as a threat. He’s fairly smart for a villain and was able to see through Gen’s deceptions. His only comic relief moment was in a fairly infamous comedy arc that I’ll get into shortly. We can safely ignore it as far as his character goes. He’s easily better than his two generals.
The other main two villains are Granox and Slyger. Granox is your typical strong, but slow and not very smart character. Slyger is quick and a tricky fighter to mess with, but I suppose he’s slightly weaker physically. Honestly, I’d pick Slyger to complete destroy Granox if they were to ever fight. It wouldn’t even be a fair fight. They made for really good fight scenes, but as villains I could only respect Sluger. Granox was just a little too weak and could rarely give the heroes much of a fight. At least Slyger was a credible threat and as mentioned before, Titan Mode really helped them out quite a lot.
Boreas was one of the 4 legendary Tenkai Elders and he got the biggest role of the 4. He helped the heroes out quite a lot from the very beginning. He’s likable enough I suppose, but he couldn’t live up to the hype quite as well as you’d hope. Vilius took down all 4 Elders even while they were teaming up and then brainwashed them to do his bidding. They put up some slight resistance, but it was all for naught in the end. They did have some really cool abilities though and were some of the best fighters in the series. It’s a shame that they always transformed into their giant lego forms for the final battles though since the humanoid ones always did a lot better. They sacrificed their great speed and durability for a little size? Definitely not worth it in the long run. The elders should have spent less time guarding the portal and more time actively fighting. If they had helped to defeat Vilius back in the early episodes, none of this would have happened.
Orangor and Scorpidon are responsible for the low point of the Tenkai Knights series. Basically, the main characters are kidnapped and brought to an odd little dimension where the Scorpion rules. To escape, they must defeat him in a Grand Prix or another such event that he dictates. They win several times, but are just thrown into a pit and forced to redo the events. This allowed the writers to use whole minutes of stock footage at a time. They redid 5 minutes of recycled grand prix racing and hoped that we wouldn’t notice…but we did. It was generally just too much comedy over action as well. We lost the Tenkai fights and the races weren’t worth it. Even Vilius showed up to play a game of soccer and the whole thing did not make any sense. It’s as if the genre just suddenly changed out of nowhere. It also dragged on and on for quite a while. I couldn’t wait to see it go and the two new characters never appeared again. Most excellent!
Finally, we have the Tenkai Dragon. He’s always getting captured and kidnapped so you’ll probably feel bad for him after a while. He is said to be invincible and unstoppable, but the villains prove that wrong many times. They even build a Dark Tenkai Dragon, which is just as strong as the real deal. To get the dragons in the first place, you need to assemble a lot of artifacts. By the end, it barely even feels worth it anymore. It was a cool design though, but I could never take the dragon seriously. Honestly, I’d take Guren in a fight against him.
Even if we take away the dreadful mini arc, part 2 of Tenkai Knights would still be under the first. The problem is the fact that they opted to do a soft reboot with the same formulaic style. Part 1 was very formulaic as one episode would see Guren unlock Titan Mode, then Chooki, then etc. Next, Guren would unlock his signature skill, then Chooki, then etc. Part 2 decided to do that, but also to dial it up to eleven. First, the heroes lost their Titan Modes, but they learned how to use elemental powers. You would always know that this would take at least 4 episodes since they would learn it one at a time. After that, they re learned Titan Mode, one episode at a time. They also learned how to fuse and naturally, they had to try all of the different variations. Once the Elders were mind controlled, it was the same deal with them. The heroes would fight one per episode and they would all use the same transformation to prolong the fight. It may have been even more repetitive than Buddyfight One Hundred’s battles at one point, but these were still a little better because at least we had some really cool action scenes and it wasn’t the same villain each time.
I think part 2 of Tenkai Knights could have definitely changed the formula up a bit. I think it would have done wonders for the show. After all, the climax was always very intense. The final battles of both arcs in the show are easily 5 star matches and you can always feel the gravity of the situation. The already solid animation would get even better and you couldn’t really discern this show from that of a Shonen during the serious moments. If the whole show could have been like that, it’d be an easy 9. Of course, you could say the same about a great deal of shows since they all try to be at their best for the climax. Tenkai Knights still operates at a rather high level normally, but the extra boost would help.
I’d say that it probably is the ultimate Saturday Morning cartoon. This isn’t counting shows like Yugioh which were originally more Shonen and Cardfight, which never made its way to the big screen. It may not literally be the greatest of all time as there is probably some show somewhere that I may be forgetting, but it has everything that you could ask for from a show aimed at kids. The series plays it very safe content wise, but still gives us great animation and fights. It never resorts to a lot of crude humor or anything like that and naturally the show’s target audience ensures that the title has absolutely no fanservice. There’s no language to watch out for and the writing is pretty strong. Most of the characters are likable and there is a sense of danger throughout. Tenkai Knights really pushed itself as far as it could go and other shows that are now aimed at a similar audience like Pokemon Alola and Monster Hunter could learn a few lessons from this title. You can be aimed at kids and still have a lot of action.
Overall, Tenkai Knights is a great show. It’s a title that just about anyone can get into since everyone likes a good action and who doesn’t like Power Ranger esque transformations? The show had a very modern/high tech feel right from the start like the PS3 and never lost that. The character cast is great and it performs exceptionally well on a technical level. The series went through a few hiccups during the second half, but it was able to bounce back in the end. I’m not sure what the series would have done for a third part, but introducing some new villains could have definitely worked quite well. There really weren’t many different opponents for the heroes to face so a little extra variety could have gone a long way. Introducing more human world fights would have also been great. We got some glimpses of this when the villains were able to materialize in the human world, but it was mostly used for laughs as opposed to action. Having the ability to crossfuse like in Megaman NT Warrior would have really upped the stakes. It’s one thing to be in lethal danger in another world, but it hits closer to home when your town is the one that is attacked.