November 26, 2016

TENKAI KNIGHTS

TENKAI KNIGHTS
(Cartoon Network, August 24, 2013-December 6, 2014 US
TV Tokyo, April 5, 2014-March 28, 2015 JAP)


Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Spin Master


MAIN CAST:
Ben Diskin (English) – Toxsa Dalton/Valorn, Eurus, Orangor, Mr. Dalton
Miyuki Sawashiro (Japanese) & Yuri Lowenthal (English) – Gen/Dormus
Masumi Asano (Japanese) & Nika Futterman (English) – Beni/Venetta
Keji Fujwara (Japanese) & Brian Beacock (English) – Mr. White, Mr. Black
Shigenori Soya (Japanese) - Boreas
Yosuke Akimoto (Japanese) – Vilius
Crispin Freeman (English) – Vilius , Slyger/Mr. Yuzo, A.I. System
Hisao Egawa (Japanese) – Granox
Steven J. Blum (English) – Granox, Boreas, Mr. Nash
Atsushi Imaruoka (Japanese) – Slyger
Chafurin (Japanese) - Beag
Kyle Hebert (English) – Beag, Notus

            This was a rare case of an anime airing in North America before it was ever seen in Japan.

The principal cast of Tenkai Knights: Vilius (top left), Toxsa/Valorn, Ceylan/Tributon, Guren/Bravenwolf, Chooki/Lydendor and Gen (all bottom).

            Canadian toy and entertainment company Spin Master was looking for a way to market their line of Ionix construction blocks. The Ionix blocks were part Lego and part Transformers in that not only could they be used to build as is, but the blocks also shifted into other forms and shapes to which other Ionix blocks could be added. Having found previous success with Bakugan, it was decided that an anime could best serve their purposes and they teamed-up with Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions to make it happen. The result was Tenkai Knights.

Vilius and the Corrupted.

            The anime focused on the peaceful cube-shaped planet named Quarton that was populated by shape-shifting living bricks called Tenkai. The planet became ravaged by a war between the Corekai Soldiers, led by Commander Beag, and the Corrupted Army, led by the ruthless Lord Vilius (Yosuke Akimoto & Crispin Freeman). Vilius sought to obtain the source of Tenkai energy for his own uses, and the only ones that could oppose him were his former allies: the Tenkai Knights. The Knights defeated Vilius and his Tenkai Dragon, resulting in its fragments being scattered across the planet and the Knights disappearing.

Mr. White in the Shop of Wonders.

            On Earth in the year 2034, four young teenage boys were unknowingly marked to become the next generation of Tenkai Knights as Vilius and his forces began to renew their attacks on Quarton. Guren Nash (Meguru Takahashi & Johnny Yong Bosch) was the leader, able to transform into Bravenwolf and used a Tenkai Sword and shield as his weapons. Upon moving to Benham City with his father (Tomoyuki Shimura & Steven J. Blum), Guren became friends with practical joker Ceylan Jones (Akemi Kanda & Todd Haberkorn). Ceylan could transform into Tributon and used a Teknai Crossbow and Arrow Blaster, along with a shield. They would be joined by athletic Chooki Mason (Risa Taneda & Bryce Papenbrook), who could become Lydendor armed with a Tenkai Kunai Saber with Chain and shield, and tech geek Toxsa Dalton (Maki Mizuma & Ben Diskin), who could become Valorn with a Tenkai energy lance and shield. A recurring joke would be when Beag expressed confusion over a pop culture reference made by the Knights; not knowing they weren’t the same Knights he once knew. The Earthen Knights operated out of Mr. White’s (Keji Fujiwara & Brian Beacock) Shop of Wonders, where a portal to Quarton was held in the basement under the guard of Guardian Boreas (Shigenori Soya & Blum). The Guardians were the protectors of Quarton and largely responsible for the formation of the Knights.

Slyger.

            Over on Vilius’ side along with the Corrupted Army, he had special agents which he frequently employed in plots against the Tenkai Knights in order to acquire the power for himself. His two prominent henchmen were Granox (Hisao Egawa & Blum), whose armor resembled a rhino and had the strength to match, and Slyger (Atsushi Imaruoka & Freeman), a sneaky and cunning being in panther-like armor. Vilius also employed Tenkai Knights of his own: Gen (Miyuki Sawashiro & Yuri Lowenthal) was able to transform into Dromus, which was a darker version of the Bavenwolf armor, and Beni (Masumi Asano & Nika Futterman), who could become Venetta and sought the destruction of both worlds due to her father spending more time searching for Quarton than spending time with her. The Guardian Eurus (Hideyuki Umezu & Diskin) would help Gen and Beni in their quest to aid Vilius in an attempt to restore the balance of Tenkai Energy he felt Boreas disrupted by helping the Tenkai Knights.

Slyger and Granox's Earth forms.
            To differentiate between the two worlds, different animation styles were used. On Quarton, the characters were depicted as computer-rendered brick forms reminiscent of their toy counterparts. On Earth, the characters were done in traditional-looking animation resembling actual humans. Natives of Quarton, however, looked more like humanoid robots with squared features and unique skin tones.

The Guardians: Notus, Boreas, Eurus and Zephyrus.

            Interestingly enough, while Tenkai Knights was a fully-produced Japanese anime, it wouldn’t begin airing in Japan until April 5, 2014 on TV Tokyo (several affiliates would further delay the broadcast by one or two weeks). Instead, it first aired in the United States beginning on August 24, 2013 on Cartoon Network, followed the next month in Canada on Teletoon. The series was animated by Japanese studio Bones and the music was composed by MoNACA. The series utilized four different themes for the Japanese version: the opening theme was “Get the Glory” by Ayako Nakanomori, while “Shunkan Diamond” by Rurika Yokoyama, “Victory Bouquet-gonna gonna be hot!” by Cyntia and “Legendary Flare” by Pile were used as the ending themes over the course of the show’s run. Studiopolis handled the English dub of the show. Shortly after the show began, 10 weekly webisodes called Tenkai Knights: Origins would be published on YouTube acting as a prequel showing the downfall and rise of Vilius to the series’ main villain.

Beni hanging out with the other Knights.

            The series would follow the Knights on a quest to find the cubed pieces of the dispatched Tenkai Dragon and the keys that would unlock either its good attributes or its evil one. Vilius’ ambitions would lead him to betray Gen, driving him to join the Knights against him. Beni initially joined the Knights as well as a ruse, but became a genuine member over time. The Knights themselves would learn more about Quarton, the history of the Knights and their own abilities; unlocking various modes that would give them new armors and abilities. And, as if the threat of Vilius and his army wasn’t enough, a plague began befalling Earth called “Brickification”, which was when a person or object would turn into bricks that could temporarily be revered by the core bricks that powered the Knights’ armors.

Guren and Ceylan looking at Quarton.

            The series ran for a single season of 52 episodes, ending its run on December 6th, 2014 in North America. The Japanese run ended on March 28th, 2015 with only 51 episodes; the clip-show episode “Looking Forward, Looking Back” only existing in the English dub. The producers of the show had lofty ambitions, with the official Twitter account making a claim that they hoped to produce 1,000 episodes. While the ratings, even in reruns, justified it, and the show’s official Facebook page unofficially announced plans for a second season in 2014, additional episodes have, to date, not yet appeared. The show has been dubbed in other languages and shown in additional markets since its initial premier.


            Phase 4 Films took the first few episodes of the English dub and edited them together into one 72-minute movie, which it released on DVD and iTunes as Rise of the Knights. Beginning in August of 2014, four different box sets were released in Japan by Happinet and Victor Entertainment covering the entire series. Kaze Anime released two box sets in France that came with a figure and trading cards, as well as six volumes in Germany containing 42 of the episodes. In September and October of 2014, Bandai/Namco Games released Tenkai Knights: Brave Battle for the Nintendo 3DS. Spin Master has also produced a line of their Ionix toys based on the show, handling the distribution in North America while Happinet handled the Japanese releases.


EPISODE GUIDE (translated Japanese titles in parenthesis):
“Two Worlds (The Hero, Braven Appears!)” (8/24/13 US, 4/5/14 JAP) – Going to a mysterious shop sends Guren Nash and Ceylan Jones to Quarton to become the new Tenkai Knights.

“Tenkai Dragon Cube (Secret of the Tenkai Dragon)” (8/31/13 US, 4/12/14 JAP) – Mr. White and Boreas explain Quarton’s history to the boys before they return and are joined by Lydendor and Valron against Vilius’ troops.

“The Rising Fire (The Four Heroes)” (9/7/13 US, 4/19/14 JAP) – Guren and Ceylan track down the other Knights’ alter-egos and they agree to join forces in finding the Dragon Cubes.

“The Power of Four (Unite! Fire Bird)” (9/14/13 US, 4/26/14 JAP) – The Knights learn they can combine into the more powerful Prodojet while a key goes missing on Earth.

“Vilius Revealed (The Strongest Enemy, Vilius)” (9/21/13 US, 5/3/14 JAP) – The Knights grow overconfident with the ease of finding cubes as Vilius decides to confront them personally.

“The Tenkai Kid (A New Power, X-Mode!)” (9/28/13 US, 5/10/14 JAP) – In exchange for helping around the store, Mr. White teaches the Knights how to unlock their Titan modes.

“Tributon Extreme (Ceylan’s Desperate Battle!)” (10/5/13 US, 5/17/14 JAP) – Tributon fights to unlock his Titan mode while Dormus steals the next Dragon Cube from them.

“Chooki’s Mojo (Get Back the Luck!)” (10/12/13 US, 5/24/14 JAP) – Chooki becomes jinxed to save Toxsa, turning him into a klutz.

“Valley of Secrets (Guided by Beag)” (10/19/13 US, 5/31/14 JAP) – The Knights have to rescue Beag from the Valley of Secrets after he helps them achieve a new Robofusion.

“Toxsa 2.0 (I Don’t Like Hard Work!)” (10/26/13 US, 6/7/14 JAP) – Toxsa secretly goes to Quarton to train where he ends up captured in Vilius’ latest attack.

“Two Sides to Every Coin (Revrsal! Good and Evil)” (11/2/13 US, 6/21/14 JAP) – Dormus uses a Core Corrupter to make the Corekai evil as they try to raid the Dark Fortress.

“Dragon’s Key (Hurry, Guren!)” (11/9/13 US, 6/28/14 JAP) – While Toxsa and Ceylan hold off the Corrupted, Guren and Chooki search for the White Dragon Key.

“Vilius Unleashed (Great Decisive Battle)” (11/16/13 US, 7/5/14 JAP) – The cubes are combined and taken by Dromus, and Guren reveals his identity to Vilius before defeating him.

“Lost Key (One Step to the Future!)” (11/23/13 US, 7/12/14 JAP) – Vilius captures the Tenkai Dragon.

“Tenkai Rogue (Formidable Enemy! Vendetta Appears)” (11/30/13 US, 7/19/14 JAP) – A new villain appears on Quarton while Beni and Gen scheme on Earth.

“Oh No, I Didn’t (Why We Fight)” (12/7/13 US, 7/26/14 JAP) – Ceylan’s self-doubt leaves him to wonder if he has a place on the team.

“Robofusion! (Fish up, Chooki!)” (1/4/14 US, 8/2/14 JAP) – Chooki has trouble fishing on Earth while Vilius manages to finally draw on the Tenkai Dragon’s energy.

“The Key to Evil (Activate!)” (1/11/14 US, 8/9/14 JAP) – Eurus helps Beni and Gen to keep things in balance, and sends out evil clones of the Knights.

“Extreme Titan (I’m the Hero!)” (1/18/14 US, 8/16/14 JAP) – Wakamei follows Toxsa to learn where he’s been spending his time while the Corekai and Corrupted fight over a tablet.

“Double Crossed (The Mysterious Gen)” (1/25/14 US, 8/23/14 JAP) – The Knights fight against some of Dromus’ experiments.

“Checkmate (Decisive Fight! Intellectual Battle)” (2/1/14 US, 8/30/14 JAP) – Gen attempts to sabotage the Knights by destroying Chooki’s confidence.

“Dromus Betrayed (Venetta’s Betrayal)” (2/8/14 US, 8/30/14 JAP) – The Guardians try to keep the Corrupted from going to Earth while Beni reveals her identity to the Knights.

“Dragon Key Quest (Put on Hand! The Key to Black Heaven)” (2/15/14 US, 9/6/14 JAP) – Beni helps the Knights find the Black Dragon Key.

“The Battle Begins (Last Night’s Decisive Battle)” (2/22/14 US, 9/13/14 JAP) – The Knights discover Gen’s identity but lose the Black Dragon Key.

“The Dark Unlock (Impact! Gen’s Past)” (3/1/14 US, 9/20/14 JAP) – While Bravenwolf fights Dromus, Vilius uses the key to unlock the Dragon’s evil side.

“A New Knight (Conclusion! The Strongest Mode)” (3/8/14 US, 9/27/14 JAP) – Dromus joins the Knights and the Dragon is split back into cubes that bond with them.

“Vilius Returns (A New Battle)” (3/15/14 US, 10/4/14 JAP) – The Guardians resurrect Vilius and he takes control of them and reclaims the Tenkai Dragon.

“Elemental Knights (Slyger Looming)” (3/22/14 US, 10/11/14 JAP) – The Knights gain new appearances and abilities from the energy they absorbed while Slyger is sent to Earth to kill their human forms.

“No ‘I’ in Team (Liar)” (3/29/14 US, 10/18/14 JAP) – The Knights head off without Guren so that he can attend a soccer game with his father.

“Corrupted Earth (Targeted Seiran)” (4/5/14 US, 10/18/14 JAP) – Granox is sent to Earth to tattack the Tributon.

“Dojo Mojo (The Black Guardian is Born!)” (4/12/14 US, 11/1/14 JAP) – Gen trains the Knights on how to combat the Guardians.

“Toxic Toxsa (Leader-to-Be)” (4/19/14 US, 11/8/14 JAP) – Beni convinces Toxsa to take over leadership of the team, but it quickly becomes problematic.

“Fright Knight (Disband! Tenkai Knights)” (4/26/14 US, 11/15/14 JAP) – A rift forms in the team when Ceylan beats Chooki at a training exercise.

“Beware Betrayal (Block Flower)” (5/3/14 US, 11/22/14 JAP) – Granox is sent after the Teknai Fortress while the Knights experience a problem with Brickification.

“Feeling the Heat (Revive! Sigma Mode)” (5/10/14 US, 11/29/14 JAP) – Guren is stressing over not being able to access his Titan mode, and his friends all have different ideas on how to help him.

“Hang Tenkai (True Friendship)” (5/17/14 US, 12/6/14 JAP) – Guren enters battle angry over Ceylan destroying his new skateboard while Vilius’ forces find the Tenkai Fortress.

“Fortress Revealed (A Yellow Promise)” (5/24/14 US, 12/13/14 JAP) – The Knights are forced to babysit Chooki’s cousin instead of planning a way into the Tenkai Fortress.

“Looking Forward, Looking Back” (5/31/14 US) – The Knights reminisce over their past battles to find a way into the Fortress.

“Dragon² (Fierce Battle! Tenkai Fortress)” (9/6/14 US, 12/20/14 JAP) – With both sides wanting the Fortress, it comes down to a battle of the Tenkai Dragons.

“Welcome to the Jungle (Big Adventure in Sararuland)” (9/13/14 US, 12/27/14 JAP) – The Knights and some of the Corrupted end up trapped on a planet ruled by the Beast King.

“The Race is On (Tenkai Quest IV)” (9/20/14 US, 1/10/15 JAP) – A live action role playing game becomes a serious race to the finish to claim a mysterious treasure.

“Monkey in the City (Another Earth?)” (9/27/14 US, 1/17/15 JAP) – The Knights end up on a copy of Earth charged with capturing Mr. White’s counterpart, Mr. Black.

“Ape Knight (Solve the Mystery! The Lost Jungle)” (10/4/14 US, 1/24/15 JAP) – To escape the jungle the Knights have to find Guren and change him back from a monkey bot.

“Scorpidon (A Desperate Tag)” (10/11/14 US, 1/31/15 JAP) – Orangor challenges Beag and the Knights to retrieve a flag off his head or be turned to stone.

“Red and Black (Emitting Black Whirlwind)” (10/18/14 US, 2/7/15 JAP) – The Knights return to Quarton and defend the Fortress from Vilius.

“The Four Beags (Fake Korigori!?)” (10/25/14 US, 2/14/15 JAP) – Vilius has the Corrupted Guardians take on Beag’s form.

“Heart Turns to Stone (Yellow and Beni)” (11/1/14 US, 2/21/15 JAP) – Venetta helps the Knights protect the Fortress from the Guardians while Guren and Beni babysit Chooki’s cousin.

“Too Close to Home (Fear of Tetra)” (11/8/14 US, 2/28/15 JAP) – The Knights defend Venetta from revenge, and Guren’s eagerness to save his father from Brickification leads the team into a trap.

“A New Element (The 5th Tenkai Knight)” (11/15/14 US, 3/7/15 JAP) – Dromus attempts to defend the Fortress on his own but realizes he needs to rely on his friends to help.

“Toxsa Blocked (Approaching Decisive Battle)” (11/22/14 US, 3/14/15 JAP) – The Knights finally access the Fortress while Toxsa touches a Brickified flower and becomes Brickified himself.

“Tower of Bricks (End of the Word)” (11/29/14 US, 3/21/15 JAP) – A device is made to combat the Brickification while the good Tenkai Dragon is corrupted by Vilius.

“Lone Wolf (And, Beginning)” (12/6/14 US, 3/28/15 JAP) – Bravenwolf uses the Tenkai Wolf to defeat the dragons, and Vilius merges with the Guardians to assume his ultimate form.

Origins:
“Tenkai Five” (9/17/13) – Vilius betrays the Guardians and the Tenkai Knights to become the leader of the Corrupted Army.

“Off Balance” (9/24/13) – Vilius learns some new tricks as the Guardians’ mastery of Tenkai energy is revealed.

“The Best” (10/1/13) – Vilius ascends to the role of warlord.

“Corrupted” (10/8/13) – The Guardians dismiss Vilius over his craving for Tenaki energy.

“Shifting the Griffin” (10/15/13) – Vilius launches the Corrupted Army into battle.

“BlasTank Corruption!” (10/22/13) – Vilius changes the Corekai’s equipment into different configurations.

“Guardian’s Danger” (11/5/13) – The Knights fight back against the Corrupted Army.

“Clash of the Tenkai!” (11/12/13) – The Knights confront Vilius in the Guardians’ chambers.

“Titan Revealed” (12/3/13) – The Knights almost get the Guardians away safely until Vilius shifts into his most powerful form yet.

“Tenkai United” (12/10/13) – The Guardians are safe, but Vilius seems unstoppable.

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