Shokugeki no Soma, aka Food Wars!, creators Yūto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki are back with a brand new series named Tenmaku Cinema. While Shokugeki no Soma did not have the best ending with the final story arc having many problems, all revolving around the final villain of the story, I enjoyed the series overall. Tsukuda and Saeki created a great core cast of different characters that made Shokugeki no Soma fun to read even if the ending wasn’t ideal. Now it’ll be interesting to see if Tsukuda and Saeki learn from their experience with Shokugeki no Soma for their new series. Let’s find out with Tenmaku Cinema Chapter 1.
Writer: Yūto Tsukuda
Artist: Shun Saeki
Film-loving middle schooler Hajime Shinichi, who is also at the top of his class, is unable to continue avoiding a ghost that seems to have been following him for a while. The ghost introduces themselves as former screenwriter Takihiko Tenmaku, who died when he was 18 years old.
When Tenmaku mentions writing a script for film director Ryu Shirakawa, Hajime realizes Tenmaku has been dead for 30 years.
After this Hajime decides to help Tenmaku figure out how to pass on to the next world.
As the days pass when Tenmaku sees Himeki Kuraku, an idol at Hajime’s school and a new movie star, Tenmaku forces Hajime to write a film script.
Tenmaku then uses Hajime to give Himeki the script he wrote for her. Being possessed causes great strain on Hajime and he passes out.
When Hajime wakes up in the nurse’s office Himeki says she has decided to star in the lead role of the script Hajime directs. End of chapter.
The first chapter of Tenmaku Cinema won’t be changing the game with the kind of story it’s tackling. This is another series that features a slice-of-life high school setting with a hook centered around a ghost. Unlike other supernatural series like Bleach or Jujutsu Kaisen, Tenmaku Cinema is leaning toward being a slice-of-life series. That is not a bad thing but it does make the first chapter be by the book with how the main characters are introduced.
When it comes to Tenmaku Cinema’s first chapter it is very focused on getting over Hajime Shinichi and Takihiko Tenmaku as the series leads. We do get introduced to who looks to be the series’ main female lead in Himeki Kuraku towards the backend of the chapter. But even then Himeki’s character is more on the “we will develop later” kind of character introduction. This is all about getting Hajime Shinichi and Takihiko Tenmaku over as leads.
Because of that, your enjoyment will come down to if you are into seeing how these characters will grow in a slice-of-life setting. As of now, there doesn’t seem to be anything more supernatural in the world beyond Takihiko Tenmaku being a ghost. That certainly can’t stop Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki from introducing more supernatural elements in the series later down the line. But as of this first chapter, there is no hint that there is a bigger supernatural world we are dealing with like Bleach or Jujutsu Kaisen.
Taking a more real-world approach does make it noticeable that Tsukuda and Saeki do opt to go with characters and films only for this world. Specifically, Takihiko Tenmaku mentioned writing a film he was going to pitch to Ryu Shirakawa, a film director that is made for this world, rather than a real-world director known in Japan or Hollywood. This does seem to indicate that Tsukuda and Saeki are looking to build their own world of film as they did with the cooking world in Shokugeki no Soma. How well they do that will be up to future chapters to get over.
Now as for our lead in Hajime Shinichi, the character does not immediately jump off as a lead you want to follow their journey on. Even though we see that Hajime has a passion for films it does not go beyond surface level. That is because when Tsukuda and Saeki have him display his passion Hajime just says a lot of buzz words that invoke a character that is passionate. Maybe that is the point as Hajime himself isn’t positioned to be a talented person when it comes to making movies. But this once again does make it so Hajime has no quality that truly makes him stand out as to why the reader should be invested in his film-directing journey.
This is where Tsukuda and Saeki try to balance the normal guy presentation of Hajime with Takihiko Tenmaku. Takihiko is certainly positioned to have a much bigger personality in comparison to Hajime. This is something Takihiko clearly had even before passing away in 1993 as his drive to create the perfect movie script got him to pass away before even graduating high school. Though there does seem to be more to Takihiko’s origin and how he became a ghost based on how he told Hajime his backstory. That mystery is something that could drive its own story arc depending on whether Tsukuda and Saeki decide to go full-on supernatural or stick to slice-of-life with Hajime’s film director journey.
Then there is what appears to be the third character in the Tenmaku Cinema trio, Himeki Kuraku. As mentioned earlier, Himeki is the character that gets the least amount of screen time. She is firmly positioned as a school idol-type character who has already had success as an actress. With her already getting such success there is a big question as to why she would so immediately accept being in an unproven middle school kid’s film. That question alone honestly makes Himeki a much more interesting character than Hajime. There does seem to be a lot more than meets the eye with her character that Tsukuda and Saeki hopefully dive into right away.
Tenmaku Cinema Chapter 1 is a by-the-books introduction to a new manga series. We get our introduction to the characters that will make up the Tenmaku Cinema trio and how this will be a journey to become movie creators. Now it will be up to the next chapter to get that concept over to fully hook the reader into the story. As a fan of their previous work, that is hopefully that is something Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki can accomplish.
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10