Oji Tanaka has a wife, a child and a mundane job as a salary man in Tokyo's modern society. But life wasn't dull for him to begin with; 15 years ago, he was known as "Gabriel", leader of a short-lived heavy metal band called Black Heaven. Oji's life gets a sudden change in direction when he is invited by a mysterious blonde woman named Layla to pick up his Gibson Flying V and once again display his "legendary" guitar skills, not knowing that his music generates power for a massive weapon in an intergalactic war.
This is one of those Animes that will really throw you for a loop. It starts out pretty plain but by the end you are at the edge of your seat. The setting goes from a hapless salary man's every day life, to a battle that the fate of the universe rests on. The Legend of Black Heaven is a wild ride with some of, if not the best, music that you have ever heard in a Anime.
Story: I can honestly say that while the story is beyond a doubt a very original creation, it does lack some polish. Some events in the story take place much to slowly (around the beginning especially) but by the end of it, the writers get it right and you're trying desperately to find the next episode to find out what happens. Don't worry if the first few are a little bland, you'll thank yourself by the end.
Art: Art is perhaps the one field where Black Heaven really falls short. Now don't get me wrong, some of the space scenes are done in a very impressive CG and they look amazing! Unfortunately the reason they do look so good is that most of the artwork is nothing more than average. You won't find anything really special in this department either, but it's not so bad as to distract from the fun.
Sound: AMAZING! <--- The one word that really describes the sound and the soundtrack for Black Heaven. The fact that the story centers around a band, and the fact that music is an extremely integral part of the Anime makes the sound even better. While character development and action may be the most important and cause some of the most heart wrenching moments in other Animes, Black Heaven's music will make you cry, laugh, and rock on! To put this into perspective, the first ever OST I downloaded was this one, and I love it.
Character: Both Oji and Layla are very memorable characters for me. I loved it whenever they were on screen, even more when they were both on. Oji (AKA Gabrielle) makes it possible to love this series; his transformation from depressed cubical dweller to rock god is shown amazingly.However most of the other characters, while either interesting or pleasant, didn't leave me with lasting memories of them.
Enjoyment: Again Black Heaven ranks very highly for enjoyment. This is a direct result of Oji and his great music. There will be times early on when it seems to drag, but these don't last very long. Layla's assistants also do a great job of putting in comic relief every time you see them. Personally, I enjoyed it even more the second time around.
Overall: I give it an 8/10. I was tempted to give it an even higher mark but I know I shouldn't. This Anime is not perfect, nor will you mistake it for being one. But despite all of it's flaws it has a little bit of magic to it. A magic that you will feel every time Gabrielle strums his guitar. Honestly the music in it makes it a must see, or at least a must hear. (I wanted to give sound a 11/10 but they wouldn't let me) read more
Legend of Black Heaven was made in 1999 and made by AIC back when they didn’t rely on shitty fanservice harems and could pump out stuff like Black Heaven and Now and Then, Here and There. It tells the story of Oji, a generic Tokyo salaryman going through a midlife crisis. After despairing when his wife throws out his favourite electric guitar, a sexy alien co-worker tells him that he is the one man with the ability to power an intergalactic super weapon using his guitar playing.
Not that the space opera plot really matters that much. The super weapon runs on roughly the same energy that the robots in Gurren Lagann ran on, except this time it requires guitar playing to transform said spirit (which Black Heaven calls ‘groove’) into energy to run the weapon. We’re never given any reason why they’re fighting or who they’re fighting. One of my running theories throughout the series was that this was all in the main characters head. The anime itself kept to the theme that this was all a dream, never crossing the boundary between the real world and the space battles.
What purpose the space guitar playing battles really serve is a big metaphor for the lead characters mid life crisis. For everything that happens in the space battle zone, there’s a clear correlation between what’s going on in his head and the real world. The realisation that nobody really cared about the songs he was playing in the spaceships was a metaphor for how he had gotten so wrapped up in trying to create a spark in his mid life that he hadn’t realised how his head was totally in the clouds. The numerous sexual metaphors connected to escaping to play his guitar, while played for comedy pretty frequently, correlated to how he wanted to escape his whiny wife and unsatisfying home life.
Black Heavens greatest achievement is that it manages to keep both the general story and the metaphors great fun to watch throughout. Purely on the surface level, Black Heaven is still an incredibly fun anime. The characters all have clear personalities and flawed in their own ways. The failing marriage of Oji and his wife has no clear person you’re meant to side with. There’s a panic and fear surrounding the women when she realises that their marriage is failing and he might be off with another women, but she struggles so hard to understand his passion that it’s understandable how Oji wants to create a spark in his life with this metaphorical mistress of space guitar playing. Oji is a hugely flawed character himself, prone to frequent feelings of elation and depression. One of the parts I really liked about Black Heaven were how the most extreme moments in his emotions were set inside the ramen stall. It was the one place he could visit and be himself without the show ever actually saying that itself.
There’s so many little things I love about this anime. The growing relationship between Oji and his son, where at the beginning he knew nothing about him to Oji becoming the dads idol. The kids TV show Flying 5 constantly providing indirect commentary to what was going through Oji’s mind at the time. The way the show never lost its sense of humour, whether it be through the hilarious sight of middle aged office workers trying to fit a bass guitar over their ever-expanding bellies to the occasional yet rather liberal use of fanservice throughout the show (bunny girl press-ups spring to mind). It’s a story of identity crisis wrapped up in a Heavy Metal Macross package.
It’s far from perfect and I’m not so blind as to suggest otherwise. Made in 1999, the animation isn’t particularly good even for its time. The animation is pretty fluid but has a tendency to re-use frames a hell of a lot and far away shots of characters can often give them misshapen heads. The anime has a single utterly awesome theme song that it uses the entire way through the show. While this does add a lot when you hear how the song evolves throughout, it does start to get a bit much as it goes on. The comic relief trio don’t do an awful lot for the plot either and can sometimes take up time being not very funny.
My biggest complaint though is how I felt it started to lose sight of the balance it created between the real world and the space opera right at the end. I get what it was going for and how Oji had come to terms with this dream by the end, but I felt it didn’t quite get the balance right the same way the rest of the series did. Even so, Legend of Black Heaven is one of the greatest anime I have ever seen, just in case that big fat 10 mark hadn't given away that already ;)read more
For me this story has nothing to do with music, that's just accessory. The true jem about this anime is the story. With more money to avoid some scene repetition, this could have been one of the greatest anime i ever saw. This is definitly not for young people who are usually longing for strong,in rough emotions. When I saw this anime i took pleasure in seeing that the main character is an adult,simple, regular person. No fancy things just plain normal. He could have chosen a life to follow his dreams, but instead like a man, he took up his responsibilities, dedicated himself to his family. Nobody had to die, no overreaction. By contrast to many predictable, and drama queens animes, in Black Heaven there is no big drama, it's just simply sad. There is no blood sacrifices, no impossible, platonic hyped love. It's the most realistic essay of the human condition i've seen in anime in a very long time. He doesn't have a special power, he just happens to know how to play a song. For some it may be very boring, due to the small amount of action that you observe in the anime, however it is this tranquillity that allows it to develop the so well the characters. It reminds me of the 70's & 80's movies. Very few special effects and more concentration/focus on the character/plot development. The sound may be a bit repetitive after a while, but nevermind that, the rest will compensate for it. It's a serious anime for serious people. read more
final rating: Two thumbs up
mode watched: official DUBS
age restrictions: They say "damn." 18+ (The kids wouldn't enjoy it anyways)
recommended viewing experience: Dub, alone, the fanciest headphones you have, sober/a little buzzed.
Aight dawg, listen up. Black Heaven is not a one-time anime. You will watch it more than once. It's not deep. You dont have to rewatch to understand whats going on. You will remember this anime randomly sometime later in life and feel the need to watch it again. It's freaking great.
It's about passion, and sticking to it. its about friends, family, love and depression. But there is no story-book lesson to learn here. It's not a shounen moral piece. It follows a man who decides what he wants to do with his life, always choosing what he loves above all else. That's probably the biggest draw of the work, the truly "adult" protagonist. This aint one of your high-school-shitfests. Oh, look, originality!
Look, this is about music, and there are only like three songs tops in the series. IT'll get annoying if you marathon it, but hey, its the same as listening to it on the radio that way. The tunes are hella catchy.
The art is kinda old. Not MSG old, but like, maybe, low-budget from 08th MS team-tier. It looks good enough. Check out the first episode sometime. Actually, no. Set a day or two aside for this one. It'll be fun.
You are my instigator, you are my aggravator, you are my space invader, CAUTIONARY WARNING I PROPOSE~~~~~read more
It's time to plug in those electric guitars and shred 'em like there's no tomorrow. We'll be taking Hell's highway on a journey through a rock music compendium of some of the most rockin' anime shows out there! Get ready for some hardcore rock anime!