Itou Keita, an average guy, is shocked when he's invited to attend the elite institution, "Bell Liberty Academy." Unnerved by the mystery, he's further distracted by the school's social dynamics. In a sea of amazing young men, Keita struggles to find out what makes him unique, and how he can possibly deserve to be treated as an equal by the boys of BL. Lacking any particular ability, just why has Itou been welcomed into the privileged world of the talented and the beautiful?
Along the way, he develops intense relationships with the almost everyone at school but he is terribly drawn to the friendly, over-caring but very mysterious classmate, Kazuki Endou.
As a yaoi fan girl, nothing pleases me more than a transfer student asking to be corrupted by his new school mates who are into “different extracurricular activities”. Such is not really the premise of Gakuen Heaven, but yaoi fan girls like me should know otherwise, right?
Gakuen Heaven is about Ito Keita, seemingly an ordinary, supposedly straight teenage boy, who is suddenly invited to a prestigious all-boys school named Bell Liberty Academy, or BL academy (How ominous XD). As soon as he gets there, his bishounen school mates start fawning over him because he’s cute. It’s
almost like the yaoi counterpart of Strawberry Panic, if you ask me.
I like the story, I think it’s cute as a whole, but I thought there wasn’t enough material to work with. Most of the episodes dealt with Keita trying to adjust in his new school, when 3 episodes would have been enough. Also, just when it was about to end was a climax that came out of almost nowhere. I thought it didn’t fit the image of the story. Heck, Ham-ham heaven was better than that climax.
Now for the more important part – the “action”. Yaoi fan girls should know what I’m referring to. Sadly, there wasn’t enough “action” in Gakuen Heaven. Most of the “action” were fake and plain teasing. There was only one kiss throughout the whole thing, and I thought that kiss was kinda awkward and disappointing.
I have to say though, that Gakuen Heaven has a beautiful cast of bishounens. Yes, the cast is heavily dominated by men. There was only one episode with women, and they’re not even that significant, nor attractive. Not that it’s important. My favorite characters are Niwa a.k.a. King. He’s like a dashing prince that reminds me of Conrad from Kyou Kara Maoh. I also like Shunsuke’s playful nature, the impish twins, and the cute Keita.
You’d think I’ll be contented with the bevy of bishounens, but I’m not. I’m a little disappointed because there wasn’t enough differentiation between the characters. They all look almost completely alike, except for Keita, Shunsuke and the twins (probably explains why I like these characters the most). Everyone else had the same facial structure and would look the same if they had the same hairstyle. That’s just a small qualm though. Overall, visuals really look nice. I like the coloring, because a wide variety of colors were used. The illustrations and the backgrounds were all very detailed but not overwhelming to the eye.
As for the voice acting, 2 names immediately caught my attention. The first name is Jun Fukuyama, who was Lelouch Lamperouge in Code Geass, and Watanuki Kimihiro in xxxHOLiC, and is Ito Keita in Gakuen Heaven. What a talented guy – I almost didn’t recognize it was him since Lelouch and Watanuki have such strong voices, while Keita has such a soft, almost girly voice. The second is Takahiro Sakurai, one of my favorite male voice actors. He was Shun in Gatekeepers, and Cloud in Final Fantasy: Advent Children. In Gakuen Heaven, he is Kazuki, who’s actually my least favorite character, but at least he has a talented voice actor to back him up.
I usually wouldn’t like songs similar to the OP “School Boys”, but I really like that song. I think it’s poppy and catchy, and I even dance to it when I hear it sometimes. It’s the same for the ED, “Panorama” – I didn’t expect I would like it at all. However, I still prefer the OP since it’s more upbeat.
In the end, the story seems to be Gakuen Heaven’s weakest point. I know it may seem that yaoi fan girls are more concerned about BL when it comes to yaoi, but the story’s important too. If the story had a different, more suitable climax, I probably would have liked it more, but Gakuen Heaven was still worth watching.
Ah, Gakuen Heaven. I happen to come across this by chance and I'm glad I did. Now its a storyline based upon the main character (Keita) who suddenly receives an invite to an exclusive academy for boys. Unknown to him, the invite is from an old childhood friend. Throughout the storyline you meet the rest of the characters, like Naruse who automatically falls "in-love" for Keita and spends the entire series fawning over him, calling him his "Honey".
You also see a bit of an "evil" side from the other characters in the story. Keita's doubt at being able to attend BL Academy is very apparent
throughout the storyline, especially when the Ozawa twins taunt him, saying he's not fit to attend the school because he has no special talents.
This is very much a Shounen-ai, and you do see romantic tendancies in the show, and apparently almost all the characters have a bit of a "crush" on Keita. Throughout the storyline you slowly notice the real reason for Keita being there (I'll be a bum and not expose why if you haven't seen it).
Long in a short, I found this SUPER funny and really cute. The best parts are the "commercial" areas that show screen shots of various characters... some a little more PG-13 than others *grins* Total love for fangirls. If you haven't seen this, and you want a good laugh, I'd recommend it.
Just saying from the get-go. I failed to remember the names of most of the characters, besides Keita, Kazuki and Naruse, so I’m just going to refer to the rest of them by the nicknames that I ended up calling them with (don’t worry, it’s pretty much obvious who’s who by nicknames too, so there will be no confusion).
Story - 3
The overall story is just what it is/what it seems: light, simple, funny, fanservice-y; nothing more and nothing less than what I already expected when I dived into it: your typical highschool BL reverse harem set in the elite Bell Liberty Academy, which is
literally shortened up to "BL Academy" and I'm not even kidding you! (I see what you did there, author!) Well, at least for the first half it was entertaining to follow Keita getting in all sorts of questionable and funny situations with the rest of the guys.
Second half was rather unbalanced from all points of view. The main problem was that it tried to add up different genres into the story to develop a kind of drama between the main characters, but seriously, it felt like it turned into a different show entirely. It tried to insert some half-assed assassins that got pawned by 16 years old kids because POWER OF MAIN CHARACTERS!! Then some workplace-family tragedy regarding Kazuki and his "secret" because WHY NOT, WE NEED ANGST. And lastly there was some sort of sci-fi virus situation because YAMI NO MATSUEI RIP-OFF(and for those that know that manga/anime, I can say two things: silver hair and medical experimentation. Hello, Muraki of the Red Moon!). But before you go and cheer expecting a Gakuen Heaven MurakixTsuzuki situation, don't get ahead of yourselves because it definitely doesn't go to that extent, no no, because we must not forget the absolute POWER OF BROMANCE! ... and the power of the main guy motivational speeches. This is a LIGHT show, people! Full of hearts and flowers!
Characters - 3
The characters were overall pretty under-developed, but it's anything but a rare issue when it comes to multiple-endings visual novel adaptations. However, not even Kazuki, the obvious main love interest, had as much development as I would wish and expect. He loved Keita by default, his "secret" was just a way to cause drama and in the end, nothing ever mattered. The other characters? They can't be really called "characters".
They are the most basic of anime archetypes with some "gimmicks" to them, sometimes not even that. Kingu (Yes, Kingu, because I can't help but make fun of Japanese Engrish) was nothing but the baddass student council president who had way too little screentime to even be able to remember him, Emo Painter was just an emo painter who sometimes acted like decoration just to be able to say "See? I'm here!", Queen is a feminine-looking guy and head of the school Treasury/Accounting department whose gimmick was acting like a "Queen", being beautiful and having an issue with it, his love/hate towards Kingu and his soft spot for a sketchy looking hacker/childhood friend (and he's voiced by Kamiya Hiroshi in his early seiyuu days coughs worth mentioning), Genki Guy was the typical genki guy with Kanto (?) accent which made him sound as if he was meowing for the most part so we got ourselves the Neko-guy too, who in the end literally did nothing but being "genki", then "megane"-san sent me creepy shivers in more ways than one, but he also went nowhere, then...well, you get the idea. The rest aren't much different or important either.
Honorable mention goes to Naruse because everytime he appeared on screen I couldn't help but grin widely for his over-the-top flirting sessions and I doubt I'll be able to get "HONEY!" off my mind for awhile. And then there's the twins, which surprisingly had to offer some development and conclusion regarding their feelings towards Keita, which I praise immensely seeing how awful the rest of the cast was treated.
Art&OST - 4,5
Art-wise, it was quite generic, nothing too bad or too awesome-looking. Some backgrounds looked unfinished though and I'm mostly referring to the forest backgrounds. OST is quite generic as well and didn't exactly pop out, however the opening song, if listened to more than once, becomes quite entertaining in the long run.
Enjoyment - 7
Well, I personally enjoyed it for what it was. It was my ray of sunshine in some days and I'm sad that it's over! I recommend it to those that want to shut their brains and have something to laugh or d'aww at or to people that like BL in general. I don't recommend it if you're looking for an involving story with twisted Yami no Matsuei-like BL elements or something similar to Junjou Romantica or Sekaiichi Hatsukoi. Gakuen Heaven is even lighter than those and it should be taken as such, for what it is, without having too many expectations for it.
Hello, Everyone. Valentine's is this week so let's look at a romance. In this case, Gakuen Heaven a shounen-ai series based on a video game from Spray. The adaptation was handled by Spray, Visual Art's and Tokyo Kids. Let's dive right in and see if the love is in the air or if this is one of those painful romances.
The tale opens with Keita getting an acceptance letter to Bell Liberty Academy, a prestigious boys' school where the most elite of elite students attend classes. Keita wonders why he's been accepted since he can't think of anything that makes him special, but he
goes because it's a great opportunity. At the Academy he meets a bunch of kind, attractive guys who readily accept him in spite of his own doubts. Everything seems to be going well, particularly with Kazuki who is always by his side, when Keita finds his qualifications suddenly challenged and has to prove himself worthy.
The biggest issue with the story is that the series doesn't take a lot of risks in its story-telling. As such, a lot of the events and turns are really predictable. If you've seen or read a decent number of romance stories then you've probably seen every turn the story takes used enough times that you know the pattern it's going to follow. Gakuen Heaven tries to compensate for that with its humour, which does work to an extent, but even that isn't always well done. To give a concrete example, the story uses the joke where characters sound like they're doing something naughty and the camera shows things in the background to imply that there may be something naughty going on that they can't show you until, big surprise, it shows the characters doing something completely innocuous. It's a setup that can work and that can be really funny, but it loses all its impact when you keep using it at the beginning of episodes.
Now, the plot being standard and predictable doesn't make it bad. There are a lot of good things about the story too. The foreshadowing is really good, although I'm, not sure if that's because they expected the plot to be hard to follow or because they knew it was going to be predictable but still didn't want to have anything happen in the climax that introduced new elements and wouldn't make much sense. Either way, I will give them credit for establishing everything early. There are also some really cute romantic moments that work well and the humour, even with those moments that don't work, is generally funny and entertaining.
The characters in this are pretty archetypical. You've got the twins who have the same personality, the hyper flirtatious guy, the sensitive artist, the kind athletic guy who takes care of everyone, and so on. None of them are bad characters but they don't have much depth to them. My only real complaint is that Hideaki is kind of creepy in a way that doesn't really mesh with the rest of the series. To be fair, he doesn't do much in terms of things that are actually creepy, but those few scenes where he does are just strange and a little uncomfortable. I will also give the series credit, though. I do like that Keita has a pretty subtle character arc that demonstrates exactly what makes him worthy and even remarkable in spite of his own uncertainty. The character dynamics are also really well done, in spite of most of the characters being pretty standard.
The art is pretty good. The backgrounds can be a bit sparse, but the character designs are really good and the animation flows really well, particularly in those scenes where there's some kind of action. The series is also really good about using art to set up atmosphere, which it does do in several scenes and there are some really nice details for objects that are actually going to be important.
Gakuen Heaven has an amazing vocal cast. Our main couple is voiced by Sakurai Takahiro (the voice of Cloud Strife and Kururugi Suzaku) and Fukuyama Jun (the voice of Lelouch Lamperouge and Albert de Morcerf.) Incidentally, I now understand why Code Geass has so many shounen-ai fans. They aren't the only big name actors either. We've got Morikawa Toshiyuki (Sephiroth,) Konishi Katsuyuki (Lloyd Irving,) Miki Shinichiro (Kudou Youji,) Kawakami Tomoko (Utena,) Suzumura Kenichi (Kokutou Mikiya,) Kamiya Hiroshi (Levi) and many others. They all deliver really spectacular performances in this too. The music is really good. Yoshikawa Mei does a good job delivering a suitable score.
As surprising as it may be, this shounen-ai romance has a lot of ho-yay in it. The ho-yay factor is a 10/10.
Gakuen Heaven is a simple, light-hearted romance. A lot of it is pretty standard stuff, but it manages to have some really good aspects too. A lot of the humour works, the cutesy moments are absolutely adorable, the vocal cast is amazing, the character dynamics are good and it is consistently entertaining throughout. If you're in the mood for a cutesy romance, check it out. If that isn't your thing then you aren't going to be into this series. For myself, I give it a solid 7/10. Next week I'll take a look at Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka.