Spray/Visual Arts, You Higuri and Yukina Hiro, Gakuen Heaven: Boy’s Love Hyper

gakuen heavenGakuen Heaven started off as a computer game called Gakuen Heaven Boy’s Love Scramble. The franchise also includes three PlayStation 2 games, drama CDs, a manga series, and this anime. It’s a delightful bit of BL fluff, and everyone I know who’s seen it adores it.

Keita Ito, quite out of the blue, receives a letter of acceptance to the prestigious Bell Liberty School. (In case there’s any doubt about what kind of anime this is the school is known as “BL Academy.”) Now, Keita is just an average boy, not a great scholar or athlete, no special talents, and BL Academy accepts only students who are particularly gifted at something. Nevertheless, he decides to transfer in. This is the story of how he makes it as Bell Liberty.

Keita’s first friend is his next-door neighbor in the dorm, Kazuki Endo, who proves to be very solicitous — Keita jokingly says he’s like a grandmother, warm and safe and he takes care of him. However, it seems that Kazuki has a secret identity, which is the core of the dramatic conflict in the series.

Keita soon meets the other students, including all the club presidents, through the machinations of Tetsuya Niwa, the student council president, who picked Keita up at the bridge leading to the school. It’s indicative of Niwa’s character that he plans a welcome party for Keita — at a bathhouse.

I called it a bit of fluff, and it is. Even though there is a real villain — well, two, really, but one of them is a very sympathetic villain who provides the impetus for the romantic climax of the story — it’s essentially a light-hearted comedy, taking its cue from Keita’s personality: although seeing himself as just average, and plagued by doubt in this new environment, there is at his core an element of tensile strength and unquenchable optimism that carries him through.

Character drives this one, and I have to say that the Japanese voice actors are superb. Jun Fukuyuma as Keita creates one of the most appealing characters ever, and Takahiro Sakurai as Kazuki is subtle and very effective. It’s the secondary characters that provide some of the standouts. Having heard him as Soubi in Loveless, I simply didn’t believe that Katsuyuki Konishi was voicing Niwa: you can’t imagine two more different characters. Ken Narita, as Jin Matsuoka, the campus doctor, is low-key until his final scene, to which he brings an amazing passion and intensity. Toshiyuki Morikawa as Hideaki Nakajima, the student council vice president, offers one of the most intriguing and complex characters in the cast. I could go on — there’s not a misstep or out-of-whack characterization in the lot.

There’s enough to the story to keep us engaged and the action moving quite nicely — a plot by the nefarious vice-chairman of the school, counterplots by the chairman, behind the scenes maneuvering that includes the school treasury, Kaoru Saionji and Omi Shichijo (who happens to be a hacker of genius level), and the theft of research data from the school’s biology teacher. And there’s a perfectly charming and very romantic denouement.

It’s worth noting that the boys’ love elements are underplayed here, particularly the romance between Keita and Kazuki: there’s nothing like a couple of innocents falling in love without realizing it. Other pairings are obvious if you’re looking for them, for the most part, but there’s enough ambiguity that you can’t always be sure. It’s not until the last two episodes that that aspect comes into focus.

The graphic work is superb: characters designs are nearly perfect, color is bright without being garish, the animation is smooth

This is one of the anime that I pop into the player when I need a lift. It’s full of life, energy and optimism. “Boy’s Love Hyper” suits it perfectly.

The DVD includes all thirteen episodes of the series; two short episodes of “Hamu Hamu Heaven,” which were developed from the “previews” of upcoming episodes; a gallery of designs; and trailers of other offerings from Media Blasters.

(Media Blasters, 2009)


Robert M. Tilendis lives a deceptively quiet life. He has made money as a dishwasher, errand boy, legal librarian, arts administrator, shipping expert, free-lance writer and editor, and probably a few other things he’s tried very hard to forget about. He has also been a student of history, art, theater, psychology, ceramics, and dance. Through it all, he has been an artist and poet, just to provide a little stability in his life. Along about January of every year, he wonders why he still lives someplace as mundane as Chicago; it must be that he likes it there. You may e-mail him, but include a reference to Green Man Review so you don’t get deleted with the spam.

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