Gakuen Heaven Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Released By: Blu
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 1-59816-708-1
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Gakuen Heaven Vol. #01

By Julie Rosato     December 20, 2006
Release Date: November 07, 2006

Gakuen Heaven Vol.#01
© Blu

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:You Higuri
Translated by:Christine Schilling
Adapted by:

What They Say
Keita, your average male high school student, suddenly gets an invitation from the prestigious all-boys school Bell Liberty (BL). He's approached by two good-looking guys who turn out to be students at BL--but not just any students! They are Niwa and Saionji, or the "King" and "Queen" respectively! Filled with kidnappings, jealous students, and near-kiss experience, this highly anticipated boys' love series is an erotic tale set in an all-boys' school!

The Review
Read this book for the pretty... and the giggles.

BLU has done a nice job with the presentation here. The original (first issue) cover image of Niwa and Keita is used and has one of the best color reproductions I've seen from this publisher. The logo runs down the opposite (left) side in purple but maintains the vertical layout of the original BIBLOS book without compromising the image. The back cover uses the color plate illustration, of Niwa and Keita once again (although this is a different image than what is used on the original). Inside, the printing looks really good. Furthermore, Gakuen Heaven is one of those lucky titles in BLU's catalog to receive a color plate, and, finally, the English translation has been credited. Higuri's postscript is included, as are the bonus manga shorts, and ads for other BLU titles close up the book.

Candy! As far as the eye can see! It's no secret that I love You Higuri's artwork; it's beautiful, expressive and distinct, and when she wants to draw a pretty boy, does she ever. The only real "drawback" here (although it's done on purpose, so one might hardly call it such) is that just as these boys have a stock set of character types, so do their designs. The essential bishonen styles are all represented here and so the look all around might be considered merely customary. Still, this is a book based on a dating-sim franchise and therefore full of adorable and sexy guys, so you really can't go wrong. There isn't much for backgrounds, but the pages are generally full of artwork nonetheless, and with all this eye candy around, who's looking at the backgrounds? Occasionally the more layered tonework bears the burden of BLU's darker printing, but the art reproduction overall looks as good as it can get from this publisher.

BLU seems to have stepped up the SFX translation here and a good many of them have been done via overlay. They're handled pretty well, although that awful block font is still used all over the place. If it means getting a translation at all, I guess I'll take it and be happy about it, but I'd like to see less seemingly random misses. With as many SFX as are translated here, they could have just all been done. Given this publisher's track record for these things, it's hard to tell whether or not this was intentional.

The script itself seems good; the attitudes work, the angst is readable, it's fun, and I didn't catch any major errors. The Japanese naming order is maintained, as are the use of some honorifics.

Contents:(please note the following may contain spoilers)
Keita Itou is a lucky guy. Really. And he's landed himself - literally - on the grounds of a super-elite private school for boys. He's the only transfer student the prestigious Bell Liberty (that's BL for short, kids!) Academy's ever had, and doesn't that just smell like a mystery? You bet it does! His spectacular entry attracts the attention of, well, everyone, and so Keita's first task at his new school, aside from blinding everyone with his optimism and enthusiasm of course, is touring the campus and meeting all of the important (and hot) guys at the Academy.

By the time he's done we've got pretty much all the guys in the BL-equation: the charismatic student council president (a.k.a. king), his lovely rival the queen, an uber-cute teacher, a reticent artist, a big brother type, the best friend, the genius, a domineering vice-president, a suave jock, a spunky sprite -- all plus Keita, the good-natured, eternally-optimistic uke-to-be. Seriously, they're all here; pick your poison.

So...after he's suitably smitten everyone, Keita gets some shockingly bad news: He's getting kicked out already! Luck is apparently not enough of a special skill to keep him enrolled in such a distinguished school. There's hope yet though - a pair's competition in which the winners are granted whatever they desire. Naturally (almost) everyone wants Keita to stay. Pairing up with none other than the King, Keita prepares to fight in earnest for his place in the Academy. Awww, it's cute, isn't it? How hard he tries? Will Keita succeed? Will he be bullied? Will he find what he wants? Will he also find love? Will he angst about it? What do you think?

If you're looking for the plot to resemble anything like that of the game/franchise upon which this manga is based, then you should look hard for the parts where Keita & Co. try to uncover the mystery behind his sudden invitation to BL Academy... but it's buried kind of deep under all these pretty boys. So deep, in fact, it's not actually resolved. But it's not really the point in this alternate version, and you weren't really going to look, right?

Gakuen Heaven is based on the popular BL dating-sim game of the same name, so don't expect a good manga here. Cliched & ridiculous set-ups? Yes. Pretty boys? Yes. Laughs? Definitely. Cheesy dialogue during sex (on the beach... at sunset)? You betcha! But plot, not so much. But that's ok; read this when you need a giggle, when you want something silly and a dating-sim! Bell Liberty Academy? Tell me you wouldn't laugh every time at the prospect of calling it BL Academy?! There are so many pairing choices that you can happily imagine them to your own delight, but note the outcome is planned from the start, as determined by the results of a popularity poll (and if you looked at the cover, you already know it!).

Honestly, with the pairing decided from the start there isn't much chance to develop the other guys beyond the basics, nor is there enough page time to bother with too much angst. Oh, there's enough to make this your standard High-School Boys-Love title, but it's not half so developed a story as BLU might have you believe. Even the big mystery behind Keita's sudden invitation and transfer to BL Academy is never actually revealed, despite being talked up quite a lot. And so the story zooms by at a ridiculous pace, throwing in so many BL cliches you barely have time to register them all. But we all know why everything inside is the way it is: In a word, fanservice.

This book is a safe bet for BLU; it's got name recognition and it fits in well with the current mainstream BL market. It's just sexy enough with short, but relatively hardcore molestation and love scenes, however, if you want an "adult" story, an overly angsty romance or just can't laugh at yourself from time to time, pass on this book. If you can take this story for what it is, you'll probably enjoy the heck out of it. It's not the only (or best) book to poke fun at its genre... but did I mention all the eye candy?


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