Gakuen Heaven Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gakuen Heaven

Gakuen Heaven Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     August 10, 2007
Release Date: August 07, 2007


Gakuen Heaven Vol. #3
© Media Blasters


What They Say
The student council submits a petition to the board, recommending they allow Keita to stay at BL Academy. However, Keita couldn't muster the courage to sign it himself. The Chairman arranges for a school-wide MVP challenge to decide the matter once and for all. If Keita and Kazuki win, Keita can stay. If he loses, the Chairman will resign.

The Vice Chairman wastes no time in trying to fix the contest, even hiring a team of assassins. As Keita and Kazuki move through the challenges, more and more goes wrong. But Omi and Kaoru are unraveling the plot behind the scenes, as Niwa and Nakajima take the direct approach and charge the assassins head on.

Contains episodes 8-10.

The Review!
The best way to resolve any issue within a school setting seems to come down to a battle sequence/competition of some sort and Gakuen Heaven is no exception to this apparent rule.

Audio:
With only one audio track, Media Blasters has opted to not go to the extra expense of a dub for a very limited audience title. Providing a 2.0 256kbps Japanese language mix Gakuen Heaven is a decent sounding dialogue heavy title. Dialogue is well placed throughout but it's a fairly typical mix for a show of this nature. During regular playback we didn't have any issues with dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The presentation for this show in general comes across as very solid and vibrant. The shows design, one where it isn't exactly motion-heavy, helps it a lot but in general the choice of colors helps it even more. Filled with lots of natural colors and plenty of blues it simply looks very clean and generally problem free. Colors are solid and vibrant and outside of a couple of areas, such as some of the red of the guys jackets, are very minimal in terms of compression artifacts. There's a touch of aliasing in a few scenes where there is some panning going on but beyond that it's a very clean looking release.

Packaging:
Keita's role as the lead is once again hard to discern as he doesn't make the pairing for this volume either. With good looking uniforms and an overall design that's bright and appealing it certainly works well. The colors are quite vibrant without being overblown and the simple background keeps all the focus on them. The logo is cutely done with the wings as well as the inclusion of the "Boys Love Hyper" subtitle. The back cover utilizes the same kind of light blue indistinct background while providing a bunch of small shots from the show of the cast. The summary covers the basics and they do a nice job of displaying the discs features in a non-clinical way. Add in the production information and the solid and reliable technical grid and it's a good looking cover all around.

Menu:
The main menu is a simple but upbeat design that has two of the guys from the academy giving some of their best pretty-boy poses. The background is made up of various blue geometric shapes along with the series logo and a simple but straightforward navigation bar. All of it is set to some of the vocal music from the show that plays for a good loop and generally gets you into the mood of the show. Access times are nice and fast and because of how the languages are for this volume our player presets really didn't matter much.

Extras:
Not too surprising for the third volume in the series, the only extra we get is another Hamu Hamu Heaven short which runs just barely over a minute. It's a short but amusing piece that gets right to the point of essentially having lighthearted fun with its characters.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Gakuen Heaven's four volume run provides up a new set of three episodes here which serves to remind us how bad four volume series can be. This one actually doesn't come across quite so bad as the three episodes here are all about one story plot for the most part and is relatively self contained outside of the overall story arc that it deals with. What we get here is fun and certainly brings about some interesting new points about various characters.

With the move by the vice-chairman in the previous volume to oust Keita from Bell Liberty, there are some ripples of discontent over it considering the friendships Keita has made since his arrival. Though he continues to appear to have no talent or skill that would make him worthy of the school, he's managed to win over most people and that's help him gain plenty of support for staying. Several of the student council members have been working on petition signatures to get him to stay while others are investigating things at a higher level as the board rarely seems to get so involved. All that's really required is for Keita to actually state that he wants to stay and work for it. Instead, however, he's simply wilting under the realization once again that it's likely true that he doesn't belong there.

The efforts of everyone to keep him there bring a few new things to the table. The first is that Kazuki works towards a way on his own to ensure Keita will stay by agreeing to the vice chairman's terms for a competition. Not only is Keita's enrollment in the school up for grabs in this deal but Kazuki's position as student chairman is also in jeopardy. The actual chairman has decided to make the competition something called the MVP Battle where all the students who want to participate can in pairs by having to solve mysteries that will prove who is the best student in the school. It's actually fairly lame in how its setup as there isn't anything truly challenging for the students beyond figuring out a couple of riddles. The riddles and locations have all sorts of events going on in them, some related to Keita's mysterious past, but by and large it's pretty weak. It all serves the idea of putting pressure on Keita and Kazuki's friendship while tweaking Keita's memory.

What was actually the most interesting thing on this volume was a scene where Saionji sits down with Keita to talk about how he came into the school and his own background. That it's tied with Omi isn't a surprise, but how closely they are tied is. Seeing the two of them several years younger is amusing since they qualified as pretty boys even then but with rougher personalities than the polished ones they have now. Saionji's story takes up a good part of the first episode here and is something that really goes a long way in explaining the relationship the two have and how they work so well together. Like most of the characters in the series though, they aren't really main characters but supporting ones that prop up Keita and the main mystery surrounding him. They do become much more interesting characters after this episode however.

In Summary:
Gakuen Heaven has become fairly familiar and comfortable now and the three episode volume counts aren't helping it. This would have been a great little guilty pleasure if it had been done on three volumes but now it feels like it's taking too long to get to the end of things. This set of episodes has some good material to it, particularly the very amusing Hamu Hamu Heaven bits between the episodes, and it's starting to unravel some of the mysteries that it wants to present. The series isn't striving to be anything big but it's carrying along in a competent enough manner even when it has to deal with very simple and poorly laid out things like the MVP Battle contest. My interest is starting to wane but the few interesting nuggets that are in there keep me coming back, as do the pretty boys.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Hamu Hamu Heaven

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 480p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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