March 18, 2015
SPRAY / You Higuri – Blu – 2010 – 1 volume
I was disappointed when I realized that this was a spinoff of the original Gakuen Heaven series. The “series” is actually a BL game, but I was expecting this to be a manga version of the story. Instead, it’s kind of a sequel-spinoff focusing on one of the characters. Endo. Who isn’t actually in it that much. But really, I bought it because I really like You Higuri.
After the events of the first series (Keita was almost expelled from school), Bell Liberty seems like a happier place for Keita. He’s hooked up with his childhood friend/secret rich dude head of school, and the festival where everyone gets to show off what they’re best at is coming up. Exciting! But it turns out Keita’s boyfriend, Endo, is being forced to leave the school by his rich father, and is being replaced with a jerk VP that spreads rumors about him. Also, Keita is in charge of the huge festival, which is actually enormously stressful, but even more so when people realize they have to excel or be expelled when the VP spreads rumors to wreck the mood of the school.
There are a LOT of characters here, but they are easy to ignore, and most of them don’t really have more than a few lines. Those who do… aren’t really introduced. Surprisingly, the story isn’t that hard to follow, and Keita makes for a cute protagonist. It’s a pretty standard “save the school and my boyfriend!” storyline, so if you’re looking for a fun read, this will do the trick. There’s definitely better out there.
And while Keita and Endo are adorable, they are almost never together. There’s a couple scenes of them kissing that cut away with heavily implied sex (they live together), and one slightly more graphic scene at the end. I was a little shocked since I’d read part of a different Gakuen Heaven series in Princess Gold magazine, and there’s a suggestion of a rimjob in one panel, which is very un-Princess-like behavior. Apparently this was a Libre series, though. There’s a single panel where you can kind of make that out, but the rest of the scene is them naked and hugging each other, and it lasts two pages. Nothing graphic.
Higuri points out my favorite part of this story in the author’s notes. Endo is a student, but also the chairman of the school. His father wants him to move on to head their banking division, which implies that this guy is probably not high-school age (the flashbacks also make him look a bit older than Keita, but Keita is drawn to look young anyway). Higuri wants to know how old Endo is, as do I.
Higuri’s art is good, as always. With all the male characters, her art makes them easy to tell apart, which isn’t always the case in BL stories with a big cast like this. I read this because I am woefully low on Higuri books in English now. You can read her other stories though, and they are better than this. Try Ludwig II.
Also, in case the Bell Liberty Academy joke sailed over your head as it did mine, the characters refer to it as BL Academy after the first page.