Gakuen Heaven Nakajima by You Higuri and Spray
The Gakuen Heaven manga series is based on a dating sim and as a result the characterizations are rather shallow. You Higuri does the art, so if you’re looking for something pretty to look at this manga may fit the bill. The first volume focused on Keita (untalented normal boy sent to school full of hotties who all seem to love him) and his relationship with King, the head of the student council. Nakajima is King’s second in command and was noteworthy in the first volume for perpetrating a sexual assault on Keita. So it was weird for me to read this book which takes place in an alternate universe where Keita and Nakajima got together instead. I’ve read that the pairings in the manga were based on a character popularity poll, and the characterizations and plot are arbitrary as a result.
Keita still doesn’t have much personality. His main function is to look cute, be simple, and agonize over his relationship issues. The manga opens with him being late to school again due to his and Nakajima’s nocturnal to early morning activities. Keita sits in class feeling used, but when he sees Nakajima walking to class he reminds himself that he’s dating the handsome, athletic, and smart vice-president of the school and concludes that he’s dating an amazing person. There’s some complicated and somewhat incomprehensible issues with the student council and school budget, and Keita is tricked by another student into thinking that Nakajima is trying to betray the King. Nakajima ends up saving Keita from an attempted rape, but his personality is so cold and off-putting that I wasn’t interested in this story. The plot with Keita trying to unravel the mysterious budget issues of the student council wasn’t very compelling either. The second story is a flashback to the first year when King and Nakajima met, and their initial rivalry that turned into friendship after a knock-down drag-out fight, and it was a little more interesting to see a story told from Nakajima’s point of view.
Overall though, the relationship in this book was just not enjoyable to read about, and this is the rare volume where Higuri’s art doesn’t compensate for the lack of plot and characterization. Fans of yaoi who want to read something by You Higuri would be better served by Gorgeous Carat.
Review copy provided by the publisher.