Black Heaven Anime Review
Section Chief Ouji
US Release By
Midlife Crisis Sci-fi Comedy
13 25-minute episodes
1999-07-08 - 1999-10-07
Black Heaven is the story of a former rock guitarist who is now living the boring life of a middle aged salaryman, trying to support his wife and kid in their tiny apartment and clinging to the last vestiges of his former glory: his guitar and records. Then some aliens show up, and it turns out that they need his music to help them achieve victory in an interstellar war--midlife crisis solved, if he can just keep his secret "affair" from breaking up his marriage.
Black Heaven sounds like a pretty silly concept if you ask me--another music saves the universe story. Well, it's neither as hard edged as the rather gritty opening visuals and packaging make it out to be, nor as silly as the story implies. Instead, Black Heaven is a weird but oddly believable take on having a midlife crisis, the lost opportunities of youth, and the things in life that are really important. It also manages to be serious, unusually mature for anime, and still surprisingly fun (there are a couple of truly hilarious implied jokes near the end if you're paying attention), with an atmosphere that is as much allegorical fairy tale as science fiction. Presenting images ranging from funny, to depressingly accurate depictions of the trapped salaried worker, to symbolic versions of mental escape and unfaithfulness, Black Heaven provides both laughter and food for thought about middle age and responsibility to both family and oneself.
Not your standard anime, but a refreshingly different comedy, and well worth checking out.
Notes and Trivia
The original title is the lead character's name and job title. It was also subtitled "Hard Rock Save the Space" (in English). The US title comes from the name of his band, Black Heaven.
Look for a cameo near the end featuring Mulder and Scully look-alikes investigating the aliens in an all-too-serious manner. Also take a good look at the reconstructed villain--the logic of making him "better" is impeccable.