Japanese Title: Kachou Ouji: Hard Rock Save the Space
Watched in: English & Japanese
Genre: Music Science Fiction
Length: 13 Episodes
- Stirring rock music sung in English, even for the Japanese version.
- Psychedelic, yet fascinating opening sequence to get you pumped.
- Humorous use of metaphor and innuendo to convey the narrative of a guy saving the galaxy through rock and roll under the guise of a TV show.
- Has one of the greatest anime scenes ever in the Japanese track using an American actor.
- Takes half the series to make the narrative core clear.
- Despite the great opening, the closing sequence is terrible and not in theme with the rest of the music.
Oji was once Gabriel Tanaka of band Black Heaven, the biggest rock group around. Now he’s an office worker with a mundane life, a dull wife, and child – boring, everyday life. Enter Yuki, a voluptuous blonde and fan of Black Heaven, who gives him the opportunity of his daydreams, the chance to hold a guitar again without the glare of his wife and return to the nirvana that is rock and roll. Yuki needs him to play his perfect guitar solo to power a super weapon that can repel the oncoming alien invasion, while the world thinks the invasion is no more than a TV show.
Oji is an interesting character, varying between depression at his life and the zealous defence of his musical possessions. He hides his guitar from his wife, as she keeps trying to throw it out. Yuki and her band of undercover agents bring a nice dose of humour to Black Heaven. They go undercover to observe him, but are clearly not from Earth since they have no idea how to blend into the crowd. Black Heaven’s narrative is simple and focused on Oji’s boredom in life along with his struggle to regain his former rock star talent. The core of the plot isn’t clear until halfway through the series, so it may feel unfocused at first, but it’s worth bearing with it. It never quite explains why the ultimate weapon needs rock music to work, not that it isn’t a cool idea, but it would have been nice to have some lore on the weapon.
Black Heaven’s best aspect is the music. It has an excellent opening sequence and theme of rock ‘Cautionary Warning’ by John Sykes, sung in English even for the Japanese voice track. All of the guitar tracks are excellent; it’s clear the sound director was a fan of classic rock and knew to get a professional for the music. Each episode is titled after a famous rock song. The auditory let-down is the closing theme, a rubbish track that doesn’t fit the rest of the music – honestly, one of the worst tracks I have heard.
Legend of Black Heaven was a pleasant surprise, and is thoroughly underappreciated with a unique premise and a music angle rarely seen in anime. Lastly, there is this amazing scene:
Art – Medium
Adequate art and animation in the vein of Gundam Wing on a lower budget. Love the trippy opening art.
Sound – High
Fantastic guitar riffs and rock n’ roll along with a good Japanese voice track, but a mere average English one (outside the songs). Oji’s Japanese actor reaches a higher level of enthusiasm when he worked up, and Yuki is more seductive, whereas her English counterpart sounds a little flat.
Story – Medium
Simple plot laced with humour and a love for rock music. A bit slow to start.
Overall Quality – Medium
Recommendation: A must for lovers of rock and roll. Who knew a guitar solo could save the world.
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