Black Heaven – Hard Rock save the Space

October 25, 2010

Our hapless hero.

Legend of Black Heaven (aka Hard Rock save the Space)  was produced in 1999 by AIC, so it has a nostalgic quality to the art style that rather worked for me, as it tells the story of an older protagonist who is wistful about his “salad days“. As might be expected from that setup, the show is loaded with black humor. I thought the show was pretty funny, and it is notable in that it is the story of an older protagonist. The review that follows is designed for minimal spoilers.

Memories of glory days.

When our hero, Oji Tanaka, was younger, he was a guitar hero. Now he’s married and has a kid. He works as a salaryman and he has lost the feeling of wonder in life. When his wife throws out his beloved Flying V model guitar, he heads out to a roadside food booth and drinks sake.

According to anime, these places are everywhere in Tokyo, and tying your tie on your head like that seems to be pretty common, too.

While Oji is crying into his fish cake, a beautiful woman slides in to the booth and buys a glass of sake for herself. She knows of Oji’s past, and claims she still sees in him the musician of his younger days.

Layla.

What Oji doesn’t know is that Layla has been observing him all day, she and several other operatives seem to believe he is “the messiah”. What do these people want from him? Does it have anything to do with the news reports of space battles?

Of course! It would be un-gentleman-like to brag.

Layla gives Oji something he needed, and rekindles his interest, not only in living, but in the others around him as well. Of course keeping the details of his relationship with Layla a secret is no easy matter. In particular there is the thorny issue of his wife.

Stairway to Heaven.

But what exactly does he have with Layla? Is it all a dream? Given how drunk he was, how much of it was real at all?

Once he has been reawakened, Oji becomes an interesting figure. That’s not to say he is perfect, and one could just as easily look upon his re-engagement as selfish indulgence that is paid at the price of attention to his family responsibilities. This is made clear directly by the sub-narratives related to his wife and child.

Did someone say space battles?

These laser beams are so powerful, they have actual arrowheads!

Without giving anything away, the story shows the foolishness of taking actions without considering the true consequences of those actions.

Layla, again.

Well, this was just weird.

This is a 13-episode series that uses the common technique of bringing about a conclusion with a more focused story over the final 3 or so episodes. Before then, the series provides an effective (if at times metaphoric) descriptions of the ups and downs of trying to be a musician.

In summary it was an interesting short series. While it isn’t entirely coherent, it does make the point that

Nothing in life is a waste. There are things you can only realize when you are drunk.