Gakuen Alice is a warped tale of children with immense, silly powers and what happens when stupid adults imprison them in the cage of a “school for gifted children.”
The heroine of this story, like so many shoujo manga heroines is cheerful, energetic, likable and not particularly intelligent – a lesson any child would immediately recognize as a warning against being the cheerful, energetic and likable person in their class. It’s only going to get you into hot water. Just keep your head down and you won’t get hurt.
Mikan, like Bink of the Xanth series, has the really troublesome talent of nullifying other people’s talents. But only when people’s lives are threatened, and she can’t do it on command. So of course, her life is a living hell, as students and teachers torture her for her lack of ability, both mental and magical.
Again in typical shoujo fashion, Mikan converts her many enemies to friends by mostly bearing up under tremendous odds until people realize that she’s actually fun and a nice girl, to boot. By Volume 5, she’s converted a huge chunk of her class to her side, has gained some peers with unusual abilities and, at last, attained some small amount of status within the school. Just in time for the school festival.
Yuri shows up in this volume in the form of a girl named…Yuri, whose “Alice” is to have other girls fall in love with her. Much to her chagrin. That she’s tall, attractive, butchy cool and has been slated to take the role of Prince in the class pla. doesn’t help. Because of wackiness, Mikan ends up with the role, but it doesn’t stop the girls from clinging to Yuri.
If you have seen or read Gakuen Alice, you will know that Mikan’s best friend is Hotaru, a cynical genius who pushes Mikan away as often as she is there for her. It seems that Mikan’s feelings are deeper for Hotaru than the other way around and, in earlier volumes, we see Mikan fantasizing about Hotaru while dreaming, as well as her overtly expressed desire to hug and kiss Hotaru.
In Volume 5, we are allowed a moment to wallow in this not-really-a-relationship. For it is the dance after the school festival. The boys are dressed like Little Lord Fauntleroy and the girls are bedecked with angel wings. The tradition is that whomever you dance with for the final dance and you will be together forever. Rumor and conjecture fly about who Mikan will dance with. Hotaru is called up to the stage as the winner of the “Overall Excellence” award for the festival and is therefore allowed to announce her choice for partner. She chooses Mikan. In front of the whole school, and say what you will, you cannot tell me that Hotaru does not know what she’s just done. :-)
I know some of you nay-sayers will feel absolutely obliged to write in and educate us that Mikan is “really” paired with Natsume but, frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. For the night after the school festival, at least, it’s all about Mikan and Hotaru.
This was another of those books that was being worked on during the great Tokyopop meltdown of 2008, so there are a few inconsistencies and technical issues, but nothing that detracts significantly from enjoyment of this pinnacle of the series for those of us who think Natsume is an utter bore.
Art – 7
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Yuri – 5
Service – 2
Overall – 7
Thanks to Okazu Superhero Daniel P. for sponsoring today’s review and allowing me to revisit a series I much enjoyed the first time around!