My first anime review in this blog! Without further ado, here goes…
Synopsis: Gakuen Alice or Alice Academy is the story of a 10-year old girl, Sakura Mikan, who is devastated when her best friend, Imai Hotaru, transfers to a special school for “genius” kids in Tokyo. Mikan runs away from home to seek out her dear friend, and finds that the school Hotaru transferred to, Alice Academy, is specifically for children who each have a special power called an “Alice”. After a teacher at Alice Academy, Narumi, discovers that Mikan has a unique Alice, she is admitted into the school. The story is primarily about Mikan and her experiences at the academy.
Genre: Comedy, fantasy, shoujo.
Status: Anime – 26 episodes, completed.
Manga - 13 volumes, ongoing.
Thoughts / Review:
TO START OFF… It opens with a really fun and catchy tune. I found myself humming it well after watching the series. Some may find it too cute but I think it’s okay. The scenes during the opening song shows Mikan following Hotaru around while Hotaru alwas slips away, mostly trying to avoid Mikan. This in itself is a sort of preview on the series’ premise and the comedic theme it also has. The colors throughout the series are mostly brilliant and bright.The 1st episode introduces us to Mikan and Hotaru and how they became bestfriends. Mikan is generally a fun, carefree, kind and emotional girl. Hotaru is intelligent, logical, tends to be aloof. Contrary to Mikan's emotional and sensitive personality. Hotaru appears cold and indifferent towards Mikan; but in reality she cares for her bestfriend a lot and she also is a kindhearted person, just not too good with handling emotional stuff. To make the introductory story short: Mikan + Hotaru = bestfriends. Hotaru transfers to another school. Mikan becomes sad. Decides to follow Hotaru. Finds Hotaru’s whereabouts. Arrives at Gakuen Alice. Adventure starts.
Due to the circumstances at hand presented in the 1st episode, While at the gates of the academy, she encounters some bad guys, gets saved by and meets Narumi-sensei (one of the teachers), crosses paths with Natsume (who has the ability to conjure fire). Narumi-sensei realizes that Mikan also has an Alice, one that is quite rare and reminiscent of someone he knew back when he was a student at the academy himself. She incidentally got admitted through Narumi-sensei’s help.
The series mainly explores Mikan’s adventures in Gakuen Alice (or Alice Academy) — a school for special people with Alices. An “Alice” is a special ability that a person possesses. Something that normal people don't have. It can range from trivial abilities to dangerous ones (i.e. the ability to manipulate shadows, conjure fire, exceptional technolgical genius, outstanding memory, read minds, etc.).
Mikan meets her classmates with “Alices.” She initially is unwelcome in the class she was assigned to as she got on the wrong foot with Natsume. Being the new kid in class, they were a bit wary of her and unsure of her ability. She goes through several challenges and gets acquainted with new friends as the series progresses. We get to meet several interesting characters and learn a little bit of their backstories as the series progresses.
MY IMPRESSION… I found Mikan and Hotaru’s friendship complementary. Though Hotaru appears a bit cruel to Mikan sometimes and even though she doesn’t openly say it, you’d know that Mikan means a lot to her. Mikan is absolutely hilarious. She comes up with a lot of bright ideas gone wrong but then it ends up unexpectedly helpful for others as well. She can be quite impulsive most of the times, doing before thinking, and she ends up in a lot of trouble. She always tries to have fun and is very considerate of others feelings. As Hotaru says mentions in the 1st episode, Mikan’s smile is one of the things she likes best because it is illuminating and makes her forget her worries as well. Mikan has a pretty optimistic and sunny disposition, one of the admirable qualities her classmates find in her.
Some of the silliest, unrealistic things happen in the story and I found myself laughing out loud so much that I lost count how many times my tummy ached from hysterical fits of laughter. Amidst the generally light and fun theme, there are also some dark and intense story arcs but is lightened up with some comedic dialogue inserted throughout those episodes.
ON EPISODES AND SCENES… There is one episode towards the end that made me cry (ep 22, I think). It’s the one in which a new character was introduced, Tsubasa’s friend Kaname. Yes, it really did made me sob a bit. It was, in my opinion, a very touching episode. One of the episodes I liked best is when Mikan performs “Little Match Girl Mikan” that was one of the most hilarious scenes ever. I also like scenes whenever Hotaru blackmails Ruka-pyon. It seems cruel, I know, but I can’t help but laugh whenever Hotaru runs around showing Ruka the “incriminating” photos of his Alice in action and seeing Ruka’s hopeless reaction. I also like the moments when Natsume calls Mikan names. He never runs out of embarrassing names for her. Also, those episodes whenever they come across Mr. Bear… hahaha. Priceless.
ON CHARACTERS… There isn’t really a particular character that annoyed me much, maybe just now and then. Although the mysterious and “evil” characters make me angry once in a while because of their cruelty to Natsume.
Some of the characters I liked best were Ruka-pyon (the “pyon” part was coined by Mikan with reference to their encounter in the forest with the giant piyo which was so darn funny), Natsume, Mikan, Hotaru, Tsubasa, Misaki-sensei, and a bit of Narumi-sensei as well. I also liked Noda-sensei even though he was only in a few episodes with just a bit of screentime.
TO WRAP THINGS UP… I cannot really compare this with the manga version as I haven’t really read it yet. So I’m basically referring the anime on this one. It’s about friendship, selflessness, kindness and loyalty.
Overall, I really liked this anime. When I came across this, I was just looking for some light entertainment and something fun to watch. If you like these types of shoujo and comedy (it’s a bit on on the “kiddie” side sometimes), and if you don’t mind cutesy characters and laughing over silly things, I’d say go and watch it!
Whenever I need a a good laugh, I give myself a dose or two of Gakuen Alice episodes. I still don’t get tired of watching it. It’s too bad there’s no 2nd season; it would have been really nice.
How about you? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.