Gakuen Alice is an anime and manga centering around 10-year-old Mikan Sakura, who is dismayed when her best friend Hotaru is transferred away to a boarding school for genius students. When she learns that Hotaru is not allowed to visit or write back home, Mikan becomes suspicious, and travels alone to the school to investigate. She discovers that Hotaru is attending Alice Academy, a school specifically for children with special powers called Alices. Mikan meets a teacher named Narumi who says that Mikan herself has an Alice, and he requests to have her enrolled.Though Mikan is bullied by the other students and some of the faculty, and often abandoned by Hotaru, she loves her new home at Alice Academy and remains optimistic about her life there. But as time goes on, she learns sinister secrets and meets people who suggest the school may not be as benevolent as she originally believed.Based on the shojomanga of the same name, which is still running and has much backstory yet to be resolved.
Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: In a way, in that Mikan's feelings for Hotaru get downplayed immensely in the course of the series, which is ironic, considering they were her motivation for entering Alice Academy in the first place.
Even more ironic, while Mikan's feelings are played down. Hotaru's are played up. While distant at the beginning, Hotaru shows real care in the later chapters.
Blithe Spirit: Mikan. She doesn't quite agree with the ideology of most other students. Though at first she is bullied for this, her cheerfulness becomes indispensable to the other characters, later described as "the light" for many. This personality of hers also makes darker characters' lives better, even helping them revert to the good side (e.g. Natsume, Nobara, eventually Persona).
Also Mikan's father Yukihira-sensei, who played the role in the previous generation.
Book Dumb: Mikan, who is quite clever and resourceful outside of class. Sometimes.
Natsume does this to Mikan at one point before the Z Arc once Persona drops the "kitten of a different color" being in danger.
Mikan does it to Natsume at the Sports Festival once she tells Natsume that him worrying about her was troublesome when he asked what was wrong. This was because Luna warned her to distance herself from the other students.
Natsume does it again by coldly telling everyone that Mikan wasn't his concern and it wasn't theirs either after she almost dropped to her death in the Cheer competition. Though somewhat unintentionally as Mikan overheard him. This was because Luna warned him that the best thing he could do for the girl is to turn people away from her. He makes up for this later when he hugs Mikan while disguised, so that initially she doesn't realise it's him.
Butt Monkey: Mikan and Tsubasa. Tsubasa gets it a little worse since most of the kids bullying him are four to eleven years younger than him. Later, most of the bullying goes to Tonouchi, who is again bullied by his juniors, though he is the oldest in the Special Class.
Chekhov's Gun: The Healing Alice stone Natsume always wears was originally given to Yuka by Hotaru's brother, Subaru, during her years at Gakuen Alice. Yuka later gave it to Kaoru, Natsume's mother, as temporary protection, and after Natsume's birth the stone passed to his hands, effectively connecting his fate with Mikan's (as Yuka is Mikan's mother)...and arguably Hotaru's as well.
Cerebus Syndrome: The manga, which takes a nosedive into serious angst around chapter 90.
Chilly Reception: The way Mikan is treated by the other Academy kids upon arrival is brutal, including violence, invasion of privacy (the mind reader forcibly reads her thoughts) and Manipulative Bastard behavior on Natsume's part.
Comm Links: Hotaru's panda earmuffs and much later, mushroom earplugs.
Compelling Voice: This is basically Leo's Alice. Also Narumi and anyone with a pheromone. Shizune has a sound pheromone that is similar.
Contrived Coincidence: The circumstances of Mikan getting into Alice Academy are a rather extreme example. Had the sequence of events all the way up to and including arriving at the gates of the school gone even slightly differently, the main plot would never have happened. Since Mikan's Alice is hard to detect, she wouldn't have ended up at the school at all unless she walked straight into it, which is exactly what she did.
Cool Teacher: Yukihira-sensei. Narumi-sensei fills the role for Mikan, but is more feared/suspected/ridiculed than loved by the other students.
Cruel Mercy: Yuka gives this to the ESP. She inserts two Alice stones: Yukihira-sensei's (Nullification), for letting him die, and Rei/Persona's (Mark of Death) for manipulating and using him. Persona's stone slowly injures him, while the Nullification stone keeps it from killing him, keeps him from using his cloning Alice, and also have him stay in a child's form. The only reason that she did not do anything worse is because Yukihira-sensei and Persona wouldn't have wanted it.
Curse: Rui's Alice. Also the reason why Tsubasa has the star-shaped mark under his eye as punishment for his misbehavior, called the "Mark of Obedience".
Death by Sex: Yukihira-sensei after his first time with Yuka, and immediately afterwards.
Death Is A Sad Thing: Mikan and others had to watch not only Penguin die (with Mikan in denial for a bit), but Mikan's father and Natsume's mother.
And now Mikan's mother as well (and not through just a flashback, either)...Mikan is NOT having a good year.
Technically speaking, Natsume did die too for a while.
Do-Anything Robot: Penguin did this only when needed. For example, he vacuumed up the classroom and perhaps did other work. On the Z arc, the penguin pin Mikan got from Penguin in his handy-dandy pouch had served as a radar to find the others in the lair. Then his body was able to be flatten so he can get through the barricaded rocks and grab the fallen antidote successfully. Subverted only slightly because he causes more trouble than it's worth.
Dope Slap: A more violent equivalent, and looking less lighthearted. Can happen to other characters rarely, and used as part of the comedy. Comes with a rare side of Paper Fan of Doom. But Mikan gets this SO much for her behavior, you have to wonder why she hasn't suffered severe head trauma. But that's Made of Iron for you.
Everyone Went To School Together: Considering that all people who have Alices will eventually go here unless the parents manage to escape it that long, this is more of an expected Trope. Since this is the only type of family they'll have for awhile, and the only kids they'll be spending their following years with until they're 20, minus the teachers, they're bound to know other Alices only. It is stated that because of this, most Alice children come from Alice parents who met in Alice Academy, and became a couple. Or had gotten married.
Everything's Better with Penguins: In the manga, it was a caring robot penguin simply named Penguin, who, despite being a machine, showed a plethora of emotions. Noted to be one of Hotaru's inventions made in the summer before Mikan came to the academy. The reason for its creation stems from one of Hotaru's many request letters, where a lonely 64 year old man whose daughter and son-in-law died asked for it, according to one of the fanbooks, with instructions to make it adorable, and able to give him strength (figuratively). However, it was returned because it pitifully missed her and kept crying, which made Hotaru bully it a lot. It appeared many times with the characters, and even joined (or rather, snuck in) Natsume, Mikan, Tsubasa, and Luca in their quest to retrieve Hotaru's medicine and Tobita's alice. But... bring your tissues with you. It died bravely to save Mikan in Chapter 43, giving us one of the early Tear Jerker moments of the story. OH, Penguin.
Which is even more of a Tear Jerker when you consider that Penguin was built with Mikan's personality, as a sign of how much Hotaru missed her friend.
Expository Hairstyle Change: Izumi Yukihira changes his hairstyle from his bangs parted at the side, giving him a messy look (arguably the most preferred by fans), to then being parted in the middle, making it clean. Done because his older brother criticized it and he took it seriously. But this was to show a certain maturity or change within him when it came to his job figuratively.
Averted after death. From the images we see and after Yuka's death when he carries her away, he returned to the messy look.
Expy: Arguably, Hotaru, who looks a lot like the Hotaru from Sailor Moon (though Sailor Moon's Hotaru has a completely different personality).
Eyes Always Shut: Nodachi-sensei and the flying Alice guy. And random one time character Hoshino.
Gender Blender Name: In the manga, Narumi's first name is revealed to be Anju, which probably explains why he's never used it.
Give Her A Normal Life: Yuka to Mikan. It was accidental, as she didn't really want to leave her, but she was being hunted down. Because of this, she ended up thinking it was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, or as predicted, didn't turn out as planned.
He Is Not My Boyfriend: With some variations here and there, this is typically Misaki's response every time someone mentions her and Tsubasa as something else. Until they become official, that is.
Green-Eyed Epiphany: Natsume ends up partners with Luna, which was her intention, as well as to make it appear as if they are being paired off romantically (the complete opposite in reality: Natsume hates her guts, and she does too). Despite that the reason for doing so is to protect her, this causes a slight distance between him and Mikan, who certainly feels the sting. Shocked the first time, asking him to be here on the Red Team with her on the Sports Festival later on, to even the "I don't care about them" denial in Chapter 85. Of course, no feelings are admitted or said...on Mikan's side.
Also from Izumi to Yuka in the past when the news of Yuka marrying Kuonji got to his ears.
Hot for Student: Yuka and Yukihira-sensei. Resulted in a certain little bundle of love we know.
Hot Teacher: Yukihira-sensei, Misaki-sensei, Narumi-sensei... and if principals count too, most definitely and infinitely the high school one (not surprising, considering he's related to the Hot Dad, after all).
Ill Girl: Hotaru becomes one in the sixth volume of the manga, when she uses herself as a human shield for Mikan.
Nobara (accidentally) becomes this later in the story in the attempt of getting through Persona.
Important Haircut: Yuka. After Kaoru dies, she promises herself she won't cry anymore and fulfill Izumi's and Kaoru's wishes.
Innocent Cohabitation: Natsume and Mikan do this once. Well, more like Natsume FORCES her to, despite that the effects of being stuck from the mochi Tsubasa spoiled wore off, much to her depression. Comes with 1/2 There Is Only One Bed and 1/2 Beautiful Dreamer (Natsume is the one sleeping), at that.
Hotaru and Luca as well, but they are honestly still stuck. It's also with Youichi.
Light is Good: Thrown around when referring to Mikan, who is often described as a light within the darkness, or a light found. Bright, with a strong heart, and helps bring happiness to those around her. More so when it comes to Natsume, who she "will save" - which was the sole reason why Narumi even partnered them up in the first place. The light virtues were more or less "inherited" through her father, who was thought of the same way to aid in changing the academy. Also the children's light, that can't be destroyed by the darkness, which is why there's a need to protect them so they won't pass through the pain that being under the ESP does. Light themes are used for other things as well.
Love Confession: The first time, Natsume accidentally brought it upon himself. He took another student's - Kusami's - white punishment mask from the bench so he could hide, but naturally, this caused others to mistake him for said student. He had to take his place in the next Sports Festival challenge, which consists of getting a piece of paper, and randomly grabbing the person they truly feel fits the description personally to them that's written down on it (for example, "annoying co-worker"). Natsume was graced with the "person that I love". Forward to the fireworks that BRIGHTLY lit up what the paper said when he reached the finish line with Mikan on tow. He runs away after in an attempt not to be found out. Mikan suspects it was him due to the similarities regardless (and later on Natsume does something that confirms it to her), even after Luna covers it up.
The second time, however, he outright confessed, in front of Narumi, Luna, the whole Dangerous Abilities class, the ESP, and Mikan herself. Though in both of these, we don't get a real reaction out of her. Yet.
The latest chapters are just FULL of these. Yuka admitted that she cares deeply for Narumi, despite promising herself she would not love another after Yukihira.
Love Triangle: Guess which. Just guess. They fell under Type 3. As of recent chapters, however, Luca/Mikan/Natsume went up to Type 4 once Mikan reciprocated Natsume's feelings. There's also the much smaller Izumi/Yuka/Narumi, which is Type 4 <— even with Death of the Hypotenuse and Shiki added. In the present, there's another Type 3 with Shiki/Yuka/Narumi, with Narumi in the lead, as Yuka appeared willing to try and move on after Izumi's death when she realized her feelings for Narumi could possibly be more than platonic. Then she died.
The Luca/Mikan/Natsume triangle can become a Love Dodecahedron if you put Sumire and Hotaru into the mix.
Made of Iron: Mikan, who can take amazing amounts of physical abuse.
Mythology Gag: At some point late in it, Leo Mouri hijacks the school's broadcasting room in the manga, like he did in episode 25 of the anime. However, instead of using his Alice to brainwash students into destroying the academy, he uses it to snap everyone else out of Luna's trance.
Not What It Looks Like: Mikan and Natsume in the haunted mansion, when he lifted up her skirt and saw her panties, calling her "Strawberry". Naturally, she went over to attack him, but it turned rather unfortunate, and it left them in compromising positions. Cue the others appearing to watch it in time and Mikan panicking afterward.
Forced abandonment, the main reason as to why you'd want to avoid sending your Alice gifted kids there as much as possible. This is what happens to most kids, including Natsume.
Some kids agree to leave their families and go to the academy for various reasons, e.g. Hotaru (her parents were paid money which they used to save her village school on her request), Mikan (who unwittingly followed Hotaru to the school, leaving her grandfather behind).
Some kids were actually abandoned by their parents, e.g. Yuka, Persona (because of his dangerous Alice).
Please Wakeup: Rei Serio (Persona) when he accidentally lost control and used his Alice too strongly on Yukihira-sensei, inevitably killing him. Most of the denial came from the fact that Izumi helped him train his Alice, and always used his Nullification to cure the minor marks and to prevent harm, which led Rei to thinking he would survive his attack.
The Power of Love: Applies to Natsume's various sacrifices for Mikan. Also the reason that Izumi's and Yuka's spirits reunited in the afterlife.
Power Nullifier: Leading to a Fridge Logic explanation for the seemingly nice teacher helping Mikan get in - he really just wanted her there to help control the other kids.
To be fair, in the manga Narumi had much more valid reasoning. Mikan's father also had the nullification Alice, which is quite rare, so he suspects some relation.
To be even more fair, it seems likely that the lack of this in the anime is probably due to them having Overtook the Manga before the above spoiler got revealed. Mikan reminds him of a 'her' whom is never named. Oops.
He also had the valid reasoning that he got a demonstration of her powers. When he first meets her, he tries to use his pheromone on her to manipulate her into returning home, which fails.
Shipper on Deck: For a while, it seemed as though the whole "guardian angel" following liked pushing Luca and Mikan together...or maybe it was just because they supported the former because he Cannot Spit It Out and felt sorry for him.
This Is Unforgivable: Mikan says this a lot, but it ends up misunderstandings save one or two. However, Yuka used this seriously on the ESP when she inserts the two Alices stones in him. She also served it with an oath that she will destroy his plans one by one (that includes his clones). Let's just say she made good on that promise - Yuka, Kaoru (who passed away), and Shiki were working on it, and still are, at least to the point of cornering him and making his high positions and status critical.
Time Travel: A whole manga arc was based off this to learn of what happened in the past.
Title Confusion - The series is called Gakuen Alice, but the school is called Alice Gakuen. The Animax dub simplifies this by calling the show Alice Academy.
This is a side effect of the way words in names flip around in Japanese/English translations. What they should have called it is Xanth Academy. (If you like this series you may just like "A Spell for Chameleon".)
Umbrella of Togetherness: In a chapter where the Special Abilities class find old photo albums when cleaning, they also find graffiti done by past students in a wall behind a cupboard. One of them had written "Yuka" and "Sensei" under a drawn umbrella symbol. Mikan, unaware at that point of what it meant for her (it's her parents), drew a line downwards where she wrote her name. Even before that, on one of Yuka's flashbacks, Izumi found her on a rainy day sitting on a stool-step, upset with people shunning her for her Alice. He, of course, had an umbrella opened.
Took a Level in Badass: Yuka, when she finally had enough of the ESP and his ways. And Mikan, when her friends are in any fatal danger.
Tragic Mistake: Everyone assuming that the key to the outside brought over by "Tsubasa" (who was actually High School Representative Goshima in disguise, on orders of the ESP) was authentic. The explosion caused by it kills Yuka and severely wounds Narumi.
Watching Troy Burn: Coming from Aoi. Without it being her fault, of course, as Persona placed a faulty and artificially made amplification alice stone by the windowsill with an attempt for Natsume to get it. Unfortunately, Aoi saw it, and kept it because it was the color of her brother's eyes and a sign of his protection. It soon gets inserted into her body, and well, the trope explains itself. Both Natsume and Luca (and some onlookers) watch as they find their town completely obliterated in smoke by the fire, and it's what sets off them going to Alice Gakuen.
What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Mikan gets teased for her Alice, which is not particularly flashy compared to other students'. It does, however, turn out to be extremely useful in the right situations.