Reviews: Gakuen Alice

Imperfect series, but still very enjoyable.

Gakuen Alice was my childhood manga. Even after not reading it for years, I still remember quite vividly of its arcs, characters, and somewhat unusual and dark humor for Shojo manga.

I loved this series back then, I'm still now, in a way. After growing up, I learned to nitpicking and analyze every series that I see, and I can't help but realize some flaw of this series.

  • The art: It was distinct and above average compared to a lot of mangas I could think of. Nowhere near as grand or fabulous as the classic Roseof Versailles, or Utena, but still pretty good, at least in the beginning to the middle. The second half (Flashback arc-the final chapter), you can see some aspects suffers. People in this manga now have some very disproportionate body, the men in particular, as they have twig arms with abnormally large torso. The background is not as detailed as before, and sometimes I can't make it clear what is happening on the scene.

  • The characters: Mikan is not that interesting to me, while the plot continues to hammer that "She's the ultimate light in our lives" over, and over, and over again. Okay, Tachibana, we get it, she's the main character plus Messiah. Stop shoving it down our throats! Also, Natsume irritates the crap out of me (sorry fangirls). He's the typical Shojo's male protagonist, "Alpha Asshole with troubled past and a heart of gold" archetype. That archetype annoys me, and it gets boring pretty fast. Still, that is matter of preference, I can see why people enjoyed those two. There are a lot of moments where they really shine, and they're very likeable characters. On the other hand, I love the other characters, Hotaru, Sumire, and Koko in particular.

  • The story: the first half is the introduction of the academy and the mystery behind them, with Mikan's relationship with her friends. There's occasional overarching plot going on with AAO but not explored much further until later. The Flashback arc is where the drama starts running and not looking back. It's rather jarring compared to relatively light hearted first half. And the drama continues full speed until the end.

All in all, it's a story with memorable characters, lots of good moments, interesting world, a rare story with positive interaction between girls is one of the main driving force of the plot.