So I know that many of you might not read Manga for whatever reasons but if you ever do get an urge to pick one up, I suggest Gakuen Alice (which translates to Alice Academy). I hesitated for quite a long time before I started this because hello, it’s about grade school kids and how interesting could their lives be? Turns out, very. Think about Harry Potter and, if possible, just make it a bit more complicated, a bit bloodier and a bit more interesting (God will spite me saying that, haha).
Mikan, the main character of this series, is seriously attached to her best friend Hotaru. She’s so attached that when Hotaru transfers to this strange new school called Alice Academy, Mikan follows. At Alice Academy all kids have special abilities that are called their Alices and it turns out that Mikan has one as well. Only she has no idea what it could be. But this Alice gets her admitted to the Academy where she can at last be with her beloved Hotaru. Or so that was the plan. She has to initially prove her worth and find out about her Alice and gain the approval of her entire class. Her class which revolves around the surly presence of Natsume and his best friend, the gentle Ruka. Oh the shenanigans that occur when the two meet (Natsume and Mikan) will be enough to have you giggling for a while.
The strength of the Manga lies not just in the art but in the complexity of the story. The story is so well created, so well plotted that most of the time you will be left impressed by the Mangaka. The characters are another wonderful part of the series. They are all such individuals and have been so finely delineated that you only need to read the dialogue to know who it is that is speaking. And then the relationships.
I like how the Mangaka is careful to maintain the relationship at a level appropriate to the age of her characters. This is not to say that the relationships are superficial or flimsy, nothing could be further from the truth. She gives her characters this adult like comprehension and situations, as though they have been aged far more than they ought to be because of what they’ve seen and been through in their shorts lives but she retains that sort of immaturity where liking each other is concerned. The immaturity that is so characteristic of children at the ages she portrays them.
I really do recommend this to you, any of you who are interested in reading a story about loss, survival, self-discovery. About falling in love without knowing that you are. It’s like a revisit to your childhood (with super powers and danger but still). I wanted to think about a Hollywood remake of this but I shudder to think how they’d butcher it so I hope they leave it well alone. I don’t think it could translate cultures all that well.
But anyway, if you like Manga or even if you have been thinking about trying one, read this.