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Gakuen Alice, Volume 1

Review

Gakuen Alice, Volume 1

This
highly anticipated series has been touted as the next Fruits
Basket
. While it's too soon to know whether it will have that
series' lasting power, Alice is off to a sweet and frequently
giggle-inducing start.


Mikan is heartbroken. Best friend Hotaru may act like a cold fish,
but she's the only close friend Mikan has ever had. Hotaru
possesses an Alice, or a remarkable talent beyond ordinary human
abilities, and this singles her out to be sent off to an elite
government-run school, leaving Mikan behind. All Alice children,
once identified, get the best education, live a seemingly charmed
life and develop their talents with other powered children. What is
less well known is that the students are kept isolated from friends
and family as soon as they step through the school's gilt gate, and
the camaraderie of like-talented children is more a vicious pecking
order than a circle of new friends.


After months of no word from Hotaru, Mikan has no thought but
making sure her best friend is ok. Her determination gets her to
the school, but there she witnesses a rebellious student attempting
escape using his fire-starting Alice to break out. Before she
can even react, a teacher causes her to swoon (literally) and then
pronounces that not only is she to stay at the school but she has
an Alice all her own. To stay, though, she has to pass a test: she
must prove her Alice and win over her skeptical new
classmates. Unfortunately for Mikan, her classroom is full of
snobs and delinquents ready to hate her on sight.


Tachibana Higuchi's cute (but not too cute) art jives with the
frequent bursts of silly humor and the dramatic action. Mikan's
potentially tiresome naïveté and goodness are tempered
with generous doses of sarcasm and brutal honesty from Hotaru, and
that balance keeps the whole story from becoming the cloying tale
of a goody-two-shoes that many shojo manga relate. The fact that
the leads are elementary school students may lead readers to think
that this story is too juvenile for them, but that would be a
mistake.


So far, Gakuen Alice combines silliness, snide commentary
and magical powers to appeal to a wide range of readers. Harry
Potter fans should consider picking this up, as well as those who
wished Harry and his crew were a little less heroic and a little
more snarky.


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Reviewed by Robin Brenner on October 18, 2011

Gakuen Alice, Volume 1
by Tachibana Higuchi

  • Publication Date: December 26, 2007
  • Genres: Manga
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: TokyoPop
  • ISBN-10: 1427803196
  • ISBN-13: 9781427803191