Gakuen Alice

Gakuen AliceType: TV Series
Episode Count: 26
Genre: Fantasy / Comedy / Drama
Vintage: 2004

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 25 Sep 2009

Grade: B

“Gakuen Alice” translates to “Alice Academy”.

A charming and cute fantasy series.

Plot Summary
Mikan Sakura’s best friend is Hotaru Imai. Her best friend ever in the whole entire universe, in fact. Mikan can’t stand to be away from Hotaru for even a day, even though Hotaru always seems to act coldly towards her. When Hotaru gets scouted for an exclusive school called Alice Academy, she leaves their current elementary school without telling Mikan until the last possible moment. Mikan is devastated, so she decides that there is only one course of action: she will enroll at Alice Academy too. What Mikan doesn’t know is that Alice Academy is a school for kids with Alices (special abilities), and they are forbidden contact with the outside world during their time at the academy.

The Review
Gakuen Alice is a series that snuck up on me quickly and stealthily, and I am glad that it did. It’s a convergence of several factors which, when combined, were destined to be the makings of the kind of series which I was bound to enjoy.

First, there is the sheer cuteness of the character designs. As those who know me can attest to, I have a weakness for cute. Being a shoujo fantasy series, Gakuen Alice has this in spades. Another factor I shouldn’t overlook was the mention of an axe-wielding teddy bear in the story description. A show with something like that must be at least a little bit interesting. Finally was something that Nozomi made sure to note in their press release announcing their acquisition of Gakuen Alice: Kana Ueda is the voice actor for the main character, Mikan Sakura. This was the clincher, as recently I have become quite a fan of hers through shows such as Maria Watches Over Us and Kashimashi.

As for the story itself, it is quite fun, with just the right amount of cuteness and its own quirky sense of humor. It’s sort of Harry Potter by way of Cardcaptor Sakura. All of the students at the school are sorted into classes depending on the type of Alice that they have. The series follows Mikan as she begins a new life at Alice Academy. It turns out that fitting in may be a bit harder than she had anticipated. Mikan was allowed to enter the school because it was determined that she did in fact possess an Alice, too. The problem is that Mikan has no idea what her Alice is, and none of the teachers seem to be willing to tell her, either. Mikan’s trials and tribulations as she grows accustomed to life at this unusual school are the focus of the series.

Gakuen Alice is a very enjoyable and fun series with cute characters and a plot that doesn’t get weighed down in multiple layers. There is also a slightly dark undercurrent to it which keeps things interesting and unpredictable. If you’re looking for a light fantasy series that’s cute yet not complete fluff, Gakuen Alice is a good choice.

Portions of this review were adapted from and previously published on my personal blog.

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