-By Seema Kakade
Gakuen Alice is one of those rare masterpiece that somehow goes unnoticed due to an uninteresting start or perhaps the kind of image that was projected by the Anime version of the story to the viewers, shrugging it off as just another school romance. As it does have some amount of school romance squeezed in here and there, that later develops into a full fledged platform for the rest of the story to weave in, there is also another darker version of the story lurking around the corner, urging the readers to wait and see.
Volume One begins with an interesting life of Mikan Sakura in the unusual school meant for Alices, a special ability in a certain person, which does not quite reflect an impression of a masterpiece, although it gives a couple of hints of a greater story coming ahead. It’s just one of those stories that move in a pace that allows the reader to relish it and adjust to it at her own pace until the real story gears up and takes you on a roller coaster ride.
Gakuen Alice : The Storyline
Gakuen Alice opens with the main protagonist, Mikan Sakura, protesting the decision of the school she attends to, to close down due to inadequate funds. This, much to Mikan’s dismay, falls on deaf ears since her friends couldn’t care less about it and are in fact excited about moving to a better school. But her prayers are finally answered with her best friend Hotaru paying for the funds with the money she gets by agreeing to go to Alice Academy.
Several months pass and as Mikan fails to hear from her best friend, her anxiety gets the better of her as she sets off to Tokyo to meet her friend. But again, things turn out different from what she expected as she finds out she’s an Alice too and this new discovery gives her an opportunity to join the school. Mikan, being naive, happily agrees to it with no clue of knowing what a dangerous world she’s entering into.
This is proved as soon as she’s admitted to the class when the notorious Natsume Hyuuga, Mikan’s classmate challenges her to cross the dangerous Northern Forest to test the Alice that she herself is not aware of. With the help of her friends, Mikan manages to pass his little dare to be allowed to be a part of the class which also finally exposes her rare nullification Alice.
Pretty Shojo or Dark Shonen?
Surprisingly, Gakuen Alice is a rare mix of both. It’s neither a complete school romance nor a complete action with wars and bloodshed. Higuchi Tachibana is a talented story teller who has wrapped the dark and mysterious story around a delicate touch of shojo in a way that never fails to impress the readers of all tastes. Even though the beginning is slow, it still has a way to keep you flipping the page trying to see what happens next, as the author leaves behind a little cliffhanger at the end of each chapter. The art of Gakuen Alice is extremely unique, especially the light touch of a fairy tale feel that the author has managed to create which is again subtle enough to not drown the dark feel that surrounds the story.
The characters are extremely unique from each other ranging from a happy-go-lucky Mikan whose personality is as clear as water to a mysterious Natsume who is the hardest nut crack. The intricacy of relationships and emotions are brought about wonderfully in each character as they appear to care about people around them and find solutions to problems in their own way, be it openly like Mikan does or by sacrificing their happiness that is best seen in Natsume and his best friend Ruka.
The real story in Gakuen Alice has merely started by the end of the volume but here again, the author has weaved the story in a perfect pace that allows the reader to take their own time to understand the characters and the intricacy of the story and savor every moment of it. And like always, the author leaves behind another mystery and another loose thread that keeps the reader begging for more.