Sakura Mikan and Imai Hotaru are best friends, and Mikan is shocked to find that Hotaru is transferring to a school in Tokyo for gifted students like her—Alice Academy. Mikan hears rumors that the students are like prisoners there, and worried what would happen to Hotaru, she runs away to head to the school herself. She finds out all the wonderful things about this school. And she heads into a great adventure!!
Gakuen Alice has an interesting premise and a charming first episode which lulls you into the belief that you are in for a special treat. Cute characters, slapstick comedy, magic, and elementary kids give you a distinct Harry Potterish feel. However in the end though that special treat ends up tasting like it was dropped in the mud.
As I mentioned the premise is interesting though quite farfetched. There are plenty of familiar themes and if you have watched school comedies (really who hasn’t practically all of them take place in school) there won’t be anything all that groundbreaking. The story overall has some inconsistencies and major annoyances and flaws that make it when taken in its entirety not very good. Despite its cutesy look and comedy, Gakuen Alice does deal with some serious themes. One of these is bullying. Mikan is treated pretty horribly much throughout the series but more so in the beginning episodes. While if done properly these situations can be funny, for me they just weren’t. In some ways I liken the humor to something like Inukami!, though Gakuen Alice is not perverted the way that series is but it has the same overuse of cruel humor that just outstays its welcome.
Alice Academy seems like a hell on earth. The setting and the overwhelming number of the characters are completely unlikable and despicable. The way these kids are treated, forcibly taken from their homes, not allowed to see their families, and the fact that the great majority of the students and teachers come across as horrible people. They are spoiled, mean, emotionally scarred; all the things you would expect from kids who had been traumatized this way. Yet I am supposed to feel sympathetic towards the school or that I am supposed to find the cruel bullying hilarious. I didn’t. The very fact that it was even played for laughs was offensive to me.
Despite my almost total non-enjoyment of the first third of the series eventually things start getting on track. There is a tremendous amount of plot buildup from the beginning until about the last few episodes. We get a lot of what I found very interesting romance between the main character Mikan and the dangerous Natsume. The subplot about how Natsume is being used by the very shady and seemingly cruel Alice Academy is very compelling. Throw in Mikan's mysterious mother who was an infamous student in the school and the drama with Mikan learning to use her "Alice" and be accepted by everyone gives the plot depth. However, all of this is wasted by the most glaring story problem; the lack of a satisfactory ending to the series. Don’t worry, it’s not one of those endings but the series probably needed another 12-15 episodes to get everything wrapped up. The end feels rushed, overly simplistic, and ultimately a bit of a slap in the face to my intelligence. Other subplots are basically just ignored or poorly explained. Even though the series could have benefited by being longer, there were a lot of episodes wasted on pointless fluff storylines that did nothing to advance the story.
The lone shining light of Gakuen Alice is Mikan. She is a wonderful character full of optimism, cheerfulness, and love for everyone no matter how horribly they treat her. I really wanted to just cry for her. She is used as the butt of every joke while almost without exception she is tormented and bullied by everyone, including her own "best friend". While this could have made for some good comedy, and don’t get me wrong there are some funny moments, the jokes are overused and often just in bad taste. Because of this I felt more anger and annoyance than I did smiles and laughter. Though most of the bullying and tasteless cruel humor against Mikan goes away eventually, it definitely outlived it's usefulness. However just seeing Mikan and her personality and sure brushes off all this adversity and soldiers on is kind of inspiring.
Mikan's "friend" Hotaru was someone if I could have physically gotten my hands on I would have drowned her in the bathtub. Sure she’s the emotionless robot type personality and how she behaves often fits this archetype. You do get flashes of the deep affection and feelings she has for Mikan both as a friend and perhaps something more. However most of the time this is ruined by a subsequent act of cold blooded cruelty. Though she makes some strides towards the middle-end of the show they managed to ruin all this in the last episode. She is voiced by Rie Kugimiya who is my favorite seiyuu in a rare non-tsundere role. Though even she couldn’t make me like Hotaru.
Of the remaining cast, Natsume stands out as the most interesting. He is a scary kid for sure but despite initially disliking him he does come to grow on you and at least you feel made some growth as a person. Most of Mikan's classmates and teachers start out being horribly cruel and come across as assholes and bitches. I felt my hatred of some of them wane as the series progressed but many of them were unforgivable. The best characters next to Mikan were without a doubt her friends Tsubasa and Misaki in the Special Abilities class she joins. Since many of the people in that class were bullied as well you feel that they have a breakable bond and lasting friendship. They were the only people in the story I felt really cared for Mikan at all and showed her any kindness.
There isn’t anything amazing about the art and animation. I did like Mikan's character design but a lot of the art was pretty bland. Shaft did do a great job in animating Mikan's emotions though. I just love the silly facial expressions, crying rivers of tears, and other silliness. The OP/EN animations and songs are pretty cute as well. I think they matched the personality of the lead perfectly though the EN didn’t match the tone of the show. It was too sweet and cute when contrasted to how unfunny and depressing much of the series was to me.
Despite not really enjoying most of the series if the story had been concluded better I probably would have rated a point or two higher. If you like slapstick and physical comedy you might like this or you might not. It has moments of brilliance and a spectacular leading character but otherwise it is a very flawed and average program.read more
Gakuen Alice...how I put off this anime for awhile, because it seemed so childish. Oh, how wrong I was. A lot of people recommend GA if you liked Kamichama Karin [which is absolutely fantastic] but I was very skeptical about GA. So here it goes:
AMAZING. This anime is fantastic. The only anime that has ever made me really laugh is Ouran High School Host Club, but Gakuen Alice is so clever that it definitely comes in second. Mikan is your typical happy-go-lucky over excited school girl, kind of like Usagi from Sailor Moon, except Mikan never complains and tries her hardest at everything. What's amazing is how she goes from one of the most hated kids in the entire school to one of the most loved. Her devotion to her friends is astonishing (although Hotaru, though she really cares about Mikan, gets very annoying and you get frustrated with Mikan for always being so dedicated to her). The characters are all fantastically done, not artwork wise I mean, but character wise. They all have so much depth, and change so much. It's almost more like a fairy tale at some points.
So yes, the artwork at first doesn't look fantastic. Mikan is not your typical super-cute sort of girl like in Kamichama Karin or even Mermaid Melody, but she has the best personality you'll ever see. So for any skeptics, I guarantee that you'll laugh and really enjoy this anime. I've never watched one so quickly, and I'm not even done yet. But it's fantastic! And the romance is great! FINALLY a love triangle, I get tired of two-sided love, and Mikan has two guys competing for her.
Please please watch this anime, it's so much better than you would think, and it makes you wish that you, too, had an Alice and could attend the school. read more
Ah, Gakuen Alice. Rumours of liscensing, slow fansubs, and various other series distracted me from watching it for quite some time. However, promises of hyperactive shoujo fun kept me wanting to watch it, and indeed I did. Unfortunately, the show did not quite live up to my expectations.
The storyline is at first very intriguing. A young girl named Mikan tracks down her best friend in her new boarding school, only to find out that the school is made for students with alices, special powers that range from classic (levitaion) to bizarre (rapid hair growth). Not only that, but she herself has an alice and soon enters the school. The rest of the series deals mainly with Mikan trying to find her place in her new enviornment, making friends, and generally having wacky elementary school hijinks. A more serious side to the story centers mainly around Mikan's relationship with Natsume, a loner with a hidden agenda. Unfortunately, while many of the lighthearted episodes are a lot of fun, the darker and plottier moments are lacking. I was never really interested in finding out more about the secrets of the school or its students, as much as the anime obviously tried to hook me. All in all, much of the main story seemed out-of-place in an otherwise fluffy show.
There's not an awful lot to say about the art or animation. It's far from hideous, but I can't call it attractive either. Blatently average. The music is similar; it fits the tone of the show but doesn't stand out an awful lot, although the ending theme is very sweet and calming.
Luckily, what Gakuen Alice lacks in other elements it makes up for in characterization. The herione, Mikan Sakura, is a cheerful girl who embodies most of the cliches you've seen in any anime or manga for little girls, but while her kindness and naivety abound, she never really gets annoying about it, so she's a very likable main character. Hotaru, Mikan's best friend, is a technology genius who comes off as rather uncaring towards her peers, but this is usually used for comedic effect and you can tell that she's really a good person. Natsume is your typical emo lone wolf type, and while he is generally pretty uninteresting, he has his moments and fills the role he needs to well. The supporting cast, when they get a chance to do something significant, shines and ranges from solid to highly likable.
As afformentioned, most of Gakuen Alice is lighthearted fluff about Mikan interacting with her new friends and enviorment, and it is usually tons of fun to see what she'll do next, whether she meets someone with a new, unique alice or just wants to eat a good snack. While a few episodes drag on predictably, they are for the most part cute and likeble. So-called darker moments, however, are not as enjoyable. There are definatly series that do each type of scene better, but this one does at least the lighter scenes quite well.
Despite its great reputation, I found Gakuen Alice to be pretty average in terms of lighthearted, fun shoujo. It's happy and cute, that's for sure, and if you need more of that in your anime diet Gakuen Alice is a solid choice. Just don't expect it to be your new favorite series.read more
This anime was (like my ratings) outstanding! I love it, however the ending was a bit of a disappointment but the anime together was magical and fun. It teaches lessons about friendship and very cute in a way. Gauken Alice contains excitment, some actions, magic and a speck of romance. Watch it!
Hot, hot, hot! There's simply no other way of describing these characters. These insanely hot anime fire users can ignite certain feelings in us with their amazing fire control (and their figurative hotness).