A recollection of short independent stories, taking place either in Japan or in an occidental country, either in the modern time or in the past, these short stories are themed about the expression of feelings. A city romance, a walk in the forest, the day-by-day life of a waitress in a bar or a medieval story, full of everyday-life details, feeling sometimes romantic or nostalgic...
This is the kind of short story manga collection that experiments with its stories chapter to chapter, a feature I appreciated.
(Just a warning before I start with this review, you should know that this isn't going to be one where I go in-depth into each story, so if you're looking for that you're out of luck.)
No two stories in Gunjou Gakusha are overly similar, which is quite refreshing when you consider the amount of stories in the manga. Themes are shared between various stories however, with themes of love and passion being prevalent. In particular I enjoyed the stories that focused on the more realistic
themes of lust and love, with the chapter 7,8,9 (White fire part 1,2,3) standing out the most to me. White fire could have very easily been a manga in of itself, similar to quite a few other stories in the manga, but I was content with the story irregardless.
I also enjoyed the more comedic stories like chapter 3, where a class a boys suspect their teacher isn't wearing a bra one day and they try to find out for sure. It was lowbrow and rather short, but still enjoyable. I could also potentially see this premise working for a manga oddly enough.
Another neat set of stories are Pink Chocolate 1,2,3,4,5, where a company creates a love chocolate and two researches are made to each take it. The story has a kind of not too serious romantic humor vibe throughout, and though part 4 and 5 are weak, it's one of the better stories in the manga.
Of course the manga had some bad stories as well, but I won't bother going in to them. Just know that there are more good stories than otherwise.
The manga also had a cute little 10 or so pages to end it off, in where it gives us a glimpse in the lives of the various characters throughout the stories in the manga after their story ended. It's only a short and rather minor detail, I thought this added some charm to the manga.
In terms of the art and characters, they're both equally consistent. The art is pretty top notch throughout the entire manga, with the exception of several after stories, though they were drawn roughly for comedic effect. The characters while interesting and/or quirky most of the time are generally left with little to any development, excluding the stories with multiple parts.
Even if you're not a fan of the author, Aki Irie, I'm positive you'll find something to enjoy here. Fans though, they're in for a treat.