As problems continue to plague the elementary school system, a new solution is enacted in the form of the School Judgment System! Now the young students themselves will be responsible for solving the issues that befall them! But are they up to the task?
(Source: VIZ Media)
Volume 3: Gakkyuu Houtei (2 parts)
Gakkyuu Houtei was serialized in Weekly Shounen Jump up to its penultimate chapter published on May 11, 2015. The final chapter was published in Shounen Jump+.
VIZ Media simultaneously published the series in English as Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgement in their digital Weekly Shonen Jump. The publisher physically released the series under their Shonen Jump imprint from February 2, 2016 to June 7, 2016. It has also been published in Spanish as Los Juicios Escolares since May 5, 2016 and in French as School Judgment since November 4, 2016.
Gakkyuu Houtei is somewhat difficult to classify. It belongs to the mystery, psychological, and (dark) comedy genres, and is a very unpredictable work. If you like Phoenix Wright, you came to the right manga. It follows the line 'yeah, advocacy can be very cool, entertaining and shonen-like!', and mixes serious themes (just wait to see as the end of the story approaches) with childish themes and elementary school problems.
The author uses irony and changes in the points of view to deceive the reader to always think something a lot darker than what is really happening. You'll understand me when you read the chapter about the
'white powder addiction'...
And if you think this way, 'everything is NOT as dark as I'm guessing', you will got everything wrong, too. This story never ceases to surprise the reader.
The story revolves around an incident that happened years ago when an entire class of small kids and their teacher was murdered, and just three people survived. The three were taken to a school for delinquents, as they were blamed for the murder. One of them was our protagonist, Abaku Inugami. Now that he's in another school, he has to solve many cases in the school court.
The manga overall is so funny and full of kids that in some point you start to think that there will be no 'serious' cases (murder, drugs, fights etc), and when some of those things actually happened (especially in the end), I felt somewhat uncomfortable, like the tone of the story had changed too quickly. GH tries to criticize the school system a lot of times. Abaku takes a lot of chances to criticize the funcionality of the human mind in pressure and fear, and the way adults see kids. That's why I think about this manga as a psychological title too, though a mild one.
The art is wonderful, Obata surprised me again. He's as good with shonen-type art as he is with seinen-type, like in Death Note. You can feel like you're playing a Phoenix Wright game.
The other points (characters, story, enjoyment etc) got mediocre scores from me because this is a good manga, not an excellent one. It serves its purpose well and amuses the reader, but there's nothing especially memorable there. At least it ended with only 22 chapters, or it would become repetitive; it has exactly the number of chapters needed for the story. The fast pacing compensates over the simplicity of some situations.
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I just couldn't like the ending. It may surprise some people, but for me it was a conclusion so simple and silly that got me frustrated. I also couldn't think the teacher murdering all the students was in harmony with the feel of the story as a whole; it was too heavy. The teacher had a nervous breakdown?? What kind of reason is that? Too silly to justificate something so serious as a school massacre in a shonen with 11/12-year kids. If they wanted to talk about a serious theme like stress in people who work with children, I don't think this was the right way. It was a disservice.
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Gakkyuu Houtei deserves your attention. It's a perfect manga to read in 1-2 days to have fun and some surprises. I'm looking forward for an anime adaptation, GH would look very good animated. And please DON'T expect this to be a Death Note with kids. I said DON'T!