Gakuen Alice 4 by Tachibana Higuchi: B+

gakuen4From the back cover:
Mikan’s daring rescue of Natsume earned her an upgrade to One-Star rank, with all attendant privileges. And just in time, too. For the School Festival is about to begin, and the Special Ability class is using every last trick they’ve got to create an exciting—and surprising—attraction!

There’s not as much darkness in this volume, and though I’m a fan of that aspect of the story, it’s nice to have a fun interlude like this one.

One of the things I really like about this series is how it’ll go into detail about things that could be boring, like specifics of Alice power capacities or ranking systems, but make them interesting (and not seem like afterthoughts). The same thing happens regarding the Special Ability class’ attraction for the school festival—there are actually a few chapters about the RPG they create and its rules and it’s still a lot of fun to read about.

Natsume and Mikan are thrust into each other’s company again in this volume and, though he’s a jerk to her, it seems like he might fancy her some. Their relationship reminds me of Hayama and Sana from Kodocha in some respects. In its initial setup, Kodocha features a cheerful, pig-tailed girl in conflict with the surly ringleader of class miscreants. She gets to know him (and his sorrows) better and no longer hates him, but he still avails himself of opportunities to cop a feel.

I’ve not talked about the art in this series much. At first, I thought it was too cluttered with too much screentone, but now it’s either balanced out or I’ve gotten used to it. There are occasional pages where the use of tone is excessive, including a weird tone for the hair of blond characters, but on the whole I haven’t any particular complaints.

Also, I continue to love Luca. I hope we’ll eventually find out why he’s ranked a Triple, since he says that he “didn’t get it because of [his] talent” like Hotaru. Is it merely the school’s way of thanking him for keeping Natsume reasonably content? That wouldn’t surprise me.

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  1. Danielle Leigh says

    That’s a lot of GA in a short time period — I have to pace myself with this series since each volume is so chock full of asides and info dumps (yet, like you said, usually interesting info dumps). I actually got out volume 6 today and read that since I have volume 7 waiting for me. What can I say, I like having a back up in case I need a particular kind of manga fix at any moment in time! 😉

    • Michelle says

      Yeah, the amount of small asides in this series is pretty unprecedented. I’m planning to catch up through 7 in one swell foop.

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