Gakuen Alice 7 by Tachibana Higuchi: B

gakuen7For the most part, Gakuen Alice is a fairly episodic series about the adventures of spunky ten-year-old Mikan as she acclimates to attending a mysterious school whose students all have special powers known as Alices. Beginning in volume six, however, its first multi-volume arc, involving an organization that’s opposed to the Alice Academy and is responsible for infecting Mikan’s best friend, Hotaru, with a virus, gets underway. In volume seven, Mikan and friends are pursuing the organization responsible through a forest beset with dangerous traps.

The strong point of Gakuen Alice is the way it mixes darker revelations about the nature of the Academy and the uses to which it puts certain students with warmer scenes of Mikan and her friends. In this volume, this balance is somewhat thrust aside due to the “we’re journeying along a spooky trail, watch out for that laser beam” action that’s going on, but occasional nice moments shine through, mostly involving the sweet romantic triangle going on between Mikan, gentle animal-loving Luca, and Luca’s best friend Natsume. Natsume’s one of those tortured, self-denying characters who, rather than seek his own happiness, instead nudges Luca and Mikan together, because Luca being happy “is enough.” In other words, just the kind to win a shoujo fan’s heart.

While all of the journeying gets a little tiresome, the cliffhanger ending suggests that we might soon get some facts about Mikan’s mysterious origins, which would certainly be nice after all of the cryptic hinting that’s been going on. I’m looking forward to it.

Review originally published at Manga Recon.

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