Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gakuen Alice #6

Now it's time for something completely different. A little taste of what this blog was originally meant for, Book Recaps!!!! ...erm, manga recap... It's a book with pictures. ^_^

Today we have Gakuen Alice #6 (the sixth installment of the manga series Gakuen Alice, go figure) by Tachibna Higuchi.

I first stumbled upon Gakuen Alice in the mutli-colored pages of Hana to Yume Magazine back in the days before I discovered Erin's Sanctuary (she posted summaries and translations) and ordered the magazine in order to get my biweekly Cain fix. Yeah, I couldn't read a word (It is in Japanese) but I could look at Yuki-sama's beautiful artwork and get the gist of what was going on in God Child. Gakuen Alice caught my eye because it had the most adorable artwork and color pages outside of Cardcaptor Sakura. I looked it up online but couldn't find anything about the series anywhere. I didn't pay much attention to it. But then in 2004 I heard they were coming out with an anime. I downloaded each and every episode (on dialup!)--well, except for the last four because they were done by a different group and whatever media type they used wouldn't work on my computer--and became a rabid fan.

Finally, scanlation groups started picking it up, but only released chapter on IRC. I hate IRC. I scoured the web and read through every tutorial I came across but never managed to make the damn program work on my computer. Damn you scanlation groups that release only on IRC!!!!! *doneranting* So I actually never got to read it until Tokyo Pop got a hold of it.

And Volume 6 finally takes us to where the anime left off!!! Woo-hoo! Are you excited? I know I am.

BASIC STORY: Alice Academy is a school in Tokyo for kids with special abilities called Alices (abilities that range from pyrokenesis to a kid who's farts knock you out. Hey, my father-type-person's an Alice!) are gathered, taught, and "protected." There's something dark going on behind the scenes of this cutesy manga and the Academy's been giving unusual attention to new student and heroin Mikan Sakura, and bad boy Natsume Hyuga. It kind of reminds me of a cross between Harry Potter and Cardcaptor Sakura for some reason.

We start of with Naru-sensei (one of the teachers at the Academy) delivering a letter to Mikan's grandfather from Mikan. (Letters home are forbidden).

Naru is kind of a mysterious character with some kind of hidden agenda going on so I'll let you in on what we know about him thus far. He's very pretty (the blond girly kind of pretty that makes me go weak in the knees). He has the Alice of Human Pheromones. He's obsessed with whom we believe to be Mikan's mother and is rather protective of Mikan though the students might not see it that way. He dislikes the way the Academy is run. And he's my favorite character. (If you think it's because of his resemblance to Lorent Parker you are correct ^_-).

Mikan (Nullification Alice), her best friend Hotaru (Invention Alice), and Nonoka (some kind of science Alice) are raking leaves and are really excited that Prez (Illusion Alice) is coming back. He won the best student award and got to go home to visit his family for a week (he hasn't seem them in four years. He never even met his little sister.). And yeah, you're not allowed the leave the Academy once you're there. They're kind of strict about that. And I totally thought Prez was a girl all through the anime until I read the manga. Prez's real name is Yuu Tobita, but a lot of characters have nicknames and it's easier to keep track of them that way.

There's an important bulletin telling the students that five adults out in the outside world's Alices have disappeared without warning. While everyone's freaking out Hotaru listens in on a conversation between two fo the teachers with her "panda with ears tracer."

Naru's talking to Misaki-sensei (who seems to be Naru's best friend at the academy) and they admit a student in the junior division has lost their Alice. (Mikan and co. are in the elementary division). Misaki-sensei warns him not to do anything extreme or it'll effect Mikan.

Natsume (Fire Alice) sulks and wanders away from the other students. His best friend Luca--or Ruka--(Animal Pheromone Alice) follows him and asks what's going on and if something happened. Natsume tells him not to worry about it. I think he's a masochist.

Mikan goes to the Specials room (the are five different ability types--Latent, Somatic, Technical, Special, and Dangerous. Mikan's in the Special group--the leftovers that don't fit in anywhere else, kind of like Hufflepuff) and pouts about Natsume avoiding her. (She so likes him and just doesn't know it yet). In comes a very handsome senior with cigarette in hand and she hangs out with him until Tsubasa (Shadow Manipulation Alice) and Misaki (Doppelganger Alice, and yes it's another Misaki so the other one will always be referred as Misaki-sensei. Wonder if they're related...Hmm...) who up. Tsubasa yells at Mikan to stay away from Tounochi (Amplification Alice) who's a womanizer and apparently not above hitting on ten-year-old girls. Eww.

Tounouchi does a lot of jobs outside the academy because his ability is so useful but the current on was cancelled so he's just hanging out for the day. He's also the Special Ability Type's representative.

Tounouchi recognizes Mikan's name when introduced because she's Natsume's partner and asks her about Natsume's health since he's been seen going in and out of the school hospital a lot. He has kind of a weird interest in him. Maybe he likes to hit on ten-year-old boys, too.

Mikan asks Noda-sense (the specials teacher and Time Travel Alice) about the "loss of Alice" incidents. Node-sense doesn't seem to know anymore than Naru.

Meanwhile Prez is on his wy home when a bag lady runs in front of the car and the car slams on the breaks to avoid her. Prez gets out of the car to see if she's okay and offers her his hand to help her to her feet. Prez thinks that the woman reminds him of someone but can't think who. Deathy's bad guess that will ultimately be wrong: Mikan.

Prez returns to campus and everyone happily exclaims "Souvenirs!" Hotaru een holds a flag that says "Big Catch." Nice welcoming for your friend.

Prez passes out his gifts and someone writes on Curly's (Her name's Sumire, Cat Alice) doll and she gets pissed. She discovers it was Mind-Reader (Mind-Reading Alice, maybe?) and Fox-Eye (Flying Alice)--no idea what their names are--and commands Prez to create an illusion to frighten them. Prez then discovers that his Alice isn't working! Oh noes!!!

Prez is put into quarantine and after two days Mikan begs Naru to let her see him. He can't let her but offers to give him a message. Hotaru throws a flower pot at his head. A FLOWER POT. At his HEAD. He's knocked unconscious (ten-year-olds are strong) and she attatches some kind of mind control device to his head and order him to take them to the lab where Prez is being kept. I love how random this manga is sometimes.

Prez is extremely moved that they came to see him. He's scared, wondering what's going to happen to him and starts to cry. I love Prez. He's so cut.

Mikan's grandfather once told her that if you fold 1000 paper cranes with a prayer, they'll grant your wish, so she and her friends start folding paper cranes (origami is a required course in Japan). Hotaru makes a more elaborate one. Two other kids in their class wearing strange hats come over and start bullying Mikan for visiting Prez and infecting them all. Curly punches them then berates Mikan for doing something so reckless.

They're interrupted as Prez rejoins them. It wasn't a virus or anything and the teachers believe there's a change he could regain his Alice. They think it was stolen from him, that it was the bag lady who stepped in front of the car, and that she's a member of the Anti-Academy rebel organization "Z." Why did they tell all this to a ten-year-old? Shouldn't some things be kept under wraps? Seriously!

We first heard about Z in Volume 3, when super pop star sensation Reo kidnapped Natsume and asked him to join Z. Natsume declined.

Natsume thinks about Reo's invite and wanders away from group once more. Mikan follows him, calling him out on his behavior and demands to know if there's something about her that bothers him. He tells her he hates everything about her and walks away.

In the previous volume Natsume was threated by Persona (S&M weirdo freak extraodanair and leader of the Dangerous Ability Group) into continuing to do the Academy's dirty work or they'll hurt his friends, and mentioned Mikan in particular, which is why he's staying away from her. He knows the Academy is watching her. He thinks about the little girl who called him big-brother.

There's a sudden emergency at the Academy. A member of Z has infiltrated the school! Oh noes!!!

Natsume runs outside followed by Mikan, Prez, and Luca follow him, but Hotaru beat him to it. She's already on her hovering duck and tells them she's going to see the ones who stole Prez's Alice with her own eyes and asks Mikan to go with her. Mikan doesn't have to think twice and dives on the duck.

Mikan and Hotaru hide in the bushes near HQ and Mikan expresses her surprise that Hotaru would go this far for Prez. Hotaru explains that Prez is the glue that keeps the class together, he's one of the things that keeps her from being completely twisted by the academy. She used to think he was an idiot for trying so hard to keep the peace in their class by himself but when she asked him about it he told her they're all alone in the school but the school is their whole world. He hopes the day will come when everyone helps each other and they won't be sad and lonely anymore. She admires him for that. I think she has a crush. ^_^ They make a vow to get Prez's Alice back together.

The teachers discover that Mikan and Hotaru are near HQ but before they can get to them they're spotted by intruders. And now there are three instead of the two the academy believes there are, one with a gun. They see Hotaru first and keep going, but then Mikan pops out of the bush and the woman stops and reaches out for her. The gun-toting guards of the academy show up and the intruder with the gun fires aiming for the one behind Mikan. Hotaru, thinking he's trying to shoot Mikan, dives in front of the bullet and is shot in the shoulder.

The invaders get away and Hotaru is rushed to the campus hospital. The bullet is removed but there's an unknown virus that was tipped on the bullet. Hotaru's brother is also at the Academy. I can't remember his first name so I'll just call him by his last name, Imai. Imai has both the Healing Alice and the ability to inflict the pain he takes from people onto others. Pretty cool, huh? He's able to keep the virus from getting any worse but he can't get rid of it entirely. They need the anecdote for that.

Mikan's beside herself with worry because Hotaru was protecting her and got hurt because of it. Noda-sensei and Tounouchi show up in the hospital. Noda-sensei tells Natsume he's wanted in a Dangerous Ability meeting and will escort him there. Mikan is to be confined in her room until her punishment is decided. He asks Tounouchi to take her.

Mind-Reader is looking in on Hotaru through the glass and tells Mikan to come over, Hotaru's awake! She "tells" Mikan to smile and not worry about her. Mikan goes outside to cry and Luca follows. She tells him that Hotaru is in so much pain and she only worries about her instead of herself. She wishes she could be strong like Hotaru. Luca comforts her.

Instead of taking her to her room Tounouchi takes her back to the Specials room where she is scolded by Tsubasa, who keeps calling Tounouchi Gramps for some reason. Tounouchi tells them what happened to Hotaru and that they're going to have to steal the technology from Z, but he can't figure out how Z got in in the first place. (Int is a word, by the way). All he can think of is an unfounded rumor from a long time ago about a kid who had the Alice to make worm holes in the time-space continuum. He made a worm hole that led outside the Academy and has a student with a Spell Casting Alice hide it. He wrote the direction in a notebook and hid it somewhere in the senior division. And no one's ever found it.

It's enough to get Mikan all riled up and wanting to go look for it. She wants to do anything she can to help Hotaru. Tounouchi thinks one of the guys in the newspaper club might know where to start.

Natsume wanders away fronm his meeting and overhears Naru, Misaki-sensei, and Jinno-sensei (another teacher with the Thunder Alice. He's really mean.) discussing Hotaru. Jinno is unwilling to let Hotaru's parents see her even though she's in critical condition. He alludes to Mikan and Naru asks how he knew. Jinno says he can guess from the facts, and tells Naru he better watch himself.

Natsume looks in on Hotaru and kicks the little penguin robot she made that's crying about her. She tells him, or rather a voice imitating, mind-reading nurse that's passing by, tells him that it was expensive and he'd better not break it.

Mikan's behind talking out of her crazy plan and one-by-one the other kids agree to help her, Luca being hte first. Only seniors are premitted in the senior division so their first hurtle is that they're mostly kids. The little robot that followed Natsume hands Mikan a bag filled with Gulliver candy, a candy that allows you to age or de-age? the number of years indicated on the wrapping. (Man that would be useful.) The only thing about them is they only work while the candy's in your mouth and it has weird side effects, which was why it was pulled from shelves.

Since Mikan has to be confined in her room, Misaki will use the candy to be younger and pretend to be Mikan, while her doppelganger will continue to be her. A boy whose face can be molded lik clay will be the doubles of Luca and Natsume, and they'll use a hollogram for everyone else.

Mikan emerges as a fifteen year old dress in senior clothes (she really doesn't look any different) and Tounouchi gets all pervy and Tsubasa very protective. Natsume and Luca get ready (and are the hottest manga ten-year-olds ever) and Mikan's very surprised by how they look. Luca can't stop staring at Mikan. Natsume grabs Mikan by the chest and tells her it hasn't grown an inch (that's tactful). Tounouchi stares at him longingly wishing he were ten so he could get away with that. (Or maybe for another reason....)

They go to the senior division whose walkway is lined with very creepy looking statues. They sneak around the school and Mikan confesses to Luca that she's so nervous her candy's already dissolved. He tells her to hide in a corridor and when the two step in they're trapped in a time warp. Tsubasa uses his shadow manipulation to get them out but they're already elementary students and are noticed.

They escape and finally make it to the newspaper club and find Hayami, the information freak that wears weird goggles for no reason, kind of like Quatre.

Tounouchi asks about eh worm hole and he tells him it most like exists. There's an area in the west building on the second floor where two peopel were seen around the time of the incident with the intruders. That ghosts often appear in that area, always in groups of two and holding an old notebook. And that one looks exactly like student body president Shuichi Sakurano.

To be continued...

1 comment:

Kayla said...

It's kind of hard to follow all the names but it sounds interesting. I've never really read any manga.