Gakuen Alice: Volume 1 by Tachibana Higuchi

(8.7/10) Fun characters, beautiful artwork and an original story.

Young Mikun Sakura is amazed about her best friend Hotaru being enrolled at a Geniuses only school as all around the area where she lives people are going crazy about the news. Although she is not any form of genius, she is an "Alice," or special kind of person, but when Hotaru leaves for the school that same day she got the invitation, her friend is angry at them for separating as they were always the perfect pair at school as they won competitions together and Mikan knows she will miss her once she leaves for the Alice Academy.

Mikan learns from a friend that as Hotaru has stayed there a year, all is not as it seems. Instead of her leaving for the school as Mikan thought originally, she was sent for and offered a large sum of money if she attended - her mother and her moved around a great deal to elude the government as any "Alice" student is protected and not allowed to leave the school or even phone home or friends as they are considered a rare species of human.

Now that Mikun knows she is not having fun there, she feels the guilt at her being selfish for abandoning her. Thinking she might be in danger, Mikan flees from home and goes to Tokyo to find the Alice Academy and see what it is like for herself. On her travels she meets a teacher, Narami at the Academy who says she can stay at the school if she takes a test - if she passes, the world is her oyster. And if she doesn’t what can she do?

Author of Swan Lake and A Portrait of M & N, Tachibana Higuchi has fashioned this manga rather different creatively to her normal, more serious work and made a young girl, Mican the focus. She is happy go lucky, funny and although she can get angsty at times, she quickly forgets what made her angry in the first place. As the reader explores this story, they will uncover the reality of the Academy as a place where special students go to expand their powers as each "Alice" subject has a unique power. Narami's ability is to use pheromones to attract both males and females, but what is Mikan's? And how will she fit into the Academy if she passes the test. Hilarious and fun characters, beautiful artwork and an original story make this a very special first volume.

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