Gakuen Alice

October 13, 2007

Finally. This has got to be the longest duration for me to watch a short anime series. Yeah, it took me about close to a year and a half to finish watching the entire series. Which series am I talking about? It’s Gakuen Alice of course. So much so, I don’t think I can remember what happened in the earlier episodes (keeping my fingers crossed).
 
So why did it take so long for me to finish this series? Firstly, it’s my fault for not understanding Japanese. Therefore I had to wait for the subs to come out. Though this series has only 26 episodes of 30 minutes each, for some unknown reasons, the people who were subbing the series stopped somewhere at episode 15. For all those faithfuls who have been following the series then, must be really frustrated and their patience running thin (like me). Fortunately, early this year, another fansub group decided to pick up and continue subbing from where the previous one left off, and yahoo! Gakuen Alice fans were able to complete finish watching the series, though they did take their time on subbing the remaining episodes. But many thanks anyway.
 
The series at first look may seem to appeal to younger audience because the main characters of the series are 10 year old children with your typical wide-eye cute and kawaii looking kiddies. But for those who enjoy some magical and comedy genre, this would also appeal to older audiences.
 
The basic premise of this story is about this little girl, Mikan Sakura, who considers Hotaru Imai, the bestest friend in the whole wide world. Unfortunately, the personalities of these 2 individuals are somewhat contrasting. Mikan is a scatterbrain (AKA chicken backside), crybaby, clumsy, energetic but is very good natured. On the other hand, Hotaru is the smarter but more quiet type, expressionless, cold and at times scheming. Hotaru doesn’t really consider Mikan to be her best buddy but deep down in her heart she does care for Mikan. You wonder how they ended up together. But like they say, opposites do attract.
 
One day, the intelligent Hotaru is set to be transferred to a school in Tokyo called Gakuen Alice or Alice Academy, for geniuses and prodigies. Mikan is devastated to find out about it and of course tries to protest and stop her. You’ll notice Mikan never really wins against Hotaru and there’s even a scoreboard outside the school to keep that school. I don’t remember Hotaru’s score but Mikan’s is definitely a zero. Some time has passed and Mikan receives a postcard letter from Hotaru but Mikan also heard rumours about the place being like a prison and that even one’s parents can’t see their child after graduation. Thus, Mikan can’t stand being separated from her best pal, decides to go rescue her herself. I think that’s the only thing she’s thinking at that time because Mikan didn’t really think about the consequences of running away just like that. Isn’t she worried about herself a little girl setting foot in the large and dangerous Tokyo city?
 
See how dangerous it is because Mikan is being approached by 2 strangers upon her arrival outside the academy gates as they asks her to get into their car. Before anything could happen, a blonde man, Narumi, uses some kind of powers to let Mikan go before they left. Narumi also seems to use his powers to make Mikan go home but it seems it doesn’t work. Because of that, he decides to take Mikan into Gakuen Alice, much to her delight. But an explosion soon occurs and caused a big hole in the nearby wall. A kid in a cat mask appears. Narumi tells Mikan that kid is 1 of the academy’s students, Hyuuga Natsume. It seems Natsume is trying to escape from the academy but Narumi manages to stop him and by knocking off his mask, revealing his face. Some warnings about using his ‘Alice’ to further escape because Narumi will do something ’embarrassing’ to him before Natsume passes out. Mikan on the other hand is in shock to see all this happening.
 
So the rest of the series will see how Mikan gets use to life in the academy and her cheery and energetic self either gets people to like her or loath her. Since there are quite a number of characters and terms here, I’ll just blog on the few important points. Like Alice. What is is actually? Well, it’s a term to refer to those with special powers. Why is it called Alice? Dunno. Can’t call them ‘mutants’ because it’s been used as a term in an American comic book. Plus, the name doesn’t go hand in hand with cute innocent looking children. What about ‘special powers’? Nah, that’s sounds too ordinary. What about ‘magic powers’? Erm… Not an RPG game here. So probably Alice sounds cuter and mysteriously filled with mystifying magic just like Lewis Carroll’s book or perfect as the Rozen Maidens. Yeah, it may stand for All Little Innocent Children’s Extraordinaire. Just kidding. Made that last bit one up.
 
There are several types of Alices. Some ranging from really dangerous ones to those which are just plain farcical. Yeah, in other words, useless and just for laughs. The academy has classified Alices into 5 categories. The first being Latent Ability, which are super power Alices which include flying and mind reading. Second, Technical Ability, which involves the usage of technology and invention. Third, Somatic Ability which is based on bodies of living things which include pheromones. Fourth, Dangerous Ability which like is name suggests can cause damage like fire and summoning of spirits. Lastly, Special Ability (in which Mikan always refers to as Useless Class) are Alices which don’t fit into the above categories.
 
Furthermore, each Alice is categorized into ‘shapes’ which determines the length and power of a particular Alice. There are 4 categories with Childhood Alice are Alices that disappear once the child grows into an adult, Diffuse Alice whereby the Alice is always available but has relatively low power, Intermittent Alice have really high power but can only be sustained for a short period of time, and Limitless Alice which is the most powerful one but there’s a catch. Such Alice can be used as much as the user wants and for how long they desire but its after effect could reduce the longevity of the user and could kill him/her outright if it’s overused.
 
While Narumi wants to make Mikan part of the academy, there are those who aren’t too fond of his idea. For instance, the cold-hearted teacher Jinno. He doesn’t hesitate to punish those who misuse their Alices and doesn’t like Mikan much. Mikan manages to get enrolled in the academy and is under the same class as Narumi’s. Good news is that Hotaru is there too. Yay! Now they can be together. Well, Hotaru isn’t too amused and wonders how Mikan can really get into this place. Yeah, Hotaru seems to be ignoring Mikan and acting as though she doesn’t know her. But another bad thing is, Natsume too is in the same class! And her seat is beside him! Mikan and Natsume don’t really get along with each other well because of that incident earlier on in the infirmary. Since Natsume’s the bad boy of the class (and possibly the enitire school), either everyone else fears him or adores him. Yeah, Natsume has his own group of followers. Plus, Natsume isn’t the kind of guy who goes round picking on fights. He’s more towards ‘I-don’t-care’ and ignoring attitude. But as the series progress, you’ll see how Mikan indirectly changes Natsume with her bubbly self. Doesn’t it remind you of Kodocha in a way?
 
Other classmates of Mikan include Ruka Nogi, Natsume’s best friend and is always concern and looking out for him. Then there’s the class president, Yuu Tobita (whom I shall refer to as Inchou because that’s what they always call him). At first I thought he’s a girl because of the way he looks and sound. Then I realize why is ‘she’ wearing shorts just like the other guys and not skirts. Upon further reading, I confirmed that Inchou is a boy. Haih… Then there’s Sumire Shoda who Mikan always calls her Perma because of her hair curls. Since it’s like this, I also have the tendency to call her Perma. Perma has a crush on Natsume and with Mikan’s appearance, she considers her to be somewhat a rival. Though, Natsume isn’t really interested in all that and seems oblivious to it. Dream on girl. Others include Kokoroyomi, Anna Umenomiya and Nonoko Ogasawara.
 
Wonder what are the Alices of those characters? Narumi’s Alice is human pheromones, which means he can make anyone like him easily. Gay thoughts come to mind. Moving on… Hotaru’s Alice is to create and invent all sort of weird stuffs easily. Some interestingly innovative and some just really make you go "What in the world is that for". But don’t worry, each time Hotaru comes up with a weird invention, she’ll explain it using a diagram of how it works and such (not that I really get it too). Natsume belongs to the Dangerous Ability and can produce fire at will. Just like Narumi, Ruka’s Alice is animal pheromones and naturally he is good in communicating with them and is always seen holding a rabbit. While Perma’s Alice is to become part dog and part cat so that her sense of smell is heightened, Inchou’s is to create illusions and Kokoroyomi is to read minds. What about Mikan’s?
 
Because nobody knows what Mikan’s Alice is, the obnoxious Perma throws a challenge to Mikan to prove that she has an Alice or else she must leave the academy. So Mikan tries to figure out her Alice while wondering in the woods but to no avail. So she also meets other interesting characters like Mr Bear, who doesn’t really have any dialogue or lines, and also one of those characters who doesn’t like Mikan too much. Yeah, you can see Mr Bear always trying to beat up Mikan and poor Mikan always get into whatever beating. Then there’s a giant chick named Piyo. No not a hot lady, but that yellow chicken offspring lah! It’s really really really huge. And because it’s too large to live in an ordinary chicken shed, it sleeps in the forest. Since Ruka can only calm it down with his Alice, it’s kinda funny to see Hotaru blackmailing Ruka with that photo or video with Ruka and Piyo coming together lovey-dovey. Hahaha.
 
Mikan and Ruka had some talk as the former finds out a little more about Natsume but didn’t understand why Natsume’s being so cold either. Soon Mikan bumps into Natsume who says that her time is up and is disqualified. Natsume doesn’t like the idea of her trying to use Ruka to cheat on the challenge (though it isn’t so) and starts to get violent. Hotaru and Inchou tries to make a situation to let Mikan escape but Natsume engulfs the area in flames. Mikan gets pissed off to see him use his Alice endangering her friends and because of that some ray of light appears and envelops them light an atomic explosion just before Natsume could fry Mikan. Once over, Narumi uses his powers to subdue Natsume and explains that Mikan’s Alice is nullification. Meaning, Mikan has the ability to nullify all Alices so that Alice users cannot use their powers around her. Cool. Sounds like Basilik’s Oboro’s Mystic Eyes, huh. However, Mikan doesn’t like her Alice because she thinks of it as a ‘useless’ Alice. But over time, she’ll learn how to appreciate it and use it during times of need.
 
So it’s now official that Mikan is now a student of the academy. Well, I suppose she has to start living (like living like a poor church mouse in Hotaru’s dorm atic) and learning about the harshness of reality that’s because even though she’s a student of the elite academy, depending on their star ranking, each student are given their allowances based on it. So it ranges from the highest 3 star to lowest no star. And you’ve probably guessed Mikan’s ranking, right? Yup, Jinno gives her a zero star. Much to Mikan’s dismay. Who wouldn’t. Since the academy is like a city/country of its own, it has its own currency called Rabbits. Erm… Don’t ask me why but I think the producers love those furry little mammals or is it because of Lewis Carroll’s book. So a no star Alice gets a meagre 5 Rabbits whereas a 3 star Alice gets a fat 100 Rabbits. Oh wait, there’s a higher star ranking which gets a whopping allowance of 300 Rabbits and it’s called Special Star, which Natsume is in. But as they say, money isn’t everything (okay maybe not) as you’ll see how Mikan and her cheery self goes about helping others even though she hasn’t has much. Pity she always has to borrow from that money-faced Hotaru and her debts accumulated each time. Always promising she’ll be paying back the next time, but at the rate she’s going, I don’t think so. A potential bankrupt if it was in the real world. Oh by the way, if you’re wondering why the academy seals itself from the outside world just like China did back then with its bamboo curtains, that’s because what happens if ordinary humans finds out about Alice? They’ll freak out as first reaction, right? So to protect and nurture these little kids with Alices, this school is set up for that purpose. Thus the when 1 has the ability to really control his/her Alice or in some cases, lose their Alice ability, they’ll leave the academy grounds. Thus it’s like a prison in the sense that nobody gets in and nobody gets out. And the campus is really really large and spacious, spanning dunno how many acres or so. You might get lost in there.
 
Along the way, Mikan gets to mix with a group of high school students of the same Special Ability class. That’s because there’s a period whereby students of the same class will get together in addition to normal classes by their age. Mikan befriends Tsubasa Andou (able to manipulate shadows) and Misaki Harada (able to clone herself) who in a way saves Mikan from being bullied (because she’s a no star. I discrimination here is well and alive too). Mikan’s senpai’s helps her feel at home and not being alienated and because of that, Mikan gains more confidence. Uh-huh, Mikan accepts the fact that she’s a weirdo like them all. Not that she says it. But I kinda felt it that way. You know the saying birds of the same feathers…
 
Other than that, Mikan’s other (mis)adventures include trying to cope with Hotaru’s weird inventions (yeah, she has one which looks like Mikan herself probably to take out her frustrations when the real one wasn’t here), playing some Alice dodgeball (it’s a wacky one but Mikan lost when it’s between her and Natsume. However, Natsume is still puzzled by her happy nature even though she lost), missing her grandpa and wants to go back but nearly gets kidnapped (because Mikan is mad that Narumi didn’t send all those letters she wrote to grandpa and lied to say that he had. You know why right?) that is until Narumi gets injured while trying to rescue her (yeah, Mikan wants to call Narumi her grandpa. I think Narumi still prefers to be called father in such circumstances), Hotaru facing off with her jealous senpai, Tashiro who thinks Hotaru is taking away the spotlight from him and challenges her to a duel but as expected he lost because he was caught cheating. Also a trip to the town centre within the academy as Mikan tries to earn more Rabbits by putting up some play in the streets so that she could taste some super sweet candy called Howaloon. In the end she manages to buy a box and even shares it with everyone including Natsume. Everyone should follow Mikan’s example. Then of course a little confrontation between Mikan and Jinno but Hotaru disrupts and defies Jinno for treating Mikan like dirt (isn’t she herself no difference). Because of that, Jinno is gonna teach Hotaru a lesson when Mikan nullifies his Alice (to produce electricity).
 
But the turning point of the series came in episode 12 when the academy is organizing a school festival. We see Natsume is being ‘kidnapped’ and doing things and assignments against his will by some organization led by a man in some mask named Persona. Maybe that’s why Natsume has always been cold. De to his last duty, Natsume gets injured and is recuperating in the infirmary. At the same time, the organizing a concert in which an ex-Alice student and now celebrity, Leo Mori, to perform at the opening ceremony. It seems Leo and Narumi knows each other and the latter is quite wary about Leo. To cut things short, Leo is part of some group which is against the academy because on the surface the academy may look like goody-two shoes but it hides something more sinister. Not only that, Leo’s job is to kidnap Natsume. Because Leo has human pheromones as his Alice, making all those who hear his voice fall under his control, he wears some sort of device to prevent that. No matter how tight the security measures were, Leo and his members manage to kidnap Natsume. Though Mikan knows about it but she is powerless. Finally, she and Perma decides to save Natsume. The other gang too wants to save Natsume but has to keep the other teachers at bay and allow Mikan and Perma to follow the car in which Leo and Natsume are in.
 
But during the chase, Mikan and Perma got captured by Leo’s henchmen and they woke up in some warehouse tied up with Natsume lying unconscious next to them. The girls eavesdropped about Leo explaining about Natsume’s past like how he burned the entire town he lived in when he was young, and that he’s known as Black Cat (nothing to do with Train Heartnet, mind you) and the academy is being used to train kids with Alices to be used in secretive missions and such. Once Natsume comes to, they decide to escape but there’s a barrier blocking the use of their Alice. Fortunately the barrier isn’t that strong as Natsume uses his fire to burn the ropes but it causes him some pain. Unfortunately, their escape is foiled when Leo spots them and soon he finds out Mikan’s nullification Alice, the reason why she wasn’t under his spell during the concert.
 
So some struggle here and there before Natsume makes a path for the 2 girls to escape and some of the henchmen chasing them. Because the ladies are gone, Natsume is thinking of burning down the warehouse filled with gunpowder. Is he going to kill himself? Mikan reflects her true objective while running away and turns back before Natsume can start the fireworks. But Natsume isn’t too amused and because of that, Leo uses this opportunity to mind control Natsume. But Mikan’s Alice just rendered them powerless as she throws some dirt on to Leo’s face as they make their escape. Meanwhile Perma is cornered by several henchmen but Tsubasa and Misaki showed up in time to rescue her. At the same time, Mikan and a weak Natsume is cornered by Leo and his henchmen. Mikan vows to face them all alone to protect Natsume when Tsubasa and Misaki arrived just in time to save the day. With that Leo decides to retreat not before 1 of his henchmen grabs Natsume and knocks over Mikan who’s trying to save him. Natsume then gets very mad and releases a super flame engulfing the warehouse and the surrounding. When Mikan comes to, she finds herself in the infirmary of the academy and her pals beside her. As for Natsume, he’s safe and is resting well in the next room. While Mikan and Perma went on their rescuing operation, it seems the academy has continued preparations with the festival and is completed. But a surprise awaits Mikan. And it’s a good one. Jinno comes in and upgrades Mikan to a 1 star Alice as reward for her bravery. Way to go girl.
 
With the main arc over, the next few episodes are about the academy’s cultural festival underway. Each ability class has been assigned to do a theme or something for the festival in episode 16. So Mikan and co go round checking out each of them. As for Mikan’s Special Ability class, they did some Magic Lamp RPG kinda thingy. Okay, I’m not sure how it really works but participants go through some sort of an elaborate maze and defeat ‘evil spirits’ along their way to reach their goal. Which is Mikan, the final boss. The reward for getting pass her is that the winner gets to choose from 1 of the lamps with a person’s name of it, and that person must do the winner’s bidding. So we see some hilariousness of how everyone falters to get pass and some weird Alices in play. Though Narumi got to Mikan but her nullification Alice means, he lose. So it ended with Natsume winning because Mikan’s scared of a little cockroach. And just like fate itself, Natsume picks a lamp with Mikan’s name in it. Though Natsume wanted Tsubasa’s name as revenge for an earlier stunt he pulled on him and asks Kokoroyomi to mind read which of the lamp has his name, Kokoroyomi reads the one with Mikan’s name because he thought that was what he read and Natsume was thinking at that time. Bummer.
 
Because of that, Mikan has to follow Natsume and Ruka throughout the festival. However, Mikan can’t seem to hold back her happiness and is being her genki self so much so he puts a leash on her! But mainly this episode 17 isn’t about Mikan or Natsume as we discover Hotaru has an older brother in the academy itself. And to confirm that this academy is really huge, this is the first time they’ve met and previously they’ve only heard rumours about each other. It all started when Mikan takes a ride on one of Hotaru’s inventions and it goes out of control and endangering one of the little kids there. Mikan manages to control and save the kid before anything bad could happen but this made other people question Hotaru’s safety of her inventions. So some guy, Subaru, comes up to Mikan and heals her wounds with his Alice. It took a little long before Mikan could figure out this guy is Hotaru’s bro. Probably Hotaru gets her cold expressionless characteristics from her bro because he’s like one too, only more extreme. They don’t see other as your typical siblings who have good relationships with each other. But aside from the drama here and some backstory telling (bla bla bla), in the end, Hotaru felt grateful for Mikan because of her, Hotaru didn’t turn out as cold and emotionless as her brother. Erm… Don’t see any difference there. Okay, maybe just a little. Even if Mikan’s an idiot, she’s Hotaru’s idiot. Hahaha. Just kidding.
 
After that it’s back to more Mikan-Natsume time. Don’t get me wrong, no official feelings between them yet. At least not for Natsume. While Natsume, Ruka and Mikan are at a cafe, Natsume splashes coffee on Mikan’s face, preventing her from eating her cake. Though Mikan’s pissed off, later she finds out from Ruka saying that he did it because he didn’t want to eat that rotten cake (yeah, the bacteria was doing a doo-wah!) and at the same time didn’t want to hurt that waitress’s feelings. But I suppose you could say that this episode 18 is where you could see the ‘feelings’ of Natsume. The trio decides to check out the haunted house and of course Perma is kinda jealous that Mikan gets to go in with Natsume but ends up going in with Jinno. Well well. It seems a tough teacher like Jinno is afraid of ghosts. But anyway since Mikan is scared and clinging on the Ruka, this made Natsume a little jealous. But Ruka got separated from them when Mikan gets freaked out after seeing a ghostly old lady. So much so Mikan passes out when she sees some scary statue and the statue starts to fall on her. Natsume uses his body to protect her but injures his leg. Since Jinno’s so afraid, his electricity causes a short circuit and black out. So Mikan and Natsume are alone together and some ‘moments’ between the 2 as they try to find their way out. In the end just when Mikan feels appreciative of Natsume’s effort of saving her, Natsume pisses her off by saying how he saw her strawberry panties (in which Mikan unknowingly exposed to him earlier). Mikan is gonna pound him when Hotaru and Ruka shows up only to see Mikan on top of Natsume. Gasp! Sorry for the intrusion. Though Mikan says it’s not what they think, Natsume tells them otherwise that Mikan tried to molest him while no one is looking. Hehehe. He just didn’t cry rape, didn’t he? Poor Mikan, always the wrong place, the wrong time. However, Mikan felt the day was enjoyable despite how things turned out.
 
The festival continues in episode 19 with a play this time. It’s somewhat a cross between Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. The main lead who’s playing the prince is actually a girl but because she has pheromones of making girls fall hopelessly in love with her… you know lah. I’m sure most guys would like to have this kind of pheromone. Anyway, Kokoroyomi is playing with some sticky balls when an accident occurs, making some of the players stuck. So Mikan and co have no choice but to fill in those roles. I suppose Ruka gets to the Snow White role because I think everyone thinks he’s so pretty in that role. As for Mikan… she gets to play the prince role. What is this gender swapping thing? Well it seems interesting because Perma is playing as Sleeping Beauty but she really seems more like an evil stepmother. Some weird play with Natsume dressing up as a role of a cat. Since Sleeping Beauty lost to Snow White the prince has to kiss the latter after some hilarious aftermaths. Can Mikan do it? Just before Mikan could kiss Ruka, somebody threw an apple at her and at the same time the lights all went out. Looks like the guilty people are Hotaru, who switched off the lights and Natsume who threw the apple. I think Natsume’s getting to be pretty jealous about Ruka being so close with Mikan. As for Hotaru, I think she couldn’t stand seeing her scatterbrain pal getting to kiss before her. Just kidding on that last one. I think it’s because probably she wants to see it between Mikan and Natsume.
 
Typically when the festival ends, there is to be some kind of ball dance in episode 20. Something like a prom night but it isn’t graduation yet. While the ball too has some kind of award ceremony (not too sure about it. One of them being Hotaru’s class winning a prize money of 10,000 Rabbits!) there are some drama moments between Mikan, Natsume and Ruka. Obviously Natsume looks so jealous so much so he pushed Ruka towards Mikan and leaves them both alone. He thinks his pal likes her since they’re seen spending more time together recently. It seems Hotaru knows Ruka has a crush on Mikan and seems to ‘blackmail’ him to do her biddings or else she’ll spill the beans. Later Mikan meets Natsume sitting alone in the woods and they both had a little chat. For the first time, Natsume calls Mikan by her name (previously he always calls her polka dot because that’s the first thing he saw her in in one of the earlier episodes) which causes Mikan to blush and walks away. Ruka who is eavesdropping, approaches and chats with Natsume once Mikan is gone. So they’re telling each other that the other one is better suited for Mikan when Hotaru says she’s willing to step in and take Mikan from them. True enough, the announcement of the Last Dance is between Hotaru and Mikan. Ah well, that’s life. The 2 boys then decide to go watch the 2 ladies dance.
 
The fun is over which means it’s the year end exams in episode 21. Mikan is obviously dreading it because she isn’t good at studying but her motivation and determination to see her grandpa is what made her burn the midnight oil. Some of the exams are really weird. For instance, Narumi’s exam is to… write a love letter! I suppose a guy with human pheromones is only good with such stuffs. Then we see Mikan offering to help teach some cooking skills to Perma. Mikan is so selfless and would even sacrifice her own study time to help others. Yeah, another burning of the midnight oil. Hehehe. Mikan and Perma hugging each other. Now that’s a sight you don’t see everyday. Though they both manage to take the exam and make a wonderful fried rice dish, but I guess they took too long because the rest of the students went on to take the next exam. In the end, Mikan did quite well scoring a B overall. Not bad, I’d say. Of course Mikan continues to do her best and gets some encouragement from Perma. Are they friends now? Well, let’s say they’re keeping it at a distance. Also, Persona makes a brief appearance and has a little chat with Natsume and the former even disguises himself as 1 of the teachers as a substitute teachers. A sign of things to come.
 
Episode 22 is more on Mr Bear and how his existance came to be. It seems there is a sickly student, Kaname Sonou, whose Alice is to put souls into stuffed toys and is Tsubasa’s friend. Hence, the reason why Mr Bear is alive. There are other stuffed toys too are alive and can talk. Just like Natsume, Kaname’s Alice shape is the Limitless Alice, hence the reason why he is in hospital. Kaname too is just like Mikan, wanting to help others regardless of his own safety and life. Because Kaname doesn’t want to be alone, he created Mr Bear and vows always to be together with it. So lots of drama and moments as we see between Kaname and Mr Bear as the latter puts Kaname’s favourite rape blossom flowers next to the window of Kaname’s room. Though in the end, Kaname has to leave the academy, Mikan offers to take care of Mr Bear while he is away. Okay, so Mr Bear still isn’t too fond of Mikan. As usual giving her its usual beating. Hasn’t it been like this all the time? But I’m sure it’s their way of ‘getting along’. Then they’ll be just fine.
 
If you don’t suceed at first, try try again. Well, that’s what they say because Leo is back in episode 23 to try another attempt to bring down the academy. It won’t be obvious at first but if you remember Leo’s voice, you could guess that it’s him. Anyway, Leo and his gang comes into the academy under the guise of a travelling circus this time. So Mikan and the gang get to watch the spectacular trapeze and animal acts of any typical circus show. So backstage, animal lover Ruka spots the ringmaster whipping a young lion cub because it’s afraid to jump through the fire loop. Ruka and Natsume proceeds to show that ringmaster what’s it like to be in its shoes with their Alice. But Leo isn’t aiming for Natsume this time. It’s Ruka he’s after. One of the circus performer, who is also an ex-Alice student (because he has the Childhood Alice) brings him to see Leo. Though Ruka isn’t impressed and wouldn’t want to be part of Leo’s schemes, Leo proceeds to tell the dark, sinister and actual purpose of the academy and in a way says that if he doesn’t do it, then it will be Natsume’s. Plus, a little back story of him and Narumi and a girl which look so much like Mikan. Supposedly her mom I think. Don’t really remember much. Ruka is thinking of not wanting to put Natsume into anymore danger or hurt him further as he is now and is feeling indecisive.
 
So the ball starts rolling in episode 24 as Ruka is determined not to let Persona and his henchmen get Natsume because he doesn’t want to let the academy make Natsume do their dirty work. So much so Ruka suggests that the class put up a barricade to prevent authorities from coming in. It’s a mutiny! Such acts will not be tolerated within the academy as the authorities are trying to break down the door. I’m not sure if Ruka is under Leo’s control or acting on his own will. Narumi suggests to go talk to his students and even tells them that he’ll take care of Natsume. Finally the students gave in but Narumi had no choice but to let the authorities take Natsume away. Everyone thinks Narumi has betrayed them but he’s in a pinch and has no choice but to do so. While Jinno thinks Mikan is the leader of the uprising (yeah right), Ruka can’t take the whole thing anymore and is going to do things his way. Yeah, Ruka is the real leader if you notice.
 
Ruka uses his animal pheromones and causes the circus animals to create havoc within the campus in episode 25. The animals are running wild and endangering other innocent students as well. It’s up to Mikan and the rest to save the day and restore order to the academy. Soon Ruka and Natsume bump into each other but instead of being greeted, Natsume gives Ruka a slap across his face. Even though Natsume doesn’t like the way things are nor the missions that the academy entrusts him, Natsume never hurts an innocent person with his Alice. In a way, Ruka comes to his senses and realizes things as he apologizes. There’s 1 thing which I can’t help think, that is, during the time when the animals went on a rampage, I wonder why Mikan didn’t use her nullification Alice. Does it only work on another Alice user? If so, shouldn’t she just nullify Ruka’s Alice? Anyway, Leo is gonna make the whole academy fall under his control as he takes control of the P.A. room and is gonna broadcast it throughout the academy. Narumi tries to stop him but is being held back by Leo’s henhmen. Our little heroes arrive in time and Kokoroyomi reads what’s on Leo’s mind, pissing him off. It seems when Leo was a student at this academy, Narumi was his senpai and when they find out he truth about the academy, Leo felt betrayed by Narumi. I don’t remember what he did. Though Narumi tries to make Leo realize things but Leo is using the pheromones and brain washing himself. But before anything further could happen, Leo escapes through the window with his henchmen on a hot air balloon. I think Narumi has made Leo realized a little as you could see the reaction on his face. Though I think Leo still believes strongly in his own ideals. As for everyone else, they feel that there’s still hope for the academy to change things and more importantly, keep on smiling.
 
The final episode 26 feels more like a filler episode. The exam results are out and well… Mikan has to do a retake. Bummer. But the main thing about this episode is that Mikan finds out that her best buddy Hotaru is gonna move again. Oh the horror! Mikan tries to find Hotaru and talk to her but it seems Hotaru seems money-minded even with that encounter. Mikan didn’t get get the answer she wanted and also she just couldn’t say the right words to stop her. So it’s graduation day and Narumi gives his speech about the possibilities of Alice, do their best and such. Now I remember the academy has 3 headmasters. Some fierce military looking guy, a fortune teller gypsy looking lady and a kid. Yes, I’m not kidding. Mikan is obviously indecisive but after a few ‘encounters’ with her friends, including Natsume, Mikan is determined to follow Hotaru to the ends of the Earth, even if it means they’re old and hagged. Just when Mikan is gonna give Hotaru a letter, Hotaru’s place is already cleared and it seems she has already left. Too late. But it isn’t over till the fat lady sings because Inchou and the rest are determined to help Mikan find Hotaru to say her last words. Yeah, some flashback about how Hotaru tells her to keep smiling because it makes Hotaru forget her troubles as it his Mikan’s best feature.
 
During the retake, Perma lets Mikan know that they’ve found Hotaru. Even Jinno allows Mikan to go. Yeah, seems he has become more lenient and is following Narumi’s teachings. During Mikan’s journey to meet Hotaru, we see lots of her buddies are trying to stall Hotaru from moving. Even Natsume and Piyo. This part reminds me like the first episode because as an emotional Mikan is gonna hug Hotaru, Mikan suddenly changes her character and calls her an idiot for leaving her but Hotaru swats her away with her giant fly swatter. Mikan, you’re still a long way from victory. Anyway Mikan emotionally tells her last words to Hotaru and the latter finally tells Mikan to come to her after some ‘soft scolding’. Mikan thought it’s gonna be a hug but Hotaru smacks her with her swatter and it seems Hotaru isn’t changing schools but is gonna live at the lab for the time being and is in the process of packing her bags there due some exposition to some foreigners interested in her studies. See, that’s what happens when you jump to conclusions. But I guess Mikan couldn’t be happier even if she’s gonna work her butt off to repay her debts, she’s happy to be with Hotaru and even though lots have happened, there’s no place she wants to be right now than Gakuen Alice.
 
Overall, even with the long duration over time to finish watching the series, I still rather enjoy the whole thing. Though I felt as though the ending is a little open so that they could make way for a second season. For instance there are still a few unanswered questions like who is that Persona guy anyway and how Mikan’s mom is connected to all of this. So if you really want to know, I think it’s best to read the manga. Even if they do make a second season, I’m hoping to see the relationship between Mikan-Natsume. Not that I’d like to see them as a couple but how Mikan opens him up further.
 
As such, Mikan still is my favourite character. With her squeaky high pitched voice, she provides most of the comic relief. Another good aspect about her is her selflessness and her never-give-up and try your best attitude. That’s good for a girl her age. And of course, I think she’s the most kawaii one ;). Above all, her ability to keep smiling most of the time. People should be more like her. No, not her clumsiness but her genkiness.
 
There are some life lessons that one could learn from watching this series. Of course, Mikan’s personality as mentioned. Also, one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and that you don’t really need super powers to be heroes. With the power of friendship and cooperation, that’s good enough.
 
The drawing, art and animation seems to appeal to bishie fans and the colouring is quite bright. Cute looking kids and handsome/pretty looking adults. Yeah, you could say it’s eye candy. The mid-intermission is kinda cute as we see Mr Bear, Piyo and a rabbit doing a little dance with a lazy-sounding music in the background. Kana Ueda voices Mikan and you could recognize her in other anime roles like Yumi of Maria-sama Ga Miteru, Hazumu of Kashimashi, Megumi of Kyo No Go No Ni, Sakuya of Hayate No Gotoku and Anna of He Is My Master. Rie Kugimiya fans should know her as Hotaru’s voice actress and also as Shana of Shakugan No Shana, Miyabi of 2×2=Shinobuden and Al of Fullmetal Alchemist. Likewise, Romi Paku voices Natsume and fits her role perfectly as with her other little boys role like Edward of Fullmetal Alchemist, Ueki of The Law Of Ueki, Hitsugaya of Bleach, Katsushiro of Samurai 7 and Tao Ren of Shaman King. Likewise, you may recognize Narumi’s voice actor, Akira Ishida from Naruto’s Gaara and Saiyuki’s Cho Hakkai.
 
I didn’t like both the opening theme song, Pikapika No Taiyou, and the ending song, Shiawase No Niji, both sung by Kana Ueda with Rie Kugimiya doing a duet for the ending song. I dunno. I just find them unappealing but the animation for them are quite cute and amusing. Yeah, the opening credits has a little hint of Alice In Wonderland in it. Speaking of music, though to me there isn’t any background music I like, but I can’t help notice that 1 of them has that jazzy wild helter-skelter horn/trumpet fanfare and I kinda noticed it being played in scenes which are ‘not appropriate’ like those in the episodes near the end of the series. It made me raise my eyebrow.
 
Hehe. If I were to think what kind of Alice I should like to have, I think it’s to be able to make money out of thin air! Hahaha. Then I would say money doesn’t grow on trees, but you could pluck them right out from the air. Then probably I don’t have to get enrolled at Gakuen Alice and probably live a happy life. But each time I can’t help thinking about Mikan whenever I think about Alices. Maybe it’s good I don’t have any Alice at all.