Okay, I kinda forgot to make a post about this. I finished the anime of Gakuen Alice last Friday, & since then, I've been reading the manga & just now completed that as well. It's not as girly as it looks & it's way more interesting than you would think. The anime is 26 episodes & the manga is 180 chapters. Genres are comedy, drama, fantasy, magic, shoujo, & supernatural. (There's romance in there too, but it's not labeled with the romance genre. Hm...) Here's a quick summary that TOTALLY does NOT do this anime/manga justice.
Sakura Mikan's best friend, Imai Hotaru, is suddenly transferred to a school in Tokyo for gifted students like her— Alice Academy. After several months of Hotaru not keeping in contact like promised & hearing rumors that Alice Academy students are like prisoners there, Mikan runs away to head to the school herself to see Hotaru. However, she soon finds out this academy is like no other; it's an academy for people with special abilities known as "Alices". And after a chance encounter with one of the teachers there, she somehow finds herself enrolled there! Mikan is now on an adventure making wonderful memories, dealing with the mysterious Hyuga Natsume's bullying, & coping with her new weird school that may be darker than it appears.
SPOILERS may exist beyond this point. Even if they are just minor ones, I still have to fairly put the warning up for some people. That is all.
Okay, first, I want to point out (again) that Gakuen Alice is NOT as girly as it might first appear. And it is much more interesting than it seems by the summary above. I also want to say that the manga is WAY WAY WAY more interesting than the anime, but the anime might be a nice introduction to it for you. The only thing is, if you finish the anime & you want to continue through the manga, you'll have to start from the beginning because of the numerous differences between the 2. Henceforth, I'll be talking about the manga rather than the anime due to the different levels of awesomeness. xD Now, moving on...
In the beginning, it may just look like some simple little shoujo manga on a girl's daily school life & blah blah blah. But you have to stick with it, because, if you don't, you'll seriously be missing out. The reality is, Alice Academy has a serious dark side to it that just takes time to completely unfold. The secrets & painful history of the people who are trapped, suffering, being deceived, & dying in Alice Academy is worth sticking around for. Could Sakura Mikan be a key to this darkness being erased? Heck, I'm not telling you. Read it yourself, lazy bones!
The story takes several plot twists that really make you just be like, "What?!" And if you stick around for a long time, you'll find that it gets to be like really really sad. I almost never cry for shows & stuff like this, but this manga actually had ME bawling when I got somewhere within the last 30 chapters. It really digs into your emotions by making you so attached to things or people, then just ripping it away, especially by death. The mangaka's favorite way to take something out of this manga that you really really liked appears to be death... And it's like whenever the main characters try really hard to do something, it ultimately fails in some way instead of succeeding like you would actually expect to happen. It's a heart breaking manga one step away from being a total tragedy.
As expected of a shoujo though, we do have some romance mixed in there, but that also takes a lot of time to really develop. It's not really slow though. It moves at a good pace, & gives a satisfying amount of "romantic" scenes throughout the manga so that people who are interested in that aspect of it won't feel too impatient about the fact that there isn't an actual "official" relationship until the series is nearly over. There's also the typical "two guys falling for the same girl" that one can often find in shoujo, but this manga doesn't really have much of a romantic rival spirit to it. You can see that there's a tad bit of frustration there if one manages to get closer to Mikan than the other, but it doesn't really make a big deal out of it. Both of them turn out to be the type to support the other if that's who makes Mikan the happiest. But something about this attitude is actually kinda frustrating, & makes you dive deeper into it before you even realize it. Haha
All in all, what we have here is a unique manga with a seemingly typical plot but some seriously unexpected twists that is totally full of laughs, joy, friendship, pain, loss, & first love.