Gakuen Alice Manga Volume 10

学園アリスmanga review
Gakuen Alice Manga Volume 10

–> Not available for purchase from RAKUTEN.COM (formerly BUY.COM)

SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

--> PURCHASE FROM RAKUTEN.COM (formerly BUY.COM) --> PURCHASE FROM BARNES & NOBLE --> PURCHASE FROM RIGHTSTUF!It is New Years day and it is also Mikan’s birthday. Though she drops hints, no one seems to know or care about her birthday and that depresses Mikan. A chat away from her classmates with Narumi-sensei makes Mikan feel better and returning to her classmates, we learn that the class knew and even set up a surprise party, but pretended not to know thanks to Hotaru’s love of teasing Mikan.

Hotaru receives an invitation to the Junior Division’s “secret garden” party, where the female head of that school has a thing for pretty girls in all grades. Initially, she doesn’t want to attend but then changes her mind as does Mikan. However, the joke Tsubasa pulled on them with the mochi they were making means that some people are stuck together. As such, Mikan finds herself attached to Natsume and Hotaru finds herself attached to Luca and the young male Yu-chan. Things are complicated when Mikan gets the special prize invitation as this means that for Mikan and Hotaru to attend, they will have to bring Natsume, Luca, and Yo-chan along even though the head of the Junior Division dislikes males.

The guys are given a pass to attend and though Natsume’s bond with Mikan is released, he won’t release her hand and silently warns her to go along with the ploy even though she doesn’t want to. At the party, the guys make a stir with the females and Nobara is afraid for Natsume when she sees him. The headmistress, Hii-sama, likes Hotaru but not the boys. When Luca and Yu-chan come free of Hotaru, Natsume has no choice but to release Mikan, who’s very relieved. However, many of the other girls do not like Mikan being there, thinking she did something bad to win the prize invitation.

As Mikan finds herself and Yu-chan led into a room where they are locked in, Natsume goes exploring for Aoi, his sister whom he believes is held captive here. Persona is alerted to this as Hotaru becomes suspicious of Mikan’s absence and goes to look for her, finding her and a much older-looking Yo-chan, who’d consumed the candy to make him appear 10-years older. The girls who did this to Mikan are punished and apologize before the conversation turns to Natsume. The girls reveal that Hii-sama is forced to allow Persona through her territory, something no other male is allowed to do. Meanwhile, Natsume thinks he’s found Aoi in the dungeon but instead finds Nobara.

The omake story in the manga is about young boys Sakurano and Subaru (Hotaru’s older brother) and is set when Yuka, Mikan’s mother, was in high school at Gakuen Alice.

Thoughts/Review: Hotaru is a pretty sadistic friend when it comes to Mikan. Bringing the normally cheerful Mikan down by forcing the class to pretend they’d forgotten about Mikan’s birthday just because Hotaru finds it cute is rather harsh. Yet despite this, Hotaru does care deeply about Mikan and always seems to be on the lookout for her friend even if she pretends to be cold and distant at times. That’s what made Hotaru’s decision to go find Mikan at Hii-sama’s party so much more powerful in my opinion.

Hii-sama is a weirdo like Hotaru declared. It is strange that initially both Hotaru and Mikan were against going and Mikan could think of all the reasons why Hotaru shouldn’t accept the invitation. However, Mikan’s conversion from seeing the Junior Division headmaster as weird to wanting to attend Hii-sama’s party seemed a little odd, but I chalked it up to kid logic.

I liked seeing Nobara again and clearly, she knew that Natsume’s arrival would be bad for him. What I don’t know is if that’s Nobara in the cell at the end or if it is an impersonator since Nobara was trying to get some help and then I lost track of her (may need to reread to see if she shows up in a panel someplace again before the end). Natsume, who clearly had a reason to want to stick close to Mikan even before that reason was revealed, appears to have a sister named Aoi at Hii-sama’s place and as a prisoner of sorts since Hii-sama likes to collect special girls. *_* To be honest, everything about Hii-sama smacked of unwholesomeness at best and pedophilia at worst, though Higuchi-sensei tries to tone things down a bit by having characters say that certain rumors about Hii-sama are false.

So, what is Hii-sama’s connection to Persona? What is so special about Aoi that Hii-sama locks her up? Why is Nobara apparently in the cell and not Aoi? Why does this all appear to be an elaborate trap just to snare Natsume?

On the TokyoPop side of things, the printing has returned to the older form, meaning a better quality paper and a manga that doesn’t feel weird in my hands. Alethea and Athena Nibley do the translations again and so honorifics are retained which is good. However, I noticed that brother and sister honorifics are dropped in favor of the unnatural sounding addressing of people as “brother,” “bro,” “big sister,” etc. Further, the western honorifics “Sir” and “Lady” are used which comes off as odd. This is where TokyoPop’s lack of translator notes fails.

It turns out that the term being used is “kimi,” which in this case is not being used for “you,” but is an archaic title meaning monarch; ruler; sovereign; (one’s) master; (P). So many of the times, instead of “Sir X” or “Lady X,” it would be “X no Kimi” in the Japanese. Since that is an odd expression and there are no translator notes, I understand why it was decided to uses “Sir” or “Lady” in these instances. Interestingly though, Persona is called “Lord of the Mask” in the English and he too is in essence called “Mask no Kimi” in the Japanese. So I suppose that one could argue that instead of “Lady Flower” or “Sir Flower,” the term “Lady of the Flower” or “Master/Lord of the Flower” could have been used to reflect the original Japanese’s non-honorific yet ultra-formal means of addressing people in an unusual way.

Less understandable is when one of the girls, given a flower nickname, is addressed as “Lady Flower” (whatever that flower happens to be) instead of “Flower-sama.” That happened for a few of the “Lady” honorifics and is odder since other English terms were matched up with their original Japanese honorifics.

Still, this is an interesting (and sometime humorous) continuation in the Gakuen Alice manga series with more questions being raised about what exactly is going on at this weird school for students with special powers. Therefore, despite my concerns mentioned above, I still say this is buy-worthy. ^_^

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