Hein (fub) wrote,

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Finished series: Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight!

We've finished Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight!. I completely failed to write a first-episode review of it.

The year is 2035, and the dwindling number of children has had a profound effect on the Japanese society - especially the schools. Many schools have closed down, and compulsory schooling has been abolished since there are enough jobs for unschooled workers anyway. Kids who should have been in high school in this day and age are working full time.
So you'd have to want to go to school. Most school kids are in school to avoid working just yet -- most could be described as 'apathic'.

Until Manami Amamiya enters school as a transfer student. She wants to experience school life to its fullest, and will do anything to mobilise her fellow students. During her first day at school (she is even late for the opening ceremony!), she is elected as student council president. She has her work cut out for her. The student council hasn't done anything notable in recent years, is housed in a dingy, dirty storeroom and the sole member is the secretary who has issues with her self-confidence...

But through her hard work and boundless (and sometimes groundless...) enthusiasm, Manami manages to assemble a core team around her, and drum up some support and interest in the other students.
And so school life starts to get more energetic and involved for the students. Manabi asks them: if you're not experiencing school life to the fullest, what are you doing here then!?

The second part of the series is not about Manami anymore -- it instead focusses on how Manami's enthusiasm and attitude has changed those around her. The secretary gets more self-confidence, the 'tsundere' girl is more open about her feelings to others, etcetera. That is quite a nice trick: at the start of the series you think it will be about Manami. But Manami is a bit of a caricature and she stays that way all through the series. But she is a catalyst for change in those around her, and the writers show that to us in several ways.

Obviously, there are some challenges to overcome -- most notably when another school will take over Manami's school and threatens to disband the student council and cancel their cultural festival. Only with great effort does the crew manage to break through the apathy of their fellow students and assert their school-life.

The animation is pretty smooth, The character designs are a bit 'cutesy', with round heads and pastel colors. But it's not overly cutesy at all: most girls speak in a normal tone and there are no sqeaky voices to be heard. The music is an interesting mix, with some catchy drum-loops. The 'info-graphic' style is pretty cool too.

Good points:
- Interesting interpolation of current trends;
- Lots of interesting character development.
Bad points:
- Manami's childlike enthusiasm gets a bit old towards the end.

Fun series, with an interesting twist to the usual 'student council'-plots. Nothing epic, though. A 7 -- a good view, but not a must-see.

Through my inaction, the review queue has build up towards 14 items. I hope to write a few more reviews soon.
Tags: anime, full review

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