Gakuen Alice starts off at a normal elementary school in a country village, but Satsuki Elementary school is getting shut down. Mikan Sakura is determined to stop it from happening because she has such great memories at the school. It's where she met her best friend, Hotaru. Hotaru is a weird child who is always inventing things. She and Mikan become best friends and Mikan wants them to be together always. Unfortunately, Hotaru is transferring to a school far away. She's only going to be back for summer and winter vacations. Hotaru is an "Alice," a genius of sorts. Alice Academy is for people like her, people with special talents. I love Hotaru's inventions. They're hilarious, especially the "Horse Hoof Glove" for throttling idiots, also available with "Deer Hoof" attachment. But once you're at Alice Academy, you don't get to leave, ever. You won't see your family or friends until after you graduate! Considering the girls are only 10, that's a long time! Mikan is determined to see Hotaru one more time, so she goes to Alice Academy to find her. Once there, Mikan was about to be kidnapped but a magical teacher at the academy named Narumi saved her. Since his powers don't work on her, he decides that this, in itself, is a unique ability so he invites her to join the school. Mikan is a very rare Alice as she can resist all other people's Alice powers, but she doesn't know what her power is, at first. Mikan is going to have to discover it on her own. Of course, Mikan just accepts the invitation so that she can be with Hotaru again, but she has no clue what she is getting herself into!
All of that just gets you through the first episode, but it is very important to the setup of the anime and the special bond between Mikan and Hotaru. Although Hotaru might not show many feelings, she really does care about Mikan as much as Mikan cares for her. There are quite a few interesting characters at Alice Academy, both students and teachers. Narumi is the teacher that recruited Mikan and he's also her homeroom teacher. He has a great fondness for Mikan and really tries to help her. He has a group of teachers that believe in him and they are all trying to make sure that the students are being helped by the academy and not used by it. Narumi was a student there when he was a child. The children at Alice Academy are all quite special, a bit like the X-Men. They all have powers, but they don't always know how to control them. Some of them are very strong, like Natsume, but that doesn't mean they like their powers. Natsume can control fire and is considered very dangerous. Natsume reminds me very much of Inuyasha, actually. His best friend is Ruka, who has the power to talk to and control animals. These two are the envy of the class and even have their own fan club. Mikan is going to have to figure out how to get along with the rest of the class if she's going to be allowed to stay at the academy though, and they really don't like her when she first gets there.
Mikan has to go into the Northern Woods and come back safe to prove to Natsume and his fan club that she is an Alice. The call rep goes with her since Hotaru doesn't, but she drags Hotaru in as well. The teachers let this go on because they consider it a good entrance exam and test of her Alice. Once she passes this test, she is accepted permanently. Next though, Mikan is given a "No Star" rank, which means that she has the least use of any of the facilities and earns the least money. She was given this because one of the teachers is threatened by her nullification powers. Mikan is determined not to let this get her down, though. She is determined she will earn three stars no matter what! Tsubasa helps Mikan when she is being bullied. He can do Shadow Manipulation. He's an S.A., a special type like Mikan, from the middle school, so he becomes her mentor. Mikan likes her S.A. class as they throw a party to welcome her. It's the first time she's met new friends. I like the S.A. class. They seem to have the most fun and be the happiest! Mikan is basically a happy child who is going to do her best to help anyone. This isn't going to be easy though and things will really get dangerous at the school carnival, but Mikan never gives up, no matter what.
Anime is one of those things that people either enjoy or they don't. I tend to really like a well done anime. I was hesitant about Gakuen Alice at first as it seemed a bit silly, but it didn't take long before I really got into it. In a lot of ways, it really reminds me of Fruits Basket, so if you liked that one, I know you will like Gakuen Alice! There aren't a lot of extras, but the character bios are interesting. Gakuen Alica is a really interesting series and I do hate that this is the entire series. It ends at a very logical place, the end of the school year, but it would be wonderful to find out what happens next year as the characters are so well developed already that it seems a shame not to find out their future. If you like anime, I recommend that you check out Gakuen Alice as it is a wonderfully, well done anime with a great story!