Animal Academy

Alt title: Hakobune Hakusho

Vol: 7; Ch: 31
2006 - 2008
3.53 out of 5 from 60 votes
Rank #13,804
Animal Academy

The only thing special about 15-year-old Neko is her peculiar name that means cat. After being rejected from every high school she tried to enroll in due to her bad grades, Neko is finally accepted to a mysterious school called Morimori. Neko immediately senses that something is off about this school...and it turns out that all the other students besides her are magical animals who can transform into human form. Now Neko must pretend to be a magical cat and not allow any of the other students to find out her secret - that she's a human in a school of animals!

Source: Tokyopop

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This manga is highly appealing, as most high-school shojo stories are. It is like Gakuen Alice by Higuchi Tachibana - girl goes to secretive school that is especially for children with special powers. However, this lacks the charm and the story GA had... Neko, our main lead, is quite sweet and tolerable. She begs and begs and begs (yes, this happens a few times in the beginning of the manga) for the teachers to give her a place, while they begrudgingly give her the okay, and trap her within the school gates the moment they have her. Neko has just enrolled at a school for shapeshifters, and must keep her human identity as a secret. The girl she met on the train to school is a cat, the boisterous guy in her class is a fox, and her teacher is a cat. It's the animals' first time coping with a human institution, and thus the realistic troubles they would have (like not knowing how to open a door) are luckily here.  But unfortunately, while the art is nice, the manga artist has decided to sacrifice the story. She came up with a great concept, with a main character that a lot of girls can relate to (especially in Japan, where grades are everything), and a pushy best friend. Neko lets her secret slip halfway through the volume, and from then on, everything else is a non-event. There's also another human here? Some weird snake is following Neko around? Maybe the manga-ka should have made Neko keep her secret for at least another volume. It's not as if her new friends care that she's a human, and there's no more redeeming qualities to it after that. There are some laughs to be had when you take a fish out of water, in this case, putting a human in a school full of animals. Or monsters if you're the writer of Rosario + Vampire. Yes, this manga IS a slight rip-off of that manga - except our protagonist is older, is the only human at a school for monsters and demons, and that manga is for older teens.  If Neko DOES turn out to be able to shapeshift into a cat in the next volume or so, I really will eat my hat. Or not, since I never actually bought the rest of this manga. ^^; And Tokyopop have sadly folded.

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