Title: Animal Academy Vol 1
Author: Moyamu Fujino
May Contain Spoilers
Neko Fukuta has a little problem. She’s not the brightest girl around, and she’s a horrible student. She’s desperate to be accepted at any high school, and when she’s accepted into Morimori High School, she thinks she’s won the lottery. Until she arrives on campus, and learns the strange truth; Morimori is a school where animal shape-shifters learn to be more human. Can Neko keep the fact that she’s a human a secret long enough to graduate?
Animal Academy is a cute and fluffy book, but it feels stale and over done. Neko probably should have spent some time at Kumon instead of jumping at the chance to go to Morimori, where learning to recognize street signs is part of the curriculum. What’s next? Tying shoe laces and folding laundry?
Despite her difficulty passing exams, Neko is a good-natured girl, though maybe a little timid and uncertain of herself. She meets Miiko, a fellow student. Miiko is a cat who is trying to learn to be more human. Unlike Neko, Miiko isn’t so nice, and she doesn’t hesitate to let other students know that she doesn’t like them – or the way they smell. Miiko is also extremely jealous of the attention that other students pay to Neko. Neko tries to make friends with everyone, and Miiko doesn’t like that one little bit. Neko is her friend, and she doesn’t want to share! Yup, she’s a cat, all right.
Neko is the peace maker between the various animal species, and she’s got her work cut out for her. There’s a lot of tension, caused mostly by Miiko, but Neko’s cheerfulness quickly dispels most of it. All of the critters in one confined place doesn’t seem like such a good idea; there are even notices posted around the school reminding everyone not to eat another student! That sounds really dangerous, and makes me wonder about their liability insurance.
The art is super cute, and the characters have oversized heads, eyes, and hair. Faces are expressive, and you never have to guess how Neko is feeling. The situations, though, especially in this introductory volume, weren’t very compelling or original. I felt like I had been here, many times in the past. Just adding the shape shifting element didn’t do much to keep things interesting. And for a girl with a keen sense of smell, I found it a little unbelievable that Miiko didn’t realize that Neko was a human, but the book is aimed for a younger, less skeptical audience.
Review copy provided by Tokyopop