GAKUEN UTOPIA MANABI STRAIGHT!
Anime has been a particular form of entertainment that I have been watching and enjoying for over twenty years, but my exposure to them were kept at older series and OVA’s (Original Video Animation) that were licensed by American companies for U.S. public consumption. I’m talking about series like Voltron and Robotech plus even older ones like Starblazers, Captain Harlock and G-Force. It wasn’t until four-five years ago that I really got into anime that wasn’t made age-appropriate for U.S. public viewing.
I was literally hoarding as much anime series both new and old on dvd and adding them to my collection. It didn’t matter if the series or OVAs were mecha, horror, action, romance, comedy and-or slice-of-life, if someone recommended it to me then I would go out, find it, buy it and then watch it. With my past experiences on mecha, space opera and action anime I thought I would pick up where I left off and gravitate towards similar kinds of anime. To my surprise I actually didn’t like them as much as I thought I would. The sort of anime that I began to really enjoy and want more of were the slice-of-life dramas and comedies like Azumanga Daioh, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Lucky Star and Kanon. While they didn’t have the non-stop kinetic action of series like Code Geass and the umpteenth version of Gundam and Macross, they more than made up for it with some witty and hilarious writing.
My favorite anime falls in the slice-of-life genre. I am talking about Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight! from animation studio Ufotable. The series takes place in a future Tokyo where the birth-rate has slowed and there’s less and less children attending schools. Within this basic premise we have the character of Manami Amamiya who transfers into the all-girl Seioh Private High School where her vibrant and infectious personality quickly makes her one of the popular girls. She gains a small close-knit of friends from the shy and clumsy Mika Inamori, the athletic tomboy in Mutsuki Uehara, the smart, but emotionally withdrawn Mei Etoh and the eccentric Momoha Odori. Manami (or Manabi as she likes to be called) becomes the impetus for all the adventures these girls go through together as they forge a lasting friendship through good times and bad times.
One doesn’t have to be a girl to enjoy this series. Guys who like it do so because of how it reminds them of their own time in high school with their own buddies and how those bonds of friendships seems to last forever. While some have not the memories of those times will always be fond ones for both men and women who reminisce about them while watching this series. It also has some of the cutest animation with a catchy intro song. The girls’ school anthem is one that just has to be listened to.
And one of the funniest scenes from the series…