Thursday, June 03, 2010

Animal Academy, Volume 4 by Moyamu Fujino

Neko's friend, Yuichi had always thought he was human. Even when he was accepted to Morimori Academy, he continued to think he wss human. But now, a crisis happened, and Yuichi discovered that, like most of the other students at Morimori Academy, he is actually a magical animal. This has so destroyed his sense of self, that he ran away from the Academy, and as far as anyone knows, he is never going to return.

Neko finds herself saddened by the loss of the only p[erson at the school who seemed to be human like she was. Though in the past, she was confident that she could live in the school and keep the secrets the headmaster was asking her to keep, she is no longer sure that this is the case. She finds herself breaking down in tears when she least expects it, and all she can seem to do is cry.

So, like Yuichi, she packs up and leaves the school, without telling anyone where she is going. Since Morimori Academy is a year-round school, they don't get a summer vacation, but she hasn't told her family that. She rides the train back to her home, feeling sorry for herself. She tries to think how she is going to explain this to her mother and the rest of her family, but she tells them she is on summer vacation, and goes to sleep.

The next day, she tries to reconnect with her friends and her family, but something seems to be missing. Now, all she can think about is her friends at Morimori and how they will feel when they discover that she is missing. And that makes her feel sad as well.

Of course, her friends have noticed that she is gone, but unlike Yuichi, they want Neko back! So, Kotaro, a fox-shifter, tracks Neko through the human world to her home. But can she come back, and will she come back to Morimori Academy? And will she be expelled for leaving the school?

Another cute volume in this ultra-cute series. I love the whole vibe of Morimori Academy, as well as the characters. In this volume Fune leaves the Academy because she thinks that she will be alone without another human to be friends with, but over time, she realizes that the other students are and can also be her friends. She doesn't have to feel alone.

However, now Kotaro knows that Neko is actually human, but it doesn't seem to make any difference to him. And Neko told her friend Miiko that she is human, but Miiko thought it was a dream, so Neko's secret seems to be safe for now. And the teachers don't seem to blame her for skipping class for a day. They probably think she was crying, as she has been so sad that Yuichi was gone.

This is a quiet, gentle series that I am enjoying more with every single volume. It's cute, and even though the characters don't really look like they are teenagers (more like 3rd or 4th graders at best), it was a sweet vibe to it that might be changing soon, as a story about "Cats and Raccoons, the Forbidden Love!" will soon be appearing in the school paper. If you enjoy a series with the animal-changing antics of Fruits Basket mixed with stories of friendship and belonging, this series might be something you will enjoy. Recommended.

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