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Animal Academy Volume 2

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Animal Academy: Hakobune Hakusho Volume 2 by Moyamu Fujino, published by TOKYOPOP

Animal Academy: Hakobune Hakusho Volume 2

© Moyamu Fujino

The Bottom Line

As Neko settles into life at Morimori High, she meets more students, joins a club, and discovers that there's something strange about the school manual that she received on the first day of school. As Neko gets to know her classmates, she starts to realize how different they are, and how difficult it will be to keep her human identity a secret.

While it isn't the most exciting manga you'll ever read, Animal Academy Volume 2 is just as cute and fun as the first volume. Fujino continues the same leisurely, slice-of-life pace, while introducing intriguing hints of twists yet to unfold.

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Pros

  • Offers stories that are as cute, fun and charming as the first volume
  • Introduces Neko to lots of fun and likeable new characters
  • Provides lots of intriguing tidbits that hint at plot twists to come
  • Story unfolds at a leisurely pace, with lots of adorable moments of slice-of-life humor
  • Shy Umeka gets some time in the sun in this volume, as we learn more about her anxieties

Cons

  • Sasuke's brother's overly flirtatious ways make him look kind of sleazy
  • Translation notes to explain uniquely Japanese cultural quirks like Golden Week would be helpful
  • Is it really that much trouble to translate or at least subtitle Japanese sound effects?

Description

Guide Review - Animal Academy Volume 2

Now that Neko has settled into her life at Morimori High, she starts to realize just how different she really is from her animal classmates. Shy and sweet Umeka the tanuki (raccoon dog) is near tears when she loses a flower hairpin that helps her maintain her human form. Miiko the cat and Kotaro the fox are perplexed by the mysterious objects they find in a trash bin when they venture to the human world. On top of that, for the first time in her life, Neko earns test scores that put her at the top of her class -- only to discover that it's because most of her classmates can only read at 1st grade level.

While her roommate Miiko is too self-absorbed to consider that Neko might not be a cat, it won't always be easy for Neko to keep her human identity hidden from her classmates. This becomes clear as she has more encounters with Sasuke, a classmate who seems to know more about Morimori High's secrets than he's willing to share.

If you loved Animal Academy Volume 1, this second volume delivers more fun, fantasy and overwhelming cuteness. The artwork is still consistently adorable, as Fujino draws characters you just want to hug, and puts them in situations that will make you smile. However, if you were hoping for lots of action, drama and angst, you'll have to look elsewhere. As in the first volume, Fujino lets the events of Animal Academy unfold at a leisurely pace, dropping little hints of twists yet to come.

Like what, you ask? Well, how about a mysterious portal between Morimori High and the human world? How about that school manual that gets magically updated as events unfold? And who's that guy who looks just like Sasuke, but acts nothing like him? And possibly the most troubling question: What would happen if any of her classmates found out that Neko is really a human?

There are more questions raised than answered this time around, but that's okay, because these tantalizing tidbits will engage readers throughout this volume, and perhaps future volumes to come.

My only complaint about Animal Academy is perhaps a petty one -- but one that matters for a book that could appeal to new manga readers: its lack of translation notes and translated sound effects. Notes that explain cultural quirks like tanuki that need leaves on their heads to transform are helpful, but skipping an explanation of Golden Week is a disservice to fans who aren't familiar with this Japanese holiday. I'm also disappointed that most of the hiragana sound effects aren't translated either -- not everyone can read Japanese, and it's a shame that this little detail is ignored or assumed to be unimportant.

But that's a relatively minor quibble in an otherwise appealing series. Animal Academy is fun for tweens, younger teens, and anyone with a soft spot for cute animals and magical fun.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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