By Moyamu Fujino
Published in the US by TokyoPop
Slugline: The animals are literally telling you what to do.
Neko Fukuta has never been a good student, so she was worried about being admitted into a high school. She finds one named Morimori, passing an admissions test that had very offbeat questions. Meeting some of her fellow students on the way to the school's dorms the oddities kept on piling up even as she befriended her fellow student Miiko. The school's headmaster almost turns her away, but is so impressed by Neko's desire to go to school that he allows her to enroll. It is only after Neko is formally admitted that she realizes that this is a school for shapeshifting animals to learn how to act human, and that Miiko is a somewhat possessive cat. All of the students assume that Neko is cat also because of her name but she has to keep her nature as a human being secret.
Another entry in the "human stuck in a nonhuman school" genre, which Rosario + Vampire was an entry of, with a previous review. Considering the target age of this title (10+) it is probably safe to say that this will be a less intense title to maintain that age rating. But as result of that all of the characters seem to have been flattened, simplified so not too be challenging to the reader. Neko doesn't seem to realize what she is getting herself into even as it is dangled in front of her while Miiko, once she is revealed as a cat, becomes a very stereotypical cat who just looks like a person. I guess I should be happy that Niiko doesn't have cat ears that no one seems to notice. There does appear to be secrets lying just out of sight to entice interest, but Neko is so low-key that she will have to be thrown into them to become involved. Who wants a protagonist that is that oblivious? Which is a shame, because I see some things here that remind me of the first couple of volumes of Harry Potter, but it seems like it won't reach that potential.
Animal Academy: Hakobune Hakusho, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga