Salutations, readers! I have returned from my impromptu four week hiatus. But alas, we have already been making our way to the end of summer! Come September, overstuffed book bags, back–breaking textbooks and an extremely bland curriculum awaits the majority of you (unless you’re heading to Hogwarts). Sounds like a good reason to transfer/leave, but where would you go? What would you do if I told you of a school that tailors to exceptional individuals? Not the rich and famous per se, but students that had abilities and powers that regularly broke the laws of physics? Well, prospective students, if you don’t mind a life filled with the worst luck imaginable, then you can enroll at CHOUJIN GAKUEN!
Written and drawn by Kokuzawa Yousuke back in 2009, Choujin Gakuen is a quirky shounen manga about a group of misfits who have decided to band together and make a place for themselves – a place where all the supernaturals of the world can call home. The genius (and I use that term loosely) behind this grand scheme is one Alex Shinjou – whose special power is bad luck. Aside from being alive and healthy, everything that can go wrong will go wrong when you’re near this boy. His demon girlfriend/fiancé/stalker Oska L. Duke doesn’t seem to care much about any of that though. Together the two begin to gather other outcasts, such as the dual–wielding hitman Tarou Yamada and the ex-police dog/human morph Hachi. Together these four make up the students of Choujin Gakuen!
Choujin Gakuen's main draw is its storyline. It’s an interesting reversal where beings that are normally considered “villains” are the good guys this time around. Kokuzawa doesn't try to make this story to be depressing or sad. The characters have much emotional baggage – there is no way of getting around that. Instead of using the drama from that as the story's focus, Kokuzawa lets the goal of “finding a place to belong” be the main pull. It is partly the reason why the story is filled with so many outrageous gags and over-the-top humor. The artwork in Choujin Gakuen just enhances the gang with a highly expressive art style. Kokuzawa's art just explodes onto the page – it is very expressive and childish. In a way, it has that “unbelievable” vibe that can be found in other comedy and shounen mangas. The most obvious example I would relate this to would be One Piece.
Choujin Gakuen isn’t one of my top mangas, but it is an interesting read.