Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight! (がくえんゆーとぴあ まなびストレート!) is a Japanese multimedia project co-developed by the animation studio Ufotable and MediaWorks. The project revolves around a group of high school girls in the year 2035 when the birth rate has dropped dramatically. A 12-episode anime series aired on TV Tokyo between January and March 2007.
Manabi Straight! follows the lives of a group of young high school girls living in the year 2035 while they attend the all-girl Seioh Private High School. Since the birth rate has dropped dramatically, schools are being closed down due to the sheer lack of students available to teach. Morale in schools has dropped dramatically, and Seioh is no exception. The story is set in the future, where schools’ populations continuously decrease, and is about girls brought together by something as simple as a student council. They develop such a strong bond throughout the series, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an anime where friends were this close. Mainly it is about them preparing and then trying to revive the school fair, which turns out to be a long struggle.
There is the lighthearted and funny moments (mostly brought on by Momo with her refreshingly odd antics) but there are also sad and dramatic times. Each episode will bring on different emotions, some sad, some happy. The story is amazingly simplistic yet its plot is complex. In fact, this whole series is about the student council and the Seioh School Fair with absolutely no action or romance. There’s not a lot of comedy, and it is basically a slice-of-life drama (weird, I know). Manabi Straight uses the school fair to explore the true meaning of friendship, endeavours, and dreams as Manabi, Mika, Mei, Mutsuki, and Momo go through trials of hardship to find their courage and understand the bonds that they share. I love it for its ability to turn something so simple into a beautiful work of art.
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