Art: Soumei Hoshino
Translation: Beni Axia Conrad
English Adaptation: JuYoun Lee, Lianne Sentar, Magda Erik-Soussi
What They Say:
Kidnapped by a handsome man with rabbit ears, Alice Liddell finds herself suddenly abandoned in an odd place called Wonderland. Alice, ever the plucky tomboy, sets off to explore this strange land, intent on finding her rude kidnapper and giving him a piece of her mind (and her fist). But little does she know that she’s wandered right into the middle of a dangerous power struggle involving just about all of Wonderland’s attractive, weapon-happy denizens. The only way for Alice to return home is to get acquainted with the lot of them?! How in the world will she manage that and still stay alive?!
The cover here is an interesting and eyecatching one, displaying Alice and the characters from the castle. What really makes it stand out is that it uses a landscape format, allowing it to facilitate the large number of characters. The back cover on the other hand is a simple background and a quick synopsis of the plot. The increased page size here is nice, and the paper quality feels good. A single color page is included, but no other bonuses are added to the book. Text reads smoothly, honorifics aren’t used, and sound effects are left in their original form and translated.
Art here looks nice, and something about the confident boldness of the lines really helps it to stand out against generic shojo-manga style. Particularly nice is Blood’s heavy inking, which gives him a unique look. Backgrounds appear frequently and look nice. The book also does a good job with the Alice in Wonderland imagery, using just enough to establish the link, but not so much that it drowns out the title’s unique style.
Alice Liddell is a typical young girl who lives peacefully with her older sister Lorina. Alice looks up to her sister and is even a little jealous of her, but they still get along quite well. One day, when her sister leaves her alone after discussing a certain book with a girl and a white rabbit, Alice suddenly falls asleep. When she wakes up, she sees a rabbit in clothes who starts telling her to chase him. When she tries to go back to sleep, she finds herself quickly grabbed by a handsome man with rabbit ears, who proceeds to jump down a giant hole in the yard. Much to her shock, the long fall doesn’t kill her, and she finds herself in Wonderland. The rabbit-man then informs Alice that he is in love with her and forces her to drink the liquid from a strange vial by way of a kiss. He introduces himself as Peter White, and then leaves Alice alone to brood over the unusual situation.
Things take a turn for the insane when Alice finds herself in front of the gates to a mansion. It isn’t long before both the gatekeepers and another rabbit-man approach her and threaten to kill her. Fortunately, the owner of the mansion, a man named Blood, appears in time to stop them. However, he looks like Alice’s old crush, which causes her to flee without thinking things through. Before too long, she runs into another handsome man and begins explaining what has happened to her. The man, Julius Monrey, is the owner of the clock tower in the center of Wonderland. He explains that she is an “Outsider” to their world, and that the man who saved her earlier was Blood Dupre, the boss of the Mafia. In addition to the Hatter mafia’s region, the land is also split up into a castle ruled by the Queen of Hearts and an amusement park owned by a man named Gowland. In the center is Julius’ clocktower, a neutral area, but all the other areas are at war over each other’s territory. It is then that Alice realizes this world is a dream, but Julius explains that she can only return home when she refills her vial by interacting with the inhabitants of Wonderland.
As Alice settles in with Julius, she learns that Peter, who she has come to regard as a despicable pervert, is actually the Prime Minister of Heart Castle. Even so, she decides to see him and ask why he dragged her into all this. Along the way to the castle, Alice bumps into Ace, a Knight who is looking for Julius. He offers to guide her to the castle, but instead they somehow end up at the Hatter mansion. Elliot March, the rabbit-man from before, appears to confront them and appears flustered that Ace has gotten lost and wandered into the mansion again. They begin fighting, but Blood appears once more to put a stop to things. He also tells Elliot to lead them back, and admits that he’s interested in Alice.
Upon arriving at the castle, Ace and the Hatter group depart, leaving Alice with Peter and the Queen of Hearts, Vivaldi. While talking with Vivaldi, Alice learns that people of Wonderland have a tendency to fall for Outsiders. After some more discussion and a mysterious mention of “ones with duties,” Alice becomes tired and decides to stay the night at the castle. While asleep, she begins to dream (within the dream), and meets an entity called Nightmare, a dream demon. He explains that this is a world Alice desires, one in which everyone can’t help but fall in love with her. However, he also explains that she was not the one to create Wonderland. He then ends the conversation by noting that dreams are so frightening because they come to an end, and Alice wakes up in the castle. When Alice prepares to leave for the clocktower she is stopped by Peter, who is in turn stopped by two messengers. He nonchalantly shoots one of them, but Alice steps in to protect the other. Peter explains that in this world people are replaceable, making death something that isn’t overly important to the people there. Even so, Alice holds strong and protects the soldier, forcing Peter to back down.
On the way back, Alice runs into the young gatekeepers, Dee and Dum, as well as a punkish cat-man by the name of Boris. Boris lives in the Amusement Park, and invites Alice to come see it. He also mentions that Blood revealed Gowland’s first name, Mary, to the inhabitants of Wonderland, which started the particularly fierce fued between the two. Later, she sees a man die and turn into a clock, which black shadows appear to take away. Afterwards, she finds Ace in a bloody cloak at the tower, where he reveals that he has been helping Julius. He also explains that the shadows are called “after-images”, and it quickly becomes clear that Julius is hiding things from Alice. Before departing, he explains that most of the people Alice has met are “ones with duties,” and that they are the only ones in this world with faces.
From there, Alice visits the Amusement Park and meets Gowland, Blood reveals his more twisted side, the Hatters introduce themselves more properly to Alice, and everyone starts falling more and more in love with Alice. When camping with Ace, Alice learns another startling thing about the strange world of Wonderland when he holds her hand to his chest: the inhabitants of this land have clocks instead of hearts. Putting two and two together, she realizes that Julius’ job is to repair the hearts of the people and “revive” them. However, they come back as someone else and are replaced. As the volume comes to a close, Alice sees Vivaldi and Blood acting friendly in a private garden and teaches Boris to value his own life.
There’s certainly plenty of content to enjoy here in this first volume. With a nice style and an interesting take on the somewhat worn Wonderland setting, this book definitely has a lot to grab your attention. Additionally, the sharp violent turn at the beginning makes a surprisingly strong hook for this sort of series. Unfortunately, over the course of the volume this seems to dilute a bit as Alice becomes buddy-buddy with the various characters. However, plenty of mystery and a decent bit of brutality remain, so there’s still plenty to like here. At the very least it’s quite an amusing setup, so hopefully this isn’t a dream that Alice will wake up from any time soon.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: June 26th, 2012