Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland has inspired all sorts of spinoff works, from visual art to movies to manga. However, Ai Ninomiya may have conjured up the most unusual Alice yet. Are You Alice?, which originally began as a CD series, features a gun-toting male as its Alice! Yen Press has recently released the third volume, and you can read on for the review. (If you’re interested in my reviews for previous volumes, click here.)
Back Cover Blurb
Hoping to prove his loyalty and thereby gain entrance to Caterpillar Alley so as to continue his quest to kill the White Rabbit, Alice submits to accompanying the Queen of Hearts as the monarch of Wonderland tours the realm and keeps the peace. But when the Queen turns his scythe on three young children who are guilty of disobeying royal orders, Alice instinctively steps in. By defying the Queen, will Alice lose his chance to become the real Alice in Wonderland…and lose his head as well?!
This volume provides quite a bit of back story, which is handy given the baggage the characters are carrying. Several flashbacks provide insight into the past and motivations of the White Rabbit, the 88th Alice, and, surprisingly, the Queen of Hearts. I’d pinned the Queen of Hearts as a flat stock character. As it turns out, he’s got more depth than I gave him credit for, with secrets and threats to his existence, too.
Another surprise is how the Duchess figures into the flashbacks. Although she has been removed from the story and replaced, her presence dominates in the volume’s first half. Katagiri-sensei had mentioned her fondness for this character in the previous volume, and it feels like she sets up the encounter between the Queen and the Duchess’ kiddie pals to have an excuse to draw the Duchess again. But though the Duchess’ friends are adorable-looking ragamuffins doesn’t mean they have it easy. In fact, Wonderland seems harshest on its cutest, youngest inhabitants, and they don’t fare much better than the Duchess did.
After all the flashbacks, the story moves forward in earnest with the introduction of Katagiri-sensei’s take on another Wonderland personality: the Caterpillar. She’s no disgusting bug. Far from it, she is a sexy, flirty hottie. However, she no less bewildering than the rest of the cast and saddles Alice with yet another bizarre task to accomplish in order to become Wonderland’s Alice.
Manga extras include a twelve-page short, translation notes, and the title page and table of contents printed in color.
Katagiri-sensei provides some much-needed information about the past in this volume. No, not Alice’s past; his still remains largely shrouded in mystery. However, these chapters provide back story and a better understanding of the inhabitants of Wonderland while raising some tantalizing new questions about the disaster looming over them.
First published at the Fandom Post.