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 fourth volume, and you can read on for the review. (If you’re interested in my reviews for previous volumes, click here.)
Back Cover Blurb
When the Wimpy Book of Caterpillar Alley’s One Hundred Stories loses its plot (literally), Alice finds himself all alone, faced with questions he can’t answer. Is the sister in his dreams the real Alice? And did he really commit such an atrocity against her? As Alice tries to puzzle out his own story from the few memories he has, the Hatter and the Caterpillar try to figure out how the tale went to horribly wrong…
This volume is a difficult read. In addition to the nonsensical nature of the Wonderland setting and inhabitants, there are a number of flashbacks and dreams sequences which, while they do provide new insights, raise more questions than they answer. With so many twists and turns and breaks from the main flow of the story, it’s easy to forget what Alice’s current goal is (i.e. kill the White Rabbit).
One point the story is clear on is that this Alice is unlike any before him. The Caterpillar’s Wimpy Book is supposedly an easy path used by previous Alices to the Dormouse, but it soon becomes apparent something is tampering with Caterpillar’s library. That mysterious interference thrusts Alice onto a much darker route, although it does eventually get him to the Dormouse.
As for the Dormouse, he provides the information Alice seeks and more. Much, much more. Their barroom conversation is an information dump on additional rules of Wonderland and the motivation of those “contracted” with the White Rabbit. By the end of their talk, I shared Alice’s sentiment that the game to kill the White Rabbit is “super-ridiculously complicated.” But despite the lengthy lecture, I still couldn’t follow Hatter’s actions in the final pages even with Dormouse quotations liberally sprinkled throughout the panels.
Manga extras include a six-page short, a mini manga about the third limited-edition drama CD, translation notes, and the title page and table of contents printed in color.
The mystery of the 89th Alice’s past is still intriguing, especially with a tantalizing hint to his true connection to Alice in Wonderland. However, these chapters also bring the introduction of a lot more rules concerning the game to kill the White Rabbit. Between this information and new light on the motives of the Wonderland inhabitants, the Are You Alice? plot is getting a bit unwieldy and difficult to follow.
First published at the Fandom Post.