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 fifth volume, and you can read on for the review. (If you’re interested in my reviews for previous volumes, click here.)
Back Cover Blurb
The traitorous Dormouse had the Queen of Hearts in his crosshairs!! But once the Hatter wises up to the Dormouse’s game, he makes the mistake of leaving Alice alone with the Cheshire Cat – an error in judgment that proved fatal in the past – in his urgency to keep his sovereign from coming to harm. It soon becomes clear to Alice that the Dormouse wasn’t the only traitor to be reckoned with! Now Alice must fight to keep his position…lest his name – and his life – be forfeit!
Volume 4 ended with the Dormouse mowing down the Queen’s cards, and Volume 5 continues the bloodbath. The violence isn’t limited to the palace. Shootings, stabbings, and a surprising suicide have the panels from the Dodo’s pool to the Land of Broken Toys dripping with blood. Despite the splatter-fest, it’s not entirely gratuitous. There is actually meaning and reasoning behind each attack, especially on the part of the Dormouse.
The Dormouse might be a secondary character, but he dominates this volume, similar to the way the Duchess did earlier (by the way, she does get a cameo in this volume). His advance upon the Queen is bewildering at first but leads to some interesting revelations about the Hatter. Then, just when you think the dust has settled, the scene ends in a truly unexpected way. The Dormouse palace shootout may be a strange way to show it, but the connection between the Dormouse and Hatter, like that between the Cat and Duchess, runs deeper than they would ever admit.
The 89th Alice gets somewhat overshadowed by the Dormouse’s actions, but Alice has a major moment as well–a confrontation with the White Rabbit. It’s less Alice hunting the rabbit down and more a tumble down a rabbit hole. And despite Alice’s gun and supposed ability to kill the White Rabbit, the White Rabbit, who apparently is a very emotionally messed up bunny, holds the advantage throughout the fight. Much like the end to the Dormouse gunfight, the Alice/White Rabbit duel has an unexpected conclusion, but it hints that we’ll learn more about Alice’s connection to the real Alice in the next volume.
Manga extras include closing remarks from the creators and the title page and table of contents printed in color.
The pages run bloody with bullets flying at the palace, murder at the Dodo’s pool, and Alice facing off against the White Rabbit. Amid the violence, we get glimpses of Alice’s past but even more hints of what drives the Hatter. These revelations help make sense of the bewildering events of the previous volume, and although Volume 5 does raise new questions, it arouses more anticipation than confusion.
First published at the Fandom Post.