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 sixth volume, and you can read on for the review. (If you’re interested in my reviews for previous volumes, click here.)
Back Cover Blurb
After barely surviving the Cheshire Cat’s attack, Alice finds himself face-to-face with the sister from his dreams. He remembers sharing the name Alice with her, but the White Rabbit insists the girl’s name is Mary Ann. And to protect this “Mary Ann,” the White Rabbit is ready to do away with Alice for good! But when an unlikely ally intercedes, the demands made of Alice by his savior shock him most of all…
Volume 5 ended with confusion and violence, and Volume 6 continues along that vein. Much of the confusion stems from nonlinear flow of the narrative. Some scenes are definitely flashbacks, but with others, it’s unclear what’s real and what’s imagined, especially where the White Rabbit’s “Mary Ann” shows up. However, the jumble of crazed present and hazy past does make one thing clear, and that is the 89th Alice’s connection to the original Alice in Wonderland. Having discovered (or been reminded of) that connection, the 89th Alice reaches an epiphany, and the plot reaches a turning point as he finds a goal for himself.
The story then settles into a much easier to follow linear format when Alice returns to the custody of the Mad Hatter. Both Hatter and Alice have irrevocably changed because of the last few chapters so when they are reunited, their dynamic is very different. They’re certainly not buddies, but the two seem to have reached a deeper understanding of one another.
As if to make up for the excessive angst, blood, and insanity, the story then shifts to a lighter mood with the recuperating Alice in Hatter’s shop. Chapter 33 feels like an extended bonus manga with the two bickering like disagreeable siblings or a grouchy old couple. Their griping doesn’t really move the story forward, but it’s still entertaining and a welcome break from all the intrigue and serious stuff.
And that’s when the March Hare bounces into Hatter’s shop. We’ve seen him before with the White Rabbit, but interestingly, he’s not on Hatter’s hit list. So the comic bickering between Hatter and Alice expands to include the March Hare. However, although the March Hare appears simple-minded, he is working toward his own goals, and the mood grows steadily darker as we discover his designated role in the Wonderland game.
Manga extras include closing remarks from the creators and the title page and table of contents printed in color.
The story is set in Wonderland so it stands to reason it would contain some weirdness, but for the first third of this volume, it is very difficult to tell what’s real and what’s not. Despite this, we get a clear picture of the 89th Alice’s relationship to the original Alice, and the 89th Alice finds a goal strive toward. Thus, an intriguing new arc begins with a motivated Alice and the March Hare, who isn’t quite the happy-go-lucky bunny he seems.
First published at the Fandom Post.