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 seventh volume, and you can read on for the review. (If you’re interested in my reviews for previous volumes, click here.)
Back Cover Blurb
It’s a very special holiday in Wonderland–the one day a year when everyone can take a break from Alice. In celebration, the Queen of Hearts is throwing a grand bash, and everyone in Wonderland is invited! Everyone except Alice, that is. Outraged when the Hatter abandons him for the festivities amidst reassurances that absolutely no one is bold enough to break the rules and come after him, Alice knows well enough that he’ll never be so lucky. But even Alice is surprised when, of all people, the Jack of Hearts attempts to abduct him!
The March Hare arc concludes in Chapter 37 of Are You Alice?. The chapter is a bit of its own Wonderland trip with flashbacks of the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, and even the Dormouse. Figuring out the March Hare’s issues requires quite a bit of effort, and I was rather annoyed at having spent so much time unraveling the Hare’s convoluted story only for him to exit at the arc’s jolting end.
Fortunately, the next arc dealing with the Alice Fixed Holiday is much simpler to understand. This time, the mute Jack of Hearts takes center stage. I’d written him off as a bit part character, but he apparently has his own back story and grievances. However, Jack’s functioned predominantly as comic relief, and Katagiri-sensei continues to use him in that vein. Even when Jack does the unthinkable in challenging the Queen, humor always diffuses the tension. Yet it works, and if you enjoy Alice and the Hatter’s snarky quibbling, you’ll enjoy Jack and Alice’s kidnapper/hostage bickering.
The plot then refocuses on the game to kill the White Rabbit. Chapter 42 is mainly foreshadowing at the change about to befall Wonderland. After all, Alice now has a goal, and the Hatter’s time is moving. The end of the volume also gives glimpses of new characters, but whether they’re players inside or outside of Wonderland remains to be seen.
Manga extras include the mini manga Are You Areha…?; closing remarks from the creators; and the title page and table of contents printed in color.
For all the effort Katagiri-sensei puts into relating the March Hare’s inner angst, his arc’s conclusion comes much more quickly and abruptly than I would’ve guessed. Fortunately, the Hare’s convoluted story gets followed by a much more straightforward one about the Jack of Hearts. The absurdity of Alice’s hostage crisis provides some well needed laughter before the plot returns once more to the “Kill the White Rabbit Game” and the dark mystery that overshadows Wonderland.
First published at the Fandom Post.