Saturday, December 22, 2012

Manga Review: Alice in the Country of Hearts, Omnibus Volume 1 (#1-2), by QuinRose and Soumei Hoshino

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: Yen Press (Previously, though not my editions, TokyoPop)
Spoilers?:  No/Very Minor
Volumes: Omnibus 3, 6 altogether

Goodreads Synopsis:

Kidnapped by a handsome man with rabbit ears, Alice Liddell finds herself abandoned in an odd place called Wonderland and thrust into a "game," the rules of which she has yet to learn. Alice, ever the plucky tomboy, sets off to explore and get the lay of this strange land, intent on finding her rude kidnapper and giving him a piece of her mind (and her fist). But little does she know that she's wandered right into the middle of a dangerous power struggle involving just about all of Wonderland's attractive, weapon-happy denizens. And the only way for Alice to return home is to get acquainted with the lot of them?! How in the world will she manage that and still manage to stay alive?!

Available on Amazon.


Firstly, I’m not going to be comparing this series to the original Alice in Wonderland much. (1) Because I just don’t care about the similarities all that much and I’m not really looking for any, or noticing them, aside from maybe a very obvious same plot line or same character. And (2), because they are very different. This story, from the beginning, took a different route, took the story in a different direction. And I realize that some people are very picky about that, and don’t like this series because of things like that, but I was honestly pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this volume.
I found this story interesting when I first heard about, and tried reading it once but I think I just mostly wasn’t in the mood for it. I’d planned to pick it up at some point, but I didn’t, and then Tokyopop went down, and I still didn’t. But then Yen Press picked it up, and I found it for a really good price online and got it. After reading the first book, I’m glad I did, because I really enjoyed it.
So the book starts with Alice waking up from a dream that mentioned some kind of game, and, as expected, she’s sleeping on the grass as her sister reads a book next to her. Psychology is mentioned, and her sister tells her about the book she’s reading, which is, of course, Alice in Wonderland. And then her sister leaves to get some cards for them to play, and Alice proceeds to fall asleep again. She wakes up when a clothed rabbit goes past, but when she tries to fall back asleep, the rabbit comes back to wake her up, claiming she is supposed to follow him, and then picking her up and bringing her with him down the rabbit hole.
When they get there, he kisses her in order to make her drink some kind of liquid that enforces she play part in some game, and makes it so she has to finish before going back home. She’s confused, and angry at the rabbit, and we later find out that the glass the liquid came from will slowly refill the farther in the game she gets, and once it’s completely filled up, she can go home.
She ends up staying at the clock tower with Julius, the clock maker/fixer, who tells her about Wonderland (the town is actually called the Country of Hearts, I believe, but  I’m going to be calling it Wonderland). Apparently there’s some kind of feud going on between the three different parts of the town, the Heart Castle, where the rabbit Peter White and the Queen Vivaldi and Ace reside, the Amusement Park, where the Cheshire cat Boris and (Mary) Gowland live, and the Hatter Mansion, where the hatter Blood Dupre and Elliot March and the Bloody Twins (Dee and Dum) live. The clock tower, where Julius lives and Alice is staying, is neutral land.
While in this ‘dream’, Alice also sleeps and dreams, and in her dreams, she meets Nightmare, who tells her some things about the world and why she’s there and some things about herself. Including that everyone in Wonderland is going to love her, and that this world is of her making. This makes her wonder if they’re falling in love with her because she wants them to, and is she really that self-centered? From there, I really enjoy her little musings about the world.
This Wonderland is very interesting. The time changes at random, turns daylight and dark at any time, and, much like the cards in the original, all of the helpers at each place have no face and are easily replaced. Everyone, really, is easily replaced, and people are always getting killed. I won’t spoil too much more about that, because there are these afterimages, and things get done with the bodies and their ‘hearts’ that were a bit of a surprise and is causing a controversy in their world, and I don’t want to spoil too much.
There are several guys, all of whom are supposedly falling in love with Alice, and I’m interested to see what happens with that, especially since some of them are fighting already and Alice is causing some jealous feelings to erupt. At this point, I’m not sure who I want her to be with, either. I’m thinking that the Hatter, Blood Dupre, is the obvious choice, but I also quite like Ace, and there’s something about the cheshire Boris that I like as well… I’m not sure where my feelings about them all are going at this point, but I’m looking forward to finding out.
Also, I am happy to say that I do like Alice. She’s just curious enough, and she’s also very kind and is always trying to stop everyone from killing each other, and I like how she thinks about everything. She’s wondering if all of it is her making, and what that means about her, and she kind of wants no part in any of this, but she’s obviously getting a bit attached and is going to end up too deep in all of it. She’s also a bit feisty; she sticks up for what she believes in, and when she doesn’t like something or someone (like the rabbit Peter) she lets them know.
There are some dark things brewing, between each area and some possible scandalizing things happening behind closed doors. Also, some of the people in this world are representing people from Alice’s real world, including her sister and her sister’s boyfriend (who is also the guy that Alice likes), which is obviously going to cause some drama. As is the fact that everyone is growing to love her but she can only choose one, and only for the amount of time that she’s there. Unless, of course, something neat happens to change that, which I hope does happen. Oh, and at the beginning we’re introduced to some kind of game she’s inadvertently become a part of, one of the rules including that when she leaves, she has to take someone with her, I think?. I’m hoping to hear more about that in the next book, since not much of what the game actually is was explained.
I mentioned above that I’m not going to compare much, and how this is so different from the original, and it is. There are similarities in the characters, but they are very different people, and they even look quite different. For instance, the Cheshire and the march hare and the rabbit are human, but with cat/bunny ears. The Cheshire cat is the most different in that respect, and his personality is as well. He’s much more adorable, and doesn’t seem to know everything about everyone quite as much.
I liked Alice in Wonderland, and enjoy most forms that it’s told, and I’m enjoying this one a lot, but I’m always very wary of the stories. Because, while I’m getting wrapped up in the story and falling for the characters, I have to remember that Alice wakes up at some point, and, in most versions, she doesn’t bring any of the characters with her. So, whatever happens while in Wonderland, she has to leave it all behind. I’m thinking that maybe the person she really falls for she will get to be with when she wakes, but I’m still unsure and very wary.
I’m rather looking forward to the next book, now.
Oh, as a sidenote: the covers. I think the covers are very pretty, and the artwork is also very nice; the artwork isn’t overly flowy or gorgeous, but it is very nice and detailed and I like looking at it; the outfits are especially nice. And I think how the covers are turned to the side is neat. But the fact that the covers are turned to the side, and the back cover looks like it’s upside down to me, makes me disoriented, and almost every time I pick it up, it’s upside down. I’m not quite sure why this is, but it is disorienting and that’s bothers me, even while I do like the idea; maybe it’s just me?
Also, I remember mentioning in one of my other omnibus review that it looked like the publisher(/editor/whoever) put little to no effort into making the two books look like one, in that when the first book ended, it (I think?) said some version of ‘to be continued’ and had copyright pages before moving into the next book, and that bothered me a tiny bit. I was happy to see that this volume was different from that. I could tell when one volume ended, but only because the chapter ended slightly different from the others at the halfway point, but there wasn’t too much of a difference or pause between chapters, and I liked that, and there was also an index at the beginning of the book for the whole two volumes, and I liked that. I mean, it’s not really that big of a deal, I guess, but I like that fact that it shows the publisher made more of an effort than just printing the two books in one binding.

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