Alice in the Country of Hearts

My opinion on all of the volumes released so far

“Alice” seems to be a popular thing to name a Manga after, so today I’m also going to be reviewing Alice in the Country of Hearts; another Manga for shojo fans. Or possibly just bishy fans. Anyway here’s the blurb:

Wonderland is officially at war! And Alice is trapped in the middle of it all. Will she make it back out alive? A little arrogant, stubborn, and determined to get back home, Alice isn’t fazed by these challenges... until she discovers that every man is gun crazy and weirdly in love with her. What’s going on in Wonderland?

Now, this is an interesting idea. Take something popular - in this case, Alice in Wonderland - then move it completely into a different genre - in this case shojo manga. It has taken a bit of skill and the willingness to completely change a few of the original characters to pull this off in a new format, but amazingly this series has turned out really well.

In this interpretation, Alice falls asleep and finds herself stuck in a twisted, anime-inspired version of Wonderland. Alice knows that she is dreaming - or at least she thinks she does - and is also told that she will not be able to return to the real world until she has met enough of Wonderland’s inhabitants.

The series’ bread and butter is mainly world exploration and character exploration; i.e. Alice spends most of the time being shown around places, meeting people and getting to know them. Despite a few gunfights and standoffs in the story, the overall situation in Wonderland is kept fairly static and there’s little in the way of plot changes as the story progresses.

However the series is by no means episodic as Alice’s relationship with each of the main characters changes and evolves as the story goes on. The reader is also kept hooked via a slow trickle of revelations about Alice and the other characters that we meet.

I never really found the lack of change in the world to be a problem while reading the series, though possibly it may have been interesting to see what would have happened had one of the warring factions actually gained ground from another, or what would have happened had one of the many bullets fired in the series actually hit its target.

Unfortunately the only actual casualty in the series’ run has been the series itself. If you didn’t already know, Tokyopop, the company that had the license to translate and publish the series in English, closed down in May this year.

I know that there have been mixed reactions to Tokyopop’s closure, as not everyone was happy with how they worked and what they translated. But just before they closed they were working on several good titles, an official translation of Alice in the Country of Hearts was one of them. With Tokyopop gone this is something that we’re not likely to see any time soon, if at all.