by Ikumi Katagiri; story by Ai Ninomiya
published by Yen Press; $11.99 US
Are You Alice? illustrates the pluses and minuses of public domain. Alice in Wonderland is old enough that others can use the characters however they wish, an effort I support (and I wish that more older works were without never-ending legal extension). However, in this case, I didn’t enjoy what was done with them.
Originally written for a drama CD, this adaptation turns the characters into bishonen, attractive young men in suits, who are all trying to kill each other. Wonderland is a place where each new Alice, someone who wanted to drop his identity and leave his life behind, is sent to kill the White Rabbit while dodging those who want to kill him.
I’m not sure why the idea to combine a beloved fantasy with a murder game came to the author. Lewis Carroll used death jokes, of course, but it was all playful, not taking anything, including life, too seriously. This series is much more modern in its apathy. Everyone’s too cool for me to care about them or want to spend time with them.
There’s a Cheshire Cat, a Mad Hatter, and a Queen of Hearts (who’s also male). The new characters are the Regrets, blobs of black who seek out soon-to-be suicides. They resemble soot demons from the work of Miyazaki.
I’m curious to know what someone who liked this series sees in it. The art is well-done, supporting the mystery and moodiness, but that doesn’t make up for the lack of actual content. Spinning out all these questions puts us in the place of Alice, who doesn’t know who he is either, and they’re supposed to keep us interested enough to return, but I was left dissatisfied. I felt like I, as well, was being played, and I didn’t sign up for more of the game. (The publisher provided a review copy.)