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Alice in the Country of Hearts Volumes 1 & 2

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Alice in the Country of Hearts Volume 1 by QuinRose and Soumei Hoshino, published by TokyoPop

Alice in the Country of Hearts Volume 1

© 2008 Soumei Hoshino, © QuinRose

The Bottom Line

Alice in the Country of Hearts is based on Alice in Wonderland, but it uses Lewis Carroll's characters as a launching point to tell a more 'grown-up' story. In this case, 'grown-up' means that Alice is older, and the slightly mad denizens of Wonderland are not just trying to mess with her head – they all want to seduce her... if they don't kill her first.

Nicely done art and hunky hunks make Alice in the Country of Hearts eye candy for shojo manga fans, but its sly, sexy humor and its dark, sinister secrets make it a compelling mystery/fantasy series that's more than just a remix of a familiar children's tale.

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Pros

  • Lovely art with lots of handsome hunks and gorgeous Lolita-worthy costumes
  • Features familiar characters but remixes the story so it's familiar, yet often surprising
  • While she spends most of the time puzzled, Alice is more than just a passive pawn
  • Story has a dark, surreal edge that makes it more than just a parade of beautiful boys
  • Has moments of sly, sexy humor that make it fun to read

Cons

  • This Wonderland is full of heavily-armed characters who are violent and ruthless
  • Sticklers for historical accuracy will find many anachronisms here
  • While nicely done, the art isn't terribly original in style or execution

Description

  • Original Title: Heart no Kuni no Alice ~ Wonderful Wonder World (Japan)
  • Author: QuinRose
    Artist: Soumei Hoshino
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: Vol. 1: 978-1427817693 / Vol. 2: 978-1427817709
  • Cover Price: $10.99 US / $13.99 CANADA
  • Age Rating: OT – Older Teens, Age 16+ for violence, guns and mild sexual innuendo
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
    • Shojo (Girls') Manga
    • Bishonen (Pretty Boys)
    • Drama
    • Fantasy
    • Mystery / Suspense
    • Romance
    • Video Game Tie-In
  • US Publication Date: Vol. 1: Feb. 2010 / Vol. 2: Mar. 2010
    Japan Publication Date: Vol. 1: July 2008 / Vol. 2: Jan. 2009
  • Book Description: Vol. 1: 184 pages / Vol. 2: 192 pages, black and white illustrations

Guide Review - Alice in the Country of Hearts Volumes 1 & 2

Alice in the Country of Hearts is based on Alice in Wonderland, but it uses Lewis Carroll's original story as a launching point to tell a more 'grown-up' story.

Making the story more 'grown-up' means making Alice a teenage girl, and having these familiar characters, from the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat re-imagined as handsome men who are all vying for Alice's affections. And did I mention that these Wonderland hunks are all heavily armed and have itchy trigger-fingers? Yup, this is not your typical trip down the rabbit hole.

Alice in the Country of Hearts is based on a video game, where the player is Alice as she figures out how to get home to the "real world." Typically, the way things go in dating sim game adaptations (see Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time or Kimi Kiss), the main character is usually the least interesting person in the book.

However, Alice in the Country of Hearts bucks this trend by giving us an Alice who is strong-willed and independent. She's well-aware that Wonderland may be a figment of her fantasies and fears. As Alice encounters the aloof Mad Hatter, she muses that he looks just like the boy who recently rejected her. She's barely fazed when Nightmare tells her that "This is the world that you wished for, a world where you're wished for," because she knows that his words have a ring of truth to them.

While she's astonished that each man she meets is infatuated with her, Alice has the presence of mind to question the senseless rivalries between the different factions in Wonderland and often tries to stop the violence at the risk of her own life. She may be in petticoats like the original Alice, but she's more than just a pawn in this dark and mysterious game.

Much like Black Butler, Alice in the Country of Hearts is filled with fanciful details that'll make Gothic Lolitas and Steampunk afficionados swoon. The costumes and characters are gorgeous and this surreal story has a dark, slightly Gothic edge. And like Black Butler, Alice conveniently forgets that it's supposed to be set in a Victorian England milieu. Alice calls Peter the rabbit a "perv." Elliot the March Hare says "om nom nom" as he enjoys a slice of cake, and Boris the Cheshire cat has piercings, chains and a mid-rift baring outfit that would make the original Alice blush. Historical accuracy isn't the point here; hot hunks are.

What makes Alice in the Country of Hearts more than just a pageant of bishonen beefcake is its tongue-in-cheek humor and the compelling mystery that QuinRose has woven into this familiar story. Why are all the men so drawn to Alice? What are the dark shadows lurking on the periphery of Wonderland? And why is Julius the clockmaker treated with such awe and respect? These questions kept me reading through these first two volumes and will likely keep me interested until the end of this short, but fascinating series.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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