Saturday, September 18, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 227 (9/18) -- Alice in the Country of Hearts, Vol. 1 by Soumei Hoshino & Quinrose

Among the many things I don't understand: how a corporation can write a story. This book -- a loose, vaguely shoujo retelling of Lewis Carroll's "Alice" books as reverse harem manga -- is credited as "Art by Soumei Hoshino, Story by Quinrose." And a quick search of the web revealed that "Quinrose" -- or perhaps "Quin Rose," or even "QuinRose" -- is a Japanese game development company.

I didn't know, when I started to read this book, that it was a pictoral representation of a video game, but that's what it is: presumably, the story here represents the best path through the game of the same name (or one of the preferred paths), as far as it goes. (I've seen two further volumes and there will clearly be more.)

It's a heavily lampshaded story; Young Alice Liddell, falling asleep in a garden that's presumably supposed to be Victorian England, muses about wanting "every guy in the world" to fall in love with her, then quickly falls down that rabbit-hole into a Wonderland filled almost entirely with manga-cute young men (all floppy hair and sharp features) who do, of course, all fall in love with her. Carroll's plots -- entirely disposable, admittedly, being based on whim, whimsy, nonsense, and chess games -- are abandoned in favor of that old stand-by, wandering around to look at everything and talk to everyone. Nearly all of the pretty boys are hair-trigger violent -- in that manga way that shows how hot-tempered they are without having any real effect on anyone -- and are involved in a complicated three-sided power struggle that isn't worth the mental effort to make sense of it.

If you like seeing pretty boys squabbling over a girl who is not nearly as Victorian as she's supposed to be, you will find a lot to enjoy in Alice in the Country of Hearts. If you prefer to be the girl they squabble over, I'd try to dig up the game. If your sights are aimed any higher than that, I'm afraid you're out of luck here.
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index

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