Manga Review: Are You Alice? Volume One

Are You Alice? Volume One is a manga written by Ai Ninomiya and illustrated by Ikumi Katagiri. This volume was released in North America by Yen Press in 2013. The series is rated “OT” for older teens; from what I read in volume one, I think I would agree with this rating.

Are You Alice? Volume 1
Written by: Ai Ninomiya
Publisher: Ichijinsha
English Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: May 28, 2013

Are You Alice? is a manga series based on the Alice in Wonderland stories by Lewis Carroll. A young man, whose name is unknown to the reader, is in search of “something” and stumbles into the world of Wonderland. He is found by the Cheshire Cat, who declares that he is “Alice” and takes him into Wonderland. From there, “Alice” is found by the Mad Hatter, and is taken to see the Queen of Hearts under her orders.

It turns out the Queen of Hearts is actually an effeminate young man. He asks “Alice” for his name; the Mad Hatter coached him to say his name is Alice. During the conversation, “Alice” learns that the White Rabbit was supposed to have brought him to Wonderland, not the Cheshire Cat; however, “Alice” tries not to let on. Apparently, the White Rabbit brings humans to Wonderland who have discarded their pasts, gives them a new name and traps them since there is no way out.

“Alice” learns that he is now part of a game in which the objective is to kill the White Rabbit, and that Alice will be protected by the Mad Hatter. Alice also learns he is now the 89th Alice to come, because the other 88 all failed.

I know that the original Alice in Wonderland stories were strange, but I think Are You Alice? has taken these characters and concepts are made then even stranger. While the Alice in the Country of series also uses Alice in Wonderland stories as a basis, it doesn’t seem to take things to the extremes that Are You Alice? does. I’ve read the first volume of Alice in the Country of Hearts, and I have to say that I much preferred that over Are You Alice? Perhaps it’s the style of storytelling that I’m just not getting into here, and not so much the actual concept; I admit that stories in the style of Are You Alice? aren’t exactly things I read very often.

To me, the art in Are You Alice? is probably the strongest aspect of this manga volume. Katagiri’s facial expressions draw the reader into what’s going on, even if the reader isn’t totally understanding what’s taking place.

After reading Volume One, I personally am not that interested in continuing this series. However, readers who enjoy stories with mind games, guns being drawn, and some bishonen looking characters will probably enjoy Are You Alice?

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Are You Alice? Volume One that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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