Alice in the Country of Hearts Volume One is a manga with the story by QuinRose, and the art done by Soumei Hoshino. Tokyopop used to have the license for this series. However, after Tokyopop lost the license, Yen Press acquired it. This review will focus on the Yen Press release of Alice in the Country of Hearts Volume One, which was released in 2012 and includes more content than Tokyopop’s Volume One did.

Alice in the Country of Hearts Volume One
Written by: QuinRose
Publisher: Mag Garden
English Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: June 26, 2012

This series is influenced by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The story begins with a girl named Alice Liddell being woken up from a nap by her older sister. Alice believes her sister is an ideal lady, but that she herself is not. When her sister leaves to get a deck of cards to play a game of cards, Alice lays back down to take another quick nap.

Alice is roused by a talking white rabbit wearing clothes. The rabbit chastises her, saying she should be chasing him now. Suddenly, the rabbit turns into a man wearing rabbit ears, and he scoops Alice up. He takes her to a hole and throws her down. The two go down the hole together and fall into Wonderland. The man in the rabbit ears makes Alice take a special medication and introduces himself as Peter White. As Peter leaves, he tells Alice that the game has begun.

As Alice tries to figure out what’s going on, she wanders onto the property of the Hatters. The gate is guarded by the “Bloody Twins” Tweedle Dee and Dum, Elliot March (a man with a pair of brown hare ears), and Blood Dupre (the one who rules the Hatter’s Mansion area and is a mafia boss). Blood saves Alice when the Bloody Twins and Elliot threaten to harm her, and Blood starts flirting with her. Blood has a strong resemblance to a man that Alice is in love with, but that man only has eyes for her older sister.

After running off from the Hatter Mansion, Alice comes to the clock tower, where she encounters Julius Monrey. When he realizes that Alice is an outsider, he explains to her the world of Wonderland, about some of the inhabitants and their connections, and also explains that she has to interact with the people in Wonderland in order to fill a vial that Peter White left her. Once the vial is full, Alice can return home.

In this volume, Alice also encounters Ace (a knight of Heart Castle), Vivaldi (the Queen of Hearts), Nightmare (he is the one who allowed Peter to bring Alice to Wonderland), and Boris Airay (who is basically a punk version of the Cheshire Cat). As the story in the volume progresses, it appears that several of the inhabitants of Wonderland are developing feelings for Alice. An important reveal during this volume is the fact that Nightmare tells Alice that Wonderland is a world of her making. It’s a world she wanted where everyone would be in love with her.

Since this release of Alice in the County of Hearts Volume One includes more pages, it means that I got to see a little more of the story than I did when I read Tokyopop’s Volume One. In the additional material, the reader gets a sense that Alice is developing feelings for Blood, even though he’s a mafia boss. But Wonderland starts mirroring Alice’s real life when she catches Blood and Vivaldi together and that they appear to be rather close. Both the reader and Alice learn what Julius’ true job as a clockmaker is, and Alice is rather shocked by the revelation.

At first, the idea of all these potential love interests seems to be a little odd if you’re familiar with Lewis Carroll’s story, but it makes sense when you realize that this manga series is based on a Japanese female-oriented romance adventure visual novel. With the visual novel serving as the source material for the manga, including this element makes sense.

I found Alice in the Country of Hearts Volume One to be a very fascinating read, especially with the additional material that the Yen Press release of this volume includes. Once the reader truly begins understanding the characters and interactions in Wonderland, the reader is left wondering if there’s truly anyone outside of Alice who is a “good guy” and is someone that she can trust. This series is actually a head trip, but I tend to like stories that make me think a little more. Also, the wackiness of Wonderland and the head trip provided by the characters and their story really owe a lot to its source material. While you can tell that the manga is based on Lewis Carroll’s classic story, there’s enough differences that are introduced in this telling that make it stand out from its inspiration.

What I read in Volume One has intrigued my interest quite a bit. I definitely want to track down the next volume of Yen Press’ release of Alice in the Country of Hearts in order to find out how this story progresses.