Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll has captured our attention and imagination like few other fairy tales have. The story of a young girl descending into a land of magic and wonder has tons of re-imaginings, most dark and gritty. There's something about Alice's potentially drug-fueled tale that lends itself to a closer look by practically every medium.
Anime has taken a stab at Alice allusions as well, bringing us some interesting crossovers, cameos, and references. This list explores just a few of the more… interesting ones.
Anime Based on the Books
Sometimes anime are subtle about their references. They name a character Alice (or a variant of it), then infuse her (or him) with Alice-themed qualities. There might be a white rabbit hopping around somewhere, or a surprise fall that ends in a different world. Other times, though, there isn't much doubt that an anime is drawing heavily from the books. A number of anime have adapted Alice with a twist, including these notable mentions:
It's like Alice in Wonderland, but digital. Alice Minazuki and her band of merry cyber-warrior girls visit the digital world and battle cyber criminals. So.. okay, only kind of like Alice in Wonderland.
Miyuki-chan in Wonderland follows the story of the titular Miyuki, who falls down a rabbit hole into Wonderland (and later goes through her looking-glass - that is, mirror). So far so good. Except all the residents are female, and they're all pretty curious in Alice themselves, if you get what we mean. Clamp's cute style is a front for upskirts and scantily-clad women.
There's no one actually named Alice in Alice Academy - it's just the name given to anyone who has abilities. It might seem like an odd choice until you realize the students deal in "rabbits." That's probably not a coincidence.
Pandora Hearts is a gritty retelling of Alice in Wonderland. Alice is a central character, and the anime makes several other clear allusions to the book: there's a deep rabbit hole that leads into another world (here called the Abyss), the Four Great Dukedoms are based on the four suits of a deck of cards, and even the episode titles make references to the book.
There are even a few nods to the book's author himself, like Lutwidge Academy, which is named for Lewis Carroll's real name, Charles Lutwidge.
Characters Named Alice
It makes sense to find characters named Alice in anime based on Alice in Wonderland. But what about Alices in other anime? Of course, not all anime characters named Alice are an allusion to the books. But usually it's pretty obvious when the reference is there. Some anime Alices straight from the pages of the book include:
Although much of Serial Experiments Lain is up for interpretation, it's pretty clear that Arisu is a reference to the Lewis Carroll book. Arisu's adventure deeper into the Wired (the show's version of the internet) is like a trip down the rabbit hole. The show's writer Chiaki Konaka actually pulled Arisu (and her friends) straight from his other work, Alice in Cyberland.
From Aria The Animation
Alice might not seem like a direct reference at first - she's a bit elitist and extremely talented. However, one look at her full name confirms what her authors had in mind when they named her.
This anime features "Seekers of Alice" - a magical, fictional version of the stories. Arisu herself is deliciously meta: she is a (potentially) fictional character in an anime world, based on a fictional character in the real world. And of course there are bunny ears involved.
From Pet Shop of Horrors
Alice is a beautiful and rare species of rabbit. This being the Pet Shop of Horrors, though, she also happens to look like a rich couple's dead daughter. Because you just can't have an Alice reference without it being somehow creepy.
Other Alice Cameos and Allusions
Aside from Alice and rabbits, other characters and themes from the books sometimes find their way to anime. Here are a couple of references you just can't miss:
The Alice Game
From Rozen Maiden
The Alice Game is a fight to the death for seven beautifully crafted dolls to become the perfect doll, named Alice. The game also happens to be overseen by an anthropomorphic white rabbit.
From Project ARMS
Jabberwock, March Hare, White Knight, the Queen of Hearts… sound familiar? Yes, those are all characters from the Alice books, but they're also weapon names from Project ARMS. All the weapons in the show are references to the books, and there's even a later, more direct nod, to Alice in the form of a character.
Down the Rabbit Hole
Finally, we enter that realm of unspeakable wonder, where anything can happen, and characters are twisted and thrown into unnatural scenarios just for the fun of it. No, not Wonderland. Fan fiction.
Code Geass is known for being a deep and serious story about war and politics. This OVA is a mostly still-frame retelling of Alice in Wonderland for the Lelouch's sister, Nunnally, who is a fan of the books.
This 2-part OVA reimagines the book with the Black Butler characters. Ciel plays Alice, of course - cute blue dress and all.
This list is not comprehensive - that wouldn't be any fun. Now any time you see a character named Alice, or a mention of a white rabbit, you'll wonder about Wonderland!