In this story, Alice is not all what she seems. She is practical, strong, yet an cynical person. Instead of the traditional story, Alice is kidnapped unwillingly by a mysterious (yet somewhat bishie-looking) man with bunny ears into a place call Heartland. Stuck in Heartland due to a trick by the mysterious bunny eared man, she meets the residents of this world. Along the way, Alice meets Blood, handsome mafia leader; Ace, the psycho yet charming knight and more... What should Alice do in such a world!?
Heart no Kuni no Alice: Wonderful Wonder World was first published in English by Tokyopop, who published five volumes from February 9 to November 2, 2010, before cancelling publication of the final volume due to going defunct. It was later re-published in its entirety as 2-in-1 omnibus editions as Alice In The Country Of Hearts by Yen Press on June 26, 2012.
I'm a bit worried about reviewing this since it's the favorite manga of one of my best friends... Ah well, I finished it and now I'm reviewing it! I don't really know why the Japanese seem to have such an intense love of all things Alice (I swear, it must be customary to have an Alice reference in shoujo manga nowadays...) but here's yet another Alice manga!
Heart no Kuni no Alice, or Alice in the Country of Hearts as it's known as under it's English publication, is a more romantic reversioning of the famous Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol and is based off an
otome game of the same name. It features a girl named Alice, duh, who doesn't fall, but is instead forced down the rabbit hole to discover the Country of Hearts. She soon learns that the country is controlled by several warring gangs. The lives of the country's inhabitents are not given much value due to their hearts being watches that can once again be fixed, but once fixed the heart's owner will not be reborn as the same person. Due to these issues, almost everyone in the Country of Hearts carries a gun that they're not hesitant to use...
This is a pretty good premise, I think. The series focuses a somewhat on Alice's morals compared to that of the country's citizens, but sadly this wonderful premise is only loosly touched upon whereas I think it should have been expanded upon much more.
But no, this is based off an otome game remember, meaning that it's all about who Alice will end up falling in love with... Like a lot of reverse harem series, every reader typically finds some character who they grow to like more than the others, for me it's Nightmare for example. Most of the characters as well are heavily based off of characters from the original Alice in Wonderland: Boris is the Cheshire Cat (who has pink hair and wears a skirt, hee hee!), Vivaldi the Queen of Hearts, Blood the Mad Hatter, etc.
Every character has a very distinct personality which is heavily based off of their Alice in Wonderland counterpart if they have one. All of them still have their own traits though the seperate them from these counterparts, the most noticable I think being Blood, who is based off the Mad Hatter. It almost seems sometimes like the only likeness Blood shares with the Hatter is the hat itself as well as being accompanied by the March Hare. Blood's character is very serious and cold, almost seeming like he's mocking the original Hatter.
I also find it odd that, for a series where the characters are the main focus, all of the characters remain sadly one dimensional...
Art wise, the series looks very pretty most of the time, but this is possibly due mainly to the characters' have very rounded, simplisticly drawn designs, likely due somewhat to the original game having similar art, but even so. This means that it would have been easier for the artist to not go off model as much. As well, it often seems that characters who aren't the focus in a panel get jipped a bit, not being as detailed as the one who is in the spotlight.
Despite these flaws though, the series keeps up a surprisingly high level of enjoyability. If you like rom/com, this will probably keep you hooked most, if not all, the time, and if you're not, you'll still probably find something to enjoy in it. It should be stated though that this is definetely something that the ladies are going to enjoy much more than the men, sorry boys.
I've heard that there is going to be more manga based of the sequels to the game, and considering the series had a more or less cliff hanger ending this may very well be true, so I hope that helps to clear up some of the flaws that this had. As well, Heart no Kuni no Alice is getting a movie based off it very soon, so hopefully that'll be good and I'm looking forward to it!
Overall, I give this bloody look at a classic a 7 out of 10.
What makes this manga so dissatisfying is not just one factor, but many factors put together. The execution was poor overall, and there was potential for this to be good too.
Why a three? Because, for one concepts/threads are introduced, and then casually put aside for far too long, often causing one to wonder, "How does X fit into Y at this point?" An excellent example of this is the vial of liquid required by Alice to go home. It's introduced as ~*THE IMPORTANT PLOT POINT*~ but then promptly gets disposed of, only to resurface at the end, just to be disposed of again. Also,
Alice seems to not be on a hunt for a boyfriend, yet is actively /hunting for a boyfriend/. It's really irritating to watch.
The art for this was pretty standard shoujou eyecandy. There wasn't anything overtly good, bad, or hilariously derpy.
Now here's where a VERY major problem lies. All of the characters seem to lack true depth, akin to one watching a 3D movie without the glasses: a blurry, headachey mess. Alice can't decide on whether or not she wants well, anything really. Considering the fact that she is the main character, you will be exposed to this /all the time/. Her prospective dates aren't much better. There's moments where you just want to feel sorry for the Peter White because Alice is so indecisive, but then his obsessive love tendencies make you roll your eyes violently. Blood Dupre is the boring wangsty invincible bishounen male. The problem with Boris Airay is that he's supposed to be like the Cheshire Cat, provided that Cheshire was a masochist who like seeing himself bleed. Vivaldi would have been better if she were actually a collective of entities instead of just using the royal we. Ace is just a slobbering mess of a character, almost like a jerkass, yet being changed by the pure and true love of Alice. The only characters that seem to make this worth reading through to the end are the side characters. Even then, they are not enough to redeem this story.
In summary, the characters are worthless, and the plot is cliche. It's not really worth anyone's time, unless you are totally into indecisive girls who just can't decide between bad choices in boyfriends.
What many who read this may not know is that this is *not* based directly on Alice in Wonderland, but instead on the first entry in an Otome game series, titled 'Heart no Kuni no Alice: Wonderful Wonder World.'
This manga is an abysmal adaptation of the game, as anyone who knows anything about said game probably realizes. It waters down the characters at best, and completely mis-characterizes them at worst. Blood Dupre is the most prominent and tragic example of this, but there are several others. Even worse, the poor characterization depicted has spread to the English translations of other manga based on the series,
solidifying Dupre's warped persona as a violent, crass misogynist, rather than the classy troll he started as in the games.
It is abundantly clear that the creator of this manga didn't bother to finish any of the characters' routes before writing this, and as such it reads more or less like a bad fanfiction. The only remotely good things I can say about this is that it stuck mostly true to the overall plot of the game and the mechanics of how Wonderland works (though even those should be taken with a grain of salt), and that the art style is visually pleasing. Apart from that, there really isn't anything good to say about this.
I could go on, but as there's a rule against posting spoilers, I probably shouldn't. So, this is all I'll write in this review.
When I was young, I loved the story of Alice in wonderland because it was a strange storyline that grabbed my attention. Over the years, I loved almost every rendition of the story that came out. The darker the story, the better in my mind for instance, I liked American McGee’s Alice game where Alice was in asylum after her family was killed in a fire. I’m not sure why but when things are rather demented like that; it gives a really nice spin to an already overused story. This one, well, its what you would expect from a manga version of Alice with a
Reverse- harem element. All the guys are beautiful men and the girl believes she isn’t work anything.
We start out with Alice waking up from her ‘dream’ and seeing her sister there, reading a book. Ironically, it’s the book Alice in wonderland and so of course Alice believed wonderland to be nothing more then a dream. Even though she only had a dream about a game, she seems to be bothered by a game of cards that her sister asks about. This is where the manga gets a little hairy in continuity or just plain explaining what the hell is going on. We wouldn’t know just why Alice is so jumpy since all we get is a very small bit of her dreaming about a game. Now even more problematic is that she also talks about how her sister was probably a girl all the men would love but when she thinks of an image, we have nothing that would tell us who it is. We can suspect though that it’s a guy she likes. I have a feeling that those that might of played the games this manga was based off of would understand but as of now, I do not believe they have actually come to America and are probably not in English.
As her sister leaves, we get Alice drifting off again to sleep and then she sees a normal white rabbit with clothing on. The story of Alice in Wonderland almost always had her following the rabbit on her own accord, but this one, the rabbit tells her she needs to follow him, then when he picks her up to force her to come with, he turns into a really hot white haired man with glasses! And not only that, but he forces her to drink a strange liquid as well. He calls himself Peter White…. I believe it is a play off of Peter Rabbit and this is when I facepalm because in only about 35 pages, we have a rather ‘erotic’ scene with a name pulled as a spinoff of something else. And yet, this is what Alice in wonderland was made for.
The story goes really fast and really doesn’t have much time to explain what exactly is going on. This is not for people who want things explained right off the back but then again, you wouldn’t like the normal Alice in Wonderland then. Now, there are a lot of things I like about this manga though, including the little touches that the ‘Hatters’ are a family of mafia with the main Hatter as our representative love interest. (Those that seem to ship Alice and Hatter will love this manga.)
I have to say this story reminds me a lot of Kobato where the main character must collect something in a bottle to get back to where she wants to go, STOP THINKING IT PERVERTS! We also have a rather interesting staker who seems to have fallen for her and wants her to stay in the world of Wonderland with him. Of course, in a harem, all the men and some women it seems want to be with Alice including an incubus that creates nightmares. I get the feeling this manga should be a hentai but it never really comes to that. Instead, we have a rather fun and witty dialog between all of the characters. Seriously, a lot of the dialog actually made me laugh at times because it was stuff that I should of figured would happen but I was not expecting it. All the characters turned into loveable characters (Even Peter White in a way) in their childish nature and fun loving self.
In the end, there really isn’t an end and so it keeps on going on about the same. This sometimes bothers me but there are luckily hints that something will be changing at some point in time.
The artwork is actually rather good though pretty standard for the beautiful harem boy. If you consider it against all the other Reverse-harem mangas, then the artwork is just standard. Every once in a while, a character may stand out but it’s hard for them to stand out when they look like many other characters in other mangas. As for in the manga, you can tell the characters apart except for Dee and Dum at times but they are twins. The other characters around them don’t have faces and so it really helps the main characters stand out. It was a interesting way of playing it off.