Alice & Zoroku
Episode 12

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 12 of
Alice & Zoroku ?

Alice & Zoroku closes out the season with a touching but relatively anticlimactic finale. Although this episode doesn't feature much interaction between the show's titular leads, it serves as a fitting endcap for the second story arc and lays the groundwork for future narrative possibilities should the series get another season. However, even if this turns out to be our last animated visit with the Kashimuras, it's a reasonably strong note to go out on.

After finding Hatori's phone and a White Rabbit-esque bunny with a connection to the outside world, Sana and Hatori are able to get in touch with Ayumu, who informs them that ten days have passed since they disappeared. Upon learning that the girls are unable to find a way out, Ayumu locates and opens the entrance through Sana dragged her to Wonderland. Shortly thereafter, Zoroku and Sanae arrive on the scene just in time to see Wonderland begin to carry out its massive expansion. In what is arguably the episode's funniest moment, Zoroku puts Wonderland in its place with one of his famous “talking-to”s, stopping the expansion dead in its tracks. After returning to the outside world, Hatori vows to come clean to her parents and take responsibility for her actions. During the closing montage, we learn that thanks to Naito's efforts, the government has decided to make the public aware of the Dreams of Alice while stressing that they don't represent a threat. Her latest ordeal now behind her, Sana begins attending elementary school with her new friends. In the episode's final moments, we get another brief glimpse of adult Sana (who's possibly visiting Zoroku's grave) as she thanks her guardian for making her the person she is today.

Despite packing a fair amount of story into a single installment, it never feels rushed, nor is the audience overloaded with information. Given the substantial threat a rapidly-expanding Wonderland presented, Zoroku shutting the whole thing down with a stern “KNOCK IT OFF!” was both amusing and unexpected. There's a bit lacking in the ending, especially considering how strong the beginning of the arc was, but this was one of the best jokes of the season. While it's true that Sana needs to learn certain lessons on her own and utilize Zoroku's teachings even when he's not around, it's disappointing to see him play such a minor role in this episode—and really, this storyline as a whole. Although the show's latter half is much stronger its first, the opening arc at least contained the best interactions between the two main characters.

At the end of the day, Alice & Zoroku proved to be an odd little show that jutted against expectations—sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Throughout its run, the series experimented with an array of tones and narrative styles—the introductory arc was a dark action-packed rollercoaster, the episodes leading up to the second arc had an easygoing slice-of-life feel, and the final storyline found a comfortable sweet spot in-between. Given their chemistry, the entire show could have been a collection of skits detailing Sana and Zoroku's daily lives. Unfortunately, Zoroku often felt like a supporting character in a series that gave him top-billing. Minor imperfections aside, Alice & Zoroku is a solid dramedy whose strong second half makes up for a disjointed, scattershot introduction.

Rating: B+

Alice & Zoroku is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.

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