Alice & Zoroku
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Alice & Zoroku ?
Instead of focusing on the established cast, this week's Alice & Zoroku devotes nearly its entire runtime to a new Dream of Alice. In fact, Sana and company don't even make an appearance until the second half, which helps give the episode a distinct side-story vibe. It's always a gamble when a show takes the audience away from established characters for a substantial chunk of time, but the results are worthwhile in this case. Even if the characters introduced this week don't play a significant role moving forward, episode 8 is an important diversion from the main story.
The episode begins by introducing the audience to Hatori, a reticent elementary schooler with a troubled home life. After her failure to test into a good school prompts an argument between her parents, Hatori prays for them to get along, and the strength of her wish ultimately awakens an Alice. As Hatori and her tomboyish friend Ayumu soon discover, this power enables Hatori to bend those around her to her will. After eventually realizing that this power may cause harm to those closest to her, Hatori decides to run away from home with Ayumu in tow. However, when the girl uses her power to freeze nearly every person in Shibuya, she attracts the attention of Sana, who attempts to teach her a lesson using her own Alice. Since both girls' Alices appear to be evenly matched, neither is able to do any real damage to the other. By the end of their encounter, Sana is drained of energy and feeling even more “frazzled” than before, and Hatori declares that her powers have truly turned her into an evil witch.
Tossing new characters into the mix at this stage in the game could easily backfire, but Hatori's story's is compelling and offers an interesting parallel to Sana's. Prior to meeting Zoroku, Sana never really had a traditional childhood, so seeing how a normal child is affected by an awakened Alice represents a fascinating change of pace. Whereas Sana is adjusting to a normal life, Hatori is trying to cope with having hers taken away. She starts her journey mostly well-meaning but then lets the power get the best of her. The look on her face when Ayu asks Sana how to get rid of Hatori's powers so she can go home is especially heartbreaking, since she thought Ayu was the one person who accepted her.
This episode also gives the audience a glimpse of what an unhinged Sana looks like. Seeing Zoroku and the rest of the city's inhabitants seemingly frozen in time leaves her disturbed and incredibly angry. Were it not for Hatori's powers, the super-sized Santa Claus Sana conjured up could easily have killed her and Ayumu. It's been clear from the outset that Sana has trouble controlling her emotions, but it's surprising that she refuses to pull any punches against a relatively inexperienced Alice user, especially considering how apologetic Ayumu was.
Despite its focus on new characters, this week's Alice & Zoroku is among the show's strongest episodes yet. In addition to offering a somewhat realistic take on a normal child developing superpowers, it's full of powerful moments that illustrate how easily the line between right and wrong can become blurred. All in all, episode 8 manages to hit the sweet spot between silly supernatural slice-of-life fare and non-stop action to leave a meaningful impact.
Alice & Zoroku is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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