Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Alice in the Country of Clover: Bloody Twins
Assume that the ending of Alice in the Country of Hearts was a little different – Alice stayed in Wonderland, but she didn't fall in love with anyone. Now she's living at Hatter Mansion, working part time for the Hatters...and spending an awful lot of time with the so-called Bloody Twins, Dee and Dum. Dee and Dum aren't shy about telling Alice that they love her, but she just thinks of them as little boys. So what happens when, one day, those boys grow up?
Strictly speaking, you don't have to have read Alice in the Country of Hearts to pick up this book. This is not because no familiarity with the premise of QuinRose's otome game-based series is necessarily, because that would be an outright lie. No, the reason that readers who somehow missed the first series can read this one is entirely due to the fact that Seven Seas has put out a book that goes above and beyond – sure, they just translated the full-color synopsis manga at the start of the book and the character information, but they also added in a “Fun Facts” section in the back to further elucidate both the previous manga series and the games. Simply put, every effort possible has been made to invite readers unfamiliar with the franchise in, and along with the larger trim size and unusual cover stock, this is a very nicely put together book.
Of course, much of this book's audience will be familiar with the recently completed Alice in the Country of Hearts, and that is, undoubtedly, helpful in enjoying Alice in the Country of Clover. Perhaps its main draw is that it presents a different “path” than the previous manga, so if you didn't like who Alice ended up with there, you have another option. (Likewise this is attractive to those who are unable to play the original game, which has no English release.) In that vein, Bloody Twins provides several alternatives in the form of four short stories after the three chapter plot about Dee and Dum – ones where Alice chooses Gowland, Blood, Boris, and Vivaldi. This is similar to the way that the KimiKiss manga was handled, and should nicely whet the palate for other upcoming releases in the Alice franchise – Seven Seas has the rights to Cheshire Cat Waltz and two Alice in the Country of Joker series and Yen Press will release the My Fanatic Rabbit later this year.
In general this volume has much more of a game adaptation feel, most likely due to its brevity. The main story of Bloody Twins focuses on Alice's relationship with gatekeepers Dee and Dum, drawn as identical children but with different hair lengths as adults. In this version, Alice has decided to remain in Wonderland despite not having fallen in love and the fact that she still thinks she's dreaming. She now lives with the Hatters rather than at the Clock Tower, and the reason for this becomes apparent when the land “shifts,” taking the characters out of the Country of Hearts and into the Country of Clover (Clubs). In this land, neither the Clock Tower nor the Amusement Park exist, which also means that Gowland and Julius are no longer present. Instead we introduce Pierce, the dormouse, and Gray, the lizard. Nightmare gets a different role, but otherwise the cast is unchanged. Alice spends most of her time with the twins, who continually profess their love for her. When she tells Blood that she likes grown men rather than little boys, he laughs. The reason for this becomes apparent when the twins abruptly grow up.
Alice in the Country of Clover: Bloody Twins gets far racier than Alice in the Country of Hearts ever did, and some readers may be uncomfortable with the direction it takes. The twins have no interest in having Alice chose one or the other of them – they are a two-for-one special. If this makes you uncomfortable, you may want to give the book a pass and go right to Cheshire Cat Waltz when it comes out. While there is nothing terribly explicit, the implications are pretty strong towards the end, earning it its older teen rating. Mamenosuke Fujimaru has a sensuality to her art at times that works very well here, although in general it is not as visually pleasing as Soumei Hoshino's. Largely this is because these are much more crowded pages than Hoshino's, but also Fujimaru's art is sharper in that angles are more pointed. Some characters, such as Blood or Gowland, also look decidedly younger than we have seen them before, although everyone is immediately recognizable.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has undergone many changes in the roughly hundred and fifty years since its publication. Whether you think that it's a classic work of children's fantasy, a Victorian in-joke, a mathematical equation, or a drug-fueled joy ride, there is no denying that it is a tale that has remained in the collective consciousness. Alice in the Country of Clover's first volume adds to the mythos by making it a romance with a strange edge that may not be entirely in keeping with the original, but certainly remains recognizable as a permutation of the story that Lewis Carroll told the three Liddell girls on that boat trip so many years ago.
Overall : B-
Story : B-
Art : B
+ Sensual art when needed, all characters are immediately recognizable. The Forest of Doors hearkens quite nicely to the Disney film's Tulgey Wood. Great presentation.
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