Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit
It's back to the beginning of the series with Alice as she arrives in the Country of Hearts and this time takes up residence at the Hatter Mansion. Still not entirely convinced that she's not dreaming, Alice finds herself growing closer to Elliot March, the number two man in Wonderland's mafia. He seems nice enough, but his casual disregard for human life bothers her. Is love possible in Wonderland?
Less a spin-off of the first Alice in the Country of Hearts manga (originally published by TokyoPop and recently revived and finished by Yen Press), My Fanatic Rabbit is more in the way of being an alternate version of it, beginning with Alice Liddell's arrival in Wonderland's Country of Hearts. The events are briefly described to catch readers up before we find Alice ensconced in Hatter Mansion. She is having some difficulties adjusting to her new life and insists on being given some sort of work. Her host, Blood Dupre, AKA the Mad Hatter, assigns her household chores. A dream meeting with Nightmare assures her that what she is experiencing is quite real while reiterating the series' premise that in this world, all of the men are in love with her. From there we move on to the awkward beginnings of a romance with Elliot, the March Hare.
As mini-series within the Alice universe go, this is thus far the least impressive. The start of the volume, with its hurried summary of how Alice arrived in Wonderland, makes for a poor first impression. Elliot's personality is far from developed here, which in all fairness may be because readers are expected to be familiar with him from the game or other manga adaptations. If that is the case, however, it makes this particular adaptation unable to stand on its own. It also begs the question of why Alice herself is so different this time around. My Fanatic Rabbit's Alice is a much meeker character, lacking the abrasiveness of the original Alice in the Country of Hearts and the gumption of the heroine of Alice in the Country of Clover. She is a much blander girl now, barely concerned with the fact that this may be a world of her own making and not nearly as willing to battle the general handsy-ness of the masculine population. In a story that assumes familiarity with the rest of the franchise, this remaking of the heroine provides a feeling of disconnect that is distracting.
Art this time is provided by yaoi mangaka Delico Psyche, whose Love Full of Scars was published in English by NET COMICS in 2009. She is clearly much more comfortable drawing men, and her Alice suffers from a case of man hands. (This is true of the original game art as well, so it may be that Psyche is simply trying to maintain a recognizable look.) While page layouts are a bit crowded, Psyche does good things with the rabbit ears sported by two of the characters and her Vivaldi is absolutely beautiful. A couple of scenes shown through reflections in eyes are quite well done, and really, Alice herself is the least visually compelling aspect of the book. Peter also looks a little off, but as he is not the primary protagonist, that's less of an issue.
What is an issue is Peter's dialogue – he no longer speaks in rhyme. Even assuming that this is part of the original Japanese text for this particular Alice series, it is a jarring surprise to readers familiar with his usual manner of speaking. Other characters conform to their established speech patterns, however, and in general the translation is smooth and readable. The volume lacks any color pages, unlike other Alice publications, but otherwise presents a perfectly fine package.
Unless you're really a completeist or feel a burning need to read any and all books published in the Alice franchise – or simply want to support it in the hopes that any as-yet-unlicensed titles have a chance – this is a fairly forgettable entry that can be left alone. It has some issues both in the writing and the art, but the biggest strike against it is that it is simply not as engrossing as the other titles. Bloody Twins provided some uncomfortable fanservice, Cheshire Cat Waltz is giving some very real answers to how and why Alice ended up in Wonderland in the first place, and My Fanatic Rabbit...is just giving us a different love interest. If Elliot is your favorite, he does come off as adorably awkward here, but overall this book just lacks the mystery and sensuality of the others. It's harmless, but at this point we've come to expect better of the Alice franchise, making this something of a disappointment.
Overall : C
Story : C-
Art : B-
+ Vivaldi looks terrific, Elliot comes off as charmingly sweet and awkward. Some nice artistic touches.
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