Alice in the Country of Hearts

Also known As: Wonderful Wonder World
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Length: 6 Volume
Allegiance: Mag Garden (JP) Tokyopop (US)
Manga-ka: Quin Rose and Soumei Hoshino
Vintage: 2007 – 2010

Intelligence Agency Report byKitsune

Just minutes after having a disturbing dream about games, an older and more cynical version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice is involuntarily pushed down the rabbit hole by a gorgeous boy with white rabbit ears. The Wonderland she lands in is indeed filled with other gorgeous men, but it’s not the paradise that one might expect; it’s the playing ground of a mysterious philosophical game that Alice is soon forced into. The country is also in the middle of a civil war and none of the natives can be trusted, for many seem to harness secret motives involving Alice. She is warned that the best thing for her to do is stay away from them, but if she wants to win the game and go home, she has to interact with the eccentric locals!

Research Agency Report by: Kitsune
Plot: 6.25
Characters: 7.25
Impact: 3.00
Visual: 10.00

Overall: 6.25

I feel that Alice in the Country of Hearts has gained significant popularity in both Japan and America due more to its association with Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece than in being a highly successful story in itself. While the artwork of the series is absolutely stunning, the plot pales in comparison to that of the original tale by Carroll. And though the characters are well designed and cute, they lack depth and purpose.

Nearly all attempts in creating a plot based off of Alice in Wonderland fail, and the ones that do succeed still seem “cute” at best. Some unique ideas are presented inAlice in the Country of Hearts that do make the plot somewhat interesting, such as the incorporation that everything in Wonderland is a game and its residents have a different view of the value of life, but even so, the manga isn’t any more than “a cute idea.” While it’s undeniable that Quin Rose and Soumei Hoshino put a lot of thought into the plot, they still didn’t put enough. They mimicked the illogic of Wonderland without considering that, quite paradoxically, there is a lot of logic behind it. They clearly didn’t study Lewis Carroll enough to know that he was an incredible genius; even though he wrote Alice for a bored little girl with no meaning intended, much, if not all, of the story is based off of his personal experiences, and seeing that he was a logician, is full of paradoxical logic and inevitable truths of life. The logic within the story is so dense that it is a large part of what creates the sense of wonder within the reader; one can’t deny the truth in the story, yet they have never thought that way before. Failing to consider even this brief and shallow explanation of Carroll’s writing techniques before planning Alice in the Country of Hearts resulted in a “cute” but absolutely aimless plot that doesn’t pick up much until about the end of volume four.

The characters of Alice in the Country of Hearts are quite different from those of the original tale. Surprisingly, I especially enjoyed the White Rabbit’s drastic change from a faithful, worrisome servant to one who shrugs his responsibilities entirely. I also liked the Boris the Cheshire Cat’s loyal personality and the Hatter’s dark one, for they are actually subtly present in the original book, just intensified in the manga for a greater dramatic effect. The Red Queen is much nicer- just bossy as ever- and the Hare is still pretty out there, yet more caring. Overall, I thought that the changes were very creative and refreshing. However, due to the lack of the logic in the plot, the characters lose a lot of their purpose and philosophical nuances, which in turn makes the plot all the more aimless. Since the characters are so illogical, they don’t have much depth, and even when they do speak their deeper thoughts or feelings, it’s not very believable.

To add on to previous statements, the plot of the original Alice in Wonderland is a very philosophical and delicate one. When the plot lost its logic in Alice in the Country of Hearts, the characters suffered some as well, and the meaning behind it all crumbled. There really isn’t much moral to the story at all, besides scraps of insight from the original that are occasionally incorporated.

Out of all the manga-ka that I’ve seen, Quin-Rose’s artwork is my favorite. It’s extremely cute, yet not overly so, for it also has elegance. Even simple items that she draws, such as teacups, look so realistic and elegant that I’m convinced she either must use references or have incredible visualization skills. Her compositions are also very interesting, especially for chapter pages. I could go on and on, but for brevity’s sake, I’ll end here.

Alice in the Country of Hearts is full of marvelous and unique artistic depictions of the Alice characters. If the plot were as successful, it would certainly be on the same level as the original Alice, but unfortunately, the plot isn’t much more than that of yet another aimless bishounen manga.