Saturday, December 9, 2017

REVIEW: Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit (manga, vols. 1-2) story by QuinRose, art by Delico Psyche, scenario by Shinotsuki, translated by Ajino Hirami

I have no idea how close I am to finally finishing all the manga in this franchise that's been translated into English. I feel like every time I check there's more.

At any rate, I think I've read all the enjoyable stuff, and now this is more about me being able to say "I'm done" than anything. The first volume of My Fanatic Rabbit was mediocre, but I've read worse. In general, I'm not a fan of the ones where Elliot is Alice's love interest because they're either too silly for my tastes and make Alice too focused on her love for Elliot's ears, or they focus too much on Elliot's violent side and make me worry about Alice. This one went in the latter direction, with a little of the former.

The second volume left me filled with rage, primarily because I've seen the kind of stuff that was pulled on Alice pulled with a family member. This wasn't even vaguely romantic, and it left me feeling terrible for Alice.

Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit (manga, vol. 1) story by QuinRose, art by Delico Psyche, scenario by Shinotsuki, translated by Ajino Hirami - Alice decides to stay at the Hatter mansion, even going so far as to get a job there. She slowly becomes closer to Elliot, until the day she witnesses him doing his job (killing people for Blood). That awakens doubts in her, which deepen when Elliot tells her he'll kill her sister for hurting her and making her unhappy. Alice leaves and ends up traveling with Ace to Heart Castle. He gets lost, so she joins up with Peter when he shows up, but Peter ends up locking her up to keep her from leaving. The volume ends with Elliot heading to the castle, and Vivaldi about to order Alice beheaded.

I'm really not a fan of the Alice and Elliot pairing. It's either too goofy and focused on Alice's love of Elliot's ears (it often feels like she enjoys tugging Elliot's ears more than she likes him as a person) or too focused in Elliot's violent nature. In this case it's more of the latter. Elliot announcing that he'd kill Alice's sister for making her unhappy was horrifying, and a good reminder that the people in Wonderland have a very different and far more violent way of approaching the world than Alice is used to (that said, there are non-killers in Wonderland - it's one of the reasons why I like the Julius and Alice pairing so much).

This volume also had a bit of the ear-tugging stuff that I hate. Alice tugged Elliot's ears until it hurt him, and readers were supposed to think this was cute. I do not. He makes it pretty clear that he doesn't like it, and yet she doesn't stop. Volumes that pair off Elliot and Alice really do tend to highlight the worst in both of the characters.

There's a bit in this volume where Nightmare tells Alice "Anyone who meets you will take an interest in you and eventually fall in love with you." I think this is probably supposed to be good and comforting - Alice has gone from a place where the people she loves keep inadvertently hurting her to one where they are guaranteed to love her - but instead it strikes me as being both horrifying and depressing. It probably doesn't help that I played Doki Doki Literature Club! not long before reading this. It really highlights just how awful the "someone is guaranteed to love you" aspect of romance visual novels would be if the characters were actually aware of what was going on.

The artwork was at least relatively nice, although the use of screentone was a bit odd.

Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit (manga, vol. 2) story by QuinRose, art by Delico Psyche, scenario by Shinotsuki, translated by Ajino Hirami - Peter saves Alice from being beheaded by Vivaldi, and Elliot takes Alice back to the mansion. Alice and Elliot are suddenly a lovey dovey couple, but things take a turn for the worse when Alice spends time with Ace and Julius. She learns about the clocks, and that Elliot was once in prison for irreparably breaking his friend's clock. Elliot gets mad at Alice for being chummy with Julius, the man he hates, so Alice decides that she should drink the vial and go back to her world and her sister. However, Nightmare intervenes with a vision of Elliot killing himself after Alice leaves, so she decides to stay.

This started off as a mediocre series, featuring one of my least favorite Alice in the Country of pairings, and then took a turn for the much worse. First we have attempted rape on Elliot's part - he begins to force himself on Alice in anger after she spends time with Julius, his enemy. Then we have Nightmare's emotional manipulation of her. Alice was going to leave Wonderland for good, and for a very good reason (a borderline abusive boyfriend). In order to stop her, Nightmare produced a vision of Elliot killing himself out of thin air. It reminded me of the horrible boyfriend a family member of mine used to have, who'd try to get her to stay with him by telling her he'd kill himself if she left.

Not only that, the way the story was told was choppy and just plain bad - it went from Elliot taking Alice back to the mansion to them being a couple in the space of a page or so. I also felt that the artwork took a bit of a nosedive, becoming scratchier and less appealing.

If this were a horror series, it'd be one thing, but these stories are supposed to be romances, albeit occasionally kind of dark ones. This was garbage.

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