Alice in the Country of Hearts Volume 3 by Quinrose and Hoshino Soumei
Three volumes into this series and I’m ready to completely give up on my initial hesitation about liking a reverse harem dating sim manga adaptation set in the world of Wonderland. The authors keep things interesting by dropping hints of mystery along with the occasional disturbing burst of ultra-violence to keep readers on edge. Alice is comfortable with her role in helping Julius the clockmaker in his duties recycling Wonderland side characters. She’s still intrigued by the Mad Hatter, Blood Dupre. She saw him talking intimately with the Queen of Hearts even though they are supposed to be mortal enemies. When she goes over to his house to borrow some books, she gets harassment with a disturbing undertone instead. Her relationship with Peter White takes a turn when he realizes that she has a soft spot for cute things. If he appears to her in his rabbit form she’ll immediately be forced to snuggle him. She knows that he’s a deranged stalker, but she can’t resist his pleading bunny eyes. The pacing of Alice is excellent. Tiny hints about characters will be dropped and expanded on in later volumes. Alice’s lower resistance to cute bunnies was foreshadowed when she was snorgling Eliot’s (the March Hare) ears in the previous volume.
Alice spends more time with Peter White and learns about the origin of the Queen of Hearts. It seems like Julius and Blood will soon confront each other over Alice. Meanwhile Ace the Knight who has the bloodiest duties in Wonderland is starting to look weary. Alice mentions to Peter that she’s getting homesick and misses her older sister. Peter starts to tell her something about her sister and then cuts himself off. So I wonder what’s going on there. If Blood is an analogue to Alice’s ex-boyfriend, perhaps the Queen of Hearts matches up with Alice’s sister? And is Alice taking refuge in an insane Wonderland because her unconscious mind is working through some relationship-centric issues? Or maybe Alice’s sister played the game in Wonderland before Alice.
One of the things I like about this manga is that it can be enjoyed on so many levels. The detail in the characters’ costumes and the Wonderland backgrounds is intricate. All the men are handsome, but with the tendency for characters like the twins Dee and Dum to claim they like Alice and then drag her back to their room to show of their collection of sharp shiny knives, there’s an edge to the manga that readers wouldn’t expect from a typical reverse harem scenario. Alice continues to be a spunky and self-aware heroine, and I hope she figures out the game she’s being forced to play in Wonderland. This series is doing an admirable job of sustaining my attention.
Review copy provided by the publisher.