Friday, January 20, 2012

Manga Review: Alice 19th (reread)

A few weeks ago I went to a small, local con and by the time Sunday rolled around I had spent barely any of my money in either the Artists Alley or the Dealers Room, there just wasn't much to interest me. Sunday made up for that however, there was an event called the Otaku Flea Market where anyone could bring in old (anime) stuff they wanted to sell and there was plenty of stuff to browse. I snagged the second omnibus for Jyu-Oh-Sei and volumes 4 and 12 I think of Please Save My Earth at one table for $15 (so to everyone who says that PSME is good y'all had better be right, that was a total blind buy) and from another table I got all seven volumes of this series for $25. I've read the series before years ago, I think it was mostly volume by volume whenever I was in the local Barnes & Noble, and it is my favorite Yuu Watase series so even though I wasn't sure how much I'd still like it I thought it was worth a buy.

Alice 19th by Yuu Watase

Summary: Alice Seno is a painfully shy high school girl who is secretly envious of her older sister, Mayura, and wishes she had the courage to do more things. She finds her courage one day when she rescues a rabbit from the middle of traffic, with the help of her sister's crush (Kyo, also her crush), and discovers that she has the power to use the Lotis Words, magical words that posses great power. Alice was hesitant to start training her powers but after she accidentally banishes Mayura to a realm of darkness she and Kyo begin frantically training before Mayura unleashes the end of the world.

The Good: I'm rather impressed with how Mayura comes across especially early on in the manga. She's a very realistic sister, she and Alice do love each other despite their little fights and the event that causes Alice to accidentally banish her could happen in real life as well, they just had the bad luck to have magic involved. Early on Mayura feels like the most realistic character out of all of them, although her descent into darkness makes her become more stereotypical, and I was really impressed at all of that. Alice and Kyo also have a ton of character development, have reasonable fears, and both of them admit early on (to themselves and other characters) that they love each other, it's nice not to see romance dragged out. The plot also flowed well and at a good pace so it's clear why I like this work the best.

The Bad: The characters introduced later in the series sadly don't get much backstory which, compared to the characters who appeared early on, is a bit jarring and the motivation for the mini-bosses falls rather flat. Mayura after her face heel turn also feels much less interesting. The story certainly still works at that point, I just wish that it had been structured a bit differently so there was more time to give some of the characters more depth and not make the pace feel quite as frenzied.

The Art: I'm a fan of Watase's art if nothing else and reading through the manga again reminded me why I've wanted to cosplay as Alice, she draws nice outfits that are simple enough to stay consistent yet detailed enough to be visually interesting. The character's faces, especially the guys, do look a bit similar and there's nothing super special about how the backgrounds are drawn but the series is still fun to look at and I think it's an improvement on some of her earlier series.

After reading this again yep, still want to cosplay Alice sometime and I was reminded of how much I want to sew a plushie of Nyozeka, the rabbit, as well which I think speaks for how much I enjoyed it. It's fluffy shojo, nothing super amazing, but I enjoyed reading it and would certainly recommend it to other shojo lovers so the series certainly succeeds in being non-mind numbing entertainment.  

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