Manga-ka: Mamenosuke Fujimaru
Publisher: Seven Seas
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: July 2012
Synopsis: “Alice has a new suitor – this time he’s pink and furry, otherwise known as Boris, the Chesire Cat. After being transported to the mysterious Country of Clover, Alice is relieved to discover that her friend Boris has come along. But she can’t enjoy a moment’s respite, as the Chesire Cat keeps hitting on her. Should she give in to such a self-indulgent cat? While Alice wavers, their relationship is sure to evolve – for better or worse is anyone’s guess. Sweet, yet dangerous. Love is risky business in Wonderland.”
It’s a bit weird coming from having recently read Yen Press’s release of Alice in the Country of Hearts to Seven Seas’ Alice in the Country of Clover. Both are the same story continued from a different angle, are written by the same person and drawn by artists very similar, but you can definitely feel the little tone changes created by being handled by two different teams of creators and adaptors. The differences are minor enough that most readers probably won’t notice though, making it an easy switch between for those who read one and are left wanting for more.
With the sub-heading Cheshire Cat Waltz, it doesn’t take much to figure out who the star of the show is. Based off a dating sim, these Alice series’ tell the tale of a young woman named Alice whisked away to Wonderland, a place where everyone becomes attached to her. The different manga adaptations each focus on Alice becoming especially close with a particular individual. In this case, it’s the Cheshire Cat, Boris.
I find the forced romantic elements of the story the least interesting aspects but, despite the intentional mary-sue nature of the story, it manages to stay surprisingly grounded at times thanks to Alice. She doesn’t just go along with everything or everyone all the time, at least not without protest or consideration. Boris’s affections towards her are very pet-like at first, as are her affections for him, but as time passes, he becomes more possessive of her and thus the insistent flirting begins. The two becoming more close is told against the backdrop of Alice being transported to a different part of Wonderland. Before she was in the Country of Hearts – which is of course where the Alice in the Country of Hearts story takes place – but now she’s in the Country of Clover. There aren’t a lot of big differences and many things are actually the same, which though sort of interestingly explained, does seem to waste the opportunity for new characters and locations. There’s at least enough renewed sense of disorientation and loss for Alice to feel more connected to Boris as one of few friends who was moved along with her. Stockholm? A tiny bit, yes.
Even though I assumed Cheshire Cat Waltz would have more of the pushy romance than even Alice in the Country of Hearts, I was still compelled to try it out because I was hopeful there would be some exploration of the mysteries left hanging open in the prequel. I did also like Boris more than most when I read the original series. So far I haven’t been rewarded for the wishful thinking, but it is neat seeing more of this strange world explained. ‘Explained’ being loosely put anyway, because this place is weird on top of weird. Most of the book is just fan-service and sexual tension layered upon sexual tension. Some other characters return to cause trouble and some fun, including the Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum of the series. Those two now spend much of their time around Alice as adults instead of two sadistic fun-loving little kids as they were before. More sexual harassment opportunities!
I can see the appeal of this series, even though after a volume I can’t see myself seeking out volume two. All the characters are lively and unpredictable and there’s never a shortage of energy or humour. The romantic developments are contrived to be overdone, taking passion over plot, but as that’s the intent, one can’t argue it isn’t done well. The artwork is also nice, and while I didn’t like it as much as the work in Alice in the Country of Hearts, it’s still well done and close enough that I don’t think a lot of readers would even realize the artist is different. I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone who hasn’t ready Alice in the Country of Hearts, but if you have and you’re craving more Wonderland romance – or especially if you liked Boris – then by all means dive right into Seven Seas’ Cheshire Cat Waltz and you likely won’t be disappointed.
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Book bought from Strange Adventures