Alice 19th

By | Monday, January 22, 2007 Leave a Comment
So I got a chance to read the first volume of Alice 19th on my lunch hour. This was my first real attempt to read something in a manga format -- I chose Alice 19th almost exclusively for the vague allusions to Alice in Wonderland, even though I knew in advance that, structurally and functionally, there was little resemblence to that story.

The first few pages were a little difficult to follow. I think that was largely due to my getting used to the manga format. Logically, I knew I had to read the pages "backwards" but it took me about 20 pages to get into the "rhythm" of reading that way.

The other thing that took a bit of getting accustomed to was the use of emotionally-driven depictions of characters. In the vast majority of comics I've read, characters look exactly the same from issue to issue, panel to panel. Even changing artists generally didn't have THAT significant of an impact on how characters were depicted. However, here -- and in many mang comics generally speaking -- the characters are often portrayed in a different style from time to time to visually emphasize their emotional state. Extreme emotions often result in a more simplified and cartoony version of the character. Further, inner monologues are sometimes accompanied by a cartoon version of the character, in something of a visual representation of their id. Again, these were traits I was consciously aware of in advance, but had not really experienced them in an extended story before.

The story of Alice 19th concerns a young girl, Alice, who lives in the shadow of her older, more attractive sister. She saves a small bunny from the ravages of city traffic, and soon learns that the rabbit is in fact a teacher in the art of Lotis Words and believes Alice has an innate sense of courage, the 19th of the sacred words of Lotis. The rabbit senses great power within Alice and wants to teach her how to use that power. Alice then seemingly and somewhat accidentally makes her sister disappear, and she begins a search for her which leads her to cross into another world.

The story is about 180 pages long, but it read fairly quickly. For a ten dollar purchase, I felt I was getting more than my money's worth. The storytelling itself was solid, but didn't particularly stand out from other manga I've glanced at. The story is focused on Alice's inner journey, which is moved along with the aid of a few dramatic action scenes. I saw nothing "wrong" or bad about the story -- as I said, the author does a solid job of storytelling -- but nothing really "clicked" for me. I just could not get "into" the character enough to warrant my purchasing another volume of Alice 19th. I suspect that, being an American male, I'm simply just a little too far removed from the author's point of view to really connect well. I don't find any fault with the author or the format; this particular story is just not my cup of tea.

I might next try a shōnen piece; perhaps I've got too much stereotypical testosterone for shōjo. But I'm willing to give it a shot and see what works for me and what doesn't.
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