As in the original Alice, each character pronounces their own nonsensical take on the rules of the world, but since this version of the character is older, they don’t do so with the same air of infuriating adult condescension. There’s still a level of casually threatened violence (“To the inhabitants of this world, ‘death’ isn’t particularly important,” Peter White says at one point), but in the first volume, at least, it’s treated more as an afterthought than an actual threat. What mainly matters is romance in this Country of Hearts, where even the formerly gargoyle-faced Queen of Hearts is rendered as a sinisterly sexy vamp.
As a lover of the original Charles Dodgson books that sparked this manga series, I can’t help wishing that it featured more Carroll-ian nonsense. During some of the opening volume’s more talky sequences, in particular, the manga can feel hemmed in by its own rules. Still, there are enough fantastic details in this first book to have me curious about what happens in the second, which promises to open with a tea party at the Hatter’s Castle. “I’d like to have an outsider, someone unusual on my arm,” the sinister Hatter says. “If I get bored with her, I can just kill her.” Makes you wonder what kind of relationship dreaming Alice had with her old boyfriend, doesn’t it?