Alice in the Country of Hearts Volume One is a manga with the story by QuinRose, and the art done by Soumei Hoshino. This volume was released in North America by Tokyopop in 2010. The rating for Alice in the Country of Hearts is “OT” for older teens 16 and up; after reading this first volume, I would agree with this rating.
As the title of the series implies, it is influenced by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The story begins with a girl named Alice Liddell being woken up from a nap by her older sister. Alice believes her sister is an ideal lady, but that she herself is not. When her sister leaves to get a deck of cards to play a game of cards, Alice lays back down to take another quick nap.
Alice is roused by a talking white rabbit wearing clothes. The rabbit chastises her, saying she should be chasing him now. Suddenly, the rabbit turns into a man wearing rabbit ears, and he scoops Alice up. He takes her to a hole and throws her down. The two go down the hole together and fall into Wonderland. The man in the rabbit ears makes Alice take a special medication and introduces himself as Peter White. As Peter leaves, he tells Alice that the game has begun.
As Alice tries to figure out what’s going on, she wanders onto the property of the Hatters. The gate is guarded by the “Bloody Twins” Tweedle Dee and Dum, Elliot March (a man with a pair of brown hare ears), and Blood Dupre (the one who rules the Hatter’s Mansion area and is a mafia boss). Blood saves Alice when the Bloody Twins and Elliot threaten to harm her, and Blood starts flirting with her.
After running off from the Hatter Mansion, Alice comes to the clock tower, where she encounters Julius Monrey. When he realizes that Alice is an outsider, he explains to her the world of Wonderland, about some of the inhabitants and their connections, and also explains that she has to interact with the people in Wonderland in order to fill a vial that Peter White left her. Once the vial is full, Alice can return home.
In this volume, Alice also encounters Ace (a knight of Heart Castle), Vivaldi (the Queen of Hearts), Nightmare (he is the one who allowed Peter to bring Alice to Wonderland), and Boris Airay (who is basically a punk version of the Cheshire Cat).
I found Alice in the Country of Hearts Volume One to be a very fascinating read. Once the reader truly begins understanding the characters and interactions in Wonderland, the reader is left wondering if there’s truly anyone outside of Alice who is a “good guy” and is someone that she can trust. It’s actually a bit of a head trip, but I tend to like stories that make me think a little more. Also, while you can tell that the manga is based on Lewis Carroll’s classic story, there’s enough differences that are introduced in this telling that make it stand out from its inspiration.
I would definitely like to read more of Alice in the Country of Hearts in the future, in order to find out whether or not the series continues to live up to the promise that is shown in Volume One.