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review 2017-12-10 06:45
Alice in the Country of Hearts: The Mad Hatter's Late Night Tea Party (manga, vol. 2) story by QuinRose, art by Riko Sakura, translated by Angela Liu
Alice in the Country of Hearts: The Mad Hatter's Late Night Tea Party, Vol. 02 - QuinRose,Riko Sakura

Alice comes back to find Blood threatening Julius. She refuses to go back to the mansion with him but does agree to visit. When she visits, she, Elliot, and the twins decide to have a picnic lunch together (Blood is too "tired" to go). Blood

deals with some rival mafia, but not before Alice is kidnapped as bait. She's sure she isn't important enough to Blood for him to come get her, but he does. After that, he finally explains who Vivaldi is to him. The volume ends with Alice trying to figure out what Blood's "type" is: she's worried she's too young-looking for him, not sexy enough.

(spoiler show)


This was a vast improvement over volume 1, but it was still essentially a rehash of the first English-translated Alice in the Country of Hearts release and at least one other entry in the franchise that I can't currently recall.

This felt like someone looked at the first volume and said "we need a do-over." The beginning even recapped how Alice arrived in Wonderland. It was kind of weird, actually.

This had nicer artwork than the first volume, but story-wise it still crammed a lot into one volume. For example, there were little creepy bits that indicated that Peter and Nightmare were teaming up to keep Alice in Wonderland, steering her to the point of taking her ability to choose away from her. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough space to both include this stuff and also explain it, so I imagine it'd be terribly confusing to newbies. Actually, I'd only recommend this to Alice in the County of completists like myself.

Am I done with this franchise yet? I think I have a little more to go, but it'd be nice to know how much. I feel like I need a guide of some kind.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-12-10 06:37
Alice in the Country of Hearts: The Mad Hatter's Late Night Tea Party (manga, vol. 1) story by QuinRose, art by Riko Sakura, translated by Angela Liu
Alice in the Country of Hearts: The Mad Hatter's Late Night Tea Party, Vol. 01 - QuinRose,Riko Sakura

This speeds through Alice's arrival in Wonderland, leaving the palace, staying at Julius's, and ending up at the Hatter Mansion. Alice has sex with Blood. It's supposed to be a casual relationship, but she

feels hurt when she starts to think that Blood only keeps her at the mansion to spite Vivaldi. Blood's feelings turn warmer, but Alice can't bring herself to believe him, especially after seeing him with Vivaldi in his garden. She leaves to go back to Julius's place, but Blood pursues her there.

(spoiler show)


This is garbage. Very nearly incoherent, with hardly any story. It speeds through too many things too quickly, and I shudder to think of a newbie to this franchise picking it up. If it was written for franchise veterans, then a lot of stuff should have been left out so that Alice and Blood's relationship could be developed more. But if it was written for franchise veterans it was also largely unnecessary: this was basically a much sloppier and more condensed version of the first Alice in the Country of Hearts release in English, right down to the scene with Blood and Vivaldi in Blood's garden. It contributed nothing new.

There was zero decent relationship development, and it didn't give readers a very good feel for the characters, other than the very basics. It also contradicted itself. It said that Peter abandoned Alice after taking her to Wonderland, but she's with him at the Palace right from the start of the volume.

I read this right after My Fanatic Rabbit, and one of the things that struck me was how different Alice seemed. My Fanatic Rabbit was a Yen Press title translated by Ajino Hirami, while The Mad Hatter's Late Night Tea Party was a Seven Seas title translated by Angela Liu (who, if I remember right, might have handled most, or maybe even all, of Seven Seas' Alice in the Country of translations). The Alice of these two volumes had more of a mouth on her than the Alice of My Fanatic Rabbit.

At any rate, this was probably the worst Alice and Blood pairing I've read so far. The volumes with this pairing are usually pretty good, if only because they dig into Alice's past more than many of the volumes with other pairings do, but this just felt like a cash grab. It would have been too confusing for a franchise newbie, it didn't offer anything new for franchise veterans, and, even though it introduced sex way earlier on than I'm used to this series doing, even that felt tepid. Unfortunately, the artwork wasn't good enough to carry it either - it felt like a riot of screentones.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-12-10 04:28
Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit (manga, vol. 2) story by QuinRose, art by Delico Psyche, scenario by Shinotsuki, translated by Ajino Hirami
Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit, Vol. 2 -

Peter saves Alice from being beheaded by Vivaldi, and Elliot takes Alice back to the mansion. Alice and Elliot are suddenly a lovey dovey couple, but things take a turn for the worse when Alice spends time with Ace and Julius. She learns about the clocks, and that Elliot

was once in prison for irreparably breaking his friend's clock. Elliot gets mad at Alice for being chummy with Julius, the man he hates, so Alice decides that she should drink the vial and go back to her world and her sister. However, Nightmare intervenes with a vision of Elliot killing himself after Alice leaves, so she decides to stay.

(spoiler show)


This started off as a mediocre series, featuring one of my least favorite Alice in the Country of pairings, and then took a turn for the much worse. First we have attempted rape on Elliot's part -

he begins to force himself on Alice in anger after she spends time with Julius, his enemy.

(spoiler show)

Then we have Nightmare's emotional manipulation of her.

Alice was going to leave Wonderland for good, and for a very good reason (a borderline abusive boyfriend). In order to stop her, Nightmare produced a vision of Elliot killing himself out of thin air. It reminded me of the horrible boyfriend a family member of mine used to have, who'd try to get her to stay with him by telling her he'd kill himself if she left.

(spoiler show)


Not only that, the way the story was told was choppy and just plain bad - it went from Elliot taking Alice back to the mansion to them being a couple in the space of a page or so. I also felt that the artwork took a bit of a nosedive, becoming scratchier and less appealing.

If this were a horror series, it'd be one thing, but these stories are supposed to be romances, albeit occasionally kind of dark ones. This was garbage.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-12-10 04:15
Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit (manga, vol. 1) story by QuinRose, art by Delico Psyche, scenario by Shinotsuki, translated by Ajino Hirami
Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit, Vol. 01 - QuinRose

Alice decides to stay at the Hatter mansion, even going so far as to get a job there. She slowly becomes closer to Elliot, until the day she witnesses him doing his job (killing people for Blood). That awakens doubts in her, which deepen when

Elliot tells her he'll kill her sister for hurting her and making her unhappy. Alice leaves and ends up traveling with Ace to Heart Castle. He gets lost, so she joins up with Peter when he shows up, but Peter ends up locking her up to keep her from leaving. The volume ends with Elliot heading to the castle, and Vivaldi about to order Alice beheaded.

(spoiler show)


I'm really not a fan of the Alice and Elliot pairing. It's either too goofy and focused on Alice's love of Elliot's ears (it often feels like she enjoys tugging Elliot's ears more than she likes him as a person) or too focused in Elliot's violent nature. In this case it's more of the latter. Elliot announcing that he'd

kill Alice's sister for making her unhappy

(spoiler show)

was horrifying, and a good reminder that the people in Wonderland have a very different and far more violent way of approaching the world than Alice is used to (that said, there are non-killers in Wonderland - it's one of the reasons why I like the Julius and Alice pairing so much).

This volume also had a bit of the ear-tugging stuff that I hate. Alice tugged Elliot's ears until it hurt him, and readers were supposed to think this was cute. I do not. He makes it pretty clear that he doesn't like it, and yet she doesn't stop. Volumes that pair off Elliot and Alice really do tend to highlight the worst in both of the characters.

There's a bit in this volume where Nightmare tells Alice "Anyone who meets you will take an interest in you and eventually fall in love with you." I think this is probably supposed to be good and comforting - Alice has gone from a place where the people she loves keep inadvertently hurting her to one where they are guaranteed to love her - but instead it strikes me as being both horrifying and depressing. It probably doesn't help that I played Doki Doki Literature Club! not long before reading this. It

really highlights just how awful the "someone is guaranteed to love you" aspect of romance visual novels would be if the characters were actually aware of what was going on.

(spoiler show)


The artwork was at least relatively nice, although the use of screentone was a bit odd.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2017-11-23 15:59
Back from vacation!

[Reposted from my Blogger blog, with a few edits.]

 

I've actually been back for a few days. I just hadn't settled down to write this post.

So, vacation could have gone better. I got sick a few days in and spent a few days with a fiery sore throat, a cough, and a fever. I had to cancel a lunch with a friend/former supervisor because my voice kept going in and out, and unfortunately that was the only day she could meet with me. There was one miserable 3 AM where I woke up thirsty and discovered I couldn't drink more than a tiny sip of room temperature water. Hot water with honey mixed into it (because I was too tired to make herbal tea) was my savior.

I still have a cough, and there are some problems with a filling I got on Monday, but otherwise things are better.

Although I didn't get quite as much reading done during my vacation as I would have liked (I had a stack of Haikyu!! that I never touched, plus Naruto and some leftoever Natsume's Book of Friends and Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun), I still managed to get a respectable amount of reading done. If my count is correct, I finished 43 manga and graphic novel volumes, one short story, and one book (that I'd started prior to my vacation but finished during).

Here are the spoiler-y posts you can look forward to in the coming weeks (I will, of course, slap spoiler tags on them when I post them here on Booklikes - no worries):

  • Alice in the Country of Hearts: The Mad Hatter's Late Night Tea Party (manga, vols. 1-2)
  • Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit (manga, vols. 1-2)
  • Arisa (manga, vols. 2-12)
  • Black Butler (manga, vols. 21-23)
  • Delicious in Dungeon (manga, vols. 1-2)
  • Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto (manga, vol. 2)
  • Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft (graphic novel, vol. 1)
  • M.F.K. (graphic novel, not sure if it's a one-shot or vol. 1)
  • Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (manga, vols. 4-5)
  • My Neighbor Seki (manga, vols. 1-6)
  • Natsume's Book of Friends (manga, vols. 11-13)
  • Orange: The Complete Collection (manga, vol. 1)
  • Skip Beat! (manga, vols. 37-39)
  • Tokyo Ghoul (manga, vols. 1-5)

 

Next time I go on vacation, I'd definitely like to continue Black Butler, Locke & Key, Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, Natsume's Book of Friends, Orange (if I don't request the next and I think final volume through ILL between now and then), Skip Beat!, and Tokyo Ghoul. I'll rerequest Haikyu!! and Naruto, too.

As for the rest: I think I might finally have read the last of Alice in the Country of Hearts/Clover/Joker/etc. Delicious in Dungeon was okay, but not something I'd want to binge-read. I really shouldn't have continued Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto - for me, the series is like looking on in horror as the weirdest and most disturbing insect I've ever seen crawls across my carpet. It's something to do with the art style, I think, since the actual content isn't really that horrifying. And My Neighbor Seki is definitely not one of those series to binge-read. It'd work best in small amounts, and trying to get through 6 volumes at once was a mistake on my part.

Other things I finished:

  • The Yellow Wallpaper (e-short story) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman - Free through Project Gutenberg. Strange and a little creepy. Very good, although I have lots of questions.
  • Alliance in Blood (e-book) by Ariel Tachna - I went from "this isn't great, but not the worst thing I've ever read" to "this is very bad." It started in the introduction, when the author wrote about how she'd "proudly" never read any vampire stories, and culminated with insta-love, a plodding story, and a wooden and boring big battle. The author may have thought that this story was too big to fit into a single book, but I have a feeling a good editor could have combined the first two or three books in the series into something much better than Alliance in Blood.

 

And visual novels! I "finished" one and got started on another in the few days between flying back and going back to work. I believe that both can be played on Apple or Android devices, although one is definitely best played on a phone rather than on a tablet.

  • The Arcana (game) - I may write a more thorough review, but for now my impression is that it's quite good. The artwork is lovely and the routes are interesting. I had things I liked about each of the three romanceable characters. The app's main problems are 1) the pricing structure (if you want access to the entire thing at any time without waiting, be prepared to pay $60+), 2) the amount of waiting (it takes 8 hours to get a new key so that you can read another chapter, and you can only have a maximum of 3 keys saved up), and 3) its incompleteness (it's a serial that's still ongoing - no clue when it will be complete).
  • Mystic Messenger (game) - Again, I may write a more thorough review later, but for now I'm loving this app, with some reservations. It takes place over the course of 11 real-time days, and it assumes that you have a daily schedule that's busiest from 9ish to 6ish but that still allows you multiple breaks to check your phone. If I could ask for one improvement, it would be for the app to allow users to enter their work/school schedules. At any rate, I will probably end up paying for a calling card for all of the characters, and for the bit that allows you to romance a couple extra characters. The Common route lasts a few days, after which you're locked into a particular character. I couldn't decide between Zen (a flirty but kind of lonely actor) and Jaehee (an efficient but overworked assistant, and the game's only woman aside from the player character), and apparently my indecision pushed me more towards Jaehee's route, so that's what I'm currently playing. From what I've read, it's a friendship route rather than a romantic one, and I'm really enjoying it so far. Jaehee's a great character, and I'm rooting for her happiness (even though she dislikes cats).
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