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review 2016-01-25 04:28
Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz (manga, vol. 7) story by QuinRose, art by Mamenosuke Fujimaru, translated by Angela Liu
Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz, Vol. 7 - QuinRose,Mamenosuke Fujimaru,Angela Liu

It's the last volume! I read volumes 1 through 6 during my vacation because I didn't realize until it was too late that I didn't have the whole set. Instead of waiting until my next vacation to get the final volume, I decided to request it via interlibrary loan (I'm so thankful for ILL, it's wonderful).

The first half of this volume was a continuation of the main story, while the next half was a continuation of the prequel story (set in the Country of Hearts) included at the end of several of the other Cheshire Cat Waltz volumes.

The main story: Alice is working at the cafe while Pierce and Boris enjoy a nice meal. Or rather, Pierce enjoys his meal while Boris picks at his and surreptitiously watches a Faceless customer. Alice becomes concerned when Boris suddenly disappears. He left to confront the Faceless man and put Pierce in charge of keeping Alice safe. However, there are quite a few more enemies in the area than Boris realizes. Luckily for both Boris and Alice, Blood and his gang are well-prepared.

While I think Mamenosuke Fujimaru is one of the best artists involved in this franchise, I have to admit that the action scenes in this volume were confusing. It was difficult to follow what was going on, and the quick shifts between characters and locations – from Boris to Blood to Nightmare to the rival syndicate to Vivaldi, etc. – didn't really help.

One of the Faceless was killed off in order to add a note of tragedy to the ending, something that I think was done in at least one or two of the other routes I read. For some reason, this particular death made me feel more numb than sad. Maybe I've read too many of these volumes?

On a weird note, this volume revealed something I had long suspected, but that, according to my reviews, should actually have been brought up in a completely different route and country. Unless I completely mixed up my notes and wrote my reviews up all wrong, Alice's funeral flashbacks took place in Alice in the Country of Joker: Circus and Liar's Game. All that Cheshire Cat Waltz had was vague memories of Alice's sister trying to tell her something. In this volume, the two memories essentially became linked:

the funeral was not, in fact, for Alice's mother, but rather for her older sister. She blamed herself for her sister's death, and the thing her sister kept trying to tell her was that it was okay, that she shouldn't blame herself, and that it was okay to be happy in Wonderland if she wanted to be.

(spoiler show)

Which actually made Alice's decision to stay in Wonderland seem much better in this route than it had in several of the other routes, where staying in Wonderland meant Alice had to accept her feelings of guilt about abandoning her real life family.

The main story was nicely wrapped up and ended on a sweet note (with a bittersweet edge due to that Faceless guy's death), and yet I was still left feeling strangely unsatisfied.

The prequel story, set in the Country of Hearts: A group of Faceless attempt to strike at Gowland (or something – I can't remember what, exactly, their goal was, if it was ever stated) by planting bombs throughout his park. Luckily, he got some intel from Blood first and was able to minimize the damage, although several characters almost end up hurt. The Faceless woman with a crush on Boris was involved in the attack on the park and was captured by Gowland's people. To add insult to injury, Boris still couldn't tell her apart from other Faceless. How sad is that?

I actually enjoyed this more than the ending of the main story. Boris's feelings for Alice were still mostly one-sided, since Alice hadn't yet realized how she felt about him and expected to be going home at any moment. Even so, it was pretty sweet. I kind of wish all the “prequel story” parts had been collected together, rather than included at the end of various Cheshire Cat Waltz volumes. As it was, it took me longer than it should have to realize that they weren't brief prequel one-shots, and I didn't pay quite as much attention to them as I should have.

Extras:

 

- A 7-page continuation of the main story: I'm not sure if this really counts as an extra. Anyway, it picks up right after the main story. Alice is feeling guilty about the Faceless man who died for her, because she didn't want him to die but is also glad that she didn't die instead. Boris comforts her, and readers get to see a little bit of what happened when the Faceless guy's death acted as a trigger for Alice's memories and almost drew her back into the real world. I'm not really sure I liked this continuation. Sure, fine, it showed that Alice didn't immediately forget the guy who died for her, but it also made her and Boris's happy ending seem much more fragile and bittersweet.

 

- A 2-page gag comic featuring Alice, Boris, and Ace: Ace tells Alice and Boris a depressing story about a girl sucked into the Cinderella story and forced to experience it over and over, never getting to stay with the prince after she falls in love with him. This reminded me that Cheshire Cat Waltz never really wrapped things up as far as Ace was concerned. In volume 5 he was kind of cruel, and in volume 6 he almost managed what I think would have been murder-suicide. Then he was pretty much forgotten.

 

- An 11-page preview of Alice in the Country of Hearts: The Mad Hatter's Late Night Tea Party: I could immediately tell that this story had a different artist (Riko Sakura). Sakura's work was prettier than Job's, both not quite up to Fujimaru's level. Anyway, this is one of the few routes I haven't read yet, although I'm sure I'll get around to it at some point. The title seems to indicate that Blood will be Alice's love interest, but all this preview showed was Peter chasing after Alice way too energetically. Oh please let this not be a Peter route.

 

- Four full-color pages at the beginning of the volume: I liked these. They looked great and were sweet.

 

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

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review 2015-12-14 01:08
Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz (vol. 6) story by QuinRose, art by Mamenosuke Fujimaru, translated by Angela Liu
Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz, Vol. 6 - Mamenosuke Fujimaru,QuinRose,Angela Liu

Alice leaves the Hatter Mansion with surprisingly little trouble. Unfortunately, then Ace interferes and almost gets Alice killed via a land whale (it lived in the water in the Country of Hearts, and continues to exist in the same space in the Country of Clover, even though that area no longer has any water). He's lonely and wants Alice to stay lost, like him. However, Boris and Pierce team up and save her, and Alice is finally able to bring herself to ask Boris if she can live with him (he's thrilled, which should surprise no one). Alice is still in danger from the mob, by the way.

The short from the previous volume continues: Alice is worried about Boris. She meets up with him again at the ball (with Gowland as her date) and is tripped by Boris's jealous admirer (the woman he hugged in the previous volume, to see if hugging her affected him as much as hugging Alice). However, Boris only has eyes for Alice.

I do plan to check out the seventh volume so that I can officially finish this subseries up, but I have to say that Cheshire Cat Waltz is a mess. It's too unfocused. We have an unstable Ace and his dangerous interest in Alice, Boris's jealousy (which is maybe/hopefully resolved after this volume?), and those mobsters who think they can use Alice against Blood.

QuinRose's Wonderland can be a bit dark at times, and this is a good example of a darker volume. Ace continued to be awful, in ways that could have gotten Alice killed, and Elliott tortured and killed someone who infiltrated the Hatter Family, showing the Hatters' more brutal side.

Again, only half of the volume is devoted to the main story. The other half is a bunch of jealousy – Boris is jealous of the relationship he thinks Julius and Alice have, and Alice is jealous of the Faceless woman she thinks Boris likes. Unfortunately, the one bit that I was interested in, Alice's vague memories of her sister telling her something, appears to have been forgotten. I hope that Volume 7 finally tells readers what it was that Alice's sister told her.

 

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

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review 2015-12-14 01:04
Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz (vol. 5) story by QuinRose, art by Mamenosuke Fujimaru, translated by Angela Liu
Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz, Vol. 5 - QuinRose,Mamenosuke Fujimaru,Angela Liu

Some mobsters are after Alice because they think she's important to Blood, but Elliott and Boris save her. Boris and Ace clash, and Boris tries to convince Alice to move out of the Hatter Mansion, knowing that they're using her for their own ends. I'm pretty sure Alice still hasn't asked Boris if she can move in – now she's afraid he'll think she's only asking because she's in danger. Only half the volume is set in the Country of Clover. The other half is devoted to a short set in the Country of Hearts, back when Alice and Boris barely knew each other. Ace convinces Boris that Alice and Julius are a couple, making him jealous.

Ace flat-out says that the Alice he loves is “miserable and doesn't know what to do with her life.” He's happiest when she's unhappy, which...makes me like his one-shot (which I read prior to Cheshire Cat Waltz) even less. I can understand why the bit at the end was added – it tried to make Ace's terrible words and actions seem like something Nightmare directed him to do in order to keep Alice in Wonderland. Even so, I liked him more in the Country of Hearts than I do in the Country of Clover.

This volume is very meh. I could barely remember what happened in it, even right after finishing it. I disliked that only half of the volume was devoted to the main story – it made me especially glad that this was a library checkout.

 

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

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review 2015-12-14 01:01
Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz (vol. 4) story by QuinRose, art by Mamenosuke Fujimaru, translated by Angela Liu
Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz, Vol. 4 - Mamenosuke Fujimaru,QuinRose,Angela Liu

Alice is accosted by a Faceless guy who is taken away and tortured by Blood's men (specifically, Pierce) to see if he's part of a rival family. Peter begins a deadly battle with Boris. Nightmare prevents Alice from interrupting, but she finally manages to break free and intervene. Alice and Boris

have sex, further ensnaring Alice in Wonderland, but she still can't bring herself to move in with him. Blood refuses to let her pay to stay at his mansion, and she doesn't want to be Nightmare or Vivaldi's guest. The volume ends with a short featuring Boris fetching food for Alice after this volume's sex scene.

So many of the volumes in this series have kissing-only romance that it hadn't even occurred to me that some of them might have sex, so the on-page (tastefully done, but multi-page) sex scene caught me by surprise. It's vague enough that I suppose it could be really intense cuddling... Okay, so it was definitely sex. I had to laugh at one part of the volume, which turned a grape tomato being speared by a fork into sexual imagery.

(spoiler show)


Anyway, the relationship between Boris and Alice still has problematic elements, what with it being focused primarily on Boris's jealousy and characters' attempts to keep Alice bound to Wonderland. Even Nightmare referred to Boris as their “best ball-and-chain.”

 

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

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review 2015-12-14 00:55
Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz (vol. 3) story by QuinRose, art by Mamenosuke Fujimaru, translated by Angela Liu
Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz, Vol. 3 - QuinRose,Mamenosuke Fujimaru,Angela Liu

Boris continues to come on too strong (it's like a broken record, I know), worried that he might lose Alice to Peter or to her old world. He finally learns, from Nightmare, what ties Peter and Alice together – Peter is

Alice's “Sunday afternoon,” although she doesn't remember it.

(spoiler show)

Alice struggles with her embarrassment at physical displays of affection and finally sets some ground rules they can both be reasonably comfortable with. No PDA except maybe hand-holding, and in private they'll play it by ear.

Gah, Boris is so jealous all the time. I hate that, even though his fear that Alice might leave is legit. He may be good-looking and all (despite his ridiculous outfit – the zipper placement makes me laugh), but he needs to take a step back and maybe talk to Alice about the stuff that's worrying him.

The revelation about Peter confused me. How is he

Alice's “Sunday afternoon”? Is he the personification of that time, or is this just QuinRose's way of saying that he was there during Alice's pleasant Sunday afternoon and therefore a part of that time?

(spoiler show)

At any rate, Peter makes me sad. In so many of the subseries, this one included, he wants Alice to be happy and has to come to the realization that he has to stand back and let Alice be with someone else. Poor, annoying, violent bunny.

 

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

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