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Search tags: loosely-based-on-alice-in-wonderland
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review 2020-01-22 03:29
Alice in the Country of Hearts: Love Labyrinth of Thorns (manga) story by QuinRose, art by Aoi Kurihara, translated by Angela Liu
Alice in the Country of Hearts: Love Labyrinth of Thorns - QuinRose

Upon ending up in Wonderland, Alice managed to convince Julius to allow her to stay with him at the Clock Tower. Julius gripes about Alice getting underfoot but doesn't put any effort into making her leave. Alice makes him coffee and gets irritated when he says he doesn't like it, but despite his complaints, he always drinks it, even if it's become stone cold. However, something suddenly changes between them. For some reason Julius begins avoiding Alice and acting cold and distant towards her. When she confronts him about it, he tells her to leave, so she does. Nightmare decides to step in and put both of their feelings to the test.

If Alice were a real person and I was asked to pair her up with someone in this series, I'd probably pair her up with Julius. He may not be the most exciting guy in the franchise, but he's generally emotionally stable and considerably less violent than most of the Wonderland guys. He's also the least likely to try to force her into anything.

In this one-shot, Julius knows that Alice has another world she calls home and worries the he'll get too attached to her and then she'll leave him. Alice, meanwhile, thinks that Julius considers her to be little more than an annoyance. Ace, who loves both of them, is on the sidelines trying to figure out how to get them to actually talk to each other about how they feel and what they're thinking. I have to say, I'm a big fan of Ace in caring and friendly mode. And hey, I'd be more on board with a threesome involving Alice, Julius, and Ace than Alice, Dee, and Dum.

Nightmare's solution to Alice and Julius's communication problem struck me as being a bit melodramatic and cheesy. There was a tower with a stairway blocked by thorny roses and everything. Julius had to act like some sort of fairy tale prince. I outright groaned when Nightmare explained what the thorns were and why they suddenly disappeared and were replaced by rose petals.

The overall pacing was good, and the story was nicely focused - no attempts to cram more franchise lore into the volume than there was time to handle. For example, Alice's unrequited feelings for her sister's fiance were only briefly referenced.

Aoi Kurihara's artwork was nice, but still nowhere near as appealing to me as Mamenosuke Fujimaru's, although Kurihara seemed to be better at drawing guns. Fujimaru's guns are laughably bad. As far as Alice x Julius volumes go, though, I think I prefer Alice in the Country of Hearts: The Clockmaker's Story over this. I recall the romance being more appealing, and it managed to work in more of Julius's backstory. Still, Love Labyrinth of Thorns wasn't bad.


Two full-color pages, a two-page (or two single page?) humorous bonus comic (Ace is adorable), an artist afterword in comic form, and an 11-page preview of Devils and Realist.


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

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review 2020-01-21 01:31
Alice in the Country of Clover: Bloody Twins (manga) story by QuinRose, art by Mamenosuke Fujimaru, translated by Angela Liu
Alice in the Country of Clover: Bloody Twins - Mamenosuke Fujimaru,QuinRose

Wonderland is a strange place where nothing works the way it does in our world. People have clocks for hearts, day and night happen at random, only a select few people have faces, and nearly everyone is armed to the teeth. Alice has become accustomed to it, for the most part, but she's still surprised to wake up and discover that the Country of Hearts has somehow moved and become the Country of Clover. She's relieved that the twins, Dee and Dum, are still around and as happy to spend time with her as ever, but a new ability they've acquired since moving to Clover leaves her feeling disconcerted: they can now instantly transform their kid selves into adults and back again.

Alice felt comfortable around them when they were children. Being around them when they're adults feels weird. She finds herself feeling emotions she doesn't want to, which brings her face to face with her secret fear, that the twins will find someone else they like more and abandon her.

This was similar enough to what I remembered of Alice in the Country of Clover: Twin Lovers that I initially thought I'd read it before. This is part of the reason why I write reviews - I was able to confirm that what I was remembering was a completely different volume and that, yes, their overall storylines were incredibly similar. In both volumes, Alice was embarrassed by her attraction to the twins in their adult forms and worried that they'd ask her to choose between them. If I remember right, Twin Lovers was more focused on the twins vying for Alice's affections. In Bloody Twins, the primary focus was on Alice's internal conflict and the twins were more instantly willing to share Alice.

I'm just not that wild about Dee and Dum as romantic partners for Alice. Yes, they're hot, but they're very childish, and the whole "twins in love with the same person and willing to share" thing is a bit squicky for me. Also, they're not terribly interesting as characters, either on their own or in terms of what they bring out in Alice. I can't imagine Alice choosing between them because there's nothing that sets Dee apart from Dum, aside from their hairstyles when they're in adult form.

Still, there wasn't anything really bad about this, and Fujimaru's artwork was attractive. I love the slightly metallic cover art - the colors look fabulous. Story-wise, I particularly liked the scene where Alice tried to put a stop to the twins' teasing by turning the tables and becoming the more sexually aggressive one for once (as expected, this backfired on her, although the twins' briefly flustered reactions were great).

I was somewhat disappointed and confused when I reached the last third of this volume and the story switched from Alice, Dee, and Dum to four different very short stories featuring Alice and other Wonderland characters. They weren't even all in the Country of Clover.

The first, "I Love You," was set back in the Country of Hearts and featured Alice fretting over Gowland and whether he really saw her and loved her as she was. The second, "Where Are You Going?," was back in Clover and starred Boris and Alice. Boris wanted to live together with Alice, while Alice resisted out of worry that he'd leave her if he really got to know her for who she was (Alice's fear of abandonment and worry that others wouldn't love her if they really knew her crops up a lot in the series). Of all of these shorts, this one was probably my most favorite. Boris was a sweetheart. The third, "Twilight," starred Alice and Vivaldi and was as yuri as this series ever gets, with Alice worrying about Vivaldi and feeling jealous of her king. It's too bad that there are no longer storylines devoted to an Alice x Vivaldi pairing. The fourth, "Egoism," starred Alice and Blood. Blood was his usual heavily flirty self.

All in all, the explanations about how the Country of Hearts and the Country of Clover work would make this a decent starting point for anyone wanting to try a Country of Clover title (if you're entirely new to this franchise, I highly recommend reading Yen Press's Alice in the Country of Hearts omnibus volumes first), and Dee and Dum lovers should definitely check it out, but it's not the best Country of Clover title out there.


Four full-color pages at the start of the volume, two one-page bonus comics, an Alice in the County of Clover "fun facts" page that includes some extra info about the characters in Clover, and an 11-page preview of Young Miss Holmes. Also, the back of the volume includes a 4-panel comic.


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

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review 2016-05-06 05:50
Alice in the Country of Diamonds: Bet On My Heart (book) story by Sana Shirakawa, concept by QuinRose, illustrations by Nana Fumitsuki
Alice in the Country of Diamonds: Bet On My Heart - Nana Fumitsuki,Sana Shirakawa

In this book, Alice experiences a “move” and ends up in the Country of Diamonds. Although many of the people are familiar, no one seems to know who she is. The very first people she sees are Elliot and the twins, all of whom try to kill her. Even Blood is suspicious of her, and only starts to unbend a tiny bit after she saves the life of one of his Faceless employees. Alice gradually comes to the conclusion that the Country of Diamonds is Wonderland's past.

Alice settles into the Hatter Mansion as best she can, arranging books in the Hatter family library, attending Survey Meetings, and getting to know this unsettlingly different Blood. Diamonds Blood is a little rougher around the edges than the Blood Alice remembers being friends with in Hearts and Clover, less composed and secure in his position. Part of her wonders if it would have been better for her to stay in someone else's territory, but part of her kind of likes this version of Blood. Still, is it a good idea to get too close to him, or anyone in Diamonds for that matter, when she doesn't have a clue how long she'll get to stay before the next move?

All right, I'll begin by saying that newbies to this franchise shouldn't start here. This book assumes that readers are at least familiar with Alice in the Country of Hearts and Alice in the Country of Clover. If you're not sure where to begin, I'd advise you to start with Yen Press's three Alice in the Country of Hearts omnibus volumes. Then you can either continue on with any of the stories starring your favorite Alice in the Country of Hearts guys (the story essentially resets, with Alice falling in love with someone new each time), or you can move on to Alice in the Country of Clover, beginning with Seven Seas' seven Cheshire Cat Waltz volumes. If you'd like to know who one of the guys in the “cast of characters” list at the beginning of Alice in the Country of Diamonds: Bet On My Heart is, you might want to read the seven Alice in the Country of Joker: Circus and Liar's Game volumes next, but it's not strictly necessary (although I imagine it would be, if you wanted to understand other Diamonds stories).

And this is where we get to one of the problems with Bet On My Heart: it's not meant to be the best entry point into the Country of Diamonds. I haven't read any other Diamonds stories, and I haven't played any of the games, but this novel felt exactly like reading one of the Heart, Clover, or Joker one-shots – I could see that information was being left out that was probably better explored in another story. For example, most of the characters mentioned on the “cast of characters” pages barely got any page-time. Joker didn't appear at all. Alice had frequent dizzy spells that I thought were going to lead to either Nightmare or Joker scenes, but in the end nothing happened and her dizzy spells were never explained. Also, Alice discovered evidence that Diamonds maybe wasn't the past at all, but some kind of alternate timeline. This mystery was left unresolved. Readers didn't even get an explanation for the frequent vague comments that Jericho Bermuda, a rival mafia boss, was already dead even though he appeared to be very much alive.

In my past experience with this franchise, I found that the Blood stories were generally the best. I didn't necessarily think he was the best match for Alice, but his similarity to her tutor back in the real world tended to tease out the series' most interesting mystery threads. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case here. Although Alice frequently compared Diamonds Blood to Hearts and Clover Blood, she never once found herself thinking about her tutor, her sister, or her life back in the real world.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy reading this. The romance between Alice and Blood was nice enough, if a bit rushed, and I enjoyed getting to know more about the Country of Diamonds, which I had only seen a tiny bit of in volume 7 of Circus and Liar's Game. The Survey Meetings were much more interesting and tension-filled than the balls in Hearts and meetings in Clover, and I loved that the final Survey Meeting played an important part in Blood and Alice's romance. Oh, and I liked that books were a big part of Alice and Blood's developing relationship. As Blood grew more comfortable with her, he recommended books to her and let her borrow some of the ones in his personal collection. Be still, my heart.

Jericho Bermuda was an intriguing new character, although maybe a tad too kind and likeable, considering that this was supposed to be Blood and Alice's romance. I found myself wishing that Jericho were Alice's love interest any time Blood's mood soured or he hit Elliot with his cane (I don't recall him being that abusive towards Elliot in the other countries, but maybe it just sticks out more in prose than in manga panels?). There were some nice scenes in Jericho's art museum, but I never got to know as much about his dual roles as Gravekeeper and owner of the museum as I would have liked.

I did a bit of checking and, as far as I can tell, this is the only Alice in the Country of Diamonds story that's been licensed and translated into English. Keeping that in mind, Bet On My Heart was a workable if slightly frustrating introduction to this part of the franchise. There were lots of unresolved mysteries and unanswered questions, but at least the romance between Alice and Blood had some good moments.

Additional Comments:

Like many light novels, this one includes a few black-and-white illustrations. However, it also begins and ends with several manga pages. Like the rest of the novel, the pages are read from left to right, but the artwork is unflipped, so the panels and speech bubbles must be read from right to left. This wasn't explained, and I didn't immediately realize it, so the first two or three pages were a little confusing.


Two color illustrations (both of which are used in the front and back cover art) and an afterword that left me wondering if the “certain something” the author was referring to was Blood's hat or something else.


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

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