Alice in the Country of Hearts 6 (Japanese) by QuinRose and Soumei Hoshino

When TOKYOPOP announced in April that they’d be shutting down, I was bummed that we wouldn’t get the sixth and final volume of the surprisingly fun Alice in the Country of Hearts, which had been scheduled for July release. Happily, however, the volume is easily available in Japanese (I got mine from Unhappily, it’s a disappointing conclusion to the series.

When Alice was first brought into the game by the White Rabbit, she was given a vial and told that it would fill up as she interacted with Wonderland’s denizens. Now that vial is almost full, so it’s time—after some thoroughly boring and pointless territory negotiations—for her to think about going home. Even though she’s convinced this has all been a dream, Alice still worries what will become of Julius after she’s gone, since she’s been ensuring the workaholic clock fixer eats regular meals, and everyone else is depressed about her impending departure.

There are several things that frustrate me about what follows (spoiler warning). First of all, Alice has been shown throughout to be a very sensible girl. Why, then, would she fall for someone who has treated her as shabbily as Blood (the Mad Hatter) has? I honestly don’t get it. Sure, he looks like a boy she once loved, but it makes me lose respect for Alice that she’d fall for this guy. Secondly, Alice makes it back to the real world for all of ten seconds before Blood shows up and whisks her back to Wonderland. A montage of happy people ensues and then it’s over. Huh? What?

We don’t get any explanations about the nature of Wonderland. Back in volume one, she was told that it’s not a world she created, but one she wished for. So, is it a real place? Is it a delusion? Is she lying in a sickbed somewhere? Has this story been taking place in the imagination of an autistic boy with a snow globe? Alice never reunites with her sister, never makes good on her brief plans for the future… She just chooses to live in this fantasy world with a gun-toting jerk of a guy. It’s not as if the preceding volumes have been bursting with literary merit, but this final volume is so insubstantial it’s almost insulting.

I suspect this is all because there are more games in the series and the story can’t conclude here if they want to sell more, but it doesn’t make for a very successful or satisfying manga adaptation.