Manga Reviews: "Alice in the Country of Hearts" Vol. 1 and "Portrait of M and N"
This manga series should be call “Alice in Country of Bishies.” So far, in volume 1, Alice, the Red Queen, and Alice’s sister are the only female characters in the story and the Red Queen and Alice’s sister have negligible presence in the story so far. The rest of the characters are all idealized pretty boys. Here’s a list of them:
- Peter – the white rabbit who appears to be simply mad
- Hatter – the flirtatious and dashing mafioso
- The March Hare – a dandy
- Julius – a sensible fellow with some secrets
- Ace – a bad-ass knight who hides his murderous nature behind a kind smile, inability to navigate, and slap-stick behavior. However, his dead eyes when he smiles indicate his true nature. He works for both the Red Queen and Julius. He, of course, is the character I’m most curious about.
- Gowland – a poorly named hot head who murders people’s ears with his violin playing
- The Cheshire Cat – a slightly punk ne’er-do-well in a skimpy cat suit — nothing says “hotness” more than a guy with an exposed pierced belly button, wearing a cat collar, ear collars, a furry boa, and a kilt. It’s all about “attitude” I tell you!
- Nightmare – a black-haired demon who has lungitus and poor constitution
- The Twins (Deedum is one of them) — token shouta-types who want to play with Alice
Anyhow…Alice is a world she somehow “dreamed” of, though it’s not necessarily a dream. Peter, the white rabbit tells her eventually everyone in this world will come to love her. Alice, believing this is a dream, starts to question her subconscious desire to be loved and some issues around her ex-boyfriend, who the Hatter appears to resemble. To get out this world, Alice must play a game, the nature of which she doesn’t understand.
What I like about this series so far is that Alice appears to be in her late teens so there’s no icky loli-ness to taint the whole story. I also like the Bishies. They all have very distinct personalities and the interactions amongst them is interesting and humorous. I’m curious about how they are all related and what they are all truly want from Alice. Alice is interesting in that she’s a very normal girl and she’s handling the situation she’s been tossed into with a level headed manner. Still this first volume doesn’t knock it out of the park for me. I think this is mainly because the characters are still just caricatures to me and I don’t feel any attachment or affinity for any of them yet.
My husband hated this first volume. As for me, I think it’s a good start to series and I’m looking forward to learning more about the Bishies and the world they inhabit. 3.5/5
This is a masterly written story from the author of “Gakuen Alice.” This is one of those series that I don’t want to spoil by saying too much about it, so I’ll be brief. “Portrait of M and N” is the story of the encounter between two very troubled teenagers. The two become close and share a bond through the terrible secret each one holds. This manga has a carefully measured and balanced amount of humor, sweetness, romance, psychology, and heartbreak. Both characters are complex and likeable and after the first chapter I was hooked and cheering the two of them on as they delt with their troubles. I highly recommend this manga series and I’m looking forward to the next volume. 5/5