Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Alice & Zoroku Volume Three Review

Set six months after the events of volume two with Sana now living with Zouroku and Sanae and gaining some sort of normalcy while Sana is unable to describe the burgeoning feelings and emotions she describes as "tangles" welling up inside her. While unbeknownst to Sana a new Alice's Dream user will come to affect her life greatly. While also learning the names and personal history of the twins now that the laboratory has been closed. Volume three continues to impress with its subtle characterization and astute understanding of the internal emotional lives of children. This is a rare thing to be found in Manga and the fact that the narrative slows down to stop and explore Sana's emotional interiority. With small little conversations between Sanae and Sana or Sana not knowing how to describe her relationship with the twins or the murky feelings, she feels when seeing them again. Even the twins who are revealed to be named Yonaga Hinagiri and Asahi Hinagiri and have had an abusive childhood prior to entering the research facility and even having trouble individuating from each other at one point. It makes for a side story that does more than tug at the heartstrings it simply gives pause that the two girls are in a sense dealing with a history of victimization as Alice's Dream users. While the introduction of Hatori Shikishima the antagonist of the volume. An emotionally fragile girl who only wants her family to go back to being happy after she fails to get into an elementary school her Mother had hopes of enrolling her in due to Hatori failing the entrance exam. Hatori's Mother turning emotionally distant from her and her parents now being bitter and acrimonious with each other. Told from Hatori's perspective from her tortured prayers to God that her family would be returned to happier days to even her burgeoning powers due to now being a user of Alice's Dream. As well as her choice to use them for her own personal gain. Is understandable and feels authentic and true to how an emotionally fragile child would react if given the proverbial magic wand to fix their problems. If volume two was replete with questions of what does it mean to be human? This volume feels like an extended look at emotional maturation and family. Showing that instead of simply being a Titanomachy of psychics this is a series that uses the psychic and ESP tropes to explore deep emotional truth and questions. This continues to keep the series in a hallowed place along with Generation Witch and Dreamin' Sun in that there has not been a bad volume. No strange tonal shifts no awkward sexualization just a good story that does what good Sci-Fi and Fantasy can be used to great effect. That is exploring deep emotional and sociopolitical themes while not hamhandedly bludgeoning the audience over the head with the message it's trying to convey. For its subtle character writing expressive and emotional art and being unafraid to allow characters to feel underwritten not because they are poorly written or one dimensional but because they are growing in the story. Giving the interactions are organic avoiding feeling like the story is "overly workshopped" or characters are merely pawns for the story's plot machinations.

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