I recently discovered an excellent and very entertaining new manga series that has been licensed and translated in English – “Alice in the Country of Hearts.”
Before I review the manga, I need to discuss the games.
Alice Series Otome Games
The manga volumes are all based on the following otome games by Quinrose:
Heart no Kuni no Alice (Alice in the Country of Hearts) – in this game, the first of the series, Alice Liddel is having afternoon tea with her sister when a white rabbit grabs her and brings her to a the Country of Hearts, a fantasy world that resembles Wonderland. In this world Alice’s status is an “Outsider” and everyone falls in love with her. As an otome game, the main goal is to develop a romantic relationship with one of the Country of Hearts characters
Clover no Kuni no Alice (Alice in the Country of Clover) – chronologically the second game in the series, Alice is still in the same world but she has moved from the country of Hearts to the country of Clover. Features some new characters.
Joker no Kuni no Alice (Alice in the Country of Joker) – this time the game is set during “April season.” This is a special time in which all of the characters from the first two games are available but there is a mystery regarding the “season of lies.”
Diamond no Kuni no Alice (Alice in the Country of Diamonds) – a notable departure from the first three games, this time Alice has moved to a “mirror world” or alternate world of sorts which has mirror/alternate versions of the characters from the first three games.
All of the games are in Japanese only.
That was a kinda long explanation, right? But it’s totally necessary, I assure you. There are a lot of manga volumes and to start reading or buying the series, it’s helpful to know which ones should be read first.
Alice in the Country of Hearts Manga Overview
The first and main manga series is simply titled “Alice in the Country of Hearts.” It originally had six volumes, 5 of which were published by Tokyopop but it has been republished by Yen Press as 3 volumes. These days it’s much better to read the 3 volume series since it is complete.
I read these 3 volumes. They are filled to the brim with bishies and romance! *swoons* Did Quinrose read my mind and decide to produce a manga series designed to make my heart go *doki doki* (a Japanese onomatopoeia for the heartbeat of a girl in state of excitement)?
By the way, although you can actually start anywhere, I recommend that you read “Alice in the Country of Hearts” first. It explains the situation much more clearly than the other books. However, you could theoretically pick up the other manga volumes such as:
- Alice in the Country of Hearts: The Mad Hatter’s Late Night Tea Party
- Alice in the Country of Hearts: White Rabbit and Some Afternoon Tea
- Alice in the Country of Hearts: Love Labyrinth of Thorns
- Alice in the Country of Hearts: The Clockmaker’s Story
- Alice in the Country of Hearts: Junk Box
*laughs* Those are all set in the country of hearts, too, and they are all alternate versions of the same story: Alice gets kidnapped by Peter, starts living in Wonderland, and falls in love.
Alice in the Country of Hearts Characters
The manga series has every flavor of love interest:
- Blood, the Mad Hatter, a debonair older man who loves trolling Alice
- not one but two men with rabbit ears, Elliot the March Hare (so cute!) and Peter the White Rabbit (crazy in love)
- Boris, the most adorable and drop-dead sexy Cheshire cat ever (cat ears and tail, omg so irresistible)
- Dee and Dum, two childish twins (too young so no comment, must not commit a crime!)
- Gray, a deadly former assassin whose fan nickname is “mom” because he is so caring and kind
- Ace, the mysterious knight of hearts
- Vivaldi, the queen of hearts (just in case you swing that way, Quinrose has you covered)
- Nightmare, the sickly but powerful master of dreams (a somewhat comedic love interest)
- Pierce, a cute Doormouse who is often seen running away from Boris
- Julius . . . hands off ! He is mine, mine, all mine! *grins* Anyway, my favorite is Julius, a long-haired glasses-wearing workaholic clockmaker
Since the manga is based on the otome games in which Alice can fall in love with more than 12 different characters, the manga series isn’t just one story but many. I suggest you start with “Alice in the Country of Hearts.” This can be extremely confusing for first time readers. I remember the first time I picked up a sequel and I was “what, why is she with him, didn’t she end up with the other guy in the prequel?”
Very important: In each specific title, the romance begins anew.
So, for example, if you read “Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit” Alice ends up with Elliot. But the next Alice+Elliot manga, “Alice in the Country of Clover: The March Hare”s Revolution” is not a continuation of the first manga. Instead, it’s set in an alternate world in which the romance between Alice and Elliot has just started.
The reason for this is the premise of all the games: if Alice ends up in a committed relationship with one of the guys/girls, she stays in that place and it’s game over. Therefore, in:
- Alice in the Country of Hearts – if she ends up with someone here, she stays there
- Alice in the Country of Clover – if Alice doesn’t choose a romantic partner in Hearts, she moves to the Country of Clover
- Alice in the Country of Joker – if Alice is super stubborn and doesn’t pick anyone in the first two games, she ends up in the Joker continuity, still alone (romantically)
- Alice in the Country of Diamond – Alice only ends up here if she remains single throughout the first three games (omg, why wouldn’t you pick one of those bishies? tsk tsk)
In other words, each series is self-contained and set in an alternate world.
Alice in the Country of Hearts Manga Volumes 1-3 Review
Now on to the actual review! Heart no Kuni no Alice is a confusing yet lovely manga. I’ve said a lot in the introduction so you probably already know that I loooove the series a lot. 😀
Alice is a young girl who loves afternoon tea with her older sister Lorina. One day a white rabbit appears and takes her to a strange new world, Wonderland.
I love the story so much! There are a lot of mysteries to unravel as Alice explores Wonderland. Readers who are familiar with the original work by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass” already know that things are crazy in Wonderland. I find the story to be very interesting. Reading all of the volumes made me want more!
Everything I would like to say after this is a spoiler so I think I won’t discuss the rest here.
The art is pretty good, especially the character designs which are faithful to the original game designs. The artist and developers know how to appeal to a female audience! The panels are nicely laid out so I don’t get confused. The text is always readable.
The manga does have one flaw though. It’s not actually that romantic at all! The manga spends a lot of time explaining the setting and introducing the large cast of characters that there is a somewhat limited amount pages left over for the romance to develop. In fact, I was a bit blindsided by the ending. Sort of like “huh, suddenly she’s with him?” I can kinda see it happening, it’s not unbelievable but it is a bit rushed. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the entire manga.
My Rating: 9/10, excellent read, worth the money and almost perfect. After reading the six volumes I also read the other manga series set in the same otome game world.
Content Warning: suitable for older teens aged 16 and above. There is no nudity or on-screen sex. The level of sexual content is the same as old movies where people kiss, it fades to black, and next is a scene of the lovers waking up in bed (clothed/covered). However, there is blood and gore.
Read my other reviews:
Clover no Kuni no Alice: Cheshire Cat to Waltz Review – the story of Alice and Boris (the Cheshire Cat), it’s seven volumes!
Alice in the Country of Clover: Knight’s Knowledge Manga Review – Alice and Ace’s (Knight of Hearts) story
Alice in the Country of Hearts: Why is Ace (the Knight of Hearts) always lost? – spoilers about Ace
Anniversary no Kuni no Alice (remake of Heart) otome game summary and review (spoilers) – my favorite quote of this review is “Her moe bucket overflows (and mine too lmfao) and she’s like OMG I CAN’T LEAVE THIS PRECIOUS BABYYYY ﾐｭﾐｭ（´ε｀* )☆ and is like HES SO CUTE afasfasf and ends up staying in Wonderland for him.” This same exact scene was in the Elliot manga and my moe bucket also overflowed!
Daily Post: Guest
In the Country of Hearts, Alice is an “Outsider” who is not part of the world’s various factions who are all vying for power and territory. As such, even if she lives in any particular place, she doesn’t really join that faction but remains a guest. That is, until she makes her final choice of partner. In which case, although we don’t see it, she presumably becomes a permanent part of that faction.