QuinRose / Aoi Kurihara – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2014 – 1 volume

I was in the mood for one of these again, so I decided to tackle one of the older ones I hadn’t read yet.  The appeal in this one is the Hearts setting, which is rare.  As is a romantic focus on Julius.  Conversely, Julius is a little boring.  Nightmare is here to make things more interesting.

Julius more-or-less kicks Alice out of the Clock Tower when he realizes she could go back to her own world at any time.  Alice flees blindly and sprains her ankle.  When Ace points out to her she is basically defenseless and hopeless, and Alice laments that Julius will never come help her, Nightmare decides to test Julius by “stealing” Alice’s consciousness and sealing it in a tower, guarded by monsters (to keep Ace busy) and a wall of thorns.  Alice and Julius both have to make some mental leaps to bring down the wall of thorns.

Pretty straightforward love story.  I do like Julius a little for being one of the less grope-y guys, and this story points out he and Alice have similar personalities.  They just… don’t really have a lot of chemistry here.  But it’s still a cute story.

This is also one of the rare books not illustrated by Mamenosuke Fujimaru.  Aoi Kurihara has nice-looking art, but Fujimaru’s is a bit more ornate.  I always feel bad when I read a book drawn by someone else, because it’s hard to be better than Fujimaru, as far as a one-off license book like this goes.

Nightmare’s still my favorite, though.

QuinRose / Mamenosuke Fujimaru – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2013 – 1 volume

Eh, I should have read Love Labyrinth of Thorns first (the other Julius spinoff), but this one was on top.  I bought it in a Barnes and Noble the other day.  Gasp!  How novel!

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a Hearts-series book.  Julius doesn’t appear in any of the other worlds (edit: except Joker, which is special), so he has to be in Hearts… if I’m not mistaken, the only spinoff books in English so far that are set in the Hearts world are the two Julius books, the Mad Hatter’s Late Night Tea Party, and My Fanatic Rabbit.  Clover tends to be the setting du jour.

Julius is one of the more likable characters in the series… which makes for a cute, non-creepy book, on the one hand.  On the other, the wackiness tends to be what makes these fun, so the straight-up love story here is a little uncharacteristic of the Alice series.  It is cute, though.  Alice hangs out a lot with Julius, and winds up storming out of Heart Castle after Peter is being a creep, and lives with Julius.

She finds out he doesn’t actually ever sleep or stop working, mainly because there is only one bed, and while they are meant to sleep in shifts (not actually sharing the bed), he never takes his.  Odd that there’s only one bed… I thought Alice stayed in the clock tower in the main series.  I could be wrong, I don’t have it with me to check and confirm.

The only conflict deals with Alice finding out what the clocks are for in the Country of Hearts, and how that affects her opinion of Julius.  I’m reading these too fast (I LOVE THEM TOO MUCH), because that one seems a little weak compared to some of the others.  Then again, it’s also very normal, which is nice.

There are Crimson Empire short stories in the back.  I wasn’t expecting that!  I’m disappointed, because I know nothing about Crimson Empire.  Seven Seas does a great job of putting character profiles and explanations before the story (these are possibly in the original book, I guess, I’m not sure), which helps, but it’s still hard to read a side story to a series I don’t know the main story of.  Having said that, both short stories (Tactics and Stay Here) were pretty great.  I didn’t realize Seven Seas also published Crimson Empire, so I just ordered all three volumes of that as well.  I’m having a QuinRose binge at the moment.

I hope the Peter Pan QuinRose books show up in English eventually… Peter Pan is my favorite.

QuinRose / Psyche Delico – Yen Press – 2013 – 2 volumes

My impression pretty much stayed the same through volume 2.  Cute love story, but I wish they hadn’t condensed the story from the main series into two volumes to tell alongside it.  I know it’s a weird, alien story if you don’t have the details (and still is, even if you do), but it’s also not meant to be told in two volumes.

In this volume, Alice is still trying to reconcile herself to the fact life means nothing to the Heart-landers, she learns the deal with the clocks, etc.  Elliot tries to check himself, although loses control once again when she sees Alice walking with Julius.  We continue on to a conclusion from there.

Again, if you’re familiar with the series, you know where these books are going.  There’s not a lot of surprises.  This one’s okay, but I’ve liked a couple of the other spinoffs better.

I was excited to read this one, because I liked Psyche Delico’s art in the BL books I’ve read by her.  The character designs are a little weird (maybe not quite suited to this series), but I still like her a lot.  She uses a lot of beautiful pattern and detail that make certain scenes quite lovely.

SLIGHT SPOILER:  There’s a scene at the end where Alice is trying to decide whether or not to leave, and Nightmare shows her an illusion of Elliot killing herself when he realizes she’s gone.  This strikes me as horrifyingly manipulative, although not necessarily out-of-character.  There’s a few intense scenes with Elliot in this volume, actually, which surprised me.  Slightly more intense and violent than your usual shoujo manga, and I tend to like books that shake things up like that.  But the suicide was a little too much for me.

QuinRose/Psyche Delico – Yen Press – 2012 – 2 volumes

I was a little excited about this one, since I’d read and enjoyed Psyche Delico’s books before (she does BL… Love Full of Scars was awesome, and I’ve purchased but not read Pure Love’s Sexy Time on eManga).  Also, I like the Alice series, so there’s that too.

This was one of the first of the Alice spinoffs that came out, but I was not at all excited about reading it.  I thought “My Fanatic Rabbit” would be about Peter White, who creeps me out badly.  I had forgotten about Elliot though, the March Hare.  Though Peter is in the second half of the book, this series seems to focus on Alice and Elliot, which is fine.

One of the main conflicts is that Alice is living with the Hatter Gang, a collection of bad guys, in a world where death doesn’t really mean that much.  So they’re pretty violent guys, and kill a lot of people.  Alice can’t reconcile this with Elliot’s pleasant and goofy demeanor, and when he makes a disturbing offhanded comment towards the end of the book, it drives Alice away and into the arms of Peter White and the Queen of Hearts.

Alice is cute, and Elliot is cute, but there’s not a whole lot more to this book.  I wasn’t really getting into either, though I expect things to pick up in the second volume, since there is a situation at Heart Castle here.  One of the big downsides is that the book takes the time to explain the world and situations to the reader, which IS necessary if you aren’t familiar with the story… but if you are, it’s a bummer they waste so much time with that, to the detriment of the characters.

Oh well.  Elliot and Alice are cute, and he will probably rush in and save her heroically in the second volume.

I am also just going to put these series in categories by their “world,” so any Hearts series are going with this and the main volumes, Clover series are going in with Bloody Twins and Cheshire Cat Waltz, Diamond goes by itself, et cetera.  There are a LOT of these.

QuinRose / Soumei Hoshino – Yen Press – 2012 – 6 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols. 5-6

Gasp! These use the same translation and adaptation as the Tokyopop edition! How odd! That’s okay, because it was a pretty good one, as far as I can tell. So that means the stuff I picked up on in the second omnibus was just me understanding better after a re-read.

How was the ending? Well, I liked it. It wasn’t quite as mysterious and off-the-wall as I was hoping, but it still wrapped up all the loose ends very well. The only thing I really wasn’t happy with was Peter Rabbit’s true identity, which didn’t fit at all. I did guess what it was that Alice wasn’t supposed to remember in the real world, but unfortunately the story didn’t really go into it.

Also wondering about the hearts-into-clocks thing, ie the end of the series. So how does that work?

Vivaldi’s ball was still a fun little bit of story, and I loved seeing the Blood/Alice war carried out to its conclusion. Overall I was happy with the ending, and I am so glad that the series got a second chance. It took me forever to actually get here, but I’m glad my dissatisfaction with the first two volumes didn’t carry over into the rest of the series, too. It’s worth at least one re-read, then!

The best part is that there’s still a lot of mystery here, and a lot of things that weren’t properly explored, likely because this was an adaptation of a visual novel-type game. But there are a thousand spin-off manga, many of which have been translated into English. I intend to indulge in those books starting right now.

Eh. It’s not the best series in the world, but it definitely hit all the right buttons for me, and it’s different enough that I’m going to keep reading in the world. It is a rare opportunity among translated manga, after all. Only CLAMP offers us that opportunity, and quite frankly, I’m beginning to say “no thank you” to that. Hopefully this will treat me better.

QuinRose / Soumei Hoshino – Yen Press – 2012 – 6 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols 3-4

Okay, I did have to write this up, because I enjoyed this volume a lot more. I think my impatience with the last omnibus had more to do with the fact I didn’t want to sit through the basics again. I knew about the clocks and about the value of life in the country of Hearts, and I knew all the characters and how much they loved Alice already.

This volume pointed more at the overall picture, though. There was more of Nightmare (which, to be fair, I read the volume 1 section some months before I started this recent marathon, but I don’t remember him being a big part of the plot before, and talking to Alice?), and there was more of the resistant fellows hinting at their attraction or fondness, creepy or otherwise. I still don’t know what Nightmare has to do with everything, or why it’s significant for him and Peter White that Peter was the one that drew Alice into the world.

I also think the mortality thing came across much better this time, although I’m not sure if it was the translation or the fact I was reading it through the second time. Originally it just seemed like a thing that Alice was destined to preach, whereas this time through it came across much better that residents of Bizarro World kill each other because they can be brought back to life, and it’s no big deal like it is to Alice. Granted, she’s got some converts now, but for the most part, she’s mostly just talking to herself.

Most importantly, I can read volume 6 now! I’m all excited to see how it ends now, and what the explanation for all of this is!

QuinRose / Soumei Hoshino – Yen Press – 2012 – 6 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols. 1-2

I was a big fan of this series as it was coming out from Tokyopop, much to my surprise. I was thrilled when Yen Press picked the license back up, which meant I could read volume 6. I bought all three omnibus volumes again, and I’ve been buying all the spinoff series that have appeared from Seven Seas and Yen Press both. I was so happy that all of this has made it here.

Aaaannd… then I didn’t read them. I resolved to clear out at least some of my Alice backlog while I was on vacation, so I tackled the first omnibus again to re-acquaint myself with the series.

I’ve already reviewed it here, so I’m not going to get into it again (and, in fact, I am going to skip the second omnibus review unless I have something constructive to add). I liked it because it took a very tired idea, basing a story off of Alice in Wonderland, and made it into a completely different kind of story. The characters are the same, but the plot and circumstances are completely different. There’s also a mess of new characters, some new… areas (for lack of a better term), and the pre-existing characters don’t act like they should. But the best part is that the whole thing is absolutely crazy, and doesn’t make any sense. But it’s clear it’s working on its own logic, and the whole series takes its time revealing little pieces of the puzzle. Why do the residents of Wonderland murder each other so frequently? Why is absolutely everyone falling into a creepy kind of love with Alice? What’s up with the clocks and faceless people? How can Alice get home? There’s lots of stuff going on, and I found it to be worth my time to investigate.

One of the reasons all the characters fall in love with Alice is because this is based on a visual novel-kind of game for women, where Alice winds up following the story path of the many eligible suitors. That only made me like this series more though, since manga adaptations of other media (but especially video games) is usually very weak.

The mystery aspect did make me eager to re-read it to see if I could fit the pieces together sooner, plus it had been a year or so since I last gave it a try. I started this volume right after it came out, then put it down. Then I tried again, and put it down. I was determined to finish it this time, so I did, but I have to admit, a bit of the love is gone. Now that I know most of the mysteries, it’s frustrating to wade through all the admiration for Alice to try and make it to a section of story I can’t remember. Turns out, my memory for this series was pretty good. I do like it a lot, but I have little patience for series with a ton of characters right out of the gate like this.

Part of my difficulty might also be that I’m forcing myself to read this before I can tackle volume six, or any of the spinoffs I do want to read. Perhaps its best not to punish myself like this, but man, I really did think I would like this after a re-read. Hopefully the second omnibus fares better.


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