QuinRose/Job – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2015 – 1 volume

I was happy to see a one-shot about a different, fairly minor character, and I was even more thrilled when I opened it up and realized it was drawn by Job.  I’m still not the biggest fan of her artwork, but I’m convinced her Alice spin-offs are the best.  This one was awesome, but I still love the Nightmare trilogy best of all.

This is about what you’d expect.  A mystery group causes a ruckus at the assembly, and Blood is injured trying to protect Alice.  He asks Nightmare (whose realm he was injured in) for the loan of a person who can replace him for 30 time periods, while his arm heals.  He asks for Alice (of course, you thought he was going to do the practical thing and ask for Gray), and the usual cycle begins.  Gray and Alice had a bit of a connection before the separation, but they both spend a lot of time thinking about each other, Gray gets jealous when he sees Alice out shopping with Blood, et cetera.  We find out Blood was orchestrating a huge plot to catch the troublemakers, and Gray and Alice hook up in the end.

Nightmare is in this off and on, and he’s always funny.  I haven’t yet tired of the joke where Alice reacts mentally to something, and Nightmare gets upset because he can clearly read her thoughts. I also enjoyed the fact Nightmare was appalled when Gray’s thoughts were unguarded and he could see what he was imagining Blood was doing to Alice.

The jealousy this time around isn’t from Nightmare, it’s from Blood.  That’s good, because Nightmare would have automatically become my favorite if he was courting Alice, and that would’ve been a shame in the only Gray book.  Nightmare isn’t much of a stealer, though.  Gray is an excellent jealous, protective beau, and Alice is clearly into him, something that a lot of the non-Job stories lack.  There’s a scene where he gets jealous enough to blindfold Alice so she can’t see anyone, and bind her hands and… basically it’s a heavily implied sex scene that starts with jealousy.  Alice is a little silent going into it, but has clearly enjoyed it the next day.

There’s a very short Dee and Dum story in the back.  There’s also a Crimson Empire story, also featuring blindfolding.  The main character is blindfolded in a lead-up to dressing the prince.  Naughty stuff.

I liked it.  I’ve only got a few of these left to read, and I’m a little daunted because it’s mostly a pair of Elliot and Ace one-shots, which seem rather generic after all the others I’ve read.  But maybe they’ll be great!  I was glad I saved this one to read towards the end of my Alice supply.

QuinRose / Kei Shichiri – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2015 – 1 volume

Okay!  My waning interest in this series coincided with finishing up the back catalog of titles, so now I think I’m mostly up to date (give or take 5 books).  This one came in the mail the other day, and I couldn’t resist.  I was weirdly taken with the first Dee and Dum book.

Again, this has the potential to go into creepy territory.  Dee and Dum are children in the Country of Hearts, but can turn into adults in the Country of Clover (they stay adults pretty much the entire time, except for one notable scene).  But they basically act the same either way.  It’s important to note that it’s Dee and Dum who are affectionate towards Alice.  And it’s also important to note that their relationship isn’t sexual.  It’s affectionate, but the Twins clearly don’t want Alice sexually.

This and the other Bloody Twins book are also notable because not even in BL have I ever seen an implied threesome.  This is pretty bold, even if it isn’t terribly sexual.

This story’s really freaking cute.  Alice realizes that everyone is scared of Dee and Dum, and while they are talking about people who give gifts to Blood (who are apparently killed by Dee and Dum, but whatever), she realizes that everyone is too scared of them to give them gifts.  So she gives them hair decorations (a tie and barrettes, one has long hair and one short when adults), and they are floored.  Later, a plot point is that one of the barrettes falls out, and the two are panicking because they lost the present Big Sis gave them.

They also have a contest to see who can give Alice the best present.  They split up for this, and it’s cute to see people’s horrified reactions to seeing one, but not both, of the Bloody Twins.  The outcome of this contest is predictable, but still cute.

There’s a weird plot point where Alice mentions that she may have to choose between them one day, and she gets really upset.  The twins decide to fight to the death about this.  I’m not sure why they go along with it, other than they like to fight.

Lots of small cute stuff goes on.  At one point, Alice is almost injured, and the twins are really worried about her.  They seem to worry constantly that she may love someone else more, and they’d lose Big Sis.  Just… unexpectedly cute stuff.  It still made me feel bad and creepy for liking it, but like it I did.  What can I say, the twins are a novelty in the long line of Elliot/Ace/Julius/Blood stories that all sort of work the same way.

QuinRose / Mamenosuke Fujimaru – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2013 – 7 volumes

Admittedly, the thwarted Hatter plot was better than in Knight’s Knowledge.  It was pretty elaborate, kind of cool, and it involved Blood needing Boris’s power to save Alice, which was very sweet.  Weirdly, Alice’s memory of her sister triggered at the end… I thought this happened at the end of the Hearts story, when she decides not to go home?  Maybe that was just in the manga… it’s hard to say.  In either case, Alice finally makes a decision about where to live, which she’s been angsting over since volume 5 or so.  The end.  It was very cute.  Despite the fact I wish it had ended differently, it’s probably still my favorite of the Alice storylines, including the original.  It’s hard to deny Boris’s charms.

There’s an epilogue at the end of the book too, which is kind of cool.  I wish I could figure out more of Nightmare’s deal, he’s never really explained.  I have his one-shot, but something tells me that’s not going to clear anything up (edit: Read the Nightmare trilogy.  He’s now my favorite).

The Hearts story is a little different.  There is a mob plot, but it deals more with the Amusement Park than Blood.  I’ve never seen the Amusement Park come under attack like that before, so that was a little unusual.  The Boris/Alice romance is fluffy, unlike the Clover story, but it builds from there.  And, interestingly, the Hearts story “ends” at the end of it, which is also unusual.  So that was nice.

It’s also nice that the story featured Gowland so heavily.  The other hearts one-shots I have are few and far between, and none of them really have a lot of Boris or Gowland in them.  A shame that Alice apparently can’t hook up with Gowland (or Vivaldi, who also doesn’t have her own spin-off).  Gowland’s way less of a psychopath than Ace, and Ace has at least a series and a spin-off.

Anyway, even with the last 3 volumes split between the two stories, and even with the Hatter ending, I still liked this series quite a bit, probably better even than the original.  Grab this one first!  Boris is way less crazy than the other characters.  Admittedly, these stories are good at humanizing even the craziest of the crazy (Elliot isn’t wacky in his stories, and even the Dee and Dum books make them more playful than crazy).

QuinRose / Mamenosuke Fujimaru – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2013 – 7 volumes

The volume is still halved between the Clover story and the Hearts story, and it looks like both will continue into volume 7 with basically the same plots.  Boris and Alice are an item (though actually a couple in Clover), and we are basically waiting on the climax of a huge Blood subterfuge to shake out, one where he used Alice as bait to lure out his enemies.  Like I said, I just read this in the Knight’s Knowledge spin-off, and I’m a little sad that this appears to be two stories with the same plot running in the same series, finishing the same way in the same volume.  This is probably a sign I need to take a step back from these spin-offs.

Then again, I’ve only got a few left, so I might as well finish the job.

Both stories basically run along the lines I describe.  The major conflict in the Clover story is that Alice gets out of the Hatter mansion, and Boris is suspicious when nobody objects.  Later, Alice tries to clear her thoughts by going to the forest of doors, and Ace catches her there and basically says two lost folks should just get lost together (actually, he uses a line that Kubo uses in the last volume of Wild Adapter, so that’s a little creepy).  Alice says she loves Boris and isn’t lost, and Boris shows up to save her.  Meanwhile, Blood is obviously doing something clever.

In Hearts, Boris and Alice are fighting.  Alice thinks Boris plays around with girls, and Boris thinks Alice is trying to hook up with Julius (largely due to Ace telling him this).  They make up at the Heart Castle Ball.  Meanwhile, Blood is obviously doing something clever.

I liked this a lot better before the ending got stretched over three volumes.  Here’s hoping next volume has a lot of cute Alice/Boris stuff, because I really don’t care about what Blood’s doing in this story.

Speaking of that, I have yet to read a Blood story aside from the oddball Diamond one (which isn’t super-romantic like this one is), and the original 6-volume series.  Perhaps I should dive into Circus and Liar’s Game next.

QuinRose/Mamenosuke Fujimaru – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2013 – 7 volumes

This book switched over halfway to include a story set in the Country of Hearts.  I was upset at first, but the story is so adorable that now I hope the next volume has the second half of that story.  Although I’m a little puzzled as to why it wouldn’t have been its own Hearts volume?  Whatever.  This series pretty much set Boris up as my favorite character, so more Boris stories are never a bad thing.

I thought there might be Hearts content, since Gowland and Julius illustrations opened the volume. In my heart of hearts, I was hoping that it would have been a move back to the Country of Hearts.  That wouldn’t happen, but the tie-in story is the next best thing.  It’s about Boris and Alice growing close in the Amusement Park, because what else would it be about in this series?

There’s a Hatter plot afoot (isn’t that always the case?), and while it’s handled fairly seriously, it’s obvious it doesn’t directly endanger Alice.  Alice moves out of the Hatter mansion here, which may mean we won’t see what it is, but it will more likely be the climax to the series.  I wish there was  different story idea to use, because that’s how Knight’s Knowledge ended as well.

Alice and Boris are in pretty solid boyfriend/girlfriend territory, so I’m not sure how much more development we’ll see from them.  Of course, they can do pretty much whatever they want, and it would be adorable.  One of the main things here (aside from Boris saving her from a rival gang attack) is a tea party at Heart Castle, and Vivaldi teases them both.  It’s pretty great.

QuinRose / Job – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2014 – 1 volume

Mmm… the artist, Job… most of these spin-offs are drawn by Mamenosuke Fujimaru, so it is a little jarring when the style switches.  Especially with this artist.  Job uses heavy inks, way less detail… and is almost gestural.  Given that a big part of this series are the detailed and ornate costumes, I’m a little surprised Job was chosen to draw one of these.  But I kinda liked the completely different style.

I had to know what a Nightmare path was like.  It was awesome.  Nightmare is physically weak and very sick, and rather a wuss.  He’s the only character that doesn’t use weapons.  But he can also read everyone’s minds, and can pop in and out of existence through dreams.  Basically, there is nobody more powerful than him.  This volume goes through the trouble of spelling that out for the reader, and the characters.  Alice and Gray et al are trying to find a weapon that Nightmare can use to defend himself, but he fails miserably at all of them.  But he has two confrontations with a faceless gang, and both of them end spectacularly.

Unfortunately, the Nightmare story is only half a volume.  The rest is a Dee and Dum story (I like these, mostly because I find them so horrifying), a Peter White story (!!! I’ve never read one of those before, either!  I hate him, but this story was so weird because it was him), and the last quarter is Crimson Empire.

I’m not that into the Crimson Empire stories in these books since I haven’t read the main series yet… but I suspect I wouldn’t be a fan even if I read the main books.  Crimson Empire is a dating sim/otome game like Alice, with multiple paths.  But where Alice’s main series has 6 volumes, Crimson Empire has only 3, and doesn’t have the benefit of us already “knowing” the characters like the ones from Alice in Wonderland.  So I think that one probably won’t translate into manga as well.  Thus, character-dependent stories like this are less appealing.  But I’d buy anything from QuinRose, really.  I’m hoping to see their Peter Pan game/manga in English.

Fun fact:  I didn’t realize until yesterday that Nightmare was supposed to be the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland.  He carries a pipe in the game (more of a dead giveaway), but I suspect isn’t allowed to in the manga versions.  He makes a little more sense now.

I’m DYING to read the Nightmare Trilogy now.  The third book came out this month (I’m writing this in March), and all three are on their way to me.  Hooray!

QuinRose/Mamenosuke Fujimaru – 2013 – 7 volumes

This is my favorite of all the spin-offs so far!  I had to wait awhile to get volume 4 (looks like it was reprinted, which is good for Seven Seas and future spin-offs), so I’ve read several others in the meantime.  It makes sense, since this one is long enough to take its time to develop the relationship and story.  But still.  I’m so happy I get to finish it now!

The characters (mostly Peter and Nightmare, who can somehow tell) are a little worried that even though Alice has “chosen,” she has enough guilt about her sister that she still might leave, despite her bonds to Boris.  Peter tests her and tries to show her Boris’s true colors.  There’s a plot point that none of the Role Holders ever change, really, although while that may be true, Boris is still trying really hard to do things that make Alice happy, so he doesn’t succumb to Peter’s test (which, ultimately, is about whether he will shoot Peter in the head when provoked).

Elsewhere, Alice also comes to terms with Boris’s feelings for her, and his… physical demands.  I… was not expecting a sex scene.  That does not happen in shoujo manga.  And I am slightly ashamed to admit I was a little shocked when I got one, and the only thing I could think was “She fucked the cat man!”

Anyway, those parts were awesome.  They were made better by a side story in the back where Boris walks past Nightmare the morning after, who gets very upset and tells him to censor his thoughts (Nightmare can read minds).  Boris is completely unapologetic.

I’m curious to see what’s in the other three volumes?  I guess Alice still has the vial, so she’s not quite a resident of Clover?  One of the one-shots implied that the vial shatters and she gets a clock when she decides 100%, so maybe we still have to do that.