QuinRose / Mamenosuke Fujimaru – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2015 – 7 volumes

Actually, this did wrap things up, for the most part!  I’m surprised!  I’m also surprised that the whole volume was Circus and Liar’s Game except for a few pages of a Diamond story at the end that tied back into it.

Oh, and the “If Alice Was Small” bonus comics at the end.  Those were in the backs of all these books, and they were adorable/funny/maybe a little creepy.  But I loved them as bonus comics, and I liked that there was… a sort of continuity?

This had more of a definite ending than any of the other Alice manga I’ve read so far.  I wondered if there were rules for Alice staying, and here at the end, with Alice making a role for herself… I had my questions answered, though the story didn’t really come right out and say she becomes a clock person.  Nor do we get to hear about Vivaldi and Blood, though there was a brief reference to that here.

The main conflict is that Alice was being executed at the end of the last volume, of course, and what’s up with the prison, April season, et cetera.  Most of that is wrapped up pretty handily, and while it wasn’t… super clear, enough of the ideas got across that I… mostly understood what was going on.

One thing that was disappointing was that we did get to see Alice visiting with everyone at the end of the volume, which I assumed would lead into April season closing and us finding out why Julius, Gray, et cetera were all living together.  That… didn’t come up.

There were some very sweet scenes between Blood and Alice, which was great, because Blood has been creepy-violent through most of the series.  There wasn’t a whole lot of romance there, just angry scenes where Alice wondered why she was attracted to Blood.  So romance was nice, as were the scenes with Blood, Alice, and Vivaldi.

I like the Alice series with continuity… but honestly, I think I liked Cheshire Cat Waltz a bit more than this one, even though Waltz suffers from a horrible predictable ending.  And my favorite is still the Nightmare Trilogy, even if it’s not a long series like these.  But there you go:  Alice in the Country of Joker.

QuinRose/Job – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2015 – 3 volumes

I’m a little sad this series is over now.  I have a handful more of these spin-offs to read, but none of the characters are quite as likable as Nightmare.

In the first half of this volume, Joker tricks Alice into working for her as an assistant at the circus.  During one of the shows, he also tricks Nightmare into volunteering, and performs a… deadly prank on them both.  The fallout is quite adorable.

Another large part of the book is about Alice trying to get Nightmare to accept an invitation from one of his tenants.  Nightmare insists that these are formal, and that the tenants are too scared of him to actually want to meet him.  But Alice wants his image to change, and forces him to the home of a man with three daughters.  He clearly wants Nightmare to marry one of them.  Alice gets upset, but insists that Nightmare stay with the girls, even though he really wants to leave with her.  Later, one of the girls comes back, and Alice gets jealous despite the fact Nightmare keeps reassuring her that there’s nobody for him but her… blah blah blah.

Later, Joker catches them both again, and to get Alice back, Nightmare has to fight a brainwashed Grey.  The fallout from this is the conclusion to the book, and it is super-cute.  Nightmare says he’s trying to be cool and manly, and Alice just wants him to be forceful, to want to kiss her, and love her, et cetera (odd, considering she kind of hates that in the other stories).  He says he would, but loses confidence since Alice tends to run away from him a lot and hang out with the other guys in the Country of Joker.  They kiss, with their hands over the respective heart/clock of the other, and it’s adorable.  Lastly, there’s a short story about how the two aren’t intimate, and Alice is upset that Nightmare is being timid again, whereas Nightmare just doesn’t want to force her into things she’s not comfortable with.

Seriously.  The nicest guy in the series.

Get this trilogy if you are at all into the Alice spin-offs.  The only downside is the art.  I’ve talked about Job’s art before, and I kind of stopped noticing it here… but she’s definitely not Mamenosuke Fujimaru.  It’s kind of hard to get into because of that.  But definitely worth it.

QuinRose / Mamenosuke Fujimaru – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2014 – 7 volumes

Okay, I JUST got it. This is technically a spoiler, but it’s also not explicitly stated?  I’ll mark it just in case, but I feel like I would have been better served with this information sooner.

spoiler…

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Peter is “Sunday Afternoon” because apparently they all represent time?  And apparently he can’t be hurt because he is a “time past” now?  I doubt we’ll get much more than that out of this story.  I wish more of these games were translated into English!  I’d love to play this one, it’s not translating into manga form very well.

This one got all kinds of serious.  Alice is forced (for real this time) to choose, and to live with her decision.  It does go into the meaning behind her sister in the prison at the circus, and it’s… a little interesting.

Most interesting of all, however, is how this volume ends.  I’m not sure how there’s another volume’s worth of content left?  Unless she becomes one of them?  The way she found herself in that situation is most heartbreaking.  And a little nonsensical (if she were guilty, would she have come back?).  But then again, it’s the Country of Joker, so it doesn’t have to make sense.

QuinRose/Job – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2015 – 3 volumes

I love these Nightmare books so much!  Mostly because he acts like a regular person.  Sort of.  And again, he’s also great because nobody else seems to like him or think much of his powers, but he’s weak because his powers are quite impressive, he just never uses them.

This book starts off with an awesome short story about Nightmare being too shy to ask Alice out on a date, so Grey has to manufacture a reason for Nightmare to go out with Alice.  Alice thinks its creepy, but it ultimately ends in a sort-of romantic situation that Nightmare doesn’t really move in on and Alice walks away from.  I love that he can read her thoughts, and knows that she compliments him a lot, but doesn’t really make a big deal out of it.

We also see the end of the bath scene from the last volume.  Uncharacteristically, Alice puts the moves on Nightmare, who runs from the room embarrassed.  That’s probably the first and only time that will happen in one of these spin-offs.

The longer plot involves a book locked in a box in Nightmare’s library.  The book and box can’t be removed from the library (they disappear when you try), and there doesn’t appear to be a key.  Apparently the lock is rather famous, and people begin speculating about what treasure it must contain when word gets out.  This winds up involving a gang kidnapping Alice, and the Hatters stepping in to rescue.  Except Nightmare’s the one that steps in, and he puts a serious hurt on the gang for injuring Alice.  Serious enough that Alice doesn’t really believe he’s the same person, and Nightmare later fears that she’ll be scared of him, just like everyone else.

Later, Alice puts the moves on him again, and he gets shy and it’s another cute scene.  Again, I’ve read so many of these, that a break like this is like a breath of fresh air.

There are two very short stories in the back.  One is a Nightmare story, where Alice complains about her boring dream and starts dreaming of the other characters in the series, which upsets Nightmare.  The second is a Blood story, which is also cute and uncharacteristically not creepy.

I can’t wait for more!

QuinRose/Mamenosuke Fujimaru – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2014 – 7 volumes

Basically, things heat up between Alice and Blood.  It’s… pretty mutual at this point, although I still have some doubts about Blood.  We get some flashbacks from the Country of Hearts, too.

It’s implied that, because Alice has made a decision, the Jokers may no longer harass her, and April season may be coming to an end.  But there’s still the matter of the jail, and what she wants to free from that jail, and what it is that she’s doing bad.  Though that might be that she’s lying to herself about wanting to go back home and feeling guilty about her sister.  Especially with Blood… she apparently doesn’t want to free her sister in the Country of Joker, since it’s implied that since Blood looks like the teacher she had a crush on that fell in love with her sister, Blood may fall in love with her sister as well if she appears in this world.

Still lots of vagueness.  We also sneak a peek at the executioner, I think?  Here, he looks like Ace in different clothes, which is also what all signs point to in this series so far.  Some other artwork makes it look like a different character, but I’m not sure if that’s because he is, or if it’s because the artwork isn’t by Fujimaru.

Still not a lot of clues… this is a short review since I want to get to the next volume.

QuinRose/Job – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2014 – 3 volumes

I’ve been allowing myself to read two Alice spin-off volumes at once, but it figures the two series I want to read most right now are both in the Joker setting.  I like Circus and Liar’s Game, but I think Nightmare is probably my favorite character, so this one is a winner.

I disliked Job’s art in the other book I read by them (which, weirdly, was also a Nightmare book… Job must just be the go-to Nightmare artist), and I still do.  But in a weird way, it also kind of suits Nightmare.  He’s a bad dream, after all, and the sort of weird, surreal, heavily inked art goes with that vibe, save for the fact they aren’t usually in a dream.  And Job does have panels that are wonderfully drawn.  On the other hand, the anatomy sometimes bothers me a great deal (weirdly foreshortened faces, thin and shrimpy limbs, etc).

Nightmare’s great because he’s one of the most normal characters in Wonderland.  The only other person featured in a spin-off that comes close is Julius, and sort-of Boris.  But Boris still tends to mow people down with a gun.  Julius is sort of surly (which is a normal character type).  Nightmare is sickly, defensive, and earnest.  He can read minds, but doesn’t do it for sinister purpose, and is more likely to “overhear” a really rotten opinion of himself.  Nobody thinks he can do anything or defend himself, let alone Alice.  But he’s really devoted to Alice, and is pretty low-key about stepping in and saving her when the situation demands it.  And he’s the most powerful role-holder.  The others don’t use their “powers” very frequently (Blood can change people’s clothes with a snap of his fingers, Vivaldi can disappear), but Nightmare can disappear into dreams, read minds, fly, come when called in thoughts or voice, and control the wind.  And he’s a nice, not-psychotic guy.  How about that.

There’s two story arcs in this volume.  One is about a “survival summer camp” where Alice and Nightmare are paired off together.  Alice doesn’t have high hopes, since Nightmare has trouble surviving on a regular day.  They last longer than anyone expects, but at one point while she’s off by herself, Alice suddenly gets attacked by dogs.  Nightmare tells her to call to him if she’s in trouble and he’ll come.  She does, and he does, but for some reason she doesn’t put two and two together, and holds his lack of response against him.

Later, she realizes that all the faceless are terrified of Nightmare.  It doesn’t bother him at all, but she finds out he’s quite the musician, and tries to get the faceless to show up to a concert she makes him perform. Not one person does, because he’s so reviled.  She manages to talk Nightmare into performing during a cruise (long story, lots of fun stuff happens in the Country of Joker), and gets him to disguise himself so nobody can tell who he is.  Nightmare likes this, and sees it as dressing up, but Joker accuses her of being selfish, since she’s the one that cares what people think of Nightmare.  Alice gets mad when Nightmare tries to tell her he likes it, and while they’re fighting, she falls into the ocean and Nightmare saves her, despite not knowing how to swim.

Nightmare doesn’t really hit on Alice or declare his feelings for her.  They just wind up hanging out together a lot.  Nightmare isn’t creepy, so he doesn’t chase Alice away or make her mad like the other role-holders do.  In fact, his feeble physical body makes her more likely to hang out with him, since she likes taking care of him with Grey.  He will occasionally express fondness, or relief when she’s okay.  When the situation gets a little more intimate, he seems a little embarrassed and at a loss, just like Alice.  He is pretty clear about liking her, though he doesn’t repeat himself like a broken record, throw himself at her, or make lewd innuendo.

One of the more frustrating plot points is actually more about Joker.  Alice and Nightmare fight about Alice disguising Nightmare.  He tries to tell her that it’s okay, he likes wearing a disguise, and he’s happy to make her happy.  But she gets angry at him for placating her, saying she’s just being selfish (something Joker told her).  He seems at a loss as to what to say to make her feel better here.  Alice seems to just want a pity party, and he tries really hard to make her realize he really doesn’t care, he’s willing to try things to make her happy, et cetera.  This scene keeps getting worse because he is accidentally reading her thoughts, and when two women walk up and try to hit on him, he kisses Alice to try and drive them away and get her to stop a tirade about how weak he is.  She leaves, and he regrets it immediately.  These spin-offs are fond of forced kisses, like they are the worst things in the world, so it is a little shocking that even Nightmare got one.  But his scene is a lot more intense than the usual Dee/Dum/Pierce/Boris stealing a kiss.  And a bit more meaningful than even the Blood/Peter intense stolen kisses.

So basically, I like Nightmare.  This was a couple stories, with two very short stories in the back of the volume.  One was an adorable Boris story.

In short, this was a great volume, and Nightmare was great.  He’s just a nice, normal, shy kind of guy.  Sickly, but with a lot of badass powers that wind up trumping the weapons everyone else carries around.  I would read a series about a character like Nightmare that wasn’t an Alice spinoff, and it would be great.

QuinRose / Mamenosuke Fujimaru – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2014 – 7 volumes

Well.  I’d been confused about who this series was about, since it’s been balanced weirdly well between Peter and Blood (and, admittedly, both are equally repellant).  But things start shifting towards Blood here, and he gets a little less creepy.  He almost sounds… earnest at the end of the volume.  Hm.

Not much has moved in the way of overarching plot.  We get a big shocker at the end of the last volume which is… kind of waved away at the beginning of this one.  Seriously, Joker asked Alice if what she really saw was there, and then Peter wiped her memory (or something).  It’s getting a little ridiculous.

Everyone’s watching out for her though, which is sweet.  One of my favorite scenes in this volume was girl time with Vivaldi, where Alice tries to sort out her feelings for Blood from her feelings for her former crush the teacher.  Vivaldi gets rather agitated at the end of the volume when she realizes how close Blood and Alice have become, though nothing has come of that just yet.

Interestingly, one of the faceless in this volume says that if they break the rules, they go to jail and become wasted time (literally, since they are all clocks), where they have to sit and do nothing for all eternity, knowing that they will never have a role to play again.  There’s a terrifying thought.

Still weird stuff, and the memory mystery, and what’s going on in the Joker’s jail, is maddening.  As is April season in general.  Here’s hoping I get at least a taste in the next volume.