Alice to Zoroku Anime Review

Alice and Zoroku in English is an anime adaptation of manga of the same name by Imai Tetsuya. The anime was made by studio J.C. Staff and aired from April to June of 2017. The anime consists of 12 episodes, and the manga is still currently running.

 

Characters

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Sana is a Dream of Alice… yeah. She escaped from a research facility and is learning about the world. She is not bratty, just doesn’t know how the world works. She meet Zoroku and starts learning how to interact with people and form a family.

 

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Kashimura Zoroku is the titular Zoroku. He is an elderly florist that does not like crooked things. He is a very responsible person that naturally starts to parent Sana.

 

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Kashimura Sanae is Zoroku’s granddaughter. She is a little aloof and loves cute things, mainly Sana. She is rather mature in that she is very caring and acts like an older sister to Sana, telling her about chores.

 

Story

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Sana is an escapee from “the research center” and during her run she meets Zoroku, a kind old man who more or less starts to raise her instinctively. The series is divided into two parts: first part is dealing with the research facility, and the second is dealing with the “evil witch”.

 

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The story briefly touches on what Dreams of Alice means and how it works, but ultimately never explains any of it.

 

the Bad

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The show has to balance two things, the slice-of-life parts of the show and the fantasy action. This show juxtaposes a girl learning how to be a part of family and the same girl being shot and peeing her pants out of sheer terror of death. This is not the first show to do this, in fact, it reminded me a lot of 3 other stories: Darker than Black, Rozen Maiden and Kyouran Kazoku Nikki. But what makes those shows work smoother is that there is a focus on one side rather than doing half and half. Rozen Maiden and Kyouran Kazoku Nikki focused more on being a family and importance of living rather than the fantasy fights. Darker than Black did  the opposite, it delved into supernatural crime world with hints of normal life. The smaller half accentuates the major half, if the two halves are the same, the atmosphere starts to become confusing.

What disappointed me the most of this story was the two halves of the story were both okay, neither was great. It had an interesting sci-fi/ fantasy/ action half, but it was not amazing. It had an okay slice-of-life portions… but two “okay” halves do not make one great anime, it makes an anime with two okay halves.

 

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One thing that this show made me appreciate are having rules the world follows, or in this case, being lost as there no rules in place. The Dream of Alice is a special power, but what are the limits and conditions of this power? Can Sana create a whole new planet if she desires? Can Sana bring back the dead like Abraham Lincoln? Can she recreate fictional characters like Abradolf Lincler? In the first episode of No Game No Life, it makes it clear that there are 10 commandments that dictate the world. By having these clear distinction, viewers/ readers know what is surprising, what is taking things to the limit. And when these rules are broken, like Blackbeard obtaining a second Fruit power in One Piece, the viewer/ reader knows something is not right.

 

After watching the season in its entirety, I was confused what the show wanted to be about. While Zoroku is told to us that he is important, he is not on screen all that much, more importantly, his scenes with Sana is rather limited. I think Sana spends more time with Sanae or the antagonists more than Zoroku. The show moves around so much that only Sana has some focus, and later Hatori. But apart from those two, no one has that much screen time.

I am not going to spoil the ending here, but it was rather predictable, what you think will happen, happens. And the ending, the last five minutes, rushes through so fast that so much of the narrative and world building gets dumped on you. If this was not the last episode, I would not have that much to complain, as later episodes will follow up. But this is the last episode, there is no follow up.

 

the Good

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This show is about this grandfather and granddaughter relationship. Is it bad that I was worried that this may take the incest route? Good thing though, nothing of that natures happens here. What Zoroku and Sana has is very wholesome and familial. Yes, Zoroku does not have too much screen time, but the times he is in it with Sana, it is some of the most wholesome thing there is.

 

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As mentioned above, the show’s focus on Sana is good. To be fair, she’s the only thing on screen that stay there long enough to be of any focus. Sana is cute, and you guys already know I love cute things. On top of that, she is a good girl who doesn’t know how the world works. So seeing her experience new things. She does not know how the world works or how to interact with people, and seeing her learn that was great. Her curiosity to discover life was rather refreshing.

 

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This show had some great special powers. While I still believe the powers are still really vague, especially when it comes to Sana’s, other characters’ special powers were rather creative. One girl can summon things with chains, one has a magic arsenal and cosplay, and my favorite are summoning dead husband’s arms.

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This is one of the creepiest powers I’ve seen in a while. The magic user summons her dead husband’s arms to do her bidding, ranging from attacking and holding down a child, moving her around like a hover craft, or just to embrace herself. Seeing disembodied arms embracing a woman was pretty eerie.

 

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Credit where credit is due, the second half of the series was much better done than the first half. The second half focuses on Hatori and her awakening to Dream of Alice. As you would expect, she is bewildered, intrigues and later afraid of what her powers can do. By having her as the anchor, the story was much more focused. I just hoped this level of focus and pacing was applied to the first half as well.

 

Verdict

  • Will I watch it again? No, once was enough. I would watch a second season if that is ever a thing.
  • Do I recommend it? Eh…. It was okay. There were some creativity going on here with the powers, but as an enjoyable story, it was just alright. Not enough to recommend. 

 

Final Thoughts

Overall, did I enjoy this? Yes, I don’t think this show was a waste of time. This is not the worst thing I’ve seen, far from it. And it is not the best thing I’ve seen, far from it again. It balanced the two halves of itself really poorly I could not tell what the show was trying to convey, was it about being a family or was it about Dream of Alice. It accomplished both okay, that being said, it was just okay.

Have you seen this, am I being too harsh? Hope you liked it!

Gihoon

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