Alice in the Country of Hearts: The Mad Hatter’s Late Night Tea Party, Vol. 1

By Quin Rose and Riko Sakura, based on the game by Quin Rose. Released in Japan as “Heart no Kuni no Alice – Boushiya to Shinya no Ochakai” by Ichijinsha. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

We have now had about seven or eight spinoffs to the Alice series, most of them being variations on “well, what if Alice fell in love with this person instead?”. It’s been so long, in fact, that we may have forgotten that the original manga adaptation was pretty definitive about Blood Dupre being the canonical love interest, and its 6 volumes revolved around that. Of course, being an otome game adaptation, the manga can easily delight in all the possible routes. But it does mean that this spinoff, also dealing with Alice and Blood, is coming to us with a handicap: is there anything introduced here that we can’t get in the main series?


That’s not the only handicap, unfortunately. I’ve said before that I prefer Alice when it’s a psychological mystery rather than when it’s “which hot guy do I want to go out with”, and despite occasional attempts at a plot, this is very much the second. Alice is clearly attracted to Blood, with only his resemblance to her old tutor and his blunt ways holding her back. And even that doesn’t last long – Alice and Blood are in bed halfway through this first volume. (Again, I note that I am pleased that the series allows Alice to be sexually active without shaming or punishing her for it – probably a benefit to running in Ichijinsha’s josei line, where this sort of thing wouldn’t be out of place.)

As for Blood, well, he’s a charming rogue, and thus has the usual charming rogue issues. He’s attracted to Alice and wants her around, but demands control, and is jealous when she sees other men – particularly Julius. Yes, this is a Hearts world, so the clockmaker is back in the story, and everyone still hates him. I’ve mentioned before how much of this is due to the metatext of the game – his status as a neutral party, his connection with death that might remind Alice of why she’s in Wonderland in the first place – but this is a romance rather than a mystery, so honestly it’s mostly just the fact that they’re different types. Julius offers Alice peace and relaxation, something that Blood simply cannot provide.

There’s a lot of old ground gone over again – this being the Hatter Route, we get the subplot involving his secret relationship with Vivaldi again, as well as his ability to fluster and enrage alice simply by opening his mouth. If you’re a fan of Blood Dupre, you may want to give this a try, but for those wondering if this is a required read as an Alice fan, I’d have to say no. You get most of what happens here in the main series. (I was amused to see that this seems to be the only non-BL series the artist has drawn – she specializes in smutty yaoi.) I still like the Alice series, but the spinoffs are running out of ways to charm me.

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