Alice in Murderland, Vol. 1

By Kaori Yuki. Released in Japan as “Kakei no Alice” by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Aria. Released in North America by Yen Press.

I’ll admit that I’ve always found Kaori Yuki titles hard to get into, and even harder to review. There is a certain amount of ‘aesthetics preferred over plot and character’ to her work, which makes it highly entertaining and visceral but leaves a person frustrated when they have to talk about it. There’s also giant piles of corpses in most everything she’s done, usually of the most sympathetic women in the book, and that applies here 100%. And of course the grand guignol horror of it all. Oh, and this is yet another of what has become my least favorite genre, the survival game. Despite all that, this is still a compelling read, and I had no trouble getting to the end of Volume 1, though I’m not exactly sure where it’s going beyond ‘chaos’.


Our heroine is the Alice seen on the cover – except not really. She’s actually Stella, a normal dark-haired high school student who is part of a very eccentric family of orphans who were adopted after a tea party filled with mass child slaughter. Every month the family goes to a tea party that’s held by their amazingly insane mother, who this month tells them that the time has come for them to fight each other to the death to see who gets to be the next family head and have access to a medicine that makes a person young and beautiful even in their old age. Some of them are, of course, reluctant to do this, so each of them has a hostage who will be killed if they don’t comply. To make matters worse, none of them are exactly stable to begin with – certainly not Stella, who snaps in traumatic situations and transforms into the blood-spattered Alice seen on the cover.

If this sounds a bit over the top, welcome to the world of Kaori Yuki. I also forgot to mention Alice’s stalker-cum-protector, Tsukito, who carries around voodoo dolls to curse people and is obsessed with Stella, yet halfway through shows up to become her new bodyguard and who we’re now supposed to feel sympathy for, despite the fact that he was a real creep earlier. As for the rest of the family, the other one who merits mention is Zeno, Stella’s ‘big brother’, who is killed early in the volume but then revived, only for Stella to find his personality is quite a bit different. She should be used to this, though, given how she does a 180 degree turn into murderous grinning killer when faced with horrible situations.

I’m not sure I actually enjoyed this – the horror is really grotesque in places, and there’s a sequence with a toy bunny getting restuffed that should come with a trigger warning. But it’s certainly compelling and gives a visceral thrill. I wouldn’t read it if you want to see what happens next with the plot and characters. But if you enjoy Kaori Yuki’s terrifying manga titles, and want to see lots of action and corpses, Alice in Murderland is right up your alley.

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