Wonderland, Vol. 1

By Yugo Ishikawa. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialized in the magazine Big Comic Superior. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Molly Rabbit. Adapted by Marykate Jasper.

I have to admit, I did not buy this manga for the premise. Horror is something I tend to be very wary of, and this read very much like it would be a “watch people get gorily murdered in visually arresting ways”. And, well, it is. But it’s the visually arresting part that kept me reading on. The author has been doing seinen stuff for years, ranging from action titles like Fighting Beauty Wulong to seinen skeeze like Yoiko, about an elementary school girl with the body of a fully grown adult. Lately, though, he’s been specializing in weird horror, and this certainly falls under that. It also falls under something that North America may have been growing sick of in the last few years – Alice in Wonderland take-offs. Unlike most that we see, there’s no Mad Hatter or Red Queen here, though, as it takes one premise – shrinking down to tiny size – and runs with it.

Our heroine is… not the girl on the cover. Instead it’s Yukko, a typical teen girl who wakes one morning to find that she’s shrunk down to the size of a doll. Her pet dog, now much bigger than she is, seems OK with this. Her pet cat… sees her as a tasty mouse, it would appear. Indeed, by the time Yukko gets her bearings and attempts to deal with this, both of her parents have been murdered by said cat. She tries to get out and get help… only to find the entire prefecture is suffering the same problem – they’re all tiny. Now she has to team up with other survivors and figure out how to remedy this… though that may take a backseat to just surviving, as the cats of the neighborhood REALLY love to beat these tiny humans to death. And then there’s Alice, who IS the girl on the cover. She seems to have animal ears, speaks at first in an alien tongue, and shows up mysteriously with no explanation. As the teaser for the second volume asks, who is she?

The story and character development here are, it has to be said, not great. Yukko is plucky, Alice is weird, and I really liked the dog, but for the most part these people are here to react to the scenery. But what scenery it is. The artist does a good job of showing off tiny humans vs. real-sized objects and animals, and how it’s become a matter of life and death almost immediately. I’d still call it a horror title – there’s lots of gory deaths here, and you spend a lot of the book waiting for the next she to drop. But the hint of a VAST GOVERNMENT CONSPIRACY makes me think it will end up more of a thriller than anything else, with Yukko and Alice teaming up to try to learn why this happened in the first place. I’m not sure if I’m into Wonderland for the long haul (it’s 6 volumes total), but this is a compelling enough start. Plus, let’s be honest, Big Comic Superior? When’s the last time we saw a title from there? This deserves your support for that alone.

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