Warning: This review contains some spoilers for the manga I Am Alice: Body Swap In Wonderland volume one, the art by Ayumi Kanou and the story created by Visualworks. If you do not want to see spoilers, do not read this unless you’ve already read volume one or you don’t mind spoilers.
This particular book review is going to be a bit different. Since I Am Alice: Body Swap in Wonderland is a manga (aka Japanese comic book) and not the type of book that has mostly words and little-to-no illustration that I usually review, the way I review this is going to be a bit different than usual, because I’ll need to take the artwork of the manga into account when reviewing this. Here is a quick summary so we all know what it’s about:
“When Makoto, an unsuspecting Japanese teen, pulls a copy of “Alice in Wonderland” off a library bookshelf, his world will never be the same—literally. Suddenly, he is transported into the magical world of Wonderland, and even more shockingly, he is now stuck in Alice’s body!
To make matters curiouser, the real Alice is stuck in Makoto’s body, and neither of them are happy about the situation. There’s only one way to reverse the body swap and return Makoto home, but it won’t be easy: They must journey together to Heart’s Castle and defeat the King of Hearts.”
The whole body swap concept makes this whole volume hilarious as is. I loved reading about Alice and Makoto freaking out about their switched bodies, as well as their interactions with the rest of the characters they meet in this volume. Yes, there are indeed some sexual innuendos (and this manga is rated 16+ most likely for this reason) exchanged between characters in various chapters, but it’s there to serve for some humour other than just trying to build up romance right away.
The actual artwork of the manga looks similar to the artwork in Heart no Kuni no Alice, now that I think about it. I don’t know if that happens to be a coincidence, but heading away from that and seeing how it fits with the whole feeling of the story, I feel like the artwork of the manga works well with the plot and its characters. There is an overall sense of humour and liveliness that the artwork adds onto the plot and characters in the manga, and I think it helps to move the story along. Despite the violence that does happen in the manga considering that this particular Wonderland is full of weapons and has the King of Hearts up against a rebel army and using grotesque monsters to terrorize the people, I think the artworks keeps a lighter ambience to the story so that it doesn’t get too entirely dark.
In a way, the plot is quite similar to the manga Heart no Kuni no Alice because of the protagonists wanting to find a way home from Wonderland, as well as all of the possible love interests for the main characters, but I Am Alice differs from Heart no Kuni because of three things: The body-swapping, the fact that all of the love interests introduced so far can actually survive being around each other and won’t instantly try to kill one another (except for maybe Dormouse and the Cheshire Cat, but even then it’s not that bad so far), and that the residents of Wonderland don’t have clocks for hearts in this version (Heart no Kuni, however, does have people with literal clocks for hearts). However, it does have its funny moments regarding the mentioned body-swapping and the love interests all fighting over each other at times.
What I find most touching about this volume, though, is the last chapter. In an attempt to have everyone get along (and especially in terms of Dormouse and Dum not talking to each other), Makoto arranges things so that they all have a picnic together and get to know each other a bit more. Alice ends up blurting out the secret that she and Makoto have switched bodies (up until then they had either tried to let the others know or decided to keep it a secret depending on the situation), and all the rest of the guys are shocked. Instead of flat-out rage at having this hidden from them, however, everyone seems to react with either curiosity or even more acceptance. Considering this takes place in Wonderland, there are probably weirder things than body-swapping, but it still goes well with everyone (except for the White Rabbit, who looks absolutely devastated at this truth) overall. They don’t care that Makoto is actually a boy who happens to have swapped bodies with a girl named Alice. What they care more about is what is on the inside, his personality and inner traits, and I thought this was one of the sweeter moments of this volume for sure.
The one con I had about this was that the backstories were a little rushed, especially for the Dormouse and the Cheshire Cat. It was literally compressed down to the point that both of them only had ONE PAGE for each of their backstories, and although I understand that there is only so much one can fit in one chapter at a time, I still felt it to be rushed and thrown in for the sake of Makoto getting the Dormouse and Cheshire Cat to get along for the sake of the plot. I wish the backstories of Cheshire and dormouse were more drawn-out, such as in the next chapter where Dum (aka Tweedledum, who in this manga is part of a rebel army going against the King of Hearts while Tweedledee is the King of Hearts’ closest advisor) and Makoto interact with each other.
The backstories do take an interesting turn when it’s revealed at the end of the chapter introducing Dum that Dum killed the March Hare, who was the Dormouse’s past lover. I do hope that the next volumes of this manga delve a bit deeper into this dynamic that Dum and the Dormouse share with each other, as well as the hinted former relationship the Mad Hatter used to apparently have with the King of Hearts. More elaboration on Cheshire’s backstory involving the gryphons, would be great, as well as more backstory-related material regarding the White Rabbit. Finally, I hope we will see more of the King of Hearts and Tweedledee next volume, because what little I read about them in this volume is setting up what I think could be a direct encounter between the King of Hearts and/or Tweedledee against Makoto and the others.
Overall, I’m going to give this volume of a rating of 4/5 stars. There Is a lot that I’m hoping to see for the next volume, seeing as this first volume was more introductory to explain the concepts of this particular version of Wonderland, and setting up the love interests. I hope the backstories are not as rushed as they were for the next volumes of this manga, and I look forward to definitely reading more.