Warning: This review contains many spoilers for the manga “I Am Alice: Body Swap in Wonderland Volume 2.” by Visualworks, with art by Ayumi Kanou. If you have not read the manga, do not read this review. If you don’t mind spoilers, or you’ve already read the manga, go ahead and read it!
Another book review is here! This time it’s “I Am Alice: Body Swap in Wonderland Volume 2” by Visualworks, with art by Ayumi Kanou. I already reviewed “I Am Alice: Body Swap in Wonderland Volume 1,” and I decided that I liked it so much that I decided to continue the series and read the second one! Here’s the summary for Volume 2 so we have an idea of what it’s about:
“Poor Makoto—sucked into Wonderland through a mysterious book, then body-swapped with an adorable Alice, who happens to be a super-athletic gun nut. The White Rabbit freaks out every time he remembers that Makoto is really a boy in a girl’s body, while the rest of Makoto’s (male) companions keep hitting on him. As secrets are shared and tangled stories become unraveled, the group draws closer to the palace of the King of Hearts, where a magical gate awaits that will get Makoto back into his own world—and his own body. But is that what Makoto truly wants?”
Remember how in the past review for the first one in the manga series, I complained about the backstories of Cheshire and Dormouse being only about one page each and how I wanted a lot more detail? Thankfully, book two redeems this by expanding further on both backstories! Cheshire turns out to formerly be the King of Hearts’ pet and ended up accidentally stealing a jewel of great value. He was caught by the Gryphon (which explains why he handled them so badly in volume one), but the King of Hearts defended Cheshire from being imprisoned.
Dormouse and Tweedle Dum’s backstory is also expanded. It turns out that March Hare, Dormouse’s love interest, was the one who recruited Dormouse into the army and initially found out about the King of Hearts’ evil plans. She planned to report this to her superiors, but then she was supposedly killed, with Dum being her executioner. It turns out that March Hare is actually still alive, as Dum spared her life and tried to stop the King of Hearts’ evil plans himself at the time, but then was chased off by his brother, leading to Dum having his rebel army in the first place. It’s an interesting plot twist I wasn’t quite expecting, and I was glad to see that Cheshire, Dormouse and Dum’s backstories got more detail.
Also, the Hatter and the White Rabbit also get some time to shine in the book. The Hatter is also revealed to be a former close friend of the King of Hearts, as they met while they were schoolboys, while the White Rabbit is revealed to have created a garden where people could relax and set aside their cares for a moment. The White Rabbit and the Hatter are also both revealed to know each other from the past, as the White Rabbit was the one who financed Hatter’s tuition for military school. Even Alice herself gets a backstory by the end of the volume, as she explains that she ended up in Wonderland while looking for her older sister Lorina who had disappeared.
What I found especially interesting about the brief arc involving the White Rabbit was that, out of all the other guys, he was the only one that didn’t hit on Makoto after finding out at the end of the first book that Makoto and Alice had switched bodies, because he was embarrassed that he kept forgetting the Makoto was literally a boy in a girl’s body (remember, Alice and Makoto switched bodies at the beginning of the series). But eventually the White Rabbit realizes, after further interaction with Makoto that what really matters isn’t the gender of a person but the goodness in them, and he realizes how caught up he was with Makoto’s gender than he completely ignored the goodness in Makoto. Little realizations like this for each of the characters really helped them to develop and flourish, and I think this made the story a lot more fun to read.
What makes this character development even nicer, plotwise, in this volume is that they still kept going on through the plot of journeying to the King of Hearts’ place to get Makoto and Alice back to normal while intertwining these times of character development, keeping the plot on track and making these times of development feel like an integral part of the story instead of it feeling like several asides in a row.
The book ended on a cliffhanger with Makoto and Hatter disappearing into who-knows-where together thanks to the King of Hearts’ attempts to get rid of them, but given that the next one in the series is also the last one, I think it’s also setting up some more possible internal conflict that Makoto and the Hatter will go through together, and I’ll definitely need to read the third one in the series to see how this all wraps up.
The artwork of the manga was also just as good as the first volume, if not better. I’m not an art expert, but it definitely kept up with the lighthearted atmosphere of the manga without overdoing the overall look. I also feel like the artwork is…cleaner, or sharper, for lack of better words, and so makes the manga easier to read.
Overall, I’m giving this 5 out of 5 stars because of the great amount of character development, the neater artwork and the overall tight-knit plotline. If you haven’t read the first volume in this series, you definitely should read that one first before reading this one. I’m hoping the third volume doesn’t disappoint when I get my hands on it!