Saturday, December 25, 2004

Alice 19th, Vol. 1: The Lotis Master
Yu Watase (Illustrator)
VIZ LLC, $9.95, 192 pages (October 22, 2003)

Generally I tend to have very little interest in fantasy themed series, as the ideas of wizards, trolls and the like don't tend to hold much of an interest. Yet after hearing some interesting things about the Alice 19th book, and learning it was from Yu Watase. Who had done the Imadoki series that I found charming. I decided to give a shot to see what it was like.

The series follows a young girl named Alice, who has tons of courage, but not much self confidence. She's too nice at times, willing to turn the other cheek when others pick on her, giving up what she wants if someone else does. Or taking responsibility for things that were beyond her power, when things go wrong.

One day she sees a rabbit in the middle of the street about the be run over. While everyone else either feels sorry for or annoyed by its predicament. Only Alice has the courage to save it, and thus proving herself to the rabbit who is some sort of spirit guide.

The fantasy elements are a bit odd, as she is told she has the potential to be a Lotis Master. Which is someone who can control or influence events and people around her through the power of words.

In order for me to really appreciate that, I just had to kind of push the more fantastical elements (traveling to inner worlds and such) to the side a little. Taking it all as sort of a metaphor for the true power words can have with those around you.

Which is something Alice must find out about as she grows as a person. She must seek a balance from the shy girl who is so afraid of hurting or confronting others that she won't go for what she wants. And the temper she displays, when she does finally lose her cool and says something she really shouldn't have to someone close.

It is a precarious situation that everyone has, and likely still goes through everyday. Because knowing what to say, and what the ramifications (good and bad) that will come from it are complicated matters.

Do you ask the cute girl at the mall out? Do you tell your friend how annoyed you were that he stranded you at the party? Knowing whether something is worth saying, and if what could happen afterwards is worth going through is something we all deal with.

The art is very soft and inviting. The good guys are all cute and enticing, while the bad guys are angular and sort of angry looking.

Alice's journey on the surface isn't that different from other titles like OTHELLO or HOT GIMMICK. Which features young women needing to find out about themselves, so they can deal with the world outside better. Yet Alice and her world has a unique charm about it that is compelling, and different enough at heart that I'm curious to see more.

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