Alice to Zouroku – Episode 1 [The Red Queen Escapes] [First Impression]
The episode unfolds with a young girl on the run from a group of men in black suits who are chasing her. She has escaped from their research facility (aptly named Wonderland, ha ha) and they want her back… but if they can gather some data from her interactions with the outside world first, then hey why not right?
The blonde girl, Sana, runs into an older woman who has supernatural abilities like her, but Sana can’t defend herself because she’s used up all her energy to teleport away from the research facility. Just then another “super girl” shows up and fights off the older woman, which allows Sana to escape.
Sana ports herself to the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, where she meets an old man named Zouroku in a convenience store. After abruptly asking him to make a deal with her in exchange for her granting him any wish he desires (a deal he turns down), she teleports away.
After checking her energy/ability levels and finding them dangerously low, Sana realizes she should stay with Zouroku. So she hides in his car and tries to persuade him to make a deal with her. Before he can reject her offer again, a huge wrecking ball swings at the pair from out of nowhere. It turns out that two girls like Sana, Asahi and Yonaga, are trying to help the black suits recapture Sana. What follows is a 3D car chase throughout Shinjuku, and ends with Zouroku crashing his car. No one is hurt, and a pissed off Zouroku chews out all three girls for putting the public in danger.
Zouroku is taken into custody by the police, who can’t believe what he’s telling them. However when the police capture security camera footage of Sana teleporting out of her chair, they are forced to believe Zouroku. The police captain is frustrated when he receives orders from higher up to ignore the entire case and he has no choice but to let Zouroku go.
Zouroku goes to a quiet alley restaurant for a meal, and Sana catches up to him again there. She explains more about her abilities, which are powered by something called “Mirror Gates” (the little 3D crystals we see appear in front of each girl right before they use their abilties), and clarifies what its users are able to do. Zouroku realizes Sana must be hungry so he feeds her, and then they leave to go to his workplace.
In the beginning of the episode, Zouroku is portrayed to have some kind of shady job. The reality is much more down to earth, if a bit of a surprise – Zouroku is actually a florist! He’d visited the yakuza earlier to bring an arrangement for their boss, who was going to propose to his girlfriend that night. Sana’s falling asleep on her feet at this point, so after locking up his shop again Zouroku takes Sana to a shrine, and then his home. He gives her his granddaughter’s futon to sleep in, and she’s passed out in moments. The episode ends with Zouroku looking like he’s wondering what the hell he’s gotten himself into.
My thoughts: Viewers were spoiled with a 45 minute-long first episode, and boy was it needed to get the series set up.
We know Sana is on the run from scary people who are experimenting on her and the other girls. Questions raised for me include whether the girls are captured at birth, or if they’re taken when they’re older. Or maybe they’re genetically created, without the need for a mother and father?
Other questions I have include who was the older lady with the umbrella, and who was the mystery supergirl who showed up on the highway and saved Sana? The black suits didn’t recognize her, so where did she come from?
I really like Zouroku as a character. He’s very stern and proper when it comes to things like public behaviours and manners, things that make my heart happy because holy fuck I hate people in public sometimes. >:( I hope more of his backstory is revealed, because while his granddaughter comes up a few times in conversations between him and Sana, his granddaughter’s parent(s) aren’t mentioned and that’s a red flag for me. Maybe Zouroku’s son/daughter died when his granddaughter was young, and that’s why she’s staying with him?
While there was no opening theme for this first episode, I did enjoy the closing theme . The animation for this series reminds me of Azumanga Daioh, which makes sense because J.C. Staff is producing Alice and they made Azumanga too. This style of animation is not a style I’m overly fond of (faces look too “squished” to me), but the backgrounds and other animation are well done so I’ll learn to adjust.
All in all I feel this like was a solid start to a cute series, and I’m wondering which direction it will go. Will it have some comedy, or be more serious? How deep down the rabbit hole will Alice take us? Sorry I couldn’t resist. 0:-)
Possibility of Watching: High
Possibility of Blogging: High