♪♩♬ Feed my Frankenstein ♪♩♬
|Hello, and welcome to our first batch of first impressions for the Spring ’17 anime season. This time around we have a show that looks pretty darn comfy, but it might hold a promise for something more…sinister?|
I’ll have a much better view of the garden
Mangaka Tetsuya-Imai treats the fans to a new illustration on twitter to launch the show’s open
So with Alice to Zouroku we have mystery upon mystery. First, there is the question of what the Red Queen is, what Wonderland is, and what Sana’s is, in that title and in that place. Next we have the running commentary of the K & C Pharmaceuticals guidance and all the needful things surrounding the Red Queen situation. It’s those two elements that plays our story out, as it influences everything that comes after. From the outset, that’s a lot for a show that looks like a cute slice-of-life Usagi Drop-esque coming of age story. But from the opening scene, to the closing of this double-length episode I was very much entertained. Sana is a great character to explore this sort of world. She’s a fish out of water that wants to swim everywhere, and own everyone. Zouroku is a man that desires order and precision, but feels left behind, perhaps? One has found all the purpose in life he can, the other is searching for the same; even when she uses her mental powers when she shouldn’t! But let’s break that down.
Wow! That’a big damn arm…
Since this is the first episode, I really want to concentrate on themes and stuff like that. But I’ll share some favorite moments before I get into the deeper end. Please feel free to do the same in comments. So the first one up! I really like the limited power range the characters exhibit, and the weaknesses. It’s really easy to go overboard and just have them squash things willy-nilly, so I’m happy they held that back. Also, hunger is something you should never underestimate, and food is always welcome in anime – might as well put those two tropes together. Then on two, I was also interested in the esoteric use of the colored crowns. Anime indulges in those power level as tangible looking device visuals practically all the time, but I appreciated the simplicity of this one; again they show some restraint. I also like how useless both Asahi and Yonaga are in actually securing their objective, and the quiet but effective pencil technique that Cleo exhibits – she drew the bridge that was wiped out previously, not to mention her hand in repairing all the damage her sisters caused, and even Zou’s cursed car. They’re our biggest view of K & C’ power outside the lab, so to speak, and it’s so informative that they Maggie’s Drawers from the get go – well, not Cleo. I also love how Zouroku is slow to perturb, but doesn’t get stupidly angry, just very much allowing a short, sharp visit from the smack faerie. So much the episode did very well.
But this wasn’t one of them!
But in going deeper, I really love it when a first episode is able to give me clues about how the show is going to come around. For instance, it can be easy, like the first episode of Urara. That one told me the tone of the show, the shape it would take, and the what it could become when it’s finished – and that the journey shapes the destination. But something like Brave Witches can struggle because it tries to do to more than it should – that much being something that has already done in it’s own franchise, so it starts of weak, and ends that way, no journey required. YMMV on that, and of course there are several points in between and beyond.
Goodness, they were bad girls…
So what do we have with Alice to Zouroku? Well I, for one, like breaking down the visual clues that don’t so much spell things out, as suggest; an import narrative point at the beginning of any story. Keep in mind, it may be that you may see stuff in a different manner. But the method of chase as the show opens tells me that this isn’t some typically terrible, horrible, man against nature, evil corporation after her, like so many tyke-bomb experiments gone wrong ushering bad guys – Elfen Lied and Brynhildr, to name just two by the same author, Flip Flappers and Izetta to name a few more recent shows, and all of that goes back to Shelley and Frankenstein anyway. In that respect, there was no grandiose military pursuit – no showers of bullets fired by faceless men, no showers of blood coming from the same. But there was also a stranger point, and that’s a harder one for me to explain. It’s just something about that massively large arm – a singular large arm suggests that something really big isn’t finished yet, ’cause where is the other arm? That feels off balance. Sure, it was a brute force arm as things went on, but it was primarily a support arm, wasn’t it? In taking all that in, this was a surprise for K & C, in some ways, and those methods we’ve seen in other shows aren’t the methods they use….yet? For now, they are exploring as much as Sana is…
Also, another thing I take to note. Just when I was feeling that K & C should be being much more direct and proactive in securing their charge – because nothing was making me think this wasn’t a typical secure the tyke-bomb situation either, just a different one – and just when they were explaining the situation to other authorities, the next scene answers that question. They don’t have any idea what they have, do they? The sheer power and absurdity of what the Red Queen represents is beyond them. They can observe, but they cannot directly experiment upon or fully control; taking us back to Van-chan’s frustration with her slow equipment, and lack of budget, and Tachibana’s strong-arm being halted by the mysterious stranger. But then again, this is still early days yet. If the main tactic of the said stranger was for the Red Queen to cause commotion then that will only alert the government, then K & C may change over time as challenges appear, adjusting to fit the situation. But they did give us a rather sharp view at the Diet building, so Kouichi wants to use this situation to advantage. The larger narrative point here is that it wasn’t typical violence and gore solutions, so that suggests another model. That being they aren’t carrying the Idiot or Villain Ball as of yet. Best place to start a possible arc.
They just have to keep their army fed
Extra Rabbit Holes
All in all I think that Sakurabi Katsushi is a perfect choice to tell this story, and JC is a good fit as a studio- as his touches on the light-hearted but pointed flying witch, and the depth and power-levels of WIXOSS are just the place this sort of story can go – a powerhouse slice of life style that might be able to pull off something more than the sum of it’s parts…If the first episode is any indication, there’s more bubbling under the surface. So, in the end, I really like how poor Sana only wanted to fall asleep, but not being allowed to sleep in the car just got in her way, then having to take off her boots got in the way, and then having to change clothes got in the way, until she just collapsed with little choice but to – and in every step Zouroku was her guide, order where there was child-like chaos. That’s the shape of this one, and I’m looking forward to the journey.
See you next time, after some rest…