I’m always looking for new magical girl shows to get into. Enter Alice & Zoroku, a magical girl and sci-fi anime that immediately caught my eye. Check out my thoughts on the show and let me know yours in the comments below!
This is the story of a girl…
Alice & Zoroku tells the story of Sana, a young girl with extraordinary powers. Sana is a Dream of Alice, or a being with magical powers. As a particularly powerful Dream of Alice, Sana is known by the research facility where she lives as the Red Queen. Things suddenly change when Sana breaks out of the facility and meets Zoruku, an older man who owns a flower shop. Against his will, Zoroku helps Sana evade capture from the research facility, opting to take her into hiding at his house. With the help of the government, the research facility where Sana has been kept for her life is shut down, leaving Sana free.
Despite some hiccups, Sana quickly adapts to life in the human world. She happily does chores and assists Sanae, Zoroku’s granddaughter, in keeping the house tidy. She also entertains visits from Asahi and Yonaga Hinagiri, other Dreams of Alice that were held in the same facility.
All seems to be well, until another Dream of Alice comes along. Hatori Shikishima is an elementary student who just wants her parents to be happy. Her wish seems to come true when Hatori discovers she has the power to manipulate her environment. Hatori and her friend, Ayumu Miho, initially enjoy using Hatori’s new powers. Hatori finds that her powers allow her to make her parents happy, and she revels in making them smile.
Things quickly take a dark turn when Hatori begins to isolate herself from Ayumu and her other classmates. The situation soon comes to a head when Hatori freezes time for everyone around her, except for Ayumu and Sana. Having found Zoroku frozen, Sana hones in on Hatori’s power and is eager to confront her. Both are surprised to find that they cannot use their powers against each other. Still, time ends up unfrozen and it seems like life will move on.
Unluckily for Hatori, Sana is the type to hold a grudge. Once she locates Hatori’s home, she kidnaps Hatori and takes her to Wonderland. In Wonderland, they find that their powers still cancel each other out, only this time with dire consequences. The pair end up trapped in Wonderland, and it is up to Zoroku to save them. Together with Sanae, Zoroku navigates Wonderland, finds Sana and Hatori, and brings them home.
Alice & Zoroku is a prime example of a great premise with a terrible execution. The anime establishes what could be an excellent story, but fails to follow through. We know that Sana is likely the living embodiment of Wonderland, having been born there and all. It’s unclear though how the other Dreams of Alice came to be. Given Alice & Zoroku is currently an on-going manga series, I have to believe that particular storyline is still being explored. Even still, it’s not cool to leave an anime open-ended on a pretty important plot piece.
Conversely, some plot points in Alice & Zoroku are resolved far too fast. The research facility is set up to be this looming villain throughout the entire series. It feels ever present and like something Sana will be working towards overthrowing throughout the entire series. Instead, the facility is dismantled in one of the earlier episodes. The story then switches focus, showcasing Sana’s life in the normal world, before shoe-horning in a “villain” at the end. I say “villain” because Hatori Shikishima’s only real crime was accidentally freezing time and making Sana mad.
While Alice & Zoroku lacks in the plot department, it establishes great relationships between its characters. Zoroku’s relationship with Sana feels genuine and paternal. He truly cares for Sana as if she was his flesh and blood granddaughter, and has no problem expressing this. Similarly, Sana cares for Zoroku and Sanae as family, and does her best to help out in any way she can. Despite being a bad villain, Hatori’s own emotional journey comes from a place that is extremely genuine. Wanting to make someone proud and feeling like you can’t is incredibly relatable for most people.
Although they didn’t do the plot justice, J.C. Staff did a phenomenal job animating the world of Alice & Zoroku. Wonderland is colorful, whimsical, and definitely feels like the environment a young girl would create. The fact that Sana could bring parts of Wonderland to the real world helped to liven up reality and make it a little more magical. These moments in particular made Alice and Zoroku bearable.
The whimsy of the universe is captured on the case and slipcover for Alice & Zoroku. The front cover showcases Sana enjoying different parts of the regular world. Meanwhile, the back cover highlights all the fantasy and joy of Wonderland. The adorableness of the box set will make an excellent addition to any anime collection.
Fans looking to add Alice & Zoroku to their anime collection can find more information here from Funimation.