Alice to Zouroku (Alice & Zouroku): Season 1/ Episode 1 “The Red Queen Escapes” [Series Premiere] – Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)

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With a focus on a relationship between a child who was abused and experimented on her whole life and an old man who is likely to teach her what love and affection is, we may need to prepare for a tear jerker which has just a taste of action.

The Introduction

Sana, one of many young girls code named “Dreams of Alice” escapes the research facility which has held her captive, and tested on her, for as long as she can remember. Something which is a difficult task for, part of their means of controlling those like Sana, is measuring their calories intake. Sometimes starving them to keep them from ever getting too far out of the reach of the facility.

Yet, Sana makes it out and thanks to a mysterious Dreams of Alice user, one who seems unfamiliar to Sana, she manages to escape to Shinjuku. There, she runs into an old man named Kashimura, a florist shop owner. Being that Sana’s power, the mirror gate, not only allows her to create and fix things in an instant, but acts as a sort of internet portal that not only directly feeds public information, but can see into a person’s mind, she imprints on him. She can tell he is kind and offers him a deal. One in which, for helping her take down the facility, she’ll grant one wish.

But being that Kashimura isn’t some young kid but an old man, one with a granddaughter perhaps Sana’s age, he wants nothing from her. Also, he doesn’t necessarily seem to be gung-ho on this whole “Let’s take the facility down” idea either. Instead, he seemingly is going to provide Sana normalcy and teach her what life would be like as a normal girl.

Highlights

The Relationship Between Sana and Kashimura

There is something about the idea of a child who, like Laura in Logan or the characters in Elfen Lied, didn’t necessarily have parental figures growing up. They had nurses and scientist who might have been nice to them, but not the love of a mom, dad or grandparents. So with Kashimura, despite all the things he has seen Sana and her peers do, treating them like children, you recognize something. First and foremost, you see them, despite being bonked on the head, not attacking him. For assuming Asahi and Yonaga, two other Dreams of Alice who were tasked with retrieving Sana, read Kashimura like Sana did, they knew he meant no harm. He was instead trying to correct them and, in a weird way, through his corporal punishment they felt cared about. At least, that is the only reason I can figure they didn’t go ballistic.

That situation aside, what really drives the beauty of the relationship home is that even as Sana probably costs him a pretty penny at dinner, and despite her having very little in social graces, he takes her on. He brings her to his home, carries her on his back when she is too tired to walk, and treats her life she is his own. Thus giving us a rarely seen, in anime which includes action anyway, an emotional foundation which really makes you care what happens to these people.

The Mystery That Is The Red Queen and The Facility

Being that Sana has no clue how she gained powers, much less what her name was before the twins, Asahi and Yonaga, gave her the name Sana, there is a lot of questions about her past. Was she made in a lab or kidnapped? Was she an orphan? Considering the conditions she hints of, was she experimented on sort of like Eleven in Stranger Things? It isn’t clear, but you can tell the abuse has put a damper on her spirit. Making you almost wonder, even with the power to look into people’s minds, why is she so trusting of Kashimura. Unless it is just, possibly due to being a child, her faith in humanity hasn’t been broken yet.

The Action Scenes

Two teenaged or young adult Dreams of Alice face off at the beginning of the episode. It’s nothing epic looking, mostly due to the art style. However, with one named Minnie C using what looks like the arms of a giant, then another one who uses some sort of portal to retrieve or throw weapons, the fight was interesting to watch.

Even when Sana was being chased down by Asahi and Yonaga, watching the twins use their powers to try to capture Sana was something. Again, not jaw dropping. However, it was above average.

On The Fence

The Art Style Switch During Action Scenes

While I am by no means bougie when it comes to the art style used within an anime [note]Though, I will admit, I’m not that fond of cheap looking CGI[/note], I do find it weird when the style switched up half way. Or, in the case of this show, it switching up during any scene in which Kashimura and Sana were being chased in a car. Plus, there was one consistency issue. For, in the back window, you can see a series of images implying the car was moving. Yet, from what we saw, and due to what Sana says, it is implied the car isn’t moving at all. So, there are little things worth raising an eyebrow, art wise.

Initial Rating: Positive (Watch This)

One thing which is hard to accomplishment, but so necessary, to do in the first episode of any show is to make your audience feel something. They need to feel a reason to care, a reason to be excited about what comes next, or be in awe because of the beauty, violence, or what have you. For Alice & Zoroku, what is accomplished is it makes you care about little Sana. For with it being clear that she perhaps never had someone like Kashimura in her life, you want to see how their relationship develops. Also, with the handful of battle scenes we saw with the Dreams of Alice users, there may be something there as well. Combine that with questions about how they became who they are, and you got yourself a show which at least starts off good. Time will tell if it lives up to its potential.

Though, with that said, this I’m definitely following and reviewing.

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