Are you Alice?

Are you Alice? was the first Drama CD series that truly got me hooked. Ninomiya Ai her brilliant script writing and an excellent cast had me addicted from the first track onwards. Are you Alice? is a (very) warped version of Alice in Wonderland, that starts with a male Alice wandering into wonderland.

We start with a young man wandering into wonderland, but not without commenting that the entrance sign ("only 100kiloliter until Wonderland") is lame. Once there he meets the Cheshire Cat, who addresses him as "Alice". Though he at first denies the name, he agrees to be called Alice. Seconds later he is attacked by 'regrets' only to be saved by the Mad Hatter, who somewhat begrudgingly takes him to meet the Queen of Hearts -who, ironically, is also male-
   The Queen of Hearts explains that everything in this world must follow the rules, and that these rules are part of the 'Game to kill the White Rabbit'. Alice? now possesses the most important ability in this game; the ability to kill the White Rabbit. After Bargaining for status and money in exchange for killing the White Rabbit, Alice? agrees to participate in the game, and so the story starts. However, we soon find out that Alice? isn't the first 'Alice' to have come to wonderland, and that not everthing is as it seems...

The story telling switches between rather dark, and brilliant non-nonsensical and ironical humor. And it does this very well, it never feels forced. Especially the nonsensical parts truly feel like 'wonderland'. The characters too, have great personalities that have their own quirks while being firmly based on their original counterparts. The story itself evolves nicely, and you can be sure to expect a few plot-twists that leave you thoroughly surprised. Everyone must follow the rules and fulfill their role, but not all characters have the role you initially expect them to have, and most of them have a second agenda they intend to follow.

The cast is absolutely brilliant. Alice (Sakurai Takahiro) is incredibly cynical and egoistical, and the Mad Hatter (Hirata Hiroaki) is probably equally cynical and has a 'I-don't-care-about-the-world' attitude. While these two feature the most along with the Cheshire Cat (Inoue Kazehiko) The rest of the cast is very good too, to the point where it is a pity that you don't see more of certain characters.

The main series has three parts: Drink me, Check Mate, and Call me. After that comes Lost End, which is exactly what the title implies. Released simultaneously with these entries are three drama cd's that are called "Tea Party" which while not directly related to the main story feature more characters from Wonderland. After the series ended the 'unbirthday scraps' were released, each unbirthday scrap focuses on the back story of a specific character and, in my opinion, are must listen material because it really fleshes out the characters. Recently all of these have been re-released as a 'classical edition'.
    As if this wasn't enough, there is tons of bonus material in the form of tokuten and other special releases. These are usually much less serious, or rather, completely idiotic in a good sense of the world. Played completely for laughs, the characters keep their original personality (though sometimes a bit exaggerated) while the non-nonsensical side of wonderland truly shines. A manga is alse being published, and two comic anthologies have been published as well.

If you like dark fairy tales, Are you Alice is for you. Though there is a considerable amount of (cynical) humor, the story is quite dark to the point of making me shiver, especially near the end when the ties between all the characters become clear.


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