The opening scenes of Alice & Zouroku involve poorly-done computer generated cars, a dramatic escape, and a Tokyo Tower scene that is eerily reminiscent of Sakura Kinomoto in Cardcaptor Sakura.
In fact, many things in the opening scene of Alice & Zouroku reminded me of other anime series — echoes of Cardcaptor Sakura, Madoka Magica, and Elfen Lied.
Yet what I latched onto was the nickname given to our titular Alice (Sana Kashimura): “The Red Queen.” Subsequent references to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There reminded me of another first episode experience — one that is near and dear to my heart — Kyousougiga.
“Myoue, I’ve been wondering, can we stay together a little longer? We’ve come all this way, and even came back to life and all. I can promise I’ll finish everything off. Let’s stay together just a little longer.”
-Koto to Myoue, Kyousougiga, Episode 10
A common thread in Rie Matsumoto’s directorial work is the inevitable destruction of whatever world she has spent the majority of the series or movie building. There is a ruined garden, structures flying everywhere, and an overall sense of disorientation in the face of the work’s respective protagonist coming to terms with what is most important to them.
As it turns out, what is most important is also wholly mundane and unquantifiable.
When children tell stories, they’re often stymied by an inability to communicate. Adults are frequently too far removed from their own childhood to understand, or the child is unable to make adults comprehend – much like the narrator of The Little Prince who, as a young boy, draws an elephant inside of a snake which is then interpreted as a hat. Additionally, when adults look back on their youth, they look at it from the eyes of an adult, reframing their experiences in a different context.
This makes portraying children in fiction and varying forms of media incredibly difficult. All too often a creator will underestimate a child’s intelligence and show them doing unnecessarily stupid things rather than a more nuanced display of ignorance. It’s remarkable when a director or creator gets children right.
With that being said, I’d like to draw your attention to Rie Matsumoto, director of Kyousogiga and Blood Blockade Battlefront.
-A poem from “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There,” by Lewis Carroll
From the moment she barges in by force, in search of a rabbit, Koto is the standout character – our presumed Alice – in the wonderland of the Mirror Capital. She is loud, winsome, and charming, allowing us to discover the mysteries of the Mirror Capital alongside her. Koto is confused, attempting to grasp at any sort of explanation for her mother’s disappearance, and so are we as we attempt to digest the imagery and references that Kyousogiga throws our way.