I can accept this place as my home, just like any other.
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.
Oh, so this is my problem.
“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.
“Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.”
-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.
“I only have a future. I can only keep going if I want to understand anything.”
-Koto, Kyousogiga, episode 7
When Koto breaks into the Shrine sanctuary that houses her mother, she is confident and does not flinch, even in the face of what appears to be a sticky situation. Koto reunites with her mother straightforwardly, with little excess emotion in spite of the fact that she is beaming with excitement. When the two are targeted shortly thereafter, Koto reacts instinctively. She grabs her mother, holding her closely, and proceeds to put personal questions, and feelings, aside in order to safely deliver her mother to her waiting siblings in the Mirror Capital.
The entirety of Koto’s life has been a maze of questions and answers with no context. As a child, Koto learned not to hide her tears, but to move forward following an outburst. She is far from emotionless, and vigorously expresses herself before moving on with her life – shown beautifully in the “rescue” of her mother, Lady Koto – to further seek out her own answers. This is the only way that she knows how to live, and her process of finding these answers is often driven by force. She forces her way because she knows no other and, as a consequence of her ignorance regarding her own personal situation, this leads to inevitable chaos or destruction.