I love discovering new manga and there is a variety of series for all types of readers. When seeking out new manga I decided to check out Volume One of Alice in Kyoto Forest by Mai Mochizuki as I love a good Classic retelling! Take a journey with me and hear my thoughts on the first installment of this series from Tokyopop!
Synopsis: Orphaned at a young age, Alice has lived with her aunt for most of her childhood. But her uncle is abusive and resentful, and at fifteen years old, Alice decides to return home to Kyoto and train as a maiko, eventually hoping to become a geisha.
But when she returns to the city where she was born, she finds that Kyoto has changed quite a bit in the eight years since she left it. Almost as if it’s a completely different world…
Alice in Kyoto is a charming retelling of the popular tale Alice in Wonderland, except the story is set in 1800s Japan (Kyoto). Following our main character Alice, who shares some similarities with the Classic novel she sets out for a new beginning after leaving her uncle’s house. Alice is a voracious reader who is passionate about books, is kind-hearted, and is searching for a place she can truly call her own. For most of her life, as we see through emotional flashbacks, we see Alice struggle with acceptance and cope with the loss of her parents. This journey in Kyoto is a way for her to find true healing and start over. I think the self-discovery aspect of the tale resonated with me and I think this part of the story will appeal to readers too.
On her journey, Alice is joined by two adorable sidekicks and new faces who act as her guide to this strange new land with all its peculiar rules. Alice is taken aback by all the mystical creatures, people, clothing, and surroundings but tries to adjust the best as she can. Though Kyoto seems to accept her she is still confronted by finding out what her heart desires and what her true purpose is in order to stay there. With deep reflection, Alice must face her fears and find her own way.
This is a beautifully illustrated story, and I loved the detail of not only each character but the land itself. Mochizuki does a fantastic job of making this manga an immersive reading experience. The first installment of this series does a great job of setting up the background and characters, while also leaving some room for mystery for other readers to discover in future volumes.
If you are a reader that appreciates a fun fantasy story that is a whimsical adventure or enjoys unique retellings Alice in Kyoto Forest is a recommended read.
*I received this review copy from Tokyopop in exchange for a fair and honest review.