「赤の女王、逃げる」 (Aka no Joou, Nigeru)
“The Red Queen Escapes”
Little girls escaping research facilities seems to have gained a lot of popularity over the years. I remember ”back in the good ol’ days” when I first started watching anime (again), Elfen Lied was this big phenomena and now the premise has expanded into other genres. It’s interesting to see what the story chooses to focus on and Alice to Zouroku seems to be a lot more character-centric. The series isn’t as adventure or mystery-oriented as I anticipated so if I were to put a label on it, it’s probably more comedy, slice-of-life right now with some supernatural elements.
Having spent a good 45 mins on its premiere, you can bet that Alice to Zouroku spent a good amount of time laying down the ground rules and setting. We know that there’s a girl that has escaped from a research facility (somewhere out there) and she has supernatural powers; which she doesn’t know the origins of. The facility is testing the limits of her powers and she needs food in order to regenerate her energy. Anyway – Sana (Ohwada Hitomi) escapes the facility’s director’s hands (Kitou Kouichi (Matsukaze Masaya)) with the help of an anonymous girl and she runs to Tokyo where she meets old man, Kashimura Zouroku (Ootsuka Akio). Zouroku is a much stricter old man (compared to the friendly ones you’d imagine) and he yells at Sana after she destroys half the town running away from Kouichi, Yonaga (Kito Akari) and Asahi (Fujiwara Natsumi). In fact, given that it’s an anime, I’m surprised how seriously Zouroku takes the situation because he reports what’s going on the police and they’re even sent to the station! Only for a while though, because they’re ultimately released when the police are told to drop the case. Sana runs into Zouroku again and despite their rough start, Zouroku offers Sana a temporary place to stay (his house) and in exchange, Sana has to stop using her powers.
Like I said, I think where the show surprises me most is how serious Zouroku appears when he talks to Sana – about pretty much everything. He treats her a lot like a child, a criminal in some cases and just an absolute stranger… and I don’t blame him! When he points out that he felt like he was being blackmailed, that completely drew me back into reality. In anime, you normally take these things for granted or dismiss the fact that people could’ve died when supernatural beings are flying around; but not in this case. Zouroku gives Sana a piece of his mind when she goes back to him asking for help and he has a habit of holding her head (always thought that was weird). Very quickly the anime establishes that even though Sana is the one with the powers, Zouroku is the one in control and he has not to be taken lightly. He might be old; he has no family; but he’s no softy and he even carries out his own business! I’m so impressed, normally you don’t see your grandparents still working at that age and going strong. Zouroku never brings up his own kids (only his granddaughter) though so I wonder if there’s some interesting backstory there. In the meantime, my expectations for a cute kid/grandpa-like relationship between Sana and Zouroku has been shattered. I think there’s going to be a lot more harsh lessons for Sana coming up about manners and just living in society with people.
While the direction of the character development isn’t going the way I expected it to (in a good way), the story is so far predictable and still enjoyable. The entire 45 mins felt unnecessary for this type of story; but any extended time is a good thing so I shouldn’t complain in this day and age. It wasn’t as exciting or action-packed as I would’ve liked, but it paints the story for the viewer to be immersed in. I would hope that even though it’s a character-driven story, that there’s a good plot to go with it (hopefully nothing too stereotypical and cliché). It has a few scenes which are meant to make you laugh, but a bit overdone in anime these days; as well as the same cute girls wearing cute attire, but not to everyone’s taste. So overall, it’s not terrible, but gives me mixed impressions of what the show is trying to be. Is it a mystery/supernatural/action? Or is it a SOL/comedy/supernatural? Somehow I wish it was a bit of everything just to spice things up a bit. Plus, some exploration of the research facility would be nice.
Bottom Line – @RCCherrie: For a double-length premiere, #alicetozouroku was alright but not captivating as I hoped. I’m still on board though to see what’s next. The relationship between Zouroku and Sana is adorable! And despite all the genre labels for #Arizou, it’s like a comedy/slice-of-life to me.
ED: 「Chant」 by toi toy toi (kotringo edition)