「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 Sequence

ED: 「Chant」 by toi toy toi (kotringo edition)


  1. Lemmi summarize this episode for everyone:

    Little girl: “I have super powers!”
    Old man: “Shut the f**k up.”

    …trope-filled as this show is, Zouroku’s grounded-ness is kind of refreshing. I hope he yells at every superpowered idiot the institute sends after Sana.

    1. Zouroku is a change from the usual high-school doofus. But I do not know if he is an actual improvement. Since I saw it going more like this.

      Little girl: “I have been tortured my entire life by the people sending killers after me. And my friends are still there having it done to them.”

      Old man: “Shut the f**k up.”

      1. Well, to be fair the “Shut the f*ck up” was replaced with room and board contingent upon her working to his satisfaction without reliance on her powers. Dodgy child labor laws aside, he did soften up after he heard the sob story. His standoffish nature was really only happening when she literally popped in his life and more or less demanded servitude for any wish he desired. What this servitude entails, I have no clue. Granted she has reality warping abilities so she could probably make good on the deal. And she’s also a 10 year old girl with the moniker of “Red Queen”, so I can’t fault her for that sense of entitlement even though she really doesn’t seem mean to come off like the brat that she presents herself to be. Also can’t fault the pops for getting irritated with a little girl getting uppity with him screwing with his life after maybe 35+ plus years of establishing, building, and maintaining his livelihood.

        The Waker
  2. Some awkward production values aside, this is shaping up to be a pleasant one. Zouroko is the true star of the show here, and I’m glad it’s this way cuz too often we see the story from the (shall we say) Diclonii’s point of view. It’s refreshing that it’s from the caretaker’s POV this time, and it’s a strict, very serious old man who clearly has a back story that’s bound to be something good at that. When nothing about this show is trying to be cute to tug at our heart strings, that’s when I know this is not meant to be traditional. Yeah it has its cliches, but it isn’t defined by them. I think I’ll keep this one.

  3. This anime is a hit in my requirements to be placed in my watchlist. However, I might be wary of this anime as well because I get some brynhildr anime vibes that tells me that this will get dark in one of those episodes

    1. I’m personally not apposed to dark as long as it serves the story. If there are certain dark implications that are resultant of an action and the story chooses to explore them to a point of conclusion, then I’m down to ride even if it gets uncomfortable. If a story does something cruel just for the sake of shock value, or the exploration of a dark implication was done shallowly/clumsily, then I get frustrated. I’m more concerned if the anime goes “Brynhildr/Elfen” in the direction of rushed pacing and a sloppy train wreck conclusion that really doesn’t conclude or explain anything, making me have to find the manga and read until I’m satisfied.

      The Waker
      1. well i am with you… i dont hate that brynhildr anime except for its rushed pacing but i cant bare to watch lolis melt in pain due to something like in brynhildr. make it dark if needed for plot but the suffering shouldn’t happen specially that the characters are kids and an old man.

    1. Well seinen is a demographic for manga, not really a genre for anime… something can be aimed at older boys and still not come off as dark. Maybe we’ll see more of that later on but I still can’t imagine it turning out to be a blood bath or anything =X

  4. @Little girls escaping research facilities

    I thought the Brynhildr anime was dreadful, and rushed. And these shows share that same premise. I can only assume we have a “tragic” backstory and pacing issues to come right? Ugh.

    I’ll probably just wait and see how people receive this show before watching. Cherries write-up didn’t sell it to me.

    1. The mangaka that did Brynhildr also did Elfen Lied, if I remember correctly. It seems like he has a particular niche and a tendency for his stories to get cut rushed and cut short when put to anime.

      The Waker
      1. I’m not sure if you can really compare those two shows. Elfen Lied was a much better adaption and only really suffered from a lack of sequel. Where as Brynhildr was just a mess that never really rose beyond mediocre.

        I’m not familiar with the source material for Brynhildr but I would assume the anime likely took liberties with the adaption correct?

    2. With Elfen Lied, the anime just stopped abruptly. No conclusion. Brynhildr Also stopped abruptly, but also tried to wrap everything up with what it had, which made it even messier. I don’t fully remember how many liberties were taken; I read the manga four or so years ago, but I assume so.

      The Waker
    3. Although the premise reminds me a lot of Elfen Lied, I don’t think Alice to Zouroku will take the same route, plus the manga is still ongoing so unless they decide on an anime-original ending, I doubt the ending will be rushed either. If anything, I can imagine there being a few more fluff episodes or two before the “good stuff” begins. I’ll hold off judgment until I’ve seen the first few episodes because while I don’t mind the pacing and tropes, I do wish it would throw me a surprise twist or development.

  5. It seems everyone caught a taste of Elfen and/or Brynhildr watching this first episode. Considering that all of them seem to start more or less the same way it’s understandable. For some reason it had a similar feeling as Kamisama Dolls in some ways. I don’t know why this show makes me think of that anime, but it does. It also reminded me in some ways of Logan, but I recently saw the movie so that could be why. So far I’m cautiously optimistic about the anime. I like that Zouroku and everyone else was fairly grounded in reality (for a given value of “reality” that can occur in this setting), and is an interesting comparison to the more fantastical reality of the girls and the researchers. I also kind of liked how when questioned about how a lot of their more bizarre abilities work (infinitely expanding space, creating living mascot like creatures, etc) the head research guy basically said “I have no idea.” Something about that instead of a string of magi-techno babble about inverse quantum probabilities from an alternate dimension formed by making a demonic pact with an UMA made me happy for unexplained reasons.

    The Waker
  6. Ep. 01 was kind of what I expected – nothing Elfen Lied grim-dark/gory, but yeah, the overall/tone was a bit lighter than I thought along with a little (IMO) odd comedy(?) thrown in at the end (yakuza guy). The pacing was definitely a bit slower than I expected though I’m not sure it would have been better to squeeze it all into one standard length episode.

    What I found most odd was when Sana meets up with Zouroku. Either Zouroku has some prior knowledge about the “Alice Project” (not sure what the name is for the experiments on the girls, but that’s what I’m using), or gramps is on some serious meds. I get that the guy is pretty stoic (other than when he gets angry), but there are limits because he is so impassive about the whole magic exists thing. There was a slight facial expression or something when Sana rattles of his personal info, but no “How do you know that!?” and/or “What’s that flower thing that just appeared in front of you!?” Just shrugs it off as he does a lot of stuff from then on.

    Then during the car chase with Yonaga & Asahi, he does ask “What is that?”, but after Sana explains, his response is “There’s no chain on a bike”, looks in the review mirror and then says “The bike chain!”… rather than a much more normal (IMO) response of “WTF IS GOING ON!? There are two girls riding a floating bike connected to a magic chain!?” What’s his reaction after they crash? Smack the girls on the head (guess he’s one for old-school discipline) and give them a public scolding. He even talks to the police utterly mater-of-fact about “wrecking balls from thin air”. Magic? Eh, no big deal apparently – unless he knows more than he’s letting on.

    Yet once Zouroku’s released, he seems surprised his car is fixed, etc. He also seems kind of surprised when Sana explains things to him in the restaurant. Not only that, the director doesn’t appear to recognize him (I assume that the company worked fast on Zouroku’s info since they apparently have access to any gov’t resources rather than that being something like company employee records. Never know though). Zouroku gets rid of his car because “weird things happened”. So is he freaked out a bit after all, or maybe covering some tracks? IDK here, but Zouroku’s reactions – or more accurately lack thereof, would make a lot more sense if he knows something about the “Alice Project”. In contrast, the police guy certainly acted normally (i.e. WTF is going on?). Oh, also Zouroku doesn’t react much to the news about little girls being imprisoned as lab rats. Yeah, an “adult matter”, but uh, since you’re an adult, I hope you’re going to do something about that after you told Sana to back off.

    Anyway, both leads are OK. Gramps is grouchy old guy as advertised and Sana is naive about the world, (kind of) damsel in distress. Only Ep. 01 so plenty of time for some character growth & development. Personally, I wouldn’t call the relationship between the two “adorable” (Zouroku’s a bit too quick with the yelling and head grabbing/hitting), but I did like that Zouroku was skeptical about taking Sana in right away, but ultimately he didn’t kick Sana to the curb.

    Apart from visual issues, I thought the show did have some decent action scenes – particularly in the beginning, but WOW was there some bad visual quality. Not just the usual CGI issues. My “favorite” was when Zouroku stopped the car, but in the back window the scenery was still moving as if the car was still in motion. Someone didn’t do their job with Ep. 01. :/

    Not the strongest start, but enough to keep me around for at least 1-2 more episodes. Have to admit, I’m looking forward to Sana rescuing her friends – most of them anyway (I assume this won’t go totally dark). We might get some nice character growth & relationship building as well. There are already hints of that with Sana, but gramps needs to work on his anger management.

    1. Either Zouroku has some prior knowledge about the “Alice Project” (not sure what the name is for the experiments on the girls, but that’s what I’m using), or gramps is on some serious meds.

      I also found this stone-faced personality of Zouroku a bit jarring, but what bothered me a lot more is the inconsistencies of the characters’ priorities and competence. I mean in the first half the research facility and it’s boss was resourceful and a power to behold, maybe there were also signs of their over-confidence, but they were somewhat competent and intelligent in how they managed their crisis. And in the second part they were just simply reduced to the usual brainless evil research factory with strategies that the main characters can overthrow easily. Using the twins as an attack method was simply stupid, (considering that how that action scene was handled, it was a terrible decision to add the car chase at all) and that after locating the Red Queen sending a sniper with a tranquilizer shot after her would have made a lot more sense, especially when Sana has a ton of special powers up her sleeve. And the story could have continued in a more logical manner, just make the sniper miss and shot Zouroku instead Sana and then she panics and teleports the two of them to a back alley. And of course, what happened with the usage of the public security cameras in the second half. If it’s already established that the pursuers have the footage from them and can use it locate Sana, then it would have made more sense that they can use them to find her after the restaurant scene, too.

      And if Zouroku had prior knowledge about the research facility (or at least some common sense), then I’d have expected him to maybe give some useful advice to Sana, like the first rule of every fugitive, that she should change her outfit and hair colour at first. And even if that contradicts the trope of the inviolability of the character designs, then just make it so that originally Sana was dark-haired and wore some unassuming clothes (which she actually did at first) and then she changed into her current goth-loli clothes and blond hair as a form of camouflage.

      Faolin Eye
      1. @Faolin Eye: All good points. I was just more focused on trying to figure out Zouroku’s backstory because of his (IMO) odd behavior as a main character. But yes, K&C does go from fairly secretive night experiment to “Eh, screw it”, and full blown public view not-so-effective assault. One certainly can come up with a better plan. Still, one does get a sense of K&C arrogance. The director certainly holds a lot of power including covert gov’t connections. That only goes so far of course in terms of explaining sub-par strategy due to over-confidence.

        — “And of course, what happened with the usage of the public security cameras in the second half.”

        They did locate Sana in the city (car chase), but yes, pursuit was broken off after that. Perhaps wanted to let things settle down for a bit + still (over)confident in recapture. However, you bring up a very good point in general and one that’s in the back of my mind. They have a file on Zouroku, so surely know his address (both home & work) so K&C should be able to try and recapture Sana at anytime. Unless the two go into hiding (which I doubt will happen), then should be a constant stream of attacks. If not, then WHY not? The anime has boxed itself in a bit here.

        As for Sana’s appearance, IMO screw any trope with the character design/clothing in this situation. I guess the blonde hair will stick, but at least change clothes. That might happen since Zouroku could give Sana some of his granddaughter’s old clothes. Then again, could just magic up a disguise as well. Wouldn’t fool facial recognition software though. Have to take it up a level for that (which Sana could do via magic power).

        All in all, yes, there are certainly some questions/issues so far. Early (only one Ep – double length or not), so have to see how it plays out. As noted, overall tone & focus is something I wonder about. Will this go dark(er), or stay light and focus more on the SOL & relationship between Zouroku & Sana and their respective character development?

  7. Watched parts of it and well… Lemme just say that it is filled with all kinds of tropes-turned-cliches born out of templates found within a mainstreamer’s paradigms. The only thing I found instantly relieving and sincere at the very least was Zouroku’s relationship and interactions with the little girl. Yeap, back to watching whatever few anime Blu-Rays I have~~~
    ( ^ _ ^ )

    Nishizawa Mihashi
  8. 45 minute premire? No wonder I was snoozing….

    The extra length was definitely unnecessary as it seemed to just have been poured into bad CGI sequences highlighting fairly boring action.

    Gramps is ….. too stoic by far. It’s head-bustingly dumb that the most he’s permitted is a very mild astonishment (which drives him to sell his car). Ok, funny getting the cops involved but, hey, easy out of that plot twist. Our bad guys are so bad even the cops can’t get involved which returns our story to the common realm of “modern world but law enforcement is useless.”

    Odd to watch the twins so aggressively and dangerously attack only to have them just simply try to argue with Sana and then be completely cowed by Gramps and the cops. But once again, the “twist” ends up useless unless Gramps is just gonna defend Sana from her future enemies by taking them over the knee for some spanks.

    I’ll wait to see if anyone still watching later thinks it’s worth it to try it again.

  9. If Alice has a similar background to Lucy in Elfen Lied, then Zouroku is reminiscent of Léon in the 1994 film Léon: The Professional — both male characters are dignified persons, they both are reluctant to shelter the girls at first, and they both view the girls they sheltered as kids.

    Considering that the director of A&Z was also the director of Flying Witch (which I think is the best slice-of-life anime to date), I suppose the focus here is placed more on the relationship between Alice and Zouroku than on supernatural power battles. However, as Alice is being hunted, I find it hard to believe that A&Z will be a slice-of-life anime. Anyway, I have high hopes on this series.

    The suffocated
    1. I thought that Sana could be like Lucy too (and I’ll use spoiler tags here for people that haven’t seen Elfed Lied) but if that DOES happen to be the case, Kouichi and Co. really aren’t make that much of an effort to go and get her. They seem to kind of be moseying along, trying to make attempts to catch her but nothing that screams “OMG SHE’S A DANGER TO SOCIETY”. And another interesting fact would be to learn if Show Spoiler ▼

      1. 1. I haven’t read the manga, but I guess the past of Alice wasn’t as hard or as tragic as Lucy’s.

        2. If that “interesting fact” is true, I wonder if it would make A&Z an interesting mix of Elfen Lied, Léon: The Professional and Solty Rei (2005). o_O Hope it won’t go too melodramatic…

        The suffocated
      2. @Cherrie @The suffocated: Been a long time since I read Elfen Lied, but in terms of the experiments, it doesn’t seem that they are nearly as brutal as what happens with Lucy & the other Diclonius. Not saying it’s all unicorns and rainbows for Sana and the others. It’s not as we saw (and Yonaga says some experiments can be “unpleasant”), but right now doesn’t seem quite as bad. Also, in Elfen Lied, it’s not 100% clear whether the Diclonius propensity for violence is solely due to their treatment or if there’s some genetic component as well.

        As for Cherrie’s spoiler: Show Spoiler ▼

    1. @Nikki: I didn’t expect it to be Elfen Lied dark (that is a really grim-dark story with a lot of gore, but both shows have a similar starting premise – girls with superpowers are held captive in lab and subject to experimentation when one escapes.

      I found the tone a bit odd & not quite what I expected. Some SOL I did expect along with supernatural (of course) and some action. Perhaps some mystery (i.e. what’s backstory – the deal with Sana and the rest, K&C Pharm’s objective, etc.). It’s the apparent comedy aspect that I did not expect and gives off a lighter than expected overall tone.

      So far, the tone is fairly light for the premise. No bloodshed or death so far that I can recall (way different than Elfen Lied). On top of that, after the car chase, gramps (Zouroku) just whacks Sana, Yonaga & Asahi on the head and lectures them in kind of comedic fashion. There’s also the kind of comedy bit with the yakuza guy at the end.

      Personally, I’m struggling a bit right now as to determining what the tone will be for this story. It’s not going to be all fluffy & sweet SOL, but certainly seems to be some of that. Just given the premise, you’d think it would have be a little dark, but the big question that remains is how dark? Could be wrong, but right now I don’t see this going Elfen Lied dark or similar.

  10. Small Errors they oversaw.

    At the Car chase scene, when the Old men stop the car, the CGI in the car windows show us he is still driving fast…

    Then when the Red Queen took over for driving.. they forgot to animate the wheels, they are not moving…

    as i said, small errors

    1. @Worldwidedepp: “Small errors” is subjective. I noted your first example in my post above – gramps stops the car, but the scenery in the rear window keeps moving as if the car is still in motion. Sure in terms of the overall story it’s “small”/inconsequential, but it’s a bad, noticeable error IMO. It’s confusing for the viewers.

      The tires not moving wasn’t as big of a deal for me. It’s still an error/inconsistency, but not nearly as bad IMO as the one above.

      1. well, in the early seconds of the episode, we see a shot from the old men entering a building. They forgot to draw his beard

        Well, from the design i think this Studio has hired new animators, so i just want to help. Not to make a blood bath with “fresh flesh”

  11. From this first episode I already think that this is gonna be more about drama/SoL than magic/adventure, some may be disappointed but I’m fine either way, I rarely see character like Zouroku. I’m interested to see how he’s gonna help the girls at the research facility since he’s powerless so far (though we’re still not sure whether he want to help Sana or not).

  12. To bad Flip Floppers was not more well known as it was a wonderfully buityfull done animation. Excaping the research facility is something in the back story not the beginning though.
    But to be learned from Flip Floppers with people with reality powers.
    Show Spoiler ▼

  13. I wonder if Zouroku ever worked in the Spetsnaz and met a boy with a cross-shaped scar on his left check. Or nuked a space base in his younger days. xD

    Anyway, I really liked his character so far. Instead of letting this young girl who suddenly appeared with magic powers drag him into her world, he only sees a young child that needs to come out of that manga world and learn to life in the real world without that magic crap.

    Naturally stopping those twins without a care in the world was just awesome.

    J.H. Nas
  14. I like how I didn’t understand any references from the above but I still want to watch on to see what happens haha

    Considering I hardly watch these kinds of shows, I’m more interested in the slice-of-life portion of this show than everything that surrounds it. Honestly, the worst thing I’d like this show to do is show me a full-fledged fight in like episode 10 where Zouroku’s or his granddaughter’s life is at stake or whatever.

    I’m staying for the three-episode rule to say the least. And at least the theme song sounds good.

  15. I’m a bit late to this series but like some others have mentioned, it does appear to be somewhat poorly written. The apparent antagonists were so awful in their capture attempt and it’s somewhat unrealistic how the old man just accepts all this nonsense instead of freaking out, unless he’s somehow related to this magic ability. Also, since Sana can apparently materialize whatever… why doesn’t she just materialize food when she’s hungry and thus can have infinite power?

    1. Okay maybe I should have watched the second episode first regarding the food creation but that could also be easily solved by just creating money and then using them to purchase food or even just outright stealing them. Why did Sana see the need to make a “deal” with some old guy?

    2. @Requiem: The food issue is explained in Ep. 02. Same goes for hints of gramps knowing at least something about what’s going on. Personally, I thought Ep. 02 was better (now likely to continue watching this), but yeah, it’s not airtight. I’m taking a more laid back lighter SOL approach to this based off the general tone. I think that helps some. I have a feeling that this won’t hold up well under a great deal of scrutiny.

  16. ep 04:

    Yeap, after watching the episode, i know and can tell for sure that this Anime is for adults. it is definite not for Kids, it is more Railgun level. What make us Human and so one.

    If you love this thoughts and so on, then this is a hidden gem for you. But, just do not expect fate/Stay night animation level. But i give you my word, this anime life not for its animations. it life for his Story

    Curious? then go watch until ep 04. Ep 04 open your eyes and heart

    an word direct to the animation team. your timing for movement are a bit to fast. But i bet this is an Budget think because of FPS/Keyframes

    cgi is good, do not worry

    1. You know, in Episode 04 here, you see some kind of Product promotion (Snickers)

      But you know, some old Artist had use it to, you remember this AMV? it’s footage is from “Freedom” and the Sponsors was this kind of Instant soup (if i remember correctly).. So did they bend? So it can work

      link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oc2Y1BU2N4A

      So, as long they do not sell the Anime Soul for that, why not

  17. Ep 06:

    Welcome bake, Alice

    This was a nice slice of life summer breeze episode. But do not forget the base of the Girls. Do they found all of them? Do no other girls felling mad about losing their home? or the opposite, thanks to her, they enjoy freedom and are still child in mind?

    You need still some sort of red line, only Slice of Life will get dull with time

    But, yes. i enjoyed this episode

  18. Ep 09:

    I approve this, the arc began with episode 08 (if you want to watch). No real Villian, but also no real Hero 🙂

    a fitting story for Kids that still need to learn to control their powers. Also all of this Kids here have an Fail Save switch, it’s called Hunger 🙂

    Yes, i like it. Thank you for you hard Work everyone. The Writer came with a good solution


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