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Manga / Alice & Zoroku

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Sana has spent her entire existence in a research facility, being studied because of the unusual Reality Warping abilities she and others possess named the "Dreams of Alice". Sana, however, desires to see the outside world and stages an escape. Soon after doing so, she encounters an old man, Zoroku Kashimura, and takes a liking to him. The feeling is far from mutual at first, but Zoroku and his granddaughter, Sanae, quickly bond with Sana and look after her, even as the research facility that previously had her tries to get her back.

Alice & Zoroku (Alice to Zouroku) is a manga by Tetsuya Imai, which began serialization in Monthly Comic Ryu in 2012. It was adapted into an anime for the spring 2017 season, that features a mix of Slice of Life and Urban Fantasy as Sana alternately adjusts to life in the outside world and is protected from those who would see her power exploited. The anime is licensed by Bandai Visual and available subtitled on Crunchyroll and dubbed on FUNimation, while Seven Seas Entertainment released the manga in English starting July 2017.

Alice & Zoroku contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • The Hinagiri twins were abused by their father when they were younger. This eventually reached the point that Yonaga killed their father with her bow in self-defense.
    • Hatori's mom is an Education Mama of the worst sort, who put so much pressure on her that she simply snapped.
  • A-Cup Angst: Sana from the future is angry when Sana from the present time notices that her breasts have not grown with age.
  • Art Initiates Life: Cleo's Card which is his "drawings", ranging between turning his drawings into reality and premonition through drawing objects related to what he's looking for, such as Zouroku's car when asked to pin Sana's location down by the Research facility.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: This manga is drawn in simplistic and plushy style but its theme is somewhat dark, dealing with reality-warping, child abuse and potential existential threat.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Episode four ends with Shizuku Ichijo tearing off the roof of Minnie C's car, binding her, dispelling the arm holding Zoroku, declaring who she is and what she's there to do.
    Ichijo: Sorry I'm late. I'm here to save you. I'm Cabinet Information Research Office Secret Service agent Ichijo Shizuku. We'll be taking you two with us!
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Sanae gives a very polite calling out in episode four. She has no problem at all with Zoroku bringing Sana into their home or even planning to add her to their family. What she does take issue with is his tendency to decide things on his own without consulting the others around him. She explains that's something they need to be even more mindful of if they're to be a family of three. Zoroku takes this to heart and, when the time comes, gives Sana the choice to be adopted into the Kashimura family.
  • Cast from Calories: The powers of Dreams of Alice are fueled by their user's energy. They're usually Big Eaters as a result and one of the men at the research facility monitoring Sana's escape notes they were keeping her calorie intake low precisely because it limited her ability to escape them. Sana can conjure food for herself, but it takes the same amount of calories to make it as the food has, making it pointless use it to restore her powers.
  • Cool Big Sis: Sanae takes to this role almost immediately. Having been warned by Zoroku, she's able to take Sana's powers and initial nervousness in stride and quickly wins her over by helping her with her hair, making her food, and comforting her when her memories get the better of her.
  • Covers Always Lie: The page image is the same picture Crunchyroll uses to promote the series. At first glance it looks very much like a Slice of Life series. The anime's very first scene is Sana escaping the research facility on a stormy night and features a battle between Minnie C and Ichijo. There is a Slice of Life element to the series, but only after Sana finds Zoroku and he brings her home with him.
  • Differently Powered Individual: "Dreams of Alice" are people empowered by Wonderland and given particular abilities that, with the exception of Sana, are usually geared around a central theme, or Card.
  • Distant Finale: In the last episode of the adaptation, it shows Sana eventually as a teenager. She's visiting a grave, and Zoroku is nowhere to be found, so we can assume he died somewhere along that transition.
  • Generic Cuteness: There's no character you could define as looking downright ugly or scary. Not even Zouroku when he's mad.
  • Genius Loci: Wonderland, which is actually a living universe growing beneath Tokyo. It created Sana as an extension of itself, so it could learn about the outside world.
  • Government Conspiracy: Japan and the United States were behind the Institute experimenting on the Dreams of Alice in an effort to use them as a power source. Fortunately, Japan eventually regrets and undoes their actions.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Somewhere in the first half of the show, Sana meets an adult version of herself and the viewer is made to understand that she grew up and started working as a florist, just as her "grandfather". Thus, the happy end of the work becomes completely obvious.
  • Human Aliens: Sana is described as one though in reality she is part of Wonderland.
  • Important Haircut: Sana gets her hair cut rather short later on in the series, in the episode in which she is formally adopted into the Kashimura family.
  • Meido: The ultimate form of Ichijo's Card transforms her into the anime maid character upon whom her Card is based and arms her with that character's weapons. She isn't happy about this and rarely uses the single digits due to being powerful maid tools.
  • Nerves of Steel: Zoroku, a simple florist by trade, is able to keep his cool when faced with three reality warping little girls and, when the chance presents itself, give them a major scolding for all the collateral damage they caused and forces them to turn themselves in to the police. Then, when face to face with Minnie C, the fact that she has him at her mercy does nothing to stop him from lecturing her about kidnapping Sana and questioning her humanity even as Minnie C dismisses Sana's.
  • No Social Skills: Sana, being a bit out of touch with the rest of the world due to isolation and very limited social interaction in the research facility, has some problems interacting with other people. She slowly gets better though, with Zoroku and Sanae helping her.
  • One Person, One Power: The basic rule regarding the "cards" the Dreams of Alice manifest their powers through. However, depending on what that card is, it can be highly versatile. For example, Ichijo has a specific anime as her card, making her capable of using 666 different techniques with her one card as a result. Sana herself is the winner of the Superpower Lottery, being capable of doing anything as long she has energy for it.
  • Personality Powers: Zig-Zagged. Minnie C's powers manifest as the arms of her late husband, who she desperately desires to see once again and which she talks to as if they were him. Ichijo, however, developed her power while she was asleep and it took the form of an anime that just happened to be on television at the time. As a result, Ichijo thinks that Dreams of Alice aren't actually intended to make one's dreams come true.
  • Power Incontinence: Sana suffers from this, as even if her Card can do anything, her control over it leaves much to be desired, usually resulting in unpredictable and sometimes dangerous outcomes when it sets off.
  • Product Placement: Mostly food items in the anime. One episode had Carl's Jr., and another had a Snickers bar on full display in one scene.
  • Reality Warper: All Dreams of Alice are capable of altering reality in a specific way depending on their Card. Sana is unique in that she can warp reality beyond one specific Card, earning her the moniker "Red Queen".
  • Reality Warping Is Not a Toy:
    • A point Zoroku makes explicitly clear for Sana or any other Dreams of Alice girls he sees recklessly using their power, taking time to lecture them thoroughly in the process.
    • Episode six has Zoroku nagging Sana for using her powers for every little thing. This later causes Sana not to use them when she gets lost. This prompts Zoroku to explain he's not against her using her powers, but does want her to use them wisely and not become reliant on them.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Once Zoroku sees that Sana truly does have mysterious powers, he never doubts her word on the matter and takes steps to get the aid of a government man he knows to help deal with the situation. In day to day life, Zoroku is strict with Sana but rarely unfair. Episode six has him constantly scolding her for using her powers for every little thing. However, as he takes the time to explain later, he understands Sana's powers are part of her and he's actually fine with her using them, but wants her to use them wisely and not become reliant on them. Generally speaking, when he's scolding any of the children, he makes a point of making sure they have a clear understanding of why something they did was wrong.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Ichijo tells Zoroku in episode 7 that the Hinagiri twins were in police custody immediately prior to entering the research facility because Yonaga killed their abusive father in self-defense.
  • Shout-Out Theme Naming: To Alice in Wonderland. The last episode of the adaptation rips the last paragraph or so from the book and applies it to their situation.
  • Significant Name Overlap: Sana's name is very similar to Zoroku's granddaughter's, Sanae. The latter lampshades this when they meet for the first time, and the two quickly bond.
  • Single-Minded Twins: At one point, due to trauma, the Hinagiri sisters turned into this. At the time they were taken in by the research facility, they had lost the ability to recognize themselves as separate individuals. They grew better eventually, but this remains a reason they were against Sana going into the outside world.
  • Spontaneous Weapon Creation: A common trait of Dreams of Alice. Yonaga Hinagiri's Card allows her to create a bow and arrow, while her sister Asahi can conjure anything related to chains. Ichijo's Card allows for the creation of literally hundreds of different weapons and objects.
  • Stepford Smiler: Minnie C is almost always smiling despite (or maybe because of) having a tragic past and a Card that won't let her forget it for even a day. Cleo lampshades the implication of this trope by pointing out that a person that is always smiling is no different from one that never smiles.
  • The Unmasqued World: The existence of Dreams of Alice is finally revealed to the public in the end of the series.
  • Variable-Length Chain: Asahi can create and weave multiple chains together to form structures to her advantage. Apart from that, she can make anything related to chains, which includes bicycles and chain-driven motorcycles.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Sana was created to help Wonderland answer this question and understand the meaning of being human.
  • Would Harm a Child: Minnie C makes it clear to Sana that she will kill her if she doesn't submit. Fortunately, she gets rescued. The Institute she worked for was itself pretty callous given that most of their test subjects were children. They deliberately kept Sana's calorie intake low, in other words, they didn't feed her enough, so that she could not easily use her powers to escape them.
  • Wrong Context Magic:
    • Minnie C thinks this is happening in her fight with Ichijo, as the agent is able to wield a multitude of different weapons against her while also having a Double Jump and long range voice communication. Ichijo's Card, however, is simply that versatile, having come from an anime character whose magic doors give access to multiple weapons.
    • Sana is the only Dream of Alice whose power is not limited to any one theme, or Card. Her abilities are limited only by her imagination and include telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation, and flight along with being a Reality Warper.