Sunday, May 29, 2011

Are you Alice? commentary

There are two very similar stories based on Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" - the game company Quin Rose's "Heart no Kuni no Alice" (Alice in the Land of Hearts), and Ai Ninomiya and Ikumi Katagiri's "Are You Alice?" Both feature humanoid characters with animal-like features (although in "Heart" the characters actually can change into their animal forms), with the main character, "Alice" trying to figure out why they have arrived in Wonderland, and murderous Mad Hatters out to kill various targets. Are You Alice? (AYA?) has the distinction of having a male version of the character (not to be confused with the 1998 hentai Boy Alice in Wonderland.

(Are You Alice?)

(Heart no Kuni no Alice)

(Boy Alice in Wonderland)

To me, AYA? raises an interesting question, although as whole it is a fairly derivative work - "what happens if the main character stops showing up in the story?" The first thing to keep in mind is that within the Japanese Shinto system, places, things and ideas can have their own powers, or their own gods. If you keep a toy or doll long enough, your feelings enter that object and it takes on a kind of life of its own. That's why there are ceremonies for "sending off" dolls every year (check out this link for pictures of a Hina Matsuri purification ritual).

Ok, so people can put emotional energy into things that are kept near them, right? What does that mean when we look at writers having trouble getting started on a story? You pour all of your thoughts and dreams into a few paragraphs, get frustrated, throw the page away and then try again. How would the abandoned characters on that discarded sheet feel, if you could ask them? And then what if for some reason the main character didn't show up in the story because the story was written about them and they stopped reading it? The supporting characters would have nothing to support and their own tales would go untold. Now, turn that around and look at a story being told to one specific girl, being reworked and expanded on with each retelling, until the girl outgrew it and the author stopped telling it. What happens to those supporting characters now?

AYA? doesn't really come out and ask these questions directly, instead they're inherent parts of the story. Ignore that fact that the 89th incarnation of Alice is male, that's not the important part. I'm wondering what the author's answers to these questions will be. Worth checking out.

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