Alice to Zouroku – 01 (First Impressions)

The Gist: Sana, who belongs to a group of supernatural power-wielding humans known as “Dreams of Alice”, has escaped the research facility where she’s been held as long as she can remember.

While being pursued by the facility’s director, armed with other Dreams of Alice, Sana meets Kashimura Zouroku, an elderly florist, who gets caught up in the ensuing chaos.

He eventually agrees to let her stay at his place “for a while” as long as she helps him out and doesn’t use her powers.

A2Z, as I’ll be shortening it to, is a seinen anime, and as such, deals with what could have been a moetastic mess with a clear-eyed sobriety, a deliberate pace, and with a refined attention to detail. Zouroku is truly an Old Man’s Old Man, who wouldn’t be out of place in a show like Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, and the way the young Sana instantly starts cramping his old man style is highly believable as well as entertaining.

We’ve seen plenty of “I don’t need this” characters, but Zouroku immediately earns that attitude by having so many years under his belt, and to a degree, having earned the right to live his life the way he wants. If a bunch of magic-using urchins start messing up his Shinjuku, well, he has a problem with that. Of course, once he learns where Sana is from, and how she’s no doubt had to deal with stuff no little kid should, his position softens, without breaking down into 3-gatsu no Lion Gushy Grandpa Mode.

I also liked the application of the magic itself. It’s weird, fun, and creative without getting too whimsical. As soon as we saw Tachibana standing on the palm of a giant hand, I knew we were in for some weird stuff, and her short but exciting dual with Sana’s mysterious benefactor, as well as the Mini car chase with the chain-and-arrow-wielding twins, are very well-directed sequences. The CGI is very much noticeable, but not distractingly so.

What I appreciated was that mundane scenes of Shinjuku are treated with as much care as those action scenes. This may be a first episode and the animation quality may well dip, but for now the world of A2Z is lively and lived-in, avoiding being too flashy, surreal, or stylized. Similarly, the character design is very simple, but effective, calling to mind that of Madoka Magica. A little kiddy, belying its more mature themes.

We don’t know exactly what’s up with Zouroku and his granddaughter, but my take was that she passed away or maybe moved out on bad terms (it’s suggested she’s older than Sana in any case). The sudden appearance of Sana in Zouroku’s life suggests this won’t be a one-sided relationship: both parties will get something out of it.

Sure, at first, that means more trouble for Zouroku, but whether he was planning on it or not, it also afford the opportunity for him to do something more important than a floral arrangement for a yakuza’s girlfriend.

What exactly that is, and whether or not he’ll simply stay out of the way when Sana & Co. go off on each other again, I look forward to finding out. This confident double episode was a surefire way to get me quickly invested.

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Author: magicalchurlsukui

Hi, I'm Preston Yamazuka, I'm one of the writers for the anime blog RABUJOI. I prefer anime involving fantasy, magic, mystery, the supernatural, and/or horror. I also love seagulls, but they don't seem to share the sentiment.

3 thoughts on “Alice to Zouroku – 01 (First Impressions)”

  1. Kashimura may be in my top 5 characters in anime ever! Loved him. I like the whimsical magic, despit little girls escaping from lab being done at least 4 times per year. Wow, that CGI was bad.
    Thanks for reviewing this, hopefully it will stay good.

    1. The CGI was pretty bad, and looked like a different show from the 2D animation…but it got the job done. I’m pretty forgiving about that kind of stuff as long as you don’t assault my eyes Hand Shakers-style.

  2. ad CGI aside, I like and will continue watching this series for its interesting plot and likable characters.
    Sana may be one of the most powerful creatures alive, but Zouroku will still treat like the immature, somewhat naive little girl that she is. Their interaction is what she needs — the old guy will & his decent, no-nonsense approach to life will give her the “grounding” she unknowingly needs to maintain a good grip on her own reality-altering powers and how to exist with the rest of humanity without leaving utter destruction in her wake.

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