Alice To Zouroku Episode 1 First Impressions

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The fantasy story begins with a group of young girls who hold a power named “Alice’s Dream,” which allows them to make their imaginations come true. These girls have been locked up and treated as research subjects. Sana, one of these girls whose specific power includes the ability ignore the laws of physics and physically manifest anything she can imagine, has escaped. And she runs to Tokyo where she meets old man named Zouroku, who dislikes disruptions in his everyday life. Ahhhh! That was so, so good! My expectations were high, but it still absolutely exceeded them! Great mix of comedy, drama, action and some sweet moments, and the music was spot on as well. The Alice’s dream power has already given us some really nice, creative action scenes.

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BUT, there’s two main aspects of this series that come glaring through from this episode, one of which I hate, and one of which I loved. Let’s start off with the good. I think the biggest attraction of this show for me so far and the reason those 40 minutes breezed by was definitely the interaction between our two main characters; Sana and Zouroku. Both of them have clear and charming personalities that interact and contrast with each other nicely. The dialogue between the two is great, and the show really manages to have a heartwarming side quite well like the scene with the flowers, or a meaningful side like the conversation on the staircase. The interaction between Sana and Zouroku is charming and natural, which really stood out this episode as each scene with just the two of them was really fun to watch.

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However, I strongly dislike the greater narrative that this show is building. I’m bothered by the mystery behind Sana’s powers and who she is, but rather the way the facility is constantly chasing and battling her. The ‘bad guys’ of the series are really bothersome as the way they’re handled isn’t very appealing. They’re rather standard institute suit and tie baddies with little to no originality to them. I’m not a fan of the Sci-Fi human superpower testing facility trope and it’s not done well here. Baddies are characterless industry sunglasses like I said before and don’t have any real personality or feeling to them that makes them stand out as anything other than ‘the baddies’. I also didn’t care for the fight scene in the beginning of the episode and the whole institute Sci-Fi aspect of this show is killing it for me. The powers were handled poorly, the twins are pretty standard ‘superhumans the baddies use’ and overall the thriller Sci-Fi aspect of the show wasn’t done very well.

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While the CG is a problem, I’m more interested in how the anime will explain away the mass surveillance. From what we were given, the evil research facility seems to have complete control over all manner of cameras, meaning it should be relatively simple to track her down immediately (especially if she keeps wearing her pink princess dress). Something as simple as her being able to mask her presence to everyone but Zouroku would be enough, but, until then, it’ll be a semi-plot-convenience that we’ll have to accept. Also, Zouroku has taken this development perhaps a bit too in stride. Even when Sana first teleported, he was hardly fazed. Not to mention how the whole car chase, with the various magics flying around, didn’t seem all that odd to him. That could mean he’s either experienced similar events before (which I don’t think likely) or it’s just that he is hard to surprise (which I think most likely but still seems as if he should have had more of a reaction).

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Otherwise, I like it! Sana and Zouroku are at a good starting point relationship-wise, and hopefully the anime focuses on it moving forward. We still need more on their individual characters as well as that mysterious research facility, and it’s hard to say how the plot will proceed from here (since it’s going to be tough for Zouroku to really help out with Sana’s wish of destroying the facility). But these details should surface throughout the season. And a shout-out to the creators for giving us a forty-minute-long episode! :3

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