Alice is back in that delightfully weird, gun-riddled version of Wonderland that is the Country of Hearts. Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit shares the focus on romance that we encountered in Alice in the Country of Hearts: Bloody Twins, but that is where the similarities end. Instead of a collection of short, intensely romance-centric stories that range from silly to steamy, My Fanatic Rabbit is all one story, and volume one is clearly just the first part of a continuing narrative in which Alice is paired with Elliot “I’m not a rabbit!” March.
Like Bloody Twins, this volume repeats a few events from Alice in the Country of Clover and ignores the rest. It begins with Alice having arrived in the world of Hearts not knowing anyone. Her first meeting with the inhabitants of Hatter Mansion – the Mafia headquarters of Hearts – mirrors the one we see in Alice in the Country of Clover. The twins Dee and Dum nearly kill her only to be stopped by Elliot, who then nearly shoots her himself. From here the story veers off, giving us a version of Alice who is obsessed with touching Elliot’s long, furry ears. Elliot finds himself confused by his feelings for Alice, while Alice can’t figure out why she keeps thinking of Elliot, and not in a strictly ear-grabbing capacity. Unlike in Bloody Twins, however, we don’t actually get past this point in one volume – the ending is a cliffhanger.
This volume suffers a little from lack of focus. Where Alice in the Country of Clover devoted time to building and explaining the fascinating fantasy setting, My Fanatic Rabbit has the Hatter refuse to tell Alice why it is that death is different here than in her world. He actually claims that explaining it would be boring – perhaps he assumes we’ve all read Alice in the Country of Clover already? On the other hand, while Bloody Twins keeps Alice plunging into one romance after another, going gleefully all-out in a different direction for each story, this volume is only just beginning to recognize that it is a romance. This allows more time to explore the characters, and we do get some strong examples of this, as when Alice discovers that Elliot’s job involves shooting people for the Mafia. On the other hand, My Fanatic Rabbit scrambles to introduce so many of the characters who appear in the six-volume Country of Clover series that at times even the character development seems a little thin.
Still, My Fanatic Rabbit has the action, humor, and emotional content one expects from the Clover/Hearts books. It sheds some light on interesting aspects of life at Hatter Mansion (Alice takes a job helping out the servants), and it maintains the world’s bizarre feel: dangerous yet whimsical, full of characters who are part cuddly and part deadly. The art is much like the art in Bloody Twins and the Country of Clover series – elegant, clear, and expressive manga-style characters whose fight scenes are graceful even when they involve guns and giant axes. There’s a fair amount of violence and a few nameless characters are shot, which is a bit more upsetting than in Country of Clover, since the Hatter refuses to give us that “boring” explanation of how death works (or doesn’t work) in this world. It’s far from gory, though, and even the blood spatters are elegant. As for action of the bow-chikka-wow-wow variety, this volume is far tamer than Bloody Twins. There’s a sort-of kiss between Peter and Alice at the beginning and a few references to “making out” (none of which is actually going on).
This is not the strongest volume in the Clover/Hearts collection thus far, but it moves right along with plenty of action and interesting characters. Since it’s just the start of a new storyline for Alice, My Fanatic Rabbit has the potential to develop more depth than Bloody Twins, and fans of Alice’s adventures will certainly want to check it out.