Alice in the Country of Diamonds: Wonderful Wonder World Official Visual Fan Book is one part art book and one part game guide with fun comics thrown into the mix. Like its predecessors that take place in the countries of Hearts, Clover, and Joker, Alice in the Country of Diamonds is a Japanese relationship-centered video game. In this book, readers can learn about the plot of the game and enjoy promotional illustrations and comics featuring its characters; it also includes a comprehensive guide that tells players which in-game choices lead to specific results.
The PSP game itself takes place in a surreal, violent version of Wonderland featuring a gun-toting Cheshire Cat, mafioso Mad Hatter, and more. As it begins, protagonist Alice is suddenly brought to Diamonds from Hearts, another version of Wonderland where she’s been living since the White Rabbit kidnapped her from the normal world. Diamonds is a parallel world somehow connected to Hearts’ past, so though she’d grown friendly with the dangerous inhabitants of Hearts, their counterparts in Diamonds don’t yet know Alice. Even if they’re people she knew before, she has to win their trust all over again. Though it didn’t happen while she was in Hearts, Alice might just fall in love in the Country of Diamonds: as the player makes different choices, Alice grows closer to various characters, eventually reaching an ending that pairs her up with one of them.
This book profiles each character in detail. The game’s illustrator provides examples of each character’s expressions, from basics like “Smiling” or “Sad” to looks like “Feigning Concern,” “Playing Dumb,” and “Falling in Love.” She includes notes about the specifications she was given in designing their visuals and what she thinks about when drawing each one. There are character stats like age, height, and blood type for each of sixteen important Country of Diamonds residents, as well as profiles of the game’s primary locations. Finally, there are summaries of more than forty possible endings in the game and explicit instructions on how to reach each one.
The first two-thirds of the book consists of the character and location profiles with promotional art in bright, full color. In contrast, the game guide section is a simple chart that lists game choices and their consequences. The last third of the book is made up of comics that feature Alice and the other characters, including two manga stories based on in-game plotlines and dozens of short comics drawn to promote the game. Previously appearing in Dengeki Girl’sStyle and B’sLOG, these promotional comics explain the game’s premise, but also include lots of humor.
The artwork will be familiar to readers of the Alice in the Country of Hearts/Clover/Joker manga, some of which are illustrated by Mamenosuke Fujimaru, the same artist of this book and of the PSP game. The manga style features pretty characters in elaborate outfits set against detailed and fanciful backgrounds. We see lots of screenshots from the video game, which is lavishly and colorfully illustrated; these generally consist of character interactions rather than action scenes. The book also includes screenshots of various game settings that explore details, such as the way the same location looks at different times of day. The promotional comics at the end of the book are black and white, shaded with screentones, and full of of chibi cuteness, humor, and silliness. They read vertically in three- or four-panel strips.
As the characters themselves inform us in the comics, the video game in question is meant for adults, and it includes some steamy scenes. The book hints at few of these, though there is no nudity and no one goes further than a kiss. Several of the game’s prominent characters are cold-blooded killers, but this book focuses on romantic relationships, so it only references violence incidentally.
Clearly players of the Alice in the Country of Diamonds game will get the most out of the game-guide sections of this book. Nevertheless, the character profiles may interest fans of the QuinRose Alice manga series and the comics at the end are highly entertaining.
Alice in the Country of Diamonds: Wonderful Wonder World Official Visual Fan Book, vol. 1
Art by Mamenosuke Fujimaru
Yen Press, 2014
Publisher Age Rating: Older Teen