Alice in the Country of Hearts is another manga series I studied for my reverse harem tone/trope research. This series is based off a Japanese Otome game (and yes, I have looked up summaries/walkthroughs of the game, which is what interested me in reading the manga in the first place). The game has spawned several sequels, as well as multiple manga adaptations, though the one below is the only one I reviewed for my research.
This series is a rather interesting take on the Alice in Wonderland story. Alice, a teenage girl, is transported to a land divided into three warring parts. There’s the heart castle, run by the Queen of Hearts alongside her prime minister, the white rabbit. The amusement park, where the cheshire cat lives. The Hatter Mansion, which is a mafia family run by the Mad Hatter that includes the March Hare, as well as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Last is the Clock Tower, which is neutral territory and where Alice lives. In this version, Alice did not follow the white rabbit down the hall, but was far more interested in reading her book (as, arguably, a proper book worm should be), so the humanoid rabbit threw her over his shoulder and took off with her. Now in order to return home, Alice must fill a vile by forging relationships with those around her.
(Please excuse the incomplete picture above. It’s a mix of omnibus versions and an individual volume, while missing one volume. I had a heck of time finding this series, so wasn’t able to a get a complete collection.)
I didn’t use any of my research from this series for The Genie Whisperer, but it’s still a lot of fun, so I figured I’d still include a blog post on it. The characters are quite enjoyable and a focus of this series is the value of life. Life and death don’t work the same way in Wonderland, so many characters treat death like it’s a game that doesn’t really matter. Alice is horrified by this and attempts to teach the characters that their lives, as well as the lives of others, matters to her, so that they’ll value themselves and others more.
Since this is a reverse harem style manga, this, of course, endears her to several of the characters, who come to adore her. I always think it’s fun to watch characters fall in love, which is part of why I enjoy reverse harem. It’s fun to see the different personality types fall for the same girl and to discover what in particular makes them fall for her.
I suppose a similar aspect to Alice being different is arguably used in The Genie Whisperer. Alice is different in Wonderland because she values life in ways that others aren’t used to, while Ali is different to the genies because she doesn’t desire magic or wishes in ways that others do. But I would say the trope that the main heroine is extra special is basically required in a reverse harem or else so many amazing guys wouldn’t fall for her.
Enjoying this series is also where my terrible side comes out, but I only think this is okay in fantasy! An animated movie was made for this, and the March Hare and Mad Hatter characters destroy Alice’s vile and only way out of Wonderland at the end of the movie (unbeknownst to her, she thinks she lost the vile), while saying that she’s so strange, claiming she can’t make it back home, when she’s already home. Again, this is ONLY okay in fantasy, but I do enjoy those darker love interests sometimes. I don’t have any characters like that in The Genie Whisperer, but I might write a story with one someday.