Alice 19th Vol. 1: Lotis Master

By Yû Watase
192 pages, black and white
Published by Viz

In the past half-decade or so, it’s been fascinating to watch the rise of Yû Watase in America. Her series Fushigi Yûgi: The Mysterious Play became a huge hit on both print and video, and the follow-up Ceres, Celestial Legend isn’t doing too shabbily either. Now a third series from Watase is hitting stores in the form of Alice 19th—and it just goes to show that Watase keeps getting better with age.

Alice Seno’s never known the spotlight. Her family is dominated by her older sister Mayura, and anything that Alice has ever wanted, Mayura seems to get… like Kyo Wakamiya, the handsome student on the same archery team as Mayura. When Alice saves a white rabbit in the street, though, it’s just the start of strangeness in her life. The rabbit is there to each Alice, you see, that she can become a master of the powerful Lotis Words, a series of words that contain great power. The word Alice needs the most is the 19th word, “rangu”, which means “courage”. Will Alice’s newfound courage doom everyone around her, though… or save her?

On the surface, there’s a real similarity to Watase’s three series being translated from Japanese to English. All of them feature young women who need to learn to come out of their shell and gain control of their worlds. What’s nice is that each of these series is focusing on a different method for this to happen. Fushigi Yûgi focuses on strength through leading others, while Ceres, Celestial Legend is about understanding and controlling the changes within. Alice 19th almost seems to be the flipside of Ceres, with Alice using the forces of the world around her to keep them from being in control. Alice’s courage is something that is clearly within her, not merely through the manifestation of the 19th Lotis Word. It’s a nice message—courage is something that everyone has, not just people with magic words—but more importantly it’s a nice twist on Watase’s earlier books. The story in Alice 19th Vol. 1: Lotis Master is just getting rolling, but there’s already some good bits of intrigue. Alice and Mayura’s relationship is fascinating to watch, because it’s not a malicious or evil one. Mayura’s domination of her family almost seems to be second nature and involuntarily, something that almost everyone has seen played out in real life. The twist that Watase throws into their relationship towards the end of the first volume is especially nice, and provides some additional backbone to the story to come. Alice’s two worlds colliding feels extremely natural, and it makes the reader really want to see what’s going to happen next.

Watase’s art has always seemed very light and delicate to me, so it’s a pleasant surprise to see that she’s refined her style a bit since Ceres, Celestial Legend. Characters still have the perfectly coiffed hair and cute little pointy noses that Watase is so fond of drawing, but everything seems a lot sharper and more robust. Characters’s hair seems thicker and fuller, and Watase’s ink lines are just a little bit thicker than normal. The different looks fantastic; Watase doesn’t lose any of the detail she puts into her characters, but they don’t seem as “fragile” as normal. The storytelling itself of Alice 19th is up to Watase’s usual standards; while most pages have very simple panel structure, there are nice bits every now and then when characters run across the page between panels, and other such visual tricks. Add in the mystical mandalas and patterns that appear behind characters at key moments, and you end up with a very attractive final package.

At a casual glance, it might seem odd that Viz is now publishing three of Watase’s series simultaneously. The reality of the situation, though, is that the market can definitely carry all three. There’s just enough different between them all to keep readers interested in them, and when a new addition is as strong and intriguing as Alice 19th, well, there’s no question. Watase is rapidly becoming the queen of Japanese girl’s comics here in America, and it’s a title I think she’s earned. You can’t go wrong with Watase.

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4 comments to Alice 19th Vol. 1: Lotis Master

  • nina


  • i love alice 19th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! especially book 6!

  • alice 19th is da bomb!!!! kyo wakamiiya is the hottest guy ever!!!! Frey is so funny but its sad when a certain somebody he new for years dies…:( I hope Yuu Watase makes another book almost like it!!! I luuuvvv yyyyoooouuuu Yuu Watase!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • hi iz me again! alice 19th is the best!!! u rock…Again!!!!