Alice on Deadlines Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: D

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  • Art Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Yen Press
  • MSRP: 10.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 978-0-7595-2351-7
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Alice on Deadlines

Alice on Deadlines Vol. #01

By Gary Thompson     February 05, 2008
Release Date: November 14, 2007

Alice on Deadlines Vol.#01
© Yen Press

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Shiro Ihara
Translated by:Christine Schilling
Adapted by:

What They Say
As punishment for slacking on the job, the shinigami Lapan is ordered to go to the Human Realm in the body of a skeleton to retrieve a wandering spirit. However, a slip-up lands his soul in the body of the young Alice, a buxom student at a local all girls' school! With the skirt-chasing Lapan (as Alice) shirking his work duties to follow his carnal desires and leaving a storm of sexual harassment allegations in his wake, whatever is poor, beskeletoned Alice to do?

The Review
Alice on Deadlines has a nice feel to it. The image used on the cover is the same as the Japanese, except, of course, for the logo, which is made to mimic the Japanese one in an inverse fashion. Actually, I think it is one of the better adapted logos that I have seen in a while, so major kudos for that. The first page is a nice, full color image with the contents on the second. This is important because there are actually frequent page numbers in this book, something that is sporadic at best with most manga. There’s also quite a bit of supplemental material in the back of the book: there’s a bit of omake, a sizable preview of the next volume, and some decent translator’s notes. All in all, a pretty decent package, I’d say.

It would be easy to say that the artwork in this is random; after all, there are many pages that have both very pretty and very ugly artwork right next to each other. I would prefer to call this random, but mostly because it’s easy to do so, not because it’s true. Also, “a systematically prioritized process by which objects are either adorned or ignored based on a ratio of necessity to sexiness” doesn’t really flow as well. So no, the art here isn’t random, it’s just that Ihara clearly doesn’t care about certain things, but feels that he must draw them to perpetuate the story. To be perfectly honest, unless it’s a sexy girl it won’t be drawn well. A lot of the character design in this is just lazy and there are more than a couple of characters that are fairly similar because of it. You may find yourself assuming that a twin convention is going on around the corner in scenes where there is a crowd. But they are all dudes, so it doesn’t really matter. Well, it does, but there is context to consider here, and that context is that this is the kind of book where the whole point is really to look at sexy girls. And there are plenty of sexy girls. Just don’t expect anything else to look all that good. Unfortunately, Ihara felt the need to really clutter up his panels with excessive amounts of text-as-effects and random things that exist solely to ensure a lack of white space. This would be less of a problem if it didn’t sometimes get in the way of seeing the sexy girls. But it does. So it’s a problem. It is just plain frustrating when there is something either really hot or really sexy on the page and you simply can not see it as well as you should because there is so much other stuff in the way. But, overall, it’s hard to say that there is any holistic approach in Ihara’s art: it’ll just have to be said that the things that he doesn’t like to draw well he won’t, and the things that he does, he will, unless he jams so much stuff around it that you can’t see it.

There is a good translation here, and that’s really saying something for a book like this. That’s not really a dig on the book, more a comment on the dizzying amount of text in a manga of such average length. Not just dialog, mind you, but there is lots of text being used as sound effects and it, along with the regular sound effects, is translated in the margins as opposed to being overlaid. All of the dialog flows well for what flow there is, and everything is spelled properly. All is well here.

Lapan is a loser. He's also a shinigami, but primarily he is a loser. He barely does any work and all he does is look at girly books all day. It's a surprise that he still gets any soul reaving assignments at all, but somehow he has been elected to go to Earth and collect a shibito - a person who has died, but still clings to life. In order to go to Earth, however, he needs a vessel, but last time that happened he got a pretty girl's body and was too busy playing with himself to get any work done. So this time he is going to get a skeleton. But, of course, there is a screw-up, and Lapan ends up in the body of Alice, who is the hottest, most demur F-cup in all Japan. Naturally, Lapan is in hog-heaven and is destroying the life and reputation of a once well respected Catholic school girl. Alice, unfortunately, ended up in the skeleton that was meant for Lapan and is having to keep him from screwing up her whole life.

O.K. Ostensibly, this is what this manga is about. But let's be frank, there is no point beating around the bush here. This book is about hot chicks: looking at hot chicks, fantasizing about hot chicks, and the pretense is even one designed so that a hot chick can act out hot chick things. This is a fanservice book that was conceived, packaged, and sold to cater to people with fetishes. “Which fetish?” might you ask. Silly! Why choose when you can have all of them? If you are interested in Catholic school girls, cat girls, megane-ko, moe, tsundere, frilly lingerie, lace, leather, aprons, BDSM, and absolutely if you are into panchira or zettai ryoiki, there is at least a little something in this book for you. Some of those are just there for a panel, others are present throughout, but they are all there.

Now, for some of you that is it; that is all you need to know about whether or not this will interest you, and that's fine. There are some problems, though. My biggest problem with the way all this fanservice is used is that it's all very PG-13. A hard PG-13, mind you, but still. This is a book that should be a fap book, but it's toned down so that it can be accessible to younger crowds. So while there is plenty of innuendo and tantalization, there really isn't that much of a pay off. In other words, the content isn't so bad that you'll need to hide this one in the back of your closet from your mom, but you probably shouldn't read it at the local Starbucks, either. Trust me: even though I didn't feel weird about doing this, the guy beside me did, even though he couldn't take his eyes off it or stop making grunting noises the whole time. True story. So to me, if you can't read it in mixed company anyway, you might as well get something that you have to hide from even the coolest of mothers.

But like I said, there are plenty of people who really like something that is just straight ecchi. And for all you ecchi lovers, this is a book that may suite you nicely. However, if you are interested in this, and you get this book, I encourage you not to read it. There is a reason I have shied away from the actual story so far, and that's because it is maddeningly stupid and completely inconsequential. In no exaggerated terms whatsoever, I much preferred this manga when I was just flipping through it and looking at the art. Actually reading it was a difficult and frustrating process.

So for all of you who proffer that the story really doesn't matter all that much because that's really not the point of the book: it's time for you to put our money where you mouth is. Either enjoy it solely for the eye-candy, or read it and suffer, because they had to put something in place of all that missing hardcore stuff, so they came up with a story. And for those who are interested in why the story is so bad, it's because it's really a single situation that somehow manages to become redundant in its first volume. You will see the same jokes and the same set-up over and over again, just with different people to play out the parts. Actually, sometimes with the same people. But it's usually just something like Lapan being a pervert, Alice gets upset and tells him to stop being a pervert, Lapan ignores it, Alice lashes out with slap-stick violence. After you have read the first chapter, be ready to read three other slight variations on that first chapter for the rest of the book. The same can be said about the various things that occur within those chapters. On top of everything being redundant within itself, the whole thing is genre redundant because all of the set-ups are so achingly familiar. The whole thing is like one big damn cliché salad. On top of that, the characters are flatter than paper, they are all static, none of the jokes are all that funny, and the only things that actually happen are events that ensure nothing happens so everything can keep happening -in perpetuity- the exact same way it has been throughout the whole book.

This book summarizes almost everything that is wrong about a lot of the purely commercial media that is coming out of Japan these days. This is a product that has been calculated to have the widest audience possible while still appealing to the niche fetishes that are currently in vogue. It is a pandering corporate shell designed to take your money through your baser urges, and it does so at the cost of anything redeemable. Now, I like ecchi and H manga just as much as the next guy, and I understand that if you are nit-picking the plot you are missing the point, but there is a limit. Books like this should understand their strengths and play to them, and that's fine if that means the bare minimum of story, but this really insists on having a lot more story than it needs for what it is. Simply put, this manga tries its hardest to deal with what it is worst at and what it shouldn't care so much about, and it does so at the cost of what it should care most about and put most of its time into. The whole thing's tospy-turvy!


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