Key Princess Story: Eternal Alice Rondo Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Matthew Alexander
Review Date: Friday, May 11, 2007
Release Date: Monday, October 30, 2006



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kaishaku
Translated by:Gretchen Kern
Adapted by:Ailen Lujo

What They Say
Aruto Kirihara is a student who spends his free time reading the book about ALICE, and is even writing his own sequel. After meeting a girl who bears a striking resemblance to his heroine, he is pulled into a world where girls with strange powers and bunny ears battle to recover the true sequel, which has been lost for generations. What Aruto learns is that he has creative powers of his own, and he must use them to recover the lost book.

The Review
The story doesn't make a ton of sense so far, but if you're a big fan of magical girl transformations then this book has about nine different magical girls of all different body types and ages.

Packaging:
After reading Key Princess Story, and recently Junk, I have come to appreciate the love Dr. Master seems to be showing their releases these days. This first volume of Key Princess Story has a picture of Arisu wearing her battle suit on the front cover. The background on both the front and back cover is a black and white chessboard pattern that brings to mind the world of Alice in Wonderland, which is a major part of the Key Princess Story storyline. A really nice touch to the cover is the smooth embossing of both Arisu on the front cover and the title on the spine, both of these extras make this a very attractive book. The first four pages, a picture of Arisu and the Table of Contents, are in color and the printing is good throughout the book. The only problems I found were a couple instances where text along the books edge is cut off. This book also has French flaps, which I love because I don't have to look for a bookmark, and there is also a short comic description of the Key Princess Story world and a volume two preview, along with advertisements for many other Dr. Master series.

Artwork:
Kaishaku draws very cute characters with a good amount of eye detail, especially in close up pictures. The characters are so cute that it leads to my biggest complaint, the protagonist Aruto, totally looks like a girl. It's cool that he and his sister look like siblings, but I just didn't care for how effeminate he looks. Characters have pleasingly expressive faces (some are just plain hilarious) and the girls school uniforms are cute while their battle suits definitely remind me of the character's clothing from the Alice in Wonderland cartoon of my memory. Full-page panels are gorgeous and highly detailed and there are even a couple two-page pictures. There is a lot of titillating scenes but no real nudity. Landscape panels are highly detailed and the backgrounds have some detail but many of the fight scenes are too cluttered with speed lines to have much flow.

Text/SFX:
I didn't notice any glaring grammatical errors and the translation reads well. The original Japanese honorifics and SFX remain with smaller English translations, and there are a few translator notes placed in the gutters at various places in this book. A real problem I had with the flow of this book was the inner monologue, and this is no fault of the translation. The author just chose poor placement for some of the characters thoughts, which led to some 'Wait a minute, who the hell is thinking that?' moments.

Contents: (spoilers down there)
This story revolves around the Alice in Wonderland story by Lewis Carroll, which is just called 'Alice' and written by a fictitious author. In Key Princess Story, the 'Alice' story consists of two books, and the protagonist Aruto is trying to write a continuation or book three if you will. Aruto has been fascinated with 'Alice' for years and often imagines what Alice must look like and how there can't be any woman in the world more suited for him than her.

One night, while working on his story, he looks out the window to see a beautiful girl that looks like the Alice in his imagination flying over the nearby rooftops. This really captures his imagination and goads him into writing even more. While at school the next morning, Aruto catches a glimpse of a girl across campus who looks like the girl from the night before. He eventually catches up to her in a library and he's so nervous he just blurts out a love confession. The girl explains she is not Alice, but Arisu, but she also loves the 'Alice' stories. Then all hell breaks loose when Aruto's classmate, Hisa, appears wearing a crazy outfit and wielding a sword shaped like a key. Arisu suddenly transforms herself and wielding her on sword key begins to fight with Hisa. Before Aruto can figure out what's going on, Arisu stabs Hisa through the heart. It doesn't kill her, but it does open her heart and release her personal story in book format.

It turns out, there is a lost third volume of the 'Alice' story called 'Never-ending Alice' and it is contained within the hearts of the girls suffering from the Alice Syndrome which grants the girls the power to fight each other with magical keys. The last girl standing will possess all the stories and the entire 'Never-ending Alice' book. This first encounter for Aruto proves that he has a special gift, otherwise he shouldn't be able to see the Alice fighters. Aruto wants to read the missing book with Arisu, but he doesn't like taking the chapters away from other girls. To remedy the situation, when Arisu wins Aruto quickly copies the story and then returns it to the fallen combatant. Writing a person's life story in book format is Aruto's special ability.

From here, Aruto eventually learns his clingy little sister is also an Alice warrior. She begrudgingly teams up with Aruto and Arisu and they begin to search for other girls to fight. But there is more going on in the background than Aruto is aware of. There is someone going around killing Alice warriors and burning there bodies, a mysterious person at the magical library, and the super hot Kagarigi sempai who is fascinated with Aruto's abilities. Will Aruto be able to collect and write all the 'Never-ending Alice' story? Will he have to confront the person killing the Alice warriors? With Kagarigi and Aruto's little sister always making advances on him, will he ever be able to convince Arisu that he loves her?

Comments
Key Princess Story is rather jumbled in this first volume. The author does a poor job of explaining the story world and tries to throw around to much story in too short a span of time. With those problems aside, I did enjoy the rocky relationship between Aruto and Arisu and the comedy involved. Every time Arisu thinks she might like Aruto, he either screws something up or his sister does something creepy, but funny. I also appreciated Arisu's flaws. She may be beautiful and Aruto's obvious love interest, but she is downright dirty when she fights. Arisu's underhandedness goes to the point of stabbing her opponents in the back. She's willing to do anything it takes to collect all the parts of the 'Never-ending Alice' story and at this point I don't think she would even let Aruto stand in her way.

I also enjoyed the blatant acts of violence near the end of this volume. A girl gets stabbed to death and a creepy loli character tries to burn Arisu to death. So, even though the story is rather silly maybe there is the opportunity for some character development and some more death and carnage. If magical girls is your thing you may want to check out this title. If nothing else this book has great packaging.



Mania Grade: C+
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Released By: DrMaster
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 1-59796-112-4
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left