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Alice 19th, Vol. 1: Lotis Master - Yu Watase I originally thought this was going to be a retelling of Alice In Wonderland some sort - after all, the main character is called Alice, and everything starts to get strange after she encounters a magical rabbit - but that is not the case. Apart from those two little bits (a nod to the story by Lewis Carroll), Alice 19th is a cute, funny story about the power of words, and I think that is something that readers and writers can definitely get behind.

The story focuses on Alice, a young girl overshadowed by her pretty, popular older sister. She is also quite shy and awkward, unable to tell her crush (who unfortunately happens to be her sister's crush as well) how she really feels. This shyness, however, is portrayed realistically, and Alice's character development begins with her trying to overcome this problem; indeed the magical plotline and the non-magical character arc is woven through Alice's attempts to speak up and find Courage, which is the Lotis Word of this particaular entry. She is a lot stronger than people might give her credit for, and it will be interesting to see how she develops in further volumes. Other characters are painted more broadly, but I was impressed with the layers Alice's older sister had; it is unfortunately very easy, in cases of lack of sisterly understanding, to automatically make the non-protagonist sister flat and distinctly unlikable, but Mayura has enough to her to keep her out of this trap. She may still have very unlikable traits, but they do not make up the entirety of her being.

The magical aspect to the plot does take a back seat for the first part of this volume, but it is still present throughout, thanks mostly to the magical rabbit that Alice rescues in the opening. This rabbit - or rabbit girl, rather - provides most of the comedy, both directly and indirectly as well as the magical beginning and counseling, but as the story moves on the real potential of the magical system and the power of words becomes much more obvious and darker. It may not seem like much, given when in the volume it really appears, but it is more than enough really set things in motion and promise an exciting story to come in future volumes.

Despite some minor quibbles (such as the artwork suffering from the problem of only six faces), the first volume of Alice 19th was a light, fun read. As for its cliff-hanger ending, well, that definitely made me want to find out what happens next.