The SINoALICE manga is a fantastic twist on the Alice in Wonderland formula! [Review]

Alice thinks she’s a normal girl living a normal life. But what happens when she’s proven wrong? Pic credit: Takuto Aoki and himiko

This is not your typical Alice in Wonderland story. There’s no sign of Wonderland unless you count the creepy puppets, and the first chapter could be found anywhere.

Volume 1 only has three chapters and a short story, but I’m hooked! The manga is based on a mobile game under the same name, but I don’t know how closely the manga follows the game’s plot.

The game and manga share the Square Enix brand, which has a long history of making some of my favorite franchises. But this review will only focus on the manga.

So be prepared for spoilers, and if you have played the game. Let me know if you like it and if I should get into it.

Red Riding Hood wants to play! Pic credit: Takuto Aoki and himiko

Chapter 1: Bondage Dream

The manga starts with an old-school-looking stage, and two puppets greet us like we’re at a circus. Then, only for the page to turn, we see Alice surrounded by broken puppets and holding some kind of sword.

But the puppets don’t seem to mind and begin speaking nonsense. The puppets proceed to ask Alice two questions.

What does she desire, and what does she wish to visit upon the world? But Alice wakes up and narrates that she’s been having odd dreams lately.

She sees that her mother has sent her several text messages asking if she’s awake and appears to be apathetic toward them. We also see her in her underwear, with a keychain with one of the puppets on it.

Alice eats breakfast and heads to school, but not before petting her cat. We meet her friends, and Alice has a crush on one of her teachers.

The day ends, and we find out that the teacher is sleeping with her best friend. Her friend tells him that she’s pregnant, and he dumps her.

Alice comforts her over the phone and reminds her that they promised to find happiness together. But Alice trashed her room, and that night she had another dream.

Only this time, the puppets say her desires will fuel her power, and it’s time to make her wish a reality. The puppets call Alice “Your Highness,” and the next day, Alice discovers her best friend killed their teacher and now plans to jump off the school roof.

When Alice reaches the roof and asks why she did it, the friend replies, “I don’t know.” Alice listens to her try to explain, and then she climbs onto the edge with her.

It’s strongly suggested that Alice pushed her off the roof, and then Alice jumped off after her! Alice wakes up in her room and questions if she has a friend like that.

She also reveals that the teacher isn’t her type, and she’s wearing a different set of underwear. Her mom sent her the same texts, but Alice seemed more upbeat about them.

But she questioned if the cat was the same, and did her younger brother show up yesterday. Something alerts her that cats get higher billing than little brothers, and she heads to the kitchen.

Only to find her home covered in blood. An unknown girl sits at her table.

Chapters 2 and 3: Encounter Dream and Awakening Dream

Because the events are told partially through flashbacks, I will combine them. Alice is frozen as the girl continues to act like everything is fine.

She even jokes about offering Alice a drink and raids her fridge. When she finds a birthday cake, she asks if it’s Alice’s birthday, and tells her happy birthday.

The girl eats the cake, and someone knocks at the door. Seeing Alice is still in shock, the girl heads to the door, only to be attacked by another woman.

During the fight, Alice questions herself about what’s happening, and she awakens her power. Although Alice cannot defeat her, she does buy enough time for the woman to deal significant damage to the girl, and she grabs Alice to escape.

Alice wakes up and sees a boy tending to her. The woman introduces herself as Snow and gives Alice some information.

Because of a mobile game that Alice plays, and the fact that she saw the puppets, she’s now a part of a survival game. The girl they met is Red and has been killing non-players or civilians for unknown reasons.

The police have been treating these deaths with little effect, and Alice wonders if she could go back to her everyday life, would she be able to?

Bonus Short Story

Although we weren’t properly introduced to him, the boy is Pinnochio. And the short story is about how he met Snow and his past.

Pinnochio’s mother wanted him to be a girl, so she dressed him like one. They were the perfect mother and daughter.

Until puberty, society, and Pinnochio decided he didn’t want to be his mother’s doll. But his mother’s mental issues kept getting worse and she wasn’t afraid to hit him where the bruises wouldn’t show.

Pinnochio found an unknown app on his phone one day and accidentally opened it. He made a manly-looking avatar, joined a guild, and became friends with the guild leader.

Things were starting to look up until the pressure from his school forced his mother to lock herself in her room and have a breakdown. And when she came out, she decided to kill him.

Pinnochio’s desire was strong enough to get the puppet’s attention, but they did call it tiny, and his guild leader came to save him. She told him to jump, and he landed on the hood of her car.

His guild leader was Snow, and he’s been staying with her ever since. She even taught him how to drive despite his age!

Volume 2 is coming out on November 29, 2022, and I can’t wait to read it!

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