Alice & Zouroku – Preview
Alice & Zouroku:
Original Air Dates: April 2nd, 2017 – ???
Synopsis: A group of young girls happen to possess mysterious powers known only as “Alice’s Dream,” giving them the ability to turn their very thoughts into reality. These girls are kept locked away by a certain pharmaceutical company and experimented upon. That is until one of them manages to escape. A girl named Sana, uses her power to ignore the laws of physics and teleport wherever she can picture. Using it to escape, she ends up in a bustling city and meets a stubborn old man, Zouroku. It’s looking like his carefully ordered life is about to get a whole lot more messy.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Alice & Zouroku has two different narratives and tones running through it. The show opens as a mystery/thriller supernatural, but gradually shifts to a more slice of life, seinen tone that really captures the audience. When focusing on the interactions between the old man/flourist Zouroku, who won’t put up with any of Sana’s guff, and Sana, the cute little supernatural girl herself, Alice & Zouroku feels at its best. The dynamic between these two and the slower pacing makes for a wonderful little drama between two characters with an odd couple like dynamic.
Linny: As of the first episode, Zouroku really steals the spotlight as his age and demeanor make a striking difference pitted against the legions of teenaged protagonists commonly found in anime. He’s a gruff but honest man who isn’t afraid to do what’s right but won’t go out of his way to fix every small wrong either. He’s not your classic heart of gold guy but he’s every bit as heartwarming thanks to his tendency to pick the kind hearted path when push comes to shove.
Tom: There’s an expanded cast outside of Zouroku and Sana, and while potentially interesting, these characters are generally relegated to the fantasy side of the story, which is unfortunately often let down by simplistic, mismatching CGI that keeps those scenes feeling far more cringy than engaging. Don’t misunderstand, I have nothing against CGI itself, but what’s used here feels disappointing compared to what’s featured in other, contemporary, seasonal offerings.
Linny: The basic story seems pretty straightforward. Kids with powers are being experimented on in a super secret location and Sana, one of those kids, has managed to break out. Now she wants revenge and freedom for all the others still trapped. What makes this simple plot so much more attractive is its rather unusual and adversarial lead duo of old man and little girl, something hardly seen in action oriented anime.
Tom: Again it’s that Zouroku and Sana slice of life dynamic and tone that makes the series shine above all else. Every time we switched our attention to those two, my attention peaked and I instantly felt more engaged. If the CGI took a backseat during the fantasy focused segments, those could potentially be more engaging too. And it’s possibly a ‘your mileage may vary’ aspect to the series, depending upon how you respond to the CGI presented.
Linny: For a premiere episode that runs a whooping 44 minutes of airtime, Alice and Zouroku leaves quite a bit unexplained about the limits of its main character, Sana. She’s clearly meant to be vastly superior in power and abilities to the other kids like her. However, while the other kids seem to have a particular condition attached to their power, hers seems potentially limitless, only hampered by hunger. There’s a chance the show will reveal her limitation eventually, and most likely as a twist reveal during a dire situation, but it would have been nice to know a little more about her power given the extra run time.
Tom: Touching one last time on the visuals, it’s important to note that Alice & Zouroku is no prize pig. Even the 2D animation is a bit disappointing, with frequent off-models and lack of detail in longer shots. But the characters keep things feeling generally enjoyable thanks to some truly enjoyable writing. But the CGI is where the series really seems to crumble and it doesn’t help that there’s animation mistakes in this premiere episode alone. Namely during a chase scene with Sana and Zouroku. The car stops, but when we switch to an interior shot, as Zouroku is asking Sana to get out of the car, we can see the roads and buildings still flying by. And this is in a premiere for Super Saiyan God Goku’s sake! I’m apprehensive about what this means for the rest of the season if we’ve got mistakes this early on, when premieres are, often, when series tend to look their best.
Linny: Alice and Zouroku’s main selling point is the interactions and dynamic between the lead characters while it’s worst feature is its animation quality. If the sound of such an unusual leading duo perks your interest and you enjoy slice of life interactions between mismatched characters, this might be the show for you. As always, since this is based on literally a single episode that didn’t exactly sweep us off our feet, it’d be wise to try it with tempered expectations.
Tom: I’m cautiously optimistic about Alice & Zouroku. I don’t have high hopes for the animation, but I do think if we can focus on the dynamic between the old man and this cute little fantasy girl then it’s going to be a hell of a sweet and fun show. But if we’re constantly balancing that with fantasy elements backed up by unimpressive CGI, with animation mistakes, it’s going to be a rough ride. Right now I’m crossing my fingers that it’s the former and still think Alice and Zouroku is worth a look in for the character dynamics alone.
Alice & Zouroku is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com.