In its penultimate installment, Alice & Zoroku opts to slow things down and shine an introspective spotlight on Sana and Hatori. Episode 11 also provides more information on Wonderland itself than the previous 10 episodes combined. As we approach the end of this story arc—and the season—it’s become clear that the series is shooting for a thoughtful, reflective conclusion as opposed to one that’s jam-packed with action. Assuming the finale is able to wrap things up in a satisfying manner, Alice & Zoroku‘s latter half will prove stronger than its first.
As Zoroku, Sanae, and Ichijo venture into Wonderland to retrieve the wayward Dreams of Alice, Sana and Hatori have a heart-to-heart about their respective pasts. Convinced that her mother hates for failing her entrance exam, Hatori begins to consider remaining in Wonderland indefinitely, even if a way out is discovered. Sana, who reveals her age to be between eight and ten, informs Hatori that Wonderland started out small but will soon constitute its own universe. She also claims that this dimension is eager to learn more about humans and the outside world—and she, as the embodiment of the magical place, is the communication device through which this learning is facilitated. In the end, both girls are able to offer comfort to one another as a metallic orb that may represent the heart of Wonderland descends upon their location.
As usual, Wonderland is rife with lush visuals and a truly dreamlike aesthetic. Since this is the first episode the characters have spent (almost) exclusively in this setting, we’re shown more of the ever-expanding world than we’ve seen in the past. It’s particularly fun to see the unflinchingly straight-laced Zoroku remain completely unaffected by the otherworldly wonders that surround him. (In fact, Ichijo is the only member of the search party who reacts to the situation with realistic bewilderment.) Unfortunately, as has become the custom, Zoroku himself doesn’t have a whole lot to do in this episode, but he’ll likely play a much larger role in the finale.
It was pretty much a given that Sana and Hatori would bury the hatchet and form a bond at some point, but for the most part, the show adeptly segues into such an obvious development. Despite their starkly different backgrounds, both girls feel tremendous pressure to protect those close to them and become extremely anxious at the thought of anything disrupting their hard-earned status quo. As Sana admits, the parallels between them aren’t exactly perfect, but they’re similar enough that they can easily empathize with one another.
There’s no action to speak of this week, but the emotional interactions between Sana and Hatori make for a fantastic character-focused episode. Zoroku still seems woefully underused, but at least he’s in Wonderland now to get a better picture of Sana’s inner workings. Fingers crossed that these events are building towards a conclusion that reflects the series’ strengths.
Alice & Zoroku is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.