Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious!
In Alice & Zouroku episode 12, I’m Home, Sana Kashimura and Shikishima Hatori continue their struggle to find their out of Wonderland. Miho Ayumu receives a long distance photo text from the White Rabbit. Zouroku Kashimura and Sanae Kashimura doggedly follow the little piggy until Zouroku has to confront Wonderland itself. Shizuku Ichijou leaves quite an impact on Wonderland.
What’s In This Post
Hatori’s parents and others continue to search for her. From their perspective, it’s been 10 days since she disappeared. Ayumu is worried and feels terrible; she fears she did something to make her friend mad at her. Remembering Hatori’s promise to travel Japan looking at the Spring flowers with her, Ayumu feels like her fear’s validated when she receives a message, presumably from Hatori, that includes a picture of a flower. She feels like her friend went on the trip without her; Ayumu doesn’t know that the White Rabbit used Hatori’s phone to send the message.
Sana and Hatori continue their search for a way out. To them, it seems like they’ve only been in Wonderland a few hours. They decide that if/when they find a way out, they want to be friends. They come across the White Rabbit, which Hatori is surprised to see has her phone. Capturing it using teamwork, they discover that if the phone’s near the rabbit, they can make calls to the outside world — but the phone’s battery is almost dead. Before letting them make a call, the rabbit makes them chase it.
Finally, they’re able to get a call through to Ayumu. The two in Wonderland are shocked that it seems like it’s been ten days to Ayumu and the rest of the outside world. Hatori reassures Ayumu that they’re still best friends. Sana tells Ayumu to try to find the spot where Sana had drawn Ayumu into Wonderland as punishment. Ayumu promises that she’ll find it just as the battery dies.
Zouroku and Sanae continue following the spotted piglet. It leads them over huge pancakes and boxed bentos. They reflect that this is where Sana was born, so everything here would seem normal and everything in the outside world was strange. Zouroku reflected that both he and Sana got so far in life because they had people helping them. Sanae agreed.
After frantically searching and drawing the attention of strangers, Ayumu finally finds the door between worlds. After only a little hesitation, she plunges in. At the same time, Noriko Yamada, in the command center over Wonderland, sees Wonderland’s expansion accelerate. Hatori and Sana are talking about friendship when a huge door appears, which Ayumu pushes open.
Nearby, Zouroku and Sanae get to the top of a hill where they can see the three girls. As they reunite, they see holes developing in the sky; Wonderland is beginning to emerge into the outside world. The girls don’t know what’s going on, but Zouroku knows what to do. He yells at Wonderland to cut it out. Out of a fearful respect, the White Rabbit makes a large Stop button appear. Zouroku pushes it. Daylight fireworks spring into the air and drive back the dark patches of sky. Apparently, one of those fireworks contained Ichijou, because she came crashing back down to the grass and leaves a small crater. Yamada, in the command center, watches the indicators go back to green. Wonderland’s expansion has stopped.
The girls and Zouroku find a door that takes them back home. Ichijou emerges back into the command center and collapses into Yamada’s arms. Then she falls to the ground in exhaustion. Yamada joins her. Zouroku, Sana, and Ayumu walk Hatori home. Hatori’s understandably anxious, knowing that she’ll need to go to police, too. Zouroku confirms that, but he also says that he and Sana will be there for her, as well as Naitou’s people. Before she enters, Ayumu tells her that her parents had looked for her every day. Hatori’s shocked and asks Sana to come in with her because as long as Sana’s with her, she can’t lie. Her mother and father are both relieved to see that she’s okay. Her mother nearly faints with relief.
The government announces the formation of the Dreams of Alice Response Office — likely the result of Ryuu Naitou’s efforts behind the scenes. The government announces that some of the recent events (like a Ferris wheel popping up in the middle of Kyoto) are the result of Dreams of Alice, and those who manifest the power (randomly chosen, it seems) will receive government protection against exploitation. Hatori’s mother seems almost cheerful at the news her daughter had a Dream of Alice. Ichijou and Yamada realize the world’s about to change; Ichijou hopes it’s a positive change. Naitou weighs in to say that if the kids are happy and healthy, the changes are likely positive. Later, Zouroku and Sanae present Sana with her first school backpack, and she happily goes off to school with her new friends Hatori and Ayumu.
In the last shot, we see an adult Sana, holding an armful of flowers, telling a no longer present Zouroku that she’s alright now thanks to him.
What I Liked
As they’re chasing the White Rabbit, Sana, no doubt because of Zouroku’s influence, tells Hatori to put some shoes on. Fortunately, they were standing near some shoe plants at the time. Yes, plants that were bearing shoes as fruit. It’s Wonderland, after all!
As Hatori and Sana continued to chase the white rabbit, they walked past some old and discarded personal computers. I recognized at least a couple of them from years ago (like the old IBM ThinkCentre)! They were so old that they actually had floppy disks — and a few of those were of the really, really old 5.25″ variety!
I wonder if the White Rabbit let Sana and Hatori catch it? Maybe it wanted to boost Sana’s confidence?
Ayumu’s dedication to her friend was touching. It set the stage for a dramatic reunion first via phone, then in person in Wonderland. The theme of mutual support and caring was at once completely out in the open and at the same time wonderfully understated in this series; this scene was a great example of that.
When Zouroku and Sanae top the ridge, they can see the three girls. I thought it was interesting that they could see them but not hear them talking.
Yamada gets points for dedication to Ichijou. Even when the rest of the staff was evacuating, Yamada tried to open the door to Wonderland to let her friend out. It’s doubtful the gesture would have helped — after all, Ichijou and the others weren’t near that door — but it was a noble thought.
Sana’s so excited to get home that she forgets to take her shoes off. Zouroku’s more than happy to remind her in his usual gruff way. I almost felt sorry for her — she looked so frightened! But I think it was a very different kind of fear than we saw from her when she was actually in danger. I guess this was more a homey fear.
I’m awarding Zouroku with understatement of the episode. When they get back home and Sanae confirms that they’ve really been gone for 10 days, he says, “This is pretty screwed up” in his usual deadpan way.
It’s a typical thing, but it’s also a very human thing: when Hatori walked in the door, her mom hugged her before they fell to the floor together. We don’t get to see how things turn out with her parents, but Hatori has the right friends to help her, so I’m hopeful for her.
Zouroku and Sanae give Sana her first school backpack. The hug Sana gives Zouroku is among the most adorable things I’ve ever seen.
In Ichijou’s voiceover of the final credits, she refers to herself as Alice’s older sister. Was Sana really the first Dream of Alice — was it Ichijou? Or am I putting too much emphasis on the “sister” piece? Ichijou is older (certainly), but maybe her power still stems from Sana’s emergence in the world? It’s a detail I’d like to know more about, but since it wasn’t integral to the plot, I’m not faulting the show for now showing me.
I have to say that as a father to a daughter, that last scene, where the adult Sana thanks the absent Zouroku, hit me like a ball-peen hammer.
What I Liked Less
Okay, this is a nit-pick, but if time passes differently in Wonderland, how did Ayumu talk to Hatori and Sana on the phone — in real time? Was the White Rabbit not only a connector between the two worlds, but a temporal interface as well? That’s a lot of pressure to put on a little bunny…
Naitou is an unsung hero of this show, I think. He seems to have done a lot of the legwork to establish the Dreams of Alice Response Office. Even early on, he fought to save the girls from the K & C Pharmaceutical Corporation of Japan. He was really self-effacing, too. Good job, Naitou!
I think one of his quotes in this episode may have summed up the whole point of the series: “If the kids are happy and healthy, that makes it a good world.” How simple, and yet how profound.
The whole show was such a coherent whole. It was all about Sana starting without even a sense of self and developing into a mature and happy adult. Everything that happened, from her escape to her meeting Zouroku (especially her meeting Zouroku) to the Minnie C incident to meeting Hatori, helped Sana confront and refine herself. She learned to rely on family and friends; she learned self-control; she learned the importance of home. And all of this without being born human!
This show had so much going for it. I enjoyed the characters like Sana, who innocently tried to find her way through life. I enjoyed Ichijou, who understood Sana’s plight and decided to help her. And most of all I liked Zouroku, who wanted to help Sana have a better life simply because that was the right thing to do. I even liked the show’s tone and themes.
But I think two things really stood out, even above and beyond those elements. First, the show portrayed realistic young girls with respect. Sana and her friends weren’t just adults shoved into children’s bodies; they were realistic children engaging with the world as children really do. And second, Zouroku was an older man who’s portrayed with a similar respect. He’s stern because he’s learned to succeed in society; he’s unflappable because he’s lived through so much he’s confident in himself. He was the rock that Sana needed in her young life, and judging from how the older Sana turned out in the very last scene, his influence helped her realize herself.
What did you most enjoy about the series? Let me know in the comments!
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- Aliens, Gears, Game Creation, and Worlds in Collision: Spring 2017 Anime Preview Part II!
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 1 Review: The Red Queen Escapes
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 2 Review: Dreams of Alice
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 3 Review: Cards
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 4 Review: Something Not Human
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 5 Review: A Home to Return To
- Alice & Zouroku Episode SP Review: Looking Ahead to Part 2
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 6: The Kashimura Family
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 7: Friends
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 8: The Evil Witch
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 9: Where the Cheshire Cat Smiles
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 10: The Little Queen
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 11: The Queen and the Witch