Alice to Zouroku (Alice & Zoroku) Review – “Stranger Things” with an Old Guy!

“Stranger Things” with an Old Guy!

  • Episodes : 12
  • Genre : Adventure, Mystery, Seinen
  • Airing Date : Apr 2, 2017 – Jun 25, 2017
  • Studios : J.C. Staff

Contains Spoilers


Alice to Zouroku (Alice & Zoroku) Introduction and Story (Spoilers)

Sana is a girl who holds a special power called “Dreams of Alice”, which can materialize anything out of thin air, and teleport Sana (and other people) anywhere. After escaping the lab that was experimenting on her, she walks around Japan for the first time. Sana ends up at a market, stares at food for a very long time, and starts to worry the employee working there. An old man named Zouroku eventually offers to take to her home and Sana disappears before his very eyes. Later, while driving home, Sana reappears in Zouroku's back seat, and offers a wish to him if he helps her take on the facility she escaped from. Zouroku reluctantly agrees to take Sana into his home, and they start to grow fond of each other.

Sana is no ordinary girl, and there are forces plotting to take her away from Zouroku. Sana knows very little about the world outside the facility and she is constantly learning, however, Sana eventually realizes she isn't human. They all learn the research facility is trying to use Sana and others like her as lab rats to be able to use the power for themselves. Zouroku is undaunted by knowing what Sana is capable of, views her as if she's family, and will do anything to protect her.

What We Liked About Alice to Zouroku (Alice & Zoroku)

Alice to Zouroku is full of a sense of adventure, a bit of action, and has a heartfelt story. Old men in anime rarely take a role as a main character, but when they do, they're usually awesome. Zouroku's grandfather-like attitude towards insanely powerful beings who possess “Dreams of Alice” is impressively brave! Imagine that you ran into a little girl that almost brings a magical wrecking ball down on your face, would you scold her, or would you run away in fear? Zouroku's answer to that question was apparent when he got out of his wrecked car and proceeded to yell at the girls causing commotion for everyone in the streets. After the scolding, Sana and the two other girls (Yonaga and Asahi), stop in their tracks to listen to his words like kids in trouble.

Zouroku demands discipline, and the powerful Sana is afraid to be yelled at by him! Sana listens to Zouroku because she doesn't really know anything about how the world around her works. Zouroku is an old florist who steps in to help a little girl (Sana) without a home, and we think he's awesome! Sana is scared most of the time, has a hard time understanding emotions like anger, and explains away her frustration as being “frazzled”. When Sanae shows up in the house (Zouroku's biological granddaughter), Sana freaks out and clings to the ceiling like a scared animal. Sanae is extremely kind; explains to Sana that she came over to help with her care, and cooks Sana her favorite dish to be; pancakes!

Almost all the characters, except for a few bad guys, are adorable and likable, including Zouroku! At its core, this is a show about family and characters choosing to identify as family members through adoption. Alice to Zouroku is a very enjoyable show!

Discussion Time ?

Alice to Zouroku is a heartwarming tale about adopting someone in need, but there are a few parts that may be disturbing to kids. There is a scene where one of the antagonists (Ichijou Shizuku) threatens to break Sana's neck, goes into detail about how she will accomplish this task, and all of this after kidnapping her from a bathroom. Ichijou has a weird power too, she can summon the arms of her dead husband in any size. Most of the time though, “Alice to Zouroku” is family friendly, especially from episode 6 onward, when Ichijou is taken out of the picture. Powers like Ichijou's are also never fully explained, leaving viewers scratching their heads sometimes.

Animation in this show is very well done, especially in the action scenes where things are being wrecked, and it even has a subtle product placement for snickers! When Sana uses her powers, she (and others like her) must eat food to replenish energy to continue using it. Zouroku notices the toll Sana's power can have on her, so most of the time he forbids her to use it. Sometimes, the story can have issues, though, like not fully explaining how Sana came to be, or changing dramatically in tone in the second half of the series. Knowing that Sana is not human is enough of an explanation for most people, but others would like a more detailed explanation as to why she isn't human.

Why You Should Watch Alice to Zouroku (Alice & Zoroku)

Zouroku doesn't like “crooked stuff”, so that means you should probably watch the show! Despite its flaws this is a heartwarming story about a scared little girl that wants to find a home. Zouroku ends up legally adopting Sana as his second granddaughter, and Sana starts to understand why she shouldn't use her powers for everything. There are many good lessons in the show, and though the origin of the mysterious powers is never fully explained, it acts as a good enough plot device. All of the characters are adorable in their own way (except for Ichijou), and the girls with powers are all eventually taught by Professor Charles Xavier (joking). X-men references aside, “Alice to Zouroku” has an optimistic atmosphere for a large majority of the show, making it a very pleasant experience.

1. Character Chemistry

Characters in this show are all likable in some capacity, and they all have a very entertaining and inviting chemistry. Old men in anime rarely get to be a main protagonist, but when they are, they're usually awesome. Zouroku is a great example of an awesome older main character; he acts like a strict grandfather to everyone, isn't scared to lecture the most hardened criminals, and all of the powerful kids in the show listen to him. Zouroku lectures out of love, and while he has sort of a tough love philosophy, the love part does shine through. Zouroku doesn't have any special powers of his own, he just likes to drop down wisdom on people. Sana is the opposite, she doesn't have much wisdom to spout out, but her powers can pack a punch! Sana, and others like her in the show seem to need an old man's wisdom.

2. You like shows about adoption

This is an anime that asks the question, would you want an overpowered wish-granting girl for a granddaughter? Often, the answer to that is an overwhelming yes. Choices in life can be hard; adoption was something Zouroku needed to think about, and some people in real life also think about those things. Today's culture seems to leave behind many children in need, and it's always nice to see someone adopting one of those kids. In Sana's case, she was a girl that knew very little about the world, and needed someone to keep her power in check. Zouroku knows what Sana is capable of, and despite what Sana can do, he still wants to care for her, which makes Zouroku a total badass!

3. Emotional Depth

Emotional depth may sort of tie in with the other two things above, but it's also its own thing entirely. Zouroku is an older man, and with that, sometimes come years of wisdom. Zouroku probably wasn't expecting anything else to happen in his life, after all, he's older. Zouroku was in a state of accepting life the way it was, until he decides to help Sana, and then he comes to life inside again. Sana shows him that his life is far from over; instilling him with a sense of adventure, fear, and love. Zouroku is able to give some much-needed wisdom to Sana and her friends too, which probably makes the old guy happy in a way. Family is important to have; it is essential for many to be able to live, and “Alice to Zouroku” does a great job conveying that message.

Why You Should Skip Alice to Zouroku (Alice & Zoroku)

Anime is over-saturated with shows about overpowered little girls, and as a result this show may be something you can overlook easily. Some people may not like this show because of the shift in tone in the second half, while others may be appalled by the enemies in the first half. It goes from action-adventure to calm and happy in just 5 episodes. It's like playing a video game, defeating the final boss in the middle of the game, and then aimlessly wondering around the rest of the time doing everyday chores. Sana is cute, but it's never really explained where she got her power from, or even what she is exactly other than “not human”. These things can be a good reason to give the show a pass, especially if you were never really into Alice in Wonderland references. Let's explore how deep the rabbit hole goes!

1. Confusing Powers

Powers feel unexplained throughout the series; some people having powers like summoning their dead husband’s arms, and some of us would maybe like an explanation. In franchises like X-men, it's a genetic anomaly that gives people their powers, and all the people in their canon know about “mutants”. In Alice to Zouruku no one seems to know about these powerful people, which seems highly improbable considering the amount of damage they can cause. Even the people that witness the “Dreams of Alice” seem to brush it off, and forget about it. Some of us get that Sana escaped a research facility, but there are others in the show who have never set foot in one (Hatori Shikishima). For some reason, it’s only made clear to everyone that these people exist in the last episode of the series, when they broadcast it on TV. Someone who possesses “Dreams of Alice” can summon a light crystal thing that grants their wishes, which is fine and all, it's just never fully explained.

2. Who is the target audience?

The first five episodes of “Alice to Zouroku” play out like an action movie, or at the very least, like the show “Stranger Things” on Netflix. A girl with powers escapes a research facility, and seeks sanctuary, which is the starting point of both shows. However, there seems to be a tone shift in the second half of “Alice to Zouroku”. It plays out much more like a slice of life anime, which can be a bit jarring for the audience. With the sudden shift in tone, it can be hard to understand who this show is meant for. In the first half, Ichijou is a scary antagonist, and is more of a “PG-13” baddie. In the second half, there is very little conflict in the show, but when there is, it's due to Hatori Shikishima, who despite her flaws, isn't really a baddie. Hatori is like a “G” rated villain when compared to Ichijou. It's mostly a kid-friendly show, but most wouldn't say that it's all kid friendly.

3. You're tired of “Alice and Wonderland” references

Sana is known lovingly as “The Red Queen” by her friends in the show, and there are references to “Wonderland” throughout the show. Alice to Zouroku is not the first show to reference “Alice in Wonderland”, and probably won't be the last. Alice in Wonderland references are in things like the “Resident Evil” and “Matrix” movies to name two. Alice in Wonderland also has many remakes and reimaginings, like the one by Tim Burton, and “Through the Looking Glass”; also done by Tim Burton. Alice in Wonderland has a long history of being referenced, and some of us are sort of sick of hearing them. Thankfully, “Alice to Zouroku” is still tolerable, even with all the references.


Final Thoughts

Alice to Zouroku is well worth watching, seriously, go check it out if you haven't! While the series may be one half action-adventure, and one-half slice of life; it's a very upbeat and enjoyable show. With great power comes great responsibility, that's Sana in a nutshell (and Spider-man). If you like “Stranger Things” on Netflix, you’ll probably like this show too. Also, if anyone has powers like this in real life, some of us would like to be able to teleport to Hawaii for a vacation! So, feel free to leave a comment below; we'll get back to you, especially if you have powers!

Samuel Mackey

Writer

Author: Samuel Mackey

I was born in Colorado Springs. I found myself around friends who liked to play video games and watch anime. The first anime I saw was 'The Slayers' original TV series on VHS. I will be going for a bachelor's degree in 'Health Information Management' starting August 1, 2017. Recently, I moved to Washington State and I am in a town that has less than 2000 people.

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