Friday, September 8, 2017

Alice in Dreamland

Lewis Carroll's classic Alice in Wonderland has inspired several Japanese anime projects, including a 1983 World Masterpiece Theater adaptation and the more modern Heart no Kuni no Alice. Alice in Dreamland is the latest, a 2015 independent anime movie by Kentaro Hachisuka. It appears to be be his first movie (he's done three more since), and it's quite strange: a stop-motion animation done with dolls created by Mari Shimizu. The dolls perform against backdrops that are part Hieronymus Bosch and part Yellow Submarine:



The expressionless dolls and the strange backgrounds impart a nightmare-like feeling to the movie, which is probably what the director intended.

The plot is suitably meta, as befits a modern retelling. Alice is summoned by the White Rabbit to save Wonderland from spreading Darkness. However, she knows Alice in Wonderland is a story and that this must be a dream. And so it proves, but at the end, the now grown-up Alice sees the events of her dream begin to unfold for real. Shades of 1953's Invaders from Mars, a sci-fi movie that colored my nightmares for years. (There's also a little homage to a famous scene from The Seventh Seal; see if you can spot it.)

The two leads are played by well known seiyuu:
  • Uchida Aya (Alice) has had featured roles in many recent series, including Ai Mai Mi, Izetta the Last Witch, Kemono Friends, and Trinity Seven. She played Ascoeur, one of the co-leads, in Kiddy Girl And.
  • Shimono Hiro (White Rabbit) burst on the anime scene as the lead in RahXephon and has had major roles ever since, including the leads in 30-sai no Hoken Taiku, ACCA, the BakaTest franchise, The World God Only Knows properties, and my personal favorite, Nagasarete Airantou.
The other voice actors are less famous. The songs are by a group called Black Violets and are suitably weird.

So how did the thoroughly modern production end up as an Orphan release? Sometimes, projects are the result of long, painstaking planning; and sometimes, they just fall on you unexpectedly. A BakaBT member who goes by the handle of Champstice messaged me out of the blue. He had commissioned a script of Alice in Dreamland and done preliminary work on it, but he needed help in making it a finished production, so off we went. Heatmetal, who usually works in J-drama, did the translation. Champstice did the preliminary timing, editing, and styling. Yogicat did fine timing, I did final editing and typesetting, and Calyrica and Nemesis QCed. M74 encoded from the R2J DVD. (There's a Blu-Ray release too, but we haven't found it.) Alice in Dreamland is a joint release between Orphan and Champstice's J-drama group MegaBeast Empire (MBE).

So let me invite you to another trip down the rabbit hole. You may not find it to be your cup of tea, but if you're interested in leaving the well-trodden paths of typical anime, take the Cheshire Cat's advice and "Follow me." You can get Alice in Dreamland from the usual torrent sites or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net. Because of a mistake in the credits, the files have been updated to v2. A patch to go from the v1 files to the v2 files can be found here.

By coincidence, today (September 8) is the second anniversary of the passing of our wonderful colleague, CP, QC extraordinaire and passionate anime devotee. A lot of time has passed, but our loss remains undiminished.
 

 

2 comments:

  1. Hey, I just discovered your blog and I think it's really interesting to see your thoughts on all these anime. Just one thing: I really wanted to see your Shirokuma Cafe fansub but I wasn't quite sure how to go about it. Could you point me to the website where I can torrent it or something?

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    Replies
    1. It is torrented on nyaa.si and on BakaBT (a private tracker). You can also get it from IRC (Internet Relay Chat) bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.

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