Spoilers, obviously.

This was the least spoilery screencap I could find.

Summary:

It’s been ten days now that Sana and Hatori have been stuck in Wonderland. Hatori’s parents are still looking for Hatori in the outside world; Ayumu is still worried about her best friend; and Zouroku and Sanae are still in Wonderland searching for the two girls. Sana and Hatori soon discover that the little white rabbit that’s been wandering about Wonderland has some kind of connection to the outside world, as Hatori’s cell phone suddenly picks up signal near it. They go on a chase after it, and thanks to Sana’s cleverness, are able to finally catch it.

A wild rabbit chase.

I wanted to at least include one last cap of these two because I’ve been neglecting to screencap them in the past episodes…

Once Hatori is able to get a signal to the outside world, she calls Ayumu. Hatori and Sana both explain their situation to Ayumu, telling her to find one of the portals that connects the world to Wonderland. Ayumu runs back to all the locations where portals have appeared, and is able to finally find one that opens for her. As Ayumu reunites with Hatori, Zouroku and Sanae also manage to reunite with Sana.

However, something is wrong–Ayumu’s presence starts to cause a change in Wonderland. Wonderland is expanding again, and appears ready to burst out into the real world; which would cause massive damage and possibly casualties. Zouroku shouts at it, telling Wonderland to “cut it out!” Amazingly, this returns Wonderland to a stable state.

Everyone is able to return back to the real world safely, through one of the portals connecting Wonderland to the real world. Hatori comes back home to tearful parents, overjoyed to have their daughter back safe and sound. Not long after, the Japanese government makes an official announcement about the existence of Dreams of Alice users; but not so they can be feared. Rather, the Japanese government intends to help and protect the people who have gained these powers.

Hopefully Hatori got a happy ending.

I feel bad for Ichijo because she basically got the spotlight stolen from her in these last two episodes.

Sana is finally able to go to a public school, and appears to be going to the same school that Hatori and Ayumu go to. We then fast-forward years in the future to see a scene of an adult Sana, who reminisces about her adventures in her youth.

My Opinion:

I’ll get my criticisms out of the way first. I thought this episode had kind of a weirdly rushed pace. For a series that had such a slow pace throughout the previous episodes, a little too much happened here. Zouroku being able to stop Wonderland from breaking out into the real world, merely by shouting at it felt a bit too deux ex machina. It felt too easy! I don’t know why the episode had to push in one last element of danger, because the big problem that everyone was trying to solve was just getting Sana and Hatori out of Wonderland. The whole “oh no, Wonderland is about to explode!” or whatever plotline felt like it was thrown in randomly. For what? Like two minutes of suspense? I wouldn’t have minded this if it were the cliffhanger to the last episode; but as this is already the last episode of Alice & Zouroku, of course it had to be resolved in a terribly rushed manner. Also, they never really explain what exactly happened to Ichijo, what the hell.

I also really wish we could have seen more of Hatori’s reunion with her parents. Even just a small confirmation that her parents realize that having their daughter safe and sound is worth more than sending their daughter to a private school. Alas, we can only assume this as it’s never really touched on. As long as Hatori has a happier family life after this event, I’ll be happy. Sorta related to this topic, I found it a little odd that Sana is being sent to elementary school, as it’s shown that she basically has a high school level mastery of school subjects in a past episode. But I guess she’s being sent to school to build up her social skills, and to have the chance to interact with other people close to her age.

The things I felt this episode did rather well was Ayumu’s involvement in the whole thing. Ayumu is such a good character, and a really nice foil to Hatori. Ayumu has a much happier family life compared to Hatori, but she doesn’t have the powers Hatori possesses. However, one of Ayumu’s biggest strengths is that she isn’t as willing to easily fall into despair like Hatori. Ayumu working so hard in this episode to help her friend was really touching to watch.

I also ended up liking Naito quite a bit as a character. In many scenes throughout the series, Naito can appear kind of untrustworthy at times. His actions sometimes appear very suspicious, as if he had some shady ulterior motives. In the first scene of this final episode, he acted extremely suspiciously, and I was dreading a sudden new villain reveal. Fortunately, that turned out not to be the case; and was just Naito merely getting the prime minister(?) to announce the existence of Dreams of Alice users in order to protect them. Naito may be kind of a slacker and cheapskate at times, but he truly cares for the children who become Dreams of Alice users. It’s really nice to see a competent adult who actually plays a fairly important role in the series. Perhaps this is why he and Zouroku got along so well, haha.

Anyway, the manga for Alice & Zouroku is still on-going, but I’m not sure how likely it is for this series to get a second season. In the case that it doesn’t, we’re treated to a scene far in the future featuring an adult Sana pretty obviously visiting Zouroku’s grave (although it isn’t shown on-screen). This scene basically tells us outright that Sana grows up to be a mature and happy adult. And if the anime series does end there, that’s completely fine with me.

Out of five for this episode:

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Onwards, to new adventures!

Final Thoughts:

I feel that Alice & Zouroku is a good example of how an anime can breathe new life into some rather “cliched” story themes. Alice & Zouroku‘s basic plot isn’t really much of anything new. There’s an EVIL research facility and some super-powered psychic kids. And also a young female character interacts with an older male character. These themes have been explored in many other anime before. But what sets Alice & Zouroku apart from other anime is in its pacing and its characters.

Alice & Zouroku isn’t an incredibly fast-paced series by any means. From the beginning, the series is content to go at its own pace. Sure there are some moments of action, but they are few and far between–and honestly, that is probably what makes the action sequences that much more exciting to watch. If you were expecting a high-action series, then you’ll probably be disappointed.

The main characters–Sana, Zouroku, Hatori, and Ayumu; are all well-written. I felt that their interactions were quite genuine and natural. Sana and Zouroku’s, and Hatori’s and Ayumu’s relationships are all really heartwarming to watch. Unfortunately, with the series being so short, there is only enough time to devote focus to the four main characters. So side characters, like Sanae and the Hinagiri twins, are unfortunately cast aside. In all honesty, I did feel like Zouroku had much less screentime once Hatori’s story arc started; but I suppose Sana was already a bit more mature by then that she didn’t need to rely solely on Zouroku’s help.

As much as I enjoyed the series, Alice & Zouroku is not a perfect series by any means. There’s quite a few plot threads that are just left unaddressed. For instance, what exactly happened to Kitou, the head of the “evil” research facility? What happened to the white haired kid that came from the same facility as Sana and the twins? Why are we shown two of Zouroku’s clients when they had ultimately no bearing on the overall plot? Did Hatori actually ever resolve the issues with her parents? I suppose there just wasn’t enough time to really explore these side-plots.

Despite there being some references to Alice in Wonderland, I felt that the series ultimately didn’t do much with this theme. Yes, there are references by way of names and the presence of a white rabbit; but they felt more like set-dressing than… anything actually connected to the plot. Now, I have never actually read the original book, so I might be missing some symbolism. But if you were expecting this series to heavily reference Alice in Wonderland, then you won’t find that here; except maybe towards the end of the series.

Although I don’t mind the art style, I do realize that it might be a little too simplistic looking or unappealing to some. There is sort of an Ume Aoki vibe, although I think the anime was trying to stay accurate to Tetsuya Imai’s (the mangaka of Alice & Zouroku) art style rather than trying to ape Madoka Magica‘s style or something. Because the art style is rather simplistic, there weren’t many QUALITY ANIMATION moments that I could catch. If there were such instances, it wasn’t super glaring. (Or maybe I’ve just become much more lax about animation quality? lol)

Anyway, if you’re looking for a slice-of-life series that also features kids with magical powers (and a rather realistic portrayal of how the kids or society would deal with it), then you can’t go wrong with Alice & Zouroku. Just be warned… the series might give you more of an emotional punch to the gut that you expected.

Out of five for the series as a whole:

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“I’m alright now. Thanks to you… Zouroku.”

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