Kaori Yuki’s Alice in Murderland is another of those peepshow-creepshow mash-ups that seem on the face of it to be out to titillate the reader by both a steampunk lolita mode of dress and wanton violence. However, the linchpin of the story, without which you’d have a run of the mill sexy slasher story, is the titular character’s madness, as once you understand that Stella’s revolving door personality at times spins out a suicidal face, and at others a murderous one, it becomes hard to talk about the story without using the tropes of psychology.
The temptation to lean into classical psychoanalysis is already great when in volume six, Stella’s father, motivated by torture at the hands of her mother, Olga, presents Stella with a new complex to add to her collection, a recommendation of how to kill her mother. That a man has to come to Stella and show her the way to independence makes a persuasive argument for this being an example of the Cinderella Complex, although the desire to murder her mother to please her father touches upon some of the more famous complexes named after ancient Greek plays (Oedipal, Elektra).
Of course, much of this is the backdrop to the petticoated badassery that is going on in the foreground of the story, in which Stella and Alice pep talk each other so that more murders will be in their future, and so that you might buy Alice in Murderland Volume 7. The strongest argument to buying this series, though, is the first impression made by the sensuality of the book itself, a sumptuous dustjacketed hardcover with cover art that looks like it was lurking in a hookah or painted on a van, a full color glossy frontispiece illustration, and heavy page stock that really holds the blacks and grays of the panel art without transferring it to the reverse pages. The production values are so high on this series that bibliophiles will have a fine time reading it, although that appreciation may be conflicted by a navel-gazing heroine that has to be taken by the hand of this or that male supporting character in order to receive the gift of victory.
Alice in Murderland Volume 6 arrived on shelves on April 18th, 2017, and if you find it sold out, you can buy it through this list of online booksellers.
Yen Press sent the review copy.