Ai OrikasaMasako KatsukiMiyuki-Chan in WonderlandRica Matsumoto
Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland
Medium: OVA, series
Year: 1995
Director: Kiyoko Sayama, Mamoru Hamatsu
Original creator: CLAMP, Lewis Carroll [uncredited]
Studio: Lee Production, Magicbus, Studio Mark
Actor: Mariko Kouda, Ai Orikasa, Emi Shinohara, Hekiru Shiina, Kikuko Inoue, Masako Katsuki, Megumi Ogata, Rica Matsumoto, Sakura Tange, Yuko Nagashima
Keywords: anime, boobs, Alice in Wonderland
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: Two fifteen-minute episodes
Website category: Anime 1990s
Review date: 26 May 2006
Miyuki-chan is a Japanese Alice through the Looking Glass. She has Alice's blonde hair, blue eyes and blue-and-white outfit. She even has similar dream adventures, albeit with a twist in case you were in danger of forgetting you were watching anime. Everyone she meets is a scantily clad lesbian with salacious intentions towards her. The poor dear! What's a girl to do?
In summary: underrated. Okay, it's non-stop random strangeness without anything even remotely resembling a plot... but it's a Lewis Carroll adaptation! What did people expect? Personally I like Carroll's original books, but I tend to find that people who first read them as adults have gone away rather nonplussed. They're not convincingly dreamlike, for a start. Instead they invent their own brand of Victorian surreal anti-logic and set off on a mannered, pedantic head trip until we learn that it was all a dream. I find them fascinating, but I can see why many people don't actually like them much.
Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland is certainly far more dreamlike than Lewis Carroll's books. They're almost SF, but this really feels like a dream, with authentically whimsical pacing and unexplained sudden shifts in location. Obviously it's a million miles away from anything the real Charles Lutwidge Dodgson would have created, if only because he was famously even less sexually developed than J.M.Barrie. Both men wrote children's literature, had hardly any sex drive and liked children to a degree that these days we'd think creepy. Dodgson preferred little girls and photographed them naked, but he probably died a virgin and his female friends all said that he didn't think about them in, uh, that way. The actress Ellen Terry once dismissed rumours of a romantic involvement with the comment, 'He was as fond of me as he could be of anyone over the age of ten.'
This may be featherlight fluff with few ambitions beyond tits and arse, but in spirit it's perhaps the most faithful Alice adaptation I've ever seen. This faithfulness is precisely due to its unfaithfulness. It adds a whole new layer of strangeness, which to me seemed perfect for a Carroll adaptation. There's no attempt to use the inhabitants of Wonderland for characterisation, instead just milking their weirdness in another touch which felt more in tune with the original Alice than the likes of Disney's 1951 adaptation. As for the fact that it's a non-stop parade of scantily-dressed voluptuous vixens who all want to molest Miyuki... well, it's a tough job, but I forced myself to watch my way through it. Twice, so far.
Oh, and if this really is Miyuki's dream, perhaps her subconscious is trying to tell her something about herself.
One possible surprise is that Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland was the work of the all-female manga collective, CLAMP. Because of this, it feels playful rather than pandering. Some reviewers have wondered why CLAMP didn't go all the way with the nudity, but personally I think they got the balance right. Creating a seedy fanservice wankfest would kill the Alice-ness. Besides, if you've seen one pair of animated breasts you've seen them all. What we get here is sexier than drawing acres of flesh, although I must give the animators credit for drawing nipples. Incidentally there's an Alice in Wonderland episode of Card Captor Sakura if you want to see a different CLAMP take on the same subject matter, without nudity.
The production values are impeccable, with attractive art (all-important for something like this) and cute music. Sometimes it made me laugh, e.g. Miyuki's pathetically doomed attempts at modesty. At the end of the day it's a scrap of experimental throwaway nonsense with no noticeable plot, drama or characterisation, but I think it works. It takes a strange story and makes it stranger, with style and wit. I think it's truer to the spirit of Alice than many adaptations which adhere more closely to the letter. And it's fun!