Moving onto Taisho x Alice episode 2! Based on the above image, this volume seems to have a darker tone? Hmm. The prologue does have slight differences from episode 1 (such as Alice’s dialogue), so you may want to take note of that.
Before you realise it, you’re wandering in a pitch black world. You wonder where this is, as you keep walking, unable to find any exit. You have lost track of time. If you stop breathing and walking, perhaps all you’ll hear is the sound of your heart beating. You have no memory of who you are, or what you’re doing here. Feeling uneasy and lonely, you ask if anyone’s there. But there’s no answer. You decide to keep walking in hopes of an answer. Suddenly, it feels as if darkness grabs your feet. You instantly pull away, and flee. It isn’t long before you encounter a blonde boy. Thrilled to finally see him, you leap at him but he nimbly dodges and shouts that things won’t go as you wish. Thanks to that, you fall flat.
Boy: You asked for it. Idiot. Suddenly leaping out like that, are you a pervert? A weirdo? Did you think that I would catch you just like that? Idioooot!! There’s no way I would do such a thing.
You: Who are you? Why are you here? Do you know where is this place?
Boy: Hmph just when you suddenly appear, you leap on your own accord, fall down on your own accord, ask questions on your own accord. You’re rather selfish, to the point I’m almost moved.
You: Hey, what was your name?
Boy: ……you really don’t listen to people. I have the shivers. Before asking for people’s names, how about first telling yours. That’s the most basic manner.
You apologise for you don’t remember your name and what you’re doing here. He asks if you’ve lost your memories. You explain you can’t recall anything, that your existence feels so vague. The boy notes this with disinterest. You point out his lack of response, and he replies that it’s just a courtesy question – to be honest he couldn’t care less. Nor does he have any sympathy for you, not even a micron or a millimicron of it.
You: 1 millimicron……in other words, a thousand millionth of 1 metre, a nanometre!
Boy: Yes yes, no one uses microns or millimicrons in principle nowadays. Not that any of that matters!!
You: That’s right. What’s important is your name, and who are you.
Boy: …………I feel tired talking to you. In the first place, why do you want to know me that much? Wouldn’t you normally think that you’d want to know more about yourself rather than other people? You have amnesia right?
You reason that since you finally met him when you were wandering in darkness, you’re more curious about him now. He finds her weird. It is then you come up with the bright idea of having him give you a name. He has no idea how the conversation went there, even when he is this smart and handsome and rational. You think that it’s killing two birds with one stone though, since he can give her a name and also learn of her name. He doesn’t think so.
Boy: What is “eh–“. It’s the most irritating when someone tries to blame others when the person doesn’t respond how you want them to.
You: I’m sorry……
Boy: It’s Alice.
Alice: Oh dear. You’re rather dim-witted. Just when people go through the trouble of giving their name. By the way, if you pull a boring foolish reply like “Arisuda-kun”, I’ll punch you so be prepared.
Alice: What is it? Arisu.
You: Eh? That is……
Alice: How slow. Of course it’s your name.
(Note: When Alice said “It’s Alice”, in Japanese he says “Arisu da”.) You’re delighted at the matching names, and he sarcastically thanks you for the dim-witted response. You ask why you have the same names, wondering if he knows you. Alice flatly denies this. To be honest, he doesn’t remember anything too. That’s why he can’t answer anything – though he admits that her attitude grated on his nerves too. His situation isn’t that different from hers, except that he can remember his own name – or rather he can only remember “Alice” and can’t be sure if it’s a name or something else. Though he does find it weird for him to have a girl’s name. If you had not asked him for his name, he wouldn’t have had to call himself that.
(For the review, I’m going to switch to third-person POV now. Even though the game refers to the heroine as “you”, I’m not used to writing in first-person POV. And the heroine shall be “Arisu”, while the boy will be “Alice”.)
Alice ends his explanation, asking if she got everything in her empty head. She reviews it, wondering if they knew each other before then. He sharply replies that there’s no way he knows.
Arisu: I’m “Arisu” and you’re “Alice”…………yup! Let’s get along! Alice-kun!
Alice: What’s with that casual “we’ve become adventure comrades!” type of line. I have not the slightest euglena of a flagellum intention of going with you.
Arisu: In other words, below 0.1mm right! But that’s a higher possibility than 0.001mm from before right?
Alice: Tsk. You’re uselessly knowledgeable. How about using that knowledge to learn to read the atmosphere.
When asked what they should do next, Alice shrugs and replies that he has no intention of doing anything. It’s just his gut feeling, but he doubts that they can escape. Arisu wants to do, citing that she just fled from the darkness. On that note, she realises why she can see him so clearly in the dark. The boy sarcastically compliments her minute improvement.
Arisu: You realised?
Alice: Of course. Who do you think I am.
Arisu: A mean person!
Alice: Alright, let me hit you!
Arisu: I’m sorry I’m sorry!! It’s a lie a lie a joke!! Alice-kun is a very kind, gentle, thoughtful good person!!
Still, she wonders why she can see him in this darkness when there’s no light.
Arisu: Ah……h-hey! What about me? Can you properly see me!?
Alice: Haah……as expected you’re stupid. Trouble-chan. I’m obviously talking to you because I can see you. Or what? I’m a pretty boy with spiritual powers and can talk to spirits? Or am I a pitiful person who has lost his mind and am muttering to empty space? There’s no way that’s the case! ……not that I can say for sure, but I shall refute it out of pride. By the way, I have no interest in imaginary friends either. If you’re so concerned, see for yourself. Or are those eyes just there for decoration?
Arisu: Indeed……I have hands and legs.
He returns the topic back to her earlier comment, observing that it’s not logical if she feels targeted by the darkness but not him. Arisu agrees, but she still can’t help but feel that way – that if it engulfs her then her existence will disappear. Alice changes his question, asking if she knows why she has amnesia. She doesn’t. When asked if she wants to remember, she answers that she does.
Alice: Even if you’re no longer yourself?
Arisu is confused by his remark, prompting Alice to explain that the her now is a blank sheet. Recalling her memories would mean reawakening another self – who was shaped by her past experiences.
Alice: Do you think that you were a good person? You cannot deny the possibility that you may have been an evil person. Because you have no firm “memories” of yourself. If you try to recall those memories, do you in turn have the resolution to accept yourself, your past, and your sins?
She says that she does, causing Alice to wryly commend her.
Alice: But what if, even if you accept your past self, you don’t know if your past self is able to accept your new self. From now on what you will experience, accept, reject – what will you do if it denies your past self?
Arisu: …………what happens if I do deny myself?
Alice: It means that you will disappear. In other words, one of you will vanish.
Arisu: Is it the same as being swallowed by the darkness?
To be honest, she isn’t quite sure. But she can tell that he’s worried for her, much to his displeasure. She’s sure that he will be sad if she’s gone, and thinks that he’s kind. It’s as if he doesn’t wants her to disappear. Alice snidely remarks that her brain must be made up of flower fields. There’s no way he will be sad, because this world is a dream. He has no memories, but he can tell that this isn’t reality. In that case, it must be a dream. So it’s not really darkness attacking her, but it just appears to be. Since this a dream, anything illogical can happen. Arisu starts to pinch herself in hopes of confirming this, and Alice gladly lends a hand. She cries out in pain – or so she thinks. He explains that the pain, and other senses felt in a dream works as the mind pieces it together based off our memories of them. So her method isn’t actually effective. And then again, they cannot confirm if this is a dream if they never wake up from it.
When asked why they cannot wake up, he laments at how she keeps relying on others without thinking for herself. Alice eventually hints that she doesn’t know who she is in her own dream. Yet a dream can be said to be the recreation of one’s memories. Arisu realises that she has lost sight of herself in reality – or she wishes to forget. He agrees, adding that she may be unconsciously desiring to return to nothingness if the darkness had attacked her. In the first place if this is a dream, who is real? Is it him or her who is having this dream? Once more, Alice questions if she wants to leave. Arisu affirms this, even if the real her doesn’t wish for it.
Arisu: ……if this is a dream, what am I to you?
Alice: An unpleasant and unreasonable character in my dream. Should I put it that way. If this is a dream, this is a nightmare. To be honest, I want to wake up immediately. How is it? Do you understand now? If this is a dream, then I won’t be sad if you disappear.
Arisu: ……is Arisu-kun scared?
Arisu: Ah, sorry. I just kind of thought of it when listening to you……that Arisu-kun is scared of disappearing.
Even if this is a dream, it means that both of them are currently existing. So she’s afraid of disappearing, and she thought he should feel the same way too. He goes quiet, before laughing at how stupid she is. As mentioned, he won’t be sad if she disappears. There’s no need for her to force others to think the same way as herself.
Arisu: You’re not a stranger. I’m “Arisu”. And you’re also “Alice”. We’re connected by “Alice” right.
Alice: ……haaah, my my. It’s exhausting to be with you. In any case, let’s return to the actual topic.
Once more, Alice questions if she wants to leave. Arisu affirms this, even if the real her doesn’t wish for it. Alice is more than happy for her to leave. She asks if he isn’t lonely, for she will be.
Alice: Ha, I thought that you’d say that! Since it’s you, you plan on saying let’s search for the exit together, or it’s more assuring to have two people together, right?
Arisu: That’s right!*
Alice: What do you mean by, “that’s right!”. I’m you’re Japanese, speak Japanese!
(Note: Arisu spoke in English.) But Arisu doesn’t feel like leaving him be, and offers to hold hands so that they don’t separate. He scoffs at how ridiculous this is, almost like a game. But he has no reason to reject her, so he takes her hand. And so the both of them start walking in the darkness. The uneasiness and fear dissipates as she feels the warmth from his hand. Arisu expresses her gratitude in meeting him. It’s fun to talk with him and he stays with her despite what he says.
Alice: Aah, yes yes. That’s right. I’m a very kind, caring person with a strong sense of justice, who can’t ignore those in trouble.
Arisu: If only you can become more honest.
Alice: Shut up. I’ll slap your hand away.
Eventually, they come across a large mirror. She wonders if they are crystals instead, but Alice points out that her reflection is being shown – there can’t be a more despairing sight than her many reflections. Arisu is fascinated by how it shines in the dark, while he recalls the earlier conversation that it’s unnatural for them to be able to see each other too.
Arisu: Bioluminescence. Living organisms that can emit light. Like a mushroom!
Alice: ……at least use a deep sea creature as an example.
Alice: That’s too grotesque!!
She immediately wonders if this is the exit. Alice remarks that it may be an entrance. If it’s a fairytale, one would cross through to enter a world opposite of the original. If this is a nightmare, perhaps the world is a good one – and vice versa. Arisu pauses, and wonders what will happen if the mirror is destroyed. He goes quiet, before replying that he would punch her with all of his might if he gets hurt. She contemplates going through the mirror, and he points out that if such an action was possible – then this place must be fantasy. He also discusses about lucid dreams, so one might exert some influence.
Arisu desires to pass through the mirror in that case. As she stretches out her hand towards it, the mirror shines. What was once her reflection in the mirror, now shows something different. The left shows a smiling man with a mask, and the right shows a gentle-mannered man. Strangely, both of them feel a sense of familiarity with the reflected worlds. The mirror ripples like waves when her fingers touch it. Before Arisu can act, Alice remarks that she’s a thoughtless person who will just jump right in. To be honest he has no interest, and his gut feeling is telling him that it has nothing to do with him. But she probably won’t let go of him and will drag him in.
Alice: Honestly, it’s nuisance to the extreme. Extreme nuisance. My meeting with you was like an inconvenient, bothersome, troublesome disaster. No, a disaster is still better. Because I can just wait for it to pass.
Arisu: Do you have to say it till that extent?
Alice: Of course. Since you wouldn’t pay any mind no matter what I say, so at least accept this sarcasm.
Arisu: Alice-kun isn’t that honest either right?
Alice: Then shall I ask directly once in a while……which will you choose?